Army Interpreters/Translators (MOS 09L) have an important function in the U.S. Military.
The job will likely put you in combat situations where you may be dealing with foreign languages in the Middle East.
You also may serve an important role in supporting government relations and tactical strategy.
In order to be considered for the role of Army Interpreter (09L), you must speak and read fluently in another language.
Education, Qualifications, Training, and Duty Stations
There are specialized educational requirements and training necessary to become an Army Interpreter (09L).
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Those that wish to get considered for the job of Army Translator/Interpreter must have a high school diploma or GED.
Candidates for MOS 09L are required to complete education not the norm of most soldiers.
You need to be proficient in one or more of the following languages:
- Arabic-Modern Standard
- Persian-Afghan (Dari)
- Persian-Iranian (Farsi)
Furthermore, you need to have an ASVAB score of at least 50 in the English Comprehension Level Test (ECLT) portion.
In addition to being required to read and speak at least one foreign language, MOS 09L must also improve English skills.
Service members can train at the Defense Language Institute English Language Center to improve English skills.
By the end of training, you must complete a score of at least 80 on the ECLT.
Furthermore, you must complete an L2 (listening) and S2 (speaking) on the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) and at least a 10 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).
NOTE: You may also have to qualify for Secret security clearance from the Department of Defense is you are in the upper ranks of MOS-09L.
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The first step is to complete basic English language training if required by the U.S. Army.
Then, you must complete 10 weeks of Army Basic Training (or boot camp).
After completing BCT, you can progress to Advanced Individual Training where you may also want to focus on training regarding:
- VIP Escort
- Checkpoint Operations
- Medical Support
- Contract Negotiations
- Cultural Awareness
- Training Host-Nation Forces
- Locally Employed Personnel Screening
NOTE: If the Army deems you do not need English enhancement training, you will skip the first step, complete BCT, then progress to Advanced Individual Training for six weeks at Fort Jackson.
Those serving in the Army as an MOS 09L can expect to be potentially based at one of the following duty stations:
Inside the Continental US (CONUS)
- Ft. Irwin, CA
- Ft. Polk, LA
Outside the Continental US (OCONUS)
What does an Army Interpreter/Translator Do?
The Army Interpreter/Translator 09LC MOS is “responsible for conducting interpretation and preparing translations between English and a foreign language,” according to the U.S. Army.
Interpreters also assist soldiers with familiarization training in foreign languages and cultural awareness.
It is not uncommon for translators to specialize in not just one, but multiple languages.
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Direct Lines of Communication
Army Interpreters are incredibly important because often a group of soldiers with very little understanding of the language or knowledge of the culture are shipped overseas.
Translators are fluent in speaking, writing, and reading the language.
They can provide direct communication between troops and local civilians and vice versa.
The most common form of interpretation is done orally.
Army Interpreters are incredibly important in negotiations of all kinds from hostage negotiations to creating terms and conditions of an agreement.
When not in combat, translators often run classes and training designed to give other members of the unit basic understanding of the language, culture, and other norms of the foreign place.
Often, interpreters assist military contracting officers with a local purchase.
There is a high demand for fluent translators at important intersections and other military checkpoints.
The translator is able to provide interpretation support at military traffic control points.
Additionally, they often assist security personnel in screening the local population.
Army interpreters and translators are crucial to establishing human relations between U.S. Military and local cultures.
Interpreters often assist in the Public Affairs Office.
They are important for addressing the media during crucial events.
As Army interpreters move up the ranks, the duties will become more complex.
Often, 09L MOS begin in an office reading and translating foreign language material to English, or vice versa.
Then, you are assigned more responsibilities like translating orally during negotiations and providing guidance to others.
The most respected Army Interpreters serve as high-level personal escorts and Top Secret military negotiations.
What does an Army Interpreter make?
The Army has the same base pay for all individuals with the same rank and years of service.
You will notice that as you move up in rank and time of service, you will also get paid more:
|Insignia||Pay Grade||Rank||Abbreviation||Minimum Monthly Pay|
|E-2||Private Second Class||PV2||$2,001|
|E-3||Private First Class||PFC||$2,104|
|E-7||Sergeant First Class||SFC||$3,208|
|E-9||Command Sergeant Major||CSM||$5,473|
|E-9||Sergeant Major of the Army||SMA||$5,473|
The U.S. Army has several benefits included with a monthly salary:
- Medical Insurance
- Vacation Time
- Special Pay
- Housing: Allowances for living expenses, utilities, and maintenance.
- Food: Allowance for the on-base dining hall and access to tax-free department and grocery stores
- Education: Army members can earn full-tuition, merit-based scholarships, allowances for books and fees, plus annual stipend for living expenses.
- Linguists receive a Foreign Language Proficiency Bonus (up to $400 extra for each language spoken, or a total of $1,000 p/ month).
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Most Interpreters agree that it is a very demanding job that requires a lot of education and skill, yet is one of the more rewarding in all of the Army.
The benefits of becoming a translator including learning foreign languages, learning about different cultures, communicating and helping people, and helping your government understand human affairs.
The biggest cons are the amount of time spent needing to learn and master one or more languages.
Army Interpreters are also often sent to high combat, dangerous places like Afghanistan and the Middle East.
Civilian Job Opportunities
Army Interpreters can continue to work as translators for private companies and other government agencies following retirement from the U.S. Military.
There is also a high demand in education for people that have bilingual skills.
The same is true of leadership roles, which may require people working with different nationalities and languages.
Additionally, the Army PaYS program is a recruitment option to consider for military personnel moving to civilian employment.
Lockheed Martin, AAI Corporation, Concucrrent Technologies, URS, and General Dynamics Land Systems are all companies the Army mentions as currently having partnerships with the Army to hire MOS 09L.
Army Interpreter/Translator is an important job to the U.S. Military.
Often troops are sent somewhere where they need a specialist that speaks and reads the language, understands local culture, and can assist with important negotiations and at military checkpoints.
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What does an Army Interpreter do?
Army interpreters translate spoken and written language from their specialty to English. They also help fellow soldiers navigate communications in foreign languages when overseas.
How long is AIT for Army Interpreter (MOS 09L)?
The length of your Advanced Individual Training may depend on your aptitude for languages. Army interpreters are already fluent in their foreign language, and some require English language training to qualify.
What ASVAB scores do you need for Army Interpreter (MOS 09L)?
To become an Army Interpreter, you’ll need a 50 in the English Comprehension Level Test and be already proficient in one of a number of Middle Eastern languages.
How much does an Army Interpreter (MOS 09L) make?
Like all Army positions, Army Interpreter are paid according to rank and time in service. The Army does offer a language proficiency bonus of $400 per month for each language, with a cap of $1,000 a month.
Is Army Interpreter a combat job?
MOS 09L isn’t a combat position, but many Army Interpreters are sent to combat zones to help troops navigate a foreign country with minimal conflict and misunderstanding.