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Who is Uncle Sam Looking For?

U.S. Department of State Looks for Best, Brightest Interpreters
 
Since 1781, the Office of Language Services (LS) has provided language support to the Executive Office and other federal agencies, and uses only highly skilled interpreters and translators. The office boasts that it provides "the finest ministerial-level language service in the world and is the 'gold standard' for interpreting and translating."
While the languages in demand change often, LS is always seeking qualified candidates in Arabic, Azerbaijani, Chinese, Estonian, Georgian, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Kurdish, and other languages of limited diffusion. There is currently very low demand for Spanish or Russian. 
 
Most LS interpreters have years of formal interpreting experience, which may include work in court systems, community organizations, medical interpreting, and international conferences. Few LS interpreters have experience in all of these arenas, but most have worked in at least a couple of these settings.
 
Have Skills, Will Travel
 
Travel is required for almost all LS interpreting assignments. For escort- and seminar-level interpreting work, a typical assignment involves traveling within the United States to various cities for approximately three weeks. For conference-level interpreting work, the assignments are shorter in length and may involve international travel. For written translation work, travel is usually not required.   
 
Applicants for interpreting work who have sufficient experience and education are tested twice in telephone interviews. After successful completion of the phone interviews, candidates are invited to Washington, D.C. at their own expense to sit for a one-hour formal interpreting test. All applicants have to fill out background check forms with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security after passing the test.
 
Pay rates are not published and are only disclosed after the exam is successfully passed. The rates are fixed per fiscal year. Full-time staff openings are extremely rare. If there are any full-time personnel positions available they will be posted on the USA Jobs website at www.usajobs.gov .

By Michelle Simmons
Get Interpreter Jobs, Contributing Editor

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