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