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FBI looking to hire linguists

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SALT LAKE CITY — If you've ever dreamed of working for the FBI and you're fluent in a foreign language, you may want to consider applying to be a linguist for the agency.

The FBI is holding a job fair this week, hoping to find contract linguists.

Eric Leach, a regional program manager for the FBI, says the agency is looking for people who are highly skilled in a variety of languages, but the priorities are Somali, Hebrew, Farsi, and Mandarin Chinese.

Applicants must meet the following requirements:

Contract Linguist Requirements

  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must have resided in U.S. 3 of last 5 years
  • Must be fluent in English and a foreign language needed by the FBI
  • Foreign languages needed most: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hebrew, Farsi, Pashto, Somali, Spanish & many others

Nationally, more than 95 percent of FBI linguists are native speakers of a foreign language, but that's not a requirement for the job nor the case in Utah.

"In Salt Lake we have a different mix," Leach said. "We have a lot of people who are very proficient at foreign languages. Here we have, I think 30 percent who are native English speakers who learned that (foreign) language maybe living overseas for two years, maybe got a college degree later."

According to the FBI's website, linguists work in a variety of interpretation and translation assignments. They also play an important role in providing cultural awareness to FBI agents, intelligence analysts, and other FBI employees.

The FBI has nearly 1,500 linguists nationwide supporting over 100 different foreign language requirements.

All linguists begin as contract employees, but that may lead to a full-time job. Contract linguists can work flexible schedules. Salary is between $29 and $41 per hour, depending upon the language and level of proficiency.

Contract employees can expect to work from their local FBI field office.

Marina Parsegova, who speaks Russian, is an FBI language analyst.

FBI Linguist Job Fair
Thursday, Aug. 9
FBI Salt Lake City Division
257 E. 200 South
7th Floor
8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Bring resume, be prepared for interview

"The job is very interesting and very challenging at times," she said. "We have to translate, we have to interpret. We deal with a variety of cases."

She says those cases can involve anything from trans-national money laundering operations to cyber crime investigations.

Her favorite part of the job is interpreting for U.S. FBI agents and officers of foreign services.

Her advice for those who are interested in attending the job fair on Thursday is to make their skills known.

"Explain clearly what you can do for the FBI," she said.

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Tonya Papanikolas


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