As we mentioned before, linguists are needed for every aspect of the military, including intelligence, negotiations and special operations. And as an Army linguist, you will be asked to read, write, understand and speak a foreign language. The Army may ask you to perform a variety of tasks using your language skills, including everything from face-to-face, audio or document translation in all types of negotiations.
If you want your language to be the sole purpose of your job, you should look into a career as an interpreter/translator or a cryptologic linguist. The Army classifies these careers as "language dependent" [source: GoArmy.com]. As an interpreter/translator for the Army, you would be responsible for translating both oral and written communications and participating in or leading language and cultural awareness training. You must be fluent in at least one of more than 20 Middle Eastern languages, including Farsi, Dari and Pushtu-Afghan [source: GoArmy.com].
Cryptologic linguists specialize in any language they choose, and are mostly responsible for detecting and identifying foreign communications using signals equipment. This may include general information, mission-specific reporting or tips due to changes in communication, as well as translating transcripts of foreign communication recordings [source: GoArmy.com].
If you're talented in languages, but you don't want them to be the focus of your career, there are many other opportunities within the Army linguist program, including Signals Intelligence Analyst, Human Intelligence Collector, Imagery Analyst or Intelligence Analyst. While these positions still require fluency in a foreign language, responsibilities include non-language skills such as visual surveillance, information collection through special operations or interrogations, and analysis of the enemy's capabilities, vulnerabilities, and plans of action [source: GoArmy.com].
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Before you can apply for any of these positions, you have to meet several stringent requirements for inclusion in the Army linguist program. We'll learn more about these criteria on the next page.