Begin your career in foreign language translation World Languages

Foreign language translation jobs are paramount to our nation’s security. That’s because, around the clock and around the globe, communications in a multitude of foreign languages are being sent and received. Classified strategic information is being shared among allies. Foreign officials are convening with U.S. dignitaries. Informants and prisoners are speaking with military personnel. Cultures and customs are blending. The services of knowledgeable translators are essential to America’s Navy – and Navy translation jobs can enable you to use your linguistic skills to serve your country, as you learn, study, translate and interpret foreign-language communications data and experience and gain understanding of other cultures and their customs and traditions.

Job Description

At its disposal, America’s Navy has an arsenal of aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruisers, submarines and aircraft. Still, its most powerful asset is the human mind. As an Enlisted Sailor specializing in world languages, you’ll be part of an in-demand group – valued for your intelligence, adaptability, foreign-language skills and discretion. Here your work can be highly classified. No college degree is required, but with proven linguistic abilities, you may be called upon to analyze communications in a familiar foreign language, or you may be given the opportunity to learn a language that’s entirely new.

Specific Responsibilities

Some of your duties as an Enlisted member of the world languages field could include:

  • Operating state-of-the-art electronic radio receivers, magnetic recording devices, computers and communications signals equipment
  • Working with classified material
  • Translating, transcribing and interpreting foreign-language communications data
  • Analyzing and reporting highly technical information of strategic and tactical importance to fleet commanders and national intelligence agencies
  • Performing temporary duty aboard a variety of Naval surface and subsurface vessels, aircraft and shore stations

Work Environment

Imagine interpreting the conversation between U.S. dignitaries or Navy officials as they negotiate critical relations with foreign powers. Picture using your intelligence and interpreting skills and deciphering the hostile intentions of a foreign terrorist organization. This and more is all possible for you as an Enlisted Sailor working in the world languages field. Because your skills are needed in a variety of air, surface and subsurface platforms, you must volunteer for both aircrew and submarine duty. And because your duties involve highly sensitive material, you’d need to pass an intensive investigation for clearance.

Training and Advancement

Training in the world languages field is long and intensive, lasting more than a year in some cases. Lessons consist of comprehensive foreign-language instruction and technical-skills training in individualized and group instruction. Languages you might learn include Arabic, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, French, Korean, Vietnamese, Hebrew, Persian and others.

Education Opportunities

Get real-world experience. And college credit. The world languages community provides opportunities for advanced training in foreign languages. In addition, most of the training in this field translates into credit hours at the bachelor’s and associate degree level in the area of foreign languages and written and oral communications skills.


Qualifications for the world languages field are highly demanding, including a full background investigation. For those who qualify, placement is excellent.

After the Navy

Individuals with foreign-language skills are sought after in the Navy as well as by employers in the civilian sector. A second language not only provides you with communication skills and knowledge of different cultures, it also makes you more well-rounded and marketable in your career with the Navy or whatever civilian career you may choose.

“A lot of companies will hire us based solely on the fact that we have security clearance and we’ve served in the Navy,” remarks Jim Murphy, Chief Petty Officer, of Claverack, New York. “We’re trustworthy, possess leadership qualities and have lots of experience. Companies know they’re going to get a quality employee, even if we don’t have experience in their particular field.”