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LOOKING FOR A FASCINATING CAREER?
Intelligence Exec Maureen Baginski Talks About Opportunities in Language Services

08/24/05

Maureen BaginskiQ: You've established an Intelligence Career Service (ICS) at the FBI that encompasses agents, intelligence analysts, language specialists, and surveillance specialists at HQ and in the field. Can you tell us how ICS has changed opportunities specifically for language specialists?

Ms. Baginski: I'm a linguist myself and I know from personal experience that many of our language specialists were doing a lot more than translating for us. They brought special cultural knowledge and sensitivities to cases that far exceeded mere translation. As a consequence, we are working on creating different training and pay opportunities for our onboard linguists and new recruits who want to operate in the intelligence area. Of course we still use our invaluable contract linguists for translation services, but "Language Analysts" are now, as you say, officially members of the FBI's Intelligence Career Service.

Q: What are the benefits of becoming a Language Analyst?

Ms. Baginski: From the ones I've talked to, it turns out to be loving the work and the job. But beyond that, we are implementing a Foreign Language Proficiency Pay Program that will offer pay incentives for language skills and also grant awards for achieving certain reading or speaking levels in a foreign language. And we have a lot more flexibility in terms of promotional potential too, including opportunities to train in intelligence work and earn Intelligence Officer Certification.

Q: And what about those invaluable contract linguists?

Ms. Baginski: In fact, you may be surprised to learn that nearly two-thirds of the FBI's translation services are currently being provided by contract linguists. They are really terrific and we would never want to do without them: they give us flexibility and surge capacity we need for varying translation needs in rare languages. But our goal is to switch that balance, so that some two-thirds of our translation services are provided by full-time employees, with contractors supplying the remaining third of our needed services. Many of our contract linguists love the flexibility that contract work gives them and wouldn't want a full time, onboard position. But I will tell you this: our pool of contract linguists is also the first place we look when filling vacancies for full-time language professionals. So I would encourage people who aren't sure they want a full-time FBI career to apply for a contract position. If they turn out to love the work and want to apply for a full time position, they are just one step away.

Q: One last item: what language proficiencies are you most interested in?

Ms. Baginski: Do you have a pencil? At this point, we need proficiencies in Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Burmese, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Indonesian, Kazakh, Korean, Kurdish, Malay, Malayalam, Pashto, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Somali, Swahili, Tajik, Tamil, Tausug, Tigrinya, Turkmen, Uigur, Urdu, Uzbek, and Vietnamese.

Resources: More stories on Language Specialists