If you intend to be a military linguist, you’ll have to get familiar with the Defense Language Proficiency Test, or DLPT.
Were you raised in a multilingual environment? Did you take enough French in high school to do more than order a baguette or sweet-talk someone? Can you watch an anime without the subtitles on? If, for some reason, you are already proficient in a language other than English, the United States Military’s got a test for you to prove it.
Whether you were raised with it, learned it in school, or have sat through months or years at one of the military’s language schools, the Defense Language Proficiency Test is the one way to show what you know (and earn from it). The DLPT is like any other standardized military test. And there are specific versions (multiple, in many cases) for a number of languages — from Arabic to Yoruba.
One thing about being a Linguist in the military is that your Service Branch will most likely assign you a language based on both your DLAB score and the current needs of the force. However… if you come into the military with language fluency, then you have a better chance of enlisting directly into a job using that language. (There are a lot of “fine print” details that go along with that.) And, you can still have a language identifier attached to your military job, even if that job isn’t specifically a Linguist job.
America is a diverse country, and that diversity is one of the things that makes it mighty — since people from all over the world have come to the US for the chance to chase their dreams and carve out their own little piece of happiness. As a result of that diversity, a significant number of Americans are raised with either actual bi-linguistic fluency or an interest in other languages and cultures.
Both of those are great gateways to becoming a Linguist in the military. And Linguist careers are always difficult to fill; they are always listed on critical skills or stressed career fields lists. Even on top of that, many languages are also listed as critical skills. So, as mentioned above, you can actually earn monthly language pay on top of your normal pay. Most stressed or critically understaffed jobs in the military come with a bonus when you enlist and complete all your training. So there’s that. THEN there is the monthly Foreign Language Proficiency Bonus added to your pay.
Then there’s serving your nation through the power of that diversity that helps make this nation great. And there’s setting yourself up for global success when you leave uniform, continuing the diversity. So, if you’ve ever wanted to learn a foreign language, or use the one you already know, make that DLPT a goal… and go get it.
Featured image courtesy of dantes.doded.mil.