Marine Corps Job: 2799 Military Interpreter/Translator

These Marines handle translation of foreign languages

An Iraqi civilian speaks through a translator to the Marines
•••  Photo by LCpl. Marc Fencil/Wikimedia Commons

Military Interpreter Translators are tasked with conducting language interpretation activities that are generally not related to intelligence (meaning they're probably not handling sensitive communications).

This job is considered a free military occupational specialty (FMOS), meaning any Marine can apply for it. But some proficiency in a foreign language — one the military deems necessary— is required. The Marine Corps categorizes this job as MOS 2799. It's open to Marines between the ranks of private through master gunnery sergeant.

Duties of Marine Corps Translator/Interpreters

As the job title suggests, it's up to these Marines to accurately translate foreign languages into English and vice versa in order to further Marine Corps missions in foreign territories. This may include statements made by participants in conferences, working parties, legal proceedings and similar activities.

They also are tasked with interviewing friendly non-English speaking civilians such as police, clergymen and other citizens to obtain information of military value.

It's also up to these Marines to determine whether the information they gather from their interpretation and the person providing it is reputable. They write reports to that effect for use by unit commander and for other troops.

In addition, Marine Corps translator/interpreters translate written, non-technical material and establish libraries of language reference materials, including glossaries of military terms and foreign language dictionaries.

They also provide interpreter support to civil affairs officers.

Note that these Marines generally do not handle translation or interpretation duties concerning enemy combatants or other hostile people. But on some occasions, these interpreters may be called upon to assist with interrogations, always under the supervision of counterintelligence specialists.

Qualifying as a Military Translator/Interpreter

Since this is a free MOS, not a primary one, there isn't a specific score required on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tests. That will be determined by whatever your primary MOS is. But it's unlikely you'll be appointed to this job without some foreign language proficiency.

You'll be tested for your proficiency and may receive some additional language training depending on the needs of the Marine Corps.

Be advised, however, that there are some foreign languages that the Marine Corps and other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces consider more valuable than others. The many dialects of Arabic, the languages of central Asia, Spanish and Pashto have become top priorities in recent years.