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NELC Affiliated Programs and Departments

NELC Related Career Opportunities

Due to recent international events, there has been an increased interest in Middle Eastern studies, creating many opportunities for graduates from our department. Below are some links for individuals considering careers with the US Federal Government and various non-governmental organizations(NGOs).

The Federal Government is the largest employer of Americans with foreign language skills, both in this country and abroad. Some agencies and departments have established "language essential" positions—but fewer than half are satisfactorily filled. This means greater opportunities for government employees with strong language capabilities.

Agency for International Development (AID)

AID administers the majority of U.S. aid to over 60 countries. Positions include accountant, auditor, budget analyst, business analyst, information officer, loan officer and personnel specialist.

American Red Cross

The Red Cross provides medical help and disaster relief services across the United States and the world, and often, foreign languages skills are a necessity in this endeavor. With a permanent staff as well as a very large number of volunteers, translation and interpreter services are provided throughout communities and overseas. The United Way, the police, fire departments, schools and other organizations call upon the Language Bank service of the Red Cross in order to communicate in an almost unlimited number of languages. The website is organized mainly by chapter, and job availability with the Language Bank varies accordingly. The best way to search for these jobs is to first choose a location of interest.

Amnesty International

This activist organization fights for human rights worldwide. Language experts are always needed in many forms, including translators and interpreters for important documents or conferences, for example. Language jobs may be offered permanently in the organization, but are only advertised according to availability. Opportunity abounds for volunteers and sometimes internships using translation and interpreting skills, and all volunteers are recruited on minimum basis of 8 weeks full time or 3 months part time. Listed on the job area site are only those positions available in the international office, but contact the country of interest to find positions available there.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

The CIA is the primary intelligence-gathering arm of the United States Government. It employs U.S. citizens with backgrounds in international relations, political science, economics, history, geography, engineering, physics, and chemistry, as well as foreign languages.

Defense Intelligence Agency

The DIA employs economists, geologists, translators, engineers and meteorologists in its intelligence-gathering work. In a recent newspaper advertisement the Agency sought Bilingual Research Technicians for diverse clerical and administrative duties; reviewing foreign newspapers and documents, translating, typing, preparing briefs and abstracts. Fluency was required.

Department of State

The Department of State employs 15,000 Americans around the world. The Department has stated that in the field of foreign affairs, it is placing increased emphasis on the language capability of its Foreign Service Officers who staff over 300 U.S. diplomatic and consular offices around the world, and serve in Washington, D.C. as well. They are assigned duties in the economic, business, political, and cultural areas, and serve as consular officers and in administrative positions. Overseas, they have extensive contact with foreigners, interpreting U.S. foreign policy, protecting the interests of Americans abroad, processing visas, and carrying on intelligence work.

Doctors Without Borders

Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors without Borders, is termed the "largest private humanitarian relief organization." Career opportunities on the site are listed on a limited, by-need basis, but the need for volunteers is great. Non-medical as well as medical volunteers are needed, and language, though not a specific volunteer position, is a vital asset to the organization. Specifically, French, Spanish, Portuguese, or Russian allows for a faster and more useful placement to any position with Doctors without Borders. Minimal length of first missions usually ranges from 6–12 months.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

The DEA conducts domestic and international investigations of major drug traffickers, cooperating with Federal and local agencies as well as foreign governments. It provides special training in narcotic and dangerous drug control to U.S. and foreign law enforcement officers. DEA employs Americans fluent in the languages of the countries where they are assigned.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

The FBI employs linguists and also makes use of the language skills of its Special Agents who conduct foreign counterintelligence investigations within the U.S., and coordinate the domestic counterintelligence activities of other agencies in the intelligence community.

Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)

The INS is responsible for administering the laws relating to the admission, exclusion, deportation, and naturalization of aliens. Through its offices in the U.S. and abroad, it provides information to those seeking U.S. citizenship. INS personnel conduct investigations, detect violations of the immigration laws and determine the suitability of aliens to enter the U.S. They need a knowledge of the foreign language involved, together with the appropriate background in law enforcement and related fields. Border Patrol Officers use Spanish and many other languages.

International Monetary Fund

The IMF strives toward international monetary cooperation, exchange stability, and economic growth from its 183 member countries. In this endeavor, this organization usually employs economists and financial analysts. Professional positions including translator and interpreter are solicited on a need basis.

International Volunteer Organizations

Almost all of the international organizations for human service are non-profit, and therefore, they rely substantially on volunteers to carry out their services. Language skills are almost always useful or required. Service in these organizations can be within the United States or internationally located, and a certain amount of time in service is usually specified.

Amnesty International
Doctors Without Borders
UN Volunteers

National Security Agency

The NSA, which functions under the Department of Defense, employs research assistants, communications experts, and translators, all of whom must know foreign languages. This agency makes its appointments independently of civil service regulations.


In NATO the Interpreters and Translators are members of two independent services, the Translation Service and the Interpretation Service both forming part of Conference and Registry Services. The two working languages of NATO are English and French and staff members of the linguistic services work only in these two languages.

United Nations

In the language occupational group of UN employment, opportunities include translation, interpretation, terminology, verbatim reporting, and proofreading. Language services are needed at every UN meeting in the six official languages of this organization: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. Educational requirements differ for each specific position, posted on the current position area of the site. Translators and interpreters are required to be proficient in three languages.

United Nations Children's Fund

UNICEF offers aid to children all over the world. Employment vacancies are presented on a rolling basis for permanent positions. The Junior Professional Officer Program is a good way for young people age 28-32 to start out in the organization through developmental service. A master's degree and fluency in at least one UN language besides English is required: Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish, or Russian.

There are a wide variety of other organizations within the United Nations such as UNAIDS, UNCHS, UNIDO, UNEP, and WFP. Check out the many opportunities on their sites!

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization

UNESCO has a variety of professional linguist positions. Interpreters as well as translators are employed on a permanent or free-lance basis, with higher education and professional experience taken into account, and occasionally good candidates are recruited based on these qualifications. Translators usually have to know two languages besides their mother tongue, and outside translators are sometimes employed to work and be paid by the page. Minute-writer is unique career opportunity with UNESCO, and these permanent employees summarize speeches made by delegates during meetings and conferences.

United States Customs Service

The Customs Service collects revenue from imports and administers customs and related laws. It works closely with international organizations and foreign customs services. Some personnel are stationed overseas, making use of German, French, Spanish, Chinese and other languages.

United States Information Agency (USIA)

USIA employs over 2,000 persons with skills in some 50 languages at posts around the world. The agency maintains information offices and libraries in many countries, and operates the Voice of America radio network. Many positions are filled by Foreign Service Officers, and there are also non-career openings in clerical, library, radio and administrative work.

The Voice of America radio service broadcasts news, educational, entertainment, and other programs in many languages. Candidates for VOA positions must have a college degree plus skills in communications, journalism, foreign affairs, government, and/or related social sciences. Fluency in the language is a must; a near-perfect accent ("native fluency") and a good speaking voice are required for announcers. The work, in Washington and abroad, includes writing, editing, translating, reporting special events, evaluating material for broadcast use, and production.

World Bank

The World Bank provides a source of developmental assistance for the economies of developing nations, and in this process, need professional staff members who have a good understanding of policy and who have had international work experience. Foreign language skills are often a requirement for this type of employment in Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian.

World Health Organization

Within the WHO, there are professional positions offered on a permanent and temporary basis throughout the world that use foreign language skills. The health-related employment opportunities require a background in public health education, while the non-health related fields expect some business education, depending on the exact position. The official languages of the WHO are English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian, and any one of these languages may be a prerequisite for any of the jobs, depending on job location.

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