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Wanted by the FBI: Employees January 6, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings, Translation Sites.

NPR reports this morning:

The FBI has launched one of its biggest hiring blitzes ever. It needs to fill 850 special agent positions. It also has openings for more than 2,000 support staff. Officials say this is the agency’s largest job posting since just after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The openings are largely due to attrition and a wave of retirements.

If you want to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a linguist, you need to be aware that it will take at least a year for the background check after you have completed the 12-page application and passed the testing process. You also must be a U.S. citizen. The linguist test is a battery of tests that includes oral and written comprehension as well as translation ability from the foreign language into English. The first part is a written test with multiple choice questions testing reading and listening comprehension and then the translation of several texts. Most of those who take it (70 or 80%) fail this test. If you have passed the written test you will be invited back for a 20-to-50-minute telephone interview. The telephone interview tests your listening and speaking comprehension in the foreign language. The interviewers rate you based on the linguistic content of your responses and not on your knowledge of the subject matter. If you are fluent I can guarantee that you won’t notice when the interviewers raise the linguistic register and will find the phone interview quite enjoyable.

Once you have passed the battery of language tests, you will then have to pass the polygraph and an audiometer (hearing) test. The polygraph is mentally and emotionally grueling. They ask you about anything you may have omitted on the application and questions that might preclude your employment by the Bureau and about your character. I was so mentally exhausted after the polygraph that I took a 1-hour nap when I got home. You may also have to submit to a drug test, especially if you are offered a language specialist position. As a contract linguist, the folks in Cleveland decided I didn’t need to take it, but I was more than willing to. If you are an upstanding citizen you will have nothing to worry about from the polygraph or drug tests.

Having passed the language tests and polygraph, they will then begin conducting your background check. The application has you list every address you have ever lived at and name one person who can attest to your having lived there for each address. I also had to include a list of all of my clients at the time. The FBI visited everyone listed on the application and asked them about me and my character. They even went door-to-door on my parents’ street (and I imagine the street I grew up on for 21 years) asking the neighbors about me. I was glad I had warned my clients that I was applying to the FBI, because the secretary at one agency called my project manager to tell her “there are people from the FBI here who want to speak with you” – not something you hear every day and not something a foreign national usually wants to hear 🙂 .

I was a contract linguist for four years. It took them a while to finally start sending me work and even longer until they sent me to DC for training. However, it might have just been my field office and supervisor. I eventually got disillusioned and decided I no longer wanted to work with them. However, I know plenty of people who are contract linguists and enjoy the work. The texts I translated were indeed very interesting – Internet and banking fraud, letters rogatory, and extradition documentation. If you specialize in legal and financial texts this might be a good choice for you. If you are working at a field office as a contract linguist you will be expected to bring your dictionaries with you to the office. They never provided me with any dictionaries. Headquarters, on the other hand, has plenty of dictionaries. You will need to insist on having Internet access, because a lot of the things you translate and terms you encounter will not be found in a dictionary.

Contract linguists are paid by the hour, and the hourly rate is determined by language. As a contract linguist you would be self-employed and will not receive benefits. This means you will also be responsible for paying taxes out of the $34 or $35 an hour you are paid. You will keep a monthly time log and submit it at the end of the month in order to be paid. It is a nice little side job, but if you are chosen as a contract linguist you may or may not be given steady work depending on the needs for your language. Language specialists are considered full-time employees, and the assignments are rare. You may also be required to relocate or work from headquarters. Most people are contract linguists. Contract linguists may be given opportunities to travel (but assignments tend to require long stretches of time) or may remain in their city of choice and work from the local field office. Due to security concerns and the need to protect evidence, contract linguists must work in the field office instead of their own home or office.

The FBI does not distinguish between translators and interpreters, or between people who translate in one direction or another. The bulk of their work (perhaps 80%) goes into English, but a similar percentage of contract linguists and language specialists are non-native English speakers, so by definition most of their translators are working into their non-native language. Language specialists do not have the luxury of turning down assignments because it is into their non-native language or requires a skill set one may not have (such as interpreting). As a contract linguist you may have the luxury if there is a competent native speaker who can accept the assignment, but if you are in a language of limited diffusion you will most likely translate in both directions.

On a positive note, the FBI and other government entities are one of the few steady in-house jobs out there for translators. I have my fair share of gripes with them, but realistically it enabled several of my friends to keep freelancing until they establish a stable of regular clients. In-house jobs in the private sector are almost nonexistent, especially if you translate into English. You are also doing your part and helping your government in its dealings with other countries, which I really liked.

For even more information about working for the FBI and other government entities, I encourage you to read “Translating and Interpreting in the Federal Government” by Ted Crump. Many thanks to Corinne McKay for fact-checking, feedback and a couple additions to this post!



1. Ryan Ginstrom - January 6, 2009

Thanks for the detailed description. I went through the same background check in the military (minus the polygraph), and I’ll pass on going through it again. It’s an awful lot of trouble for $35 an hour, when I can make far more than that working in industry. It’s crazy to me how the FBI and others complain about lack of translators, yet fail to pay market rates.

Also, if you like drama I’d recommend working for law firms in court cases. Lots of juicy stuff there, plus lawyers pay a lot more than the government. 🙂

When I looked into it, certified court interpreters in California were also being paid $35/hour. What is it with government agencies and $35/hour for translators/interpreters?

2. George Maschke - January 7, 2009

“If you are an upstanding citizen you will have nothing to worry about from the polygraph or drug tests.”


I really wish the foregoing were true. I’m a co-founder of AntiPolygraph.org, a non-profit, public interest website dedicated to exposing and ending waste, fraud, and abuse associated with the use of lie detectors. I’m also a translator and former army reserve officer, in which capacity worked with the FBI on counterintelligence/counterterrorism cases.

With regard to the polygraph, the fact of the matter is that many honest, qualified FBI applicants are falsely branded as liars by the polygraph and wrongly barred for life from FBI employment. Some 50% of FBI applicants who make it as far as the polygraph fail it:


There is broad consensus amongst scientists that polygraphy has no scientific basis, and the National Academy of Sciences concluded in a 2002 research review that “[polygraph testing’s] accuracy in distinguishing actual or potential security violators from innocent test takers is insufficient to justify reliance on its use in employee security screening in federal agencies.”

Nonetheless, the FBI and other federal agencies have completely disregarded the science (or lack thereof) on polygraphs. When an FBI applicant fails the polygraph, that failure is recorded in the individual’s permanent FBI file. The accusation of deception will follow him or her for life and may be a hindrance to future employment with other federal agencies. I think that the risks associated with the FBI polygraph outweigh the potential rewards:


For more on my own experience with the polygraph, see my statement, “Too Hot of a Potato: A Citizen-Soldier’s Encounter With the Polygraph”:


3. jillsommer - January 7, 2009

@George – that is *very* interesting! I never knew this. You always hear how accurate a lie detector is. Sure, folks talk about how you can beat it, but I always thought simply being truthful is enough. You should also contact Judge David Young, because he is relying on polygraphs this season in his TV show.

4. Kevin Lossner - January 7, 2009

How funny. JVEG rates for “equivalent” hourly work in Germany are € 55 per hour (used to be higher), and there is a lot less bullshit to put up with. Given the willingness of the US government to pulverize billions or even trillions of dollars for nothing, it’s a shame they won’t offer rates worthy of our “national security”.

My single encounter with a linguist agent in the 1980s left me unimpressed by what the FBI considers good. As for the generally paranoid atmosphere that sometimes prevails and the religious rivalries and resentments (one agent I knew claimed you had to be Mormon or move to Washington to get promoted) within the organization… nein, danke. Even when I had nothing to hide I considered the stupidity of polygraphs and drug tests to be an insulting waste of time to be resisted by any American who understands the importance of fighting the encroaching police state mentality.

5. edin b. - March 27, 2009

I am just wondering if someone could tell me, is it hard to move on to the next position, once you get hired to work as a “contract linguist”. I am in process of getting tested etc, and I am looking forward to work for the FBI. I just recently graduated with two bachelors’ degrees in Business and Government. My question would be, based on my background and schooling, would it be hard, if I pass my tests and get hired for the FBI, as a “contract linguist” in my native Bosnian, and English, to move per say to “special agent position” or anything as such?? I think, since I am fresh out of College, FBI sounds very promising, and place where I could build my career..
Thank you in advance.

jillsommer - March 27, 2009

Edin: I think it would be fairly easy to move from contract linguist to special agent once you have gone through the entire hiring process. You do have to have a green card and be a citizen to work for the FBI though, but if you have that and can pass the rigorous background check you shouldn’t have any problems. Then again, since I only worked for them as a contract linguist I have no insight into their hiring process beyond my own experience. Some of the things they do make no sense to normal folks, so you just never know until you try. Good luck!

6. edin b. - March 29, 2009

Replay to Jillsommer:
Thank you!
By the way I am an US citizen.

7. Ricky - April 27, 2009

edin b.,

what is that “bosnian language?”

I tought there is only croatian and or serbian language.

Izudin M. - August 29, 2012

What was once Serbo-Croatian is now three different languages: Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian. After the war ended, former Yugoslavia split into 7 different countries and thus new languages even through some still refer to the language as Serbo-Croatian. Same thing really!!!

8. Meral D. - January 20, 2010

I’m scheduled for the FBI Foreign Language Test in Turkish on Feb. 2nd. From all the research I’ve done it seems that the listening and reading comprehension should be a breeze and most fail the translation part of the test. I’m a native Turkish speaker and my English is even better than my Turkish, due to my educational background I have more than 4 native languages – I grew up in Luxembourg. Now, my question is this: I’ve done lots of technical and financial translations from German and Turkish into English for Corporations and NATO (I worked for in ’95-’97) and had Secret Clearance, will the background check take less time because I already had a NATO secret clearance? and is there any way I could find samples on some articles that FBI wants translated into English?
I came across G.L.O.S.S and found some samples there but when I read the translations I had to laugh because who ever did the translations had either omitted some parts or didn’t do a true transltion, and I knew I would do a better job. I hope it’ll be a breeze for me, the whole process. My aim is to get the Top Secret Clearance and apply to other government positions along with working on the side for the FBI, how feasable is that? Thanks

jillsommer - January 20, 2010

Hi Meral,
I am almost 100% certain you would not find samples of the articles on the Internet. That would kind of negate the whole idea of top secret. If I were you I would bone up on some legal terminology. If you have done lots of financial translations in the past I don’t think you are going to find the test all that challenging, so don’t worry about it. As for your other question, I have used my clearance to work for other government agencies through translation agencies that require clearance. Good luck!

9. Cindy H. - February 17, 2010

Hi Everyone,
I took and passed all the FBI linguist tests four years ago. I thought the translation tests were very easy. I had my personal interviews, passed the polygraph and drug tests, and had my fingerprints taken. I filled out their background check, which goes back to your 18th birthday, and which in my case, was 60 pages long. I have still not heard anything from them. I call my contact person every 6 months to see if I’m still on their list. If I were you, I wouldn’t waste my time applying to the FBI. I spent a lot of time submitting all the information and taking the tests. I should add that I’m also an attorney with an M.A. in Translation, so you would think that might have caught their interest. Apparently not.

10. Meral Daniel - March 9, 2010

Jill, first of all thanks a lot for your feedback. I had taken the 1st phase of the language test on Feb. 2nd and today I received a call that I passed and have been invited to take phase2 of the testing on March 29th. My contact informed me that I will be there for 2 hours and that I will have an interview with a FBI agent and polygraph test as well, unless I misunderstood her. The 2nd part of the testing is speaking with a native Turkish speaker and also English speaker, from what I can read between the lines is that, they have an urgent need for Turkish Linguist/Translator and in my case the process is being sped up, am I wrong?
I’ve been in the US almost 4 years and apparently they will be doing background check on me for the last 7 years, when I was getting my permanent Greencard I was fingerprinted and background check done by the FBI and then again, last year when I had applied for my citizenship. Does that mean that my top secret might take a little less time? And as a Contract Linguist it seems that there is no guarantee for any work… but assuming that with all the terrorism going on right now, could my Turkish be needed and I might be working full time with them? When I had asked the person at the FBI, here in NYC, how long it could take or whether or not I could be taken on board as a full time FBI employee, she had told me that depending on the need of the language I could be taken on within 2-3 months. She had also told me I was the only one for the Turkish language.
I have been offered a position in northern Virginia to work on a government contract which starts May 14th, I want to take that job, but if the FBI comes to me and says they need my services what am I to do???
Thanks for any feedback.

jillsommer - March 9, 2010

I say take the contract position. You can always tell them that the FBI might be offering you a job and if they do you will be leaving the contract position. The FBI also told me they were expediting my background check and then I didn’t get any work from them for over a year. Look out for number one – you – and good luck with the rest of the process.

Dobermann - December 13, 2010

My contact informed me that I will be there for 2 hours and that I will have an interview with a FBI agent and polygraph test as well, –>unless I misunderstood her.<–

I found that to be quite funny.

11. Meral Daniel - March 30, 2010

Hi Jill,
thank you very much for your feedback. I so appreciate it.
Now this question is not just for Jill but whoever has any answers, ideas..:
Yesterday was the day I was scheduled for phase II of the testing, Speaking Proficiency Test in English and Turkish. I went and did well, of course I am assuming, but I have to tell you, I had 2 ladies who did the English part and there were times when they had hard time pronouncing certain words and I helped them out, they were hard words… and I had to laugh, they couldn’t find the right words or couldn’t pronounce them right and I had to help or correct them… and they were testing my proficiency in English!
Anyway, it was my understanding that until the test results came in they weren’t going to have me fill out the TSC papers, but I received them today electronically, I have 10 days to finish and send it over to them. Is that normal that they would already have me fill out all the paperwork and start the TSC already without even knowing the test result?
Or, should I assume that because of their need they are doing everything faster than normal. Because my case seems to be going pretty fast. I had applied mid or end of December 09, mid January 10 received a date for Phase I (Feb. 2nd) and begin March received date for phase II.
Thank you for any feedback.

12. Zig - May 23, 2010

Well finally I was called in for testing for phase 1on June 8th 2010. My native language is Arabic. From what I have been reading, this might not be worth my time. Should I still go for it, and see what happens. I’m looking for some guidance, I have been waiting for this day for over 12 months. After reading the comments left by people I feel a little discouraged.

jillsommer - May 23, 2010

Zig, if I were you I would still go for it. You might have a good experience, especially since you do Arabic. Just don’t get your hopes too high just in case… Good luck!

Zig - May 29, 2010

Thank you for your comment. I have been brushing up on my Arabic. I feel more motivated to go, and take the test. The one thing is, I here that work is not steady when your a contracter. I have a great job now, working as an Assistant Branch Manager at a bank. Dose anyone know whta the pay is like for the linguist position at the FBI.

13. Zig - June 8, 2010

I just walked out of my phase 1 testing. 6 hours long, and feel good about it.

14. Archpriest - October 22, 2010

Began the process in September 2007; granted a clearance August 2008 and have yet to be called.

Jill (@bonnjill) - October 22, 2010

That sounds about right…

15. Anastasia - October 29, 2010

Hello Jill!
Thank you for all the information. I am testing in two weeks in Russian language. I am looking forward to test. I know for many of us the amount of money we make it’s important, but in my case I don’t care I just feel such a strong passion to work for the Federal Goverment. I am thankfull to the United States of America for everything in my life. I am still in school and government is paying for it I love school. Where is in Russia, the school system was so corupt, that after finishing the college with the red diploma and testing in medical field for the university (priviously studing and knowing all the information about my subject) one person in the comission told me after I answer all the questions with exellence, that if I don’t have money I will not be admited to the University. I was crashed, I was just 18 years old and I believed that by hard work I can reach any goals. Anyway, I am here and again doing my best in school here as well. However, in the U.S. I have a honest chance of reaching my goal and therefore I am thankful to the U.S. Moreover, my dream is to work for the FBI or SS. Please if you have any advice for me I will appriciate.

VampGirl508 - May 4, 2011

Hello. I liked your positive review on linguist test. How do you do now? Did anything changed in your life? I am Russian as well:)

Jill (@bonnjill) - May 4, 2011

Not much has changed, other than being able to work for other translation agencies that need clearance (and pay better). As I said in the post, I am no longer working for them. I guess I am no longer as optimistic or positive about working for the government…

VampGirl508 - May 4, 2011

Thank you very much. Best of luck.

Ilona - November 23, 2011

Dear Jill!

I truly enjoy reading your blog. Thank you for bringing this subject to our attention. It is a thought provoking if you think this way… Do you want to work for Government agency and curse the country you where born in or you can do your job in more ethical ways. It is related to note written by Anastasia, Russian interpreter. Sorry to hear that she was very unsatisfied in Soviet Union, but you need to understand two complicatedly opposite governmental systems. One supports equality in all and the other promotes individuality and independence. I’m proud to be born and raised back in Russia because I have this wonderful opportunity to speak, understand and teach to my children complex language of Russian classics.

“Гордиться славою своих предков не только можно, но и должно; не уважать оной есть постыдное малодушие.”

А. С. Пушкин

“Proud of the glory of their ancestors is not only possible but necessary, do not respect thereof is shameful cowardice.”

A. S. Pushkin

Corruption in higher education is not novice subject in Russia as well as in US, you will not see so many students in Ivy League Colleges if they don’t have money… It is pure reality, but sometimes you have to admit that everything that you received from your Mother Russia is your knowledge that serves you now. Sorry but I’m so frastrated when I hear statements from previous Soviet Union citizens like that. Just be grateful what you have and move on – new days will bring new opportunities.

Job of interpreter or translator is not always about money, or who pays for what, it is involves higher ethical, if you want, human values.

Best wishes to you all!!!


16. Dobermann - December 12, 2010

Two questions:

1. Did they issue you a firearm?

2. If so, what caliber?


Unfortunately I have to wait a few years to apply as a contract linguist because I was living in Japan for the past seven years (required to live in the US for at least three of the five past years).

17. Bizaro - December 14, 2010

“after you have completed the 12-page application ”

i was told after my test that i can find this application of the FBI site. anyone know how i can get it so i start filling it?!?!


18. Jinny - January 4, 2011

I am taking phase 2 test today. After everything goes well and perhaps I might start to work as contract linguist for FBI, is it possible to work on weekends? The point of question is whether I might be able to keep both my current full time job and FBI contract job (I cannot be at both offices at the same time on normal week days). Anyone know about it? I would appreciate it much.

Jill (@bonnjill) - January 4, 2011

You’ll have to ask them, but my first instinctual response is “no.” This might be a deal-breaker, so ask now. Contract work is not steady work, so don’t give up your current full-time job in order to work for them.

19. FKat - February 2, 2011

Hey Jill. I just filled out my original app online. Hope I am not too late.. I wonder how soon they possibly can contact me as they have 1000s apps pending.. Is it possible to work 20 hrs of regular job (as an interpreter) per week and 20 more hours with the FBI?
Like you said in the previous posts not to give up your regular job for a non steady contract job. Your post was SO informative and easy to understand.. Thank you!

Jill (@bonnjill) - February 2, 2011

It all depends on whether they need you and how much work they might have for you. I was lucky to get in one or two days a week – or even a month. Despite them saying they had a lot of work… It all depends on your supervisor. Good luck.

20. FKat - February 2, 2011

Wow! That was a quick reply. Thank you. I book marked your webpage as I find it very interesting.

21. diana e. Brown - February 14, 2011

Would like to know what kind of language testing is involved? I have taken the DLPT and court testing, does anyone know if it’s like those tests?

22. Gino - March 11, 2011

WILL they consider a DOD TS clearance ,or you have to do their(FBI)

Jill (@bonnjill) - March 11, 2011

You’d have to ask them. They probably require their own.

23. Rabadi - April 9, 2011

I will have FBI phase1 test (Arabic) next week, can anyone give me some information what to expect?
Thank you

24. VampGirl508 - May 3, 2011

I am going to have my test next week. I am scared and very happy in the same time. Don’t know what to think after mixed reviews. But i am very passionate about my dream. Any advices for somebody who is very optimistic?

25. Indi - May 20, 2011

I took the tests about 20 years ago and passed. The background check took about 2 years and when they called to see if I was available, I was not. I am retiring in the engineering field and would like to work part time as a translator. It seems that I need to retake the tests, but what about the background check? Also, I have dual citizenship. Would FBI ask me to give up my foreign citizenship to be hired?

Jill (@bonnjill) - May 21, 2011

You’d have to ask the FBI. I have no idea.

sherri - July 13, 2011

I just went through the first phase of test (written part) and the lady who conducted the test told me that I can keep dual citizenship if I am hired as a contract linguist. You do need to renounce other citizenships if you are to be hired as language specialist .

26. nayani - September 13, 2011

hello all
i just turned in my app as a fbi linguist… i speak urdu,gujrati ,punjabi and english ….. any suggestions or what are the odds of me getting this job and howlong would it take………

27. scott - November 7, 2011

As a contract linguist, you won’t have to give up your foreign citizenship, but you’ll have to sign a paper stating that you would be willing to do so.
That’s what I was told at my first meeting with the recruiting FBI agent.

Jill (@bonnjill) - November 7, 2011

I’m pretty sure you were given misinformation. Let me write my contact at FBI Headquarters and ask. I’ve been meaning to follow up with him this week anyway.

28. Roy - November 10, 2011

If you are to obtain any clearance status, you are required to renouce your other citizenship. You can only get a clearance granted after you renouce all other citiziships other than U.S.

29. maani - December 19, 2011

I cleared all my tests and after my polygraph i recieved a letter that
right now they can’t offer me a contract at this time please contact us after 1 year. I asked my hiring coordinator and she said they cut down the budget. i asked about my polygraph results but the never give me the results. Any insight Jill.

Jill (@bonnjill) - December 19, 2011

Not a clue, sorry. I haven’t worked for them in a few years.

maani - December 28, 2011

Thanks , I will try after 1 year and see what comes up.

30. Aleksandar - January 14, 2012

Jill, I am scheduled for stage 1 testing in two weeks and I am confident I’ll pass. I am concerned about one thing: selective service registration. It is not listed as a key requirement. Does FBI make exceptions if reasonable explanation is given?

Jill (@bonnjill) - January 14, 2012

I have no idea what selective service registration is, I have no idea.

Aleksandar - January 16, 2012

Thank you for taking the time to respond. Do you have an idea how I can find out if FBI are reluctant to make exceptions to some of their requirements?

31. Valera - July 23, 2012

I would like to thank everyone for great deal of information. My experience is very similar to others. Went through Phase 1: translate a very complicated business language paragraph consisting of very long sentences. Then reading and multi-choice answers followed by audio comprehension. I am a native Russian speaker, but my second language is Romanian, so this makes English a third. I had little difficulty going through the testing. Got called back for Phase 2. One hour in Russian followed by one hour in English over the phone at local FBI office. The irony was that the office is located at the central post-office in San Antonio, TX – “going postal” and “don’t mess with Texas” are burned into memory forever:)

I would like to ease some of the applicants (if such still exist after reading all other posts) worries – the subjects of oral interviews are very common sense, laid back, and relate to current news and social life. I command them on being honest saying that “your opinions bear no significance, only the language proficiency”. When I was asked what, in my opinion, needs to happen in order to have democracy established in Iraq I responded:” Democracy will never be adopted in Iraq as this is implying the equality of men and women. No Muslim will take orders from a female” This did not prevent me from being offered the contract position with FBI. What did crushed (not “craAshed” – @ Anastasia:) my will was the aforementioned pay rate – you guys complain about $35/hour? I was offered $27! Reading the other posts has reinforced my confidence that I have made the right decision.

It is pitiful when good resources are being pushed over to a side. For the record: I did speak better English (accent wise) than the verbal interviewer.

Sorry for the long post, I needed to vent since 2005, the time when my testing took place.

32. Kyung Kim - July 23, 2012

Hi, Valera, when did you get the job, in 2012? after starting the tests in 2005? I am interested in applying for one.

Jill (@bonnjill) - July 23, 2012

Based on her reply I’m going to guess she didn’t accept the job… I could be wrong though.

Valera (male:) - July 23, 2012

LOL, typical “lost-in-translation” situation. Valera is a male name, deprived from Valerians – one of Roman clan families. For example: the procurator of Judea before Pontius Pilate was Valerius Gratus. Anyway, Jill is right, I got the package in the mail for background check and scheduled a polygraph. Once I found out about pay-rate I removed my person from applicants list. Btw, Kim, if you did not get that from my posting you might want to think harder whether this position is for you. Please, do not get me wrong, but there are standards of language comprehension and if you don’t want to be regarded as one of poor performers in the field you might want to take your time. Long story short: after completing a BS in International Business, having a few essays published, performing synchronous translations and etc. I ended up becoming an automotive painter and made double of what FBI was offering. While considering slowing the pace of life a bit I decided to survey the language field and that is how I ended up here, to my frustration.

Once again Jill, thank you very much for providing a open forum. I enjoyed learning of experiences of others in the field and wish everyone good luck. The future applicants should have a much clearer view of what to expect in the career.


Jill (@bonnjill) - July 23, 2012

Sorry for the gender confusion.

33. Maya - September 17, 2012

Thanks for the super interesting post. I just wanted to point out that the background check for contract linguists goes back only 7 years. The forms you fill out only go back 7 years (or your 18th birthday, if this is less than 7 years). They definitely do not check your childhood neighborhood if you are a 40 year old…just thought I would mention it. You can see all the forms and all the background questions on the FBI website.

34. Moe - September 30, 2012

Hi , thanks for all these interesting posts. I live in Tennessee and i passed the phase one of the linguist job application, now i have to go to Washington DC to take spoken proficiency test. My question is : Will the fbi pay for my travel expenses or do i pay it myself. Thanks

Jill (@bonnjill) - September 30, 2012

Most of the time the spoken proficiency test is done over the phone. I know mine was. If you have to go to DC for training the FBI will pay for your travel expenses. Your contact should be able to answer this for you.

Moe - October 3, 2012

Thanks so much for the answer. You are right, the spoken proficiency test will conducted over the phone from Washington DC in the Nashville office with me and my contact in the office. Any ideas what type of questions i will be asked ? I heard that i just need to be myself and answer the questions as briefly as i can and to the point. I also heard that the hardest is behind me now, is it true ? 🙂
Thanks again for your help.

Jill (@bonnjill) - October 3, 2012

You won’t be asked many questions at all. It is just a chat to test your spoken proficiency. You may be asked to talk about politics or education or any other topic that they can start at a low register and ramp up as needed. If you are truly fluent it will be a total breeze. I never noticed that it got difficult and was surprised when they said I was done.

Moe - December 12, 2012

Hi Jill, thanks again for your valuable answers and comments. I passed the language proficiency test for FBI linguist job. Its been almost three weeks and they still didn’t contact me yet. Does it take that long for them to send me the application for background check ?

Thanks again and have a wonderful day.

Jill (@bonnjill) - December 12, 2012

Get used to waiting months for them to do anything – and the background check will take a year. The FBI is anything but swift. Good luck.

35. seanmac2002 - January 24, 2013

Hi Jill,

I would like to ask about polygraph test. Could you explain a little bit more about the procedure? How does it often proceed? And what type of questions are being asked? Also, is it the most to relinquish the dual citizenship?

Thank you in advance for the response.


Jill (@bonnjill) - January 24, 2013

I haven’t gone through this process for 10 years and the post is 4 years old, so I really don’t feel comfortable answering these kinds of questions beyond what I have already shared. Sorry. They might have changed the test since I’ve taken it. If you do some googling I’m sure you will find more information about polygraphs in general and FBI polygraphs in particular. I’m also going to stop the comments on this post. I just don’t feel qualified anymore to help anyone since I haven’t worked for the FBI in YEARS. Thanks for understanding.

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