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Air Force Linguist: Salary, Education Requirements and Career Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an Air Force linguist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about the necessary education, job duties, and starting salary information to find out if this is the career for you.

Air force linguists work in interpretation and translation for the air force. To become an air force linguist, one must complete basic training to join the air force, demonstrate aptitude in a language, and then is trained in a language, translation, and using communication equipment.

Essential Information

Air Force linguists, also known as cryptologic linguists, are enlisted soldiers whose work involves obtaining and understanding foreign intelligence in its native language. These men and women are often stationed abroad and are responsible for keeping the military abreast of information learned from foreign communications.

Required Education A high school diploma, Air Force basic training, and specialized linguistics training
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 29% for all interpreters and translators*
Mean Annual Salary (2015) $44,190 for all interpreters and translators*, $18,802 (2016) starting salary for Air Force Linguists**

Sources: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics*, United States Air Force**

Career Information for Air Force Linguists

Air Force linguists often work overseas, receiving, translating, and recording intelligence in such foreign languages as Farsi, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Spanish, Korean, Arabic, and Pashtu. In addition to translation and analysis, Air Force linguists are responsible for operating and utilizing communications equipment and identifying new frequency searches for similar intelligence. Most of the work is classified and security clearance is mandatory.

Salary Information for Air Force Linguists

Although Air Force salaries are based on rank and years of service, in 2016 an enlisted Air Force linguist could expect to earn at least $18,802 per year for the first two years of service, without any additional education, prior service, or advancement. In addition to salary, enlisted airmen (as the military refers to recruits of both sexes) can earn money towards their education through a variety of scholarships and bills, including the Montgomery GI Bill. The Air Force provides insurance and living expense benefits and offers the potential for bonuses.

Education Requirements for Air Force Linguists

Air Force linguists are required to have earned a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate with 15 college credits. They must have also completed the eight and a half weeks of basic training necessary for entrance into the military. Once these tasks are met, and the necessary aptitude for or experience in linguists is demonstrated, prospective Air Force linguists are trained in the language in which they will specialize at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, followed by the necessary technical training at the Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas. The training in California and Texas can sometimes be applied toward community college degrees or college-level coursework.

Air force linguists must have a high school diploma or GED plus 15 college credits. They also must complete basic training before beginning their language training. These professionals work to interpret, translate and record intelligence in another language, and many of these professionals are stationed overseas, using their translation skills to aid in defense efforts.

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