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CIA Values Language Capabilities Among Employees

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“Language skills are the keys to accessing foreign societies, understanding their governments, and decoding their secrets. Stronger language skills will give our officers enhanced access to the information our policymakers need to protect our nation.”
—Director Leon E. Panetta

Foreign language capabilities have always been and will continue to be a critical part of the success of the Central Intelligence Agency’s mission. Agency officers use their command of language to perform research, translate materials, help with analysis or work overseas. The CIA values its employees who bring these valuable language skills to the table and seeks to reward them through achievement-based incentives.

The CIA has two language incentive programs:

  • Language Hiring Bonus Program
  • Language Incentive Payments


Language Hiring Bonus Program

Are you fluent in a foreign language? The CIA might have a job for you. The Language Hiring Bonus Program rewards new employees with superior language skills who have been hired into designated occupations. New employees can qualify for a hiring bonus in more than one language, but the maximum amount is $35,000 per individual. Bonuses are paid in a one-time, lump sum payment.


Language Incentive Payments

CIA values its employees with superior language skills and encourages them to maintain and use their proficiency in support of CIA’s mission. The Language Incentive Payments reward Agency employees who test at the required proficiency in one or more of the almost 100 languages CIA needs. Employees who use their language skills in their jobs may qualify for even higher incentives. In addition, those who are able to improve their language test scores may qualify for language achievement awards.


Mission-Critical Languages

In May 2009 Director Panetta announced a new plan to build the multilingual workforce that the CIA needs. Within five years the Agency aims to double the number of employees who are proficient in languages, with a special focus on those that are mission critical. The mission-critical languages include:

  • Arabic
  • Dari
  • Chinese
  • Indonesian
  • Kurdish
  • Korean
  • Pushto (Pashtu)
  • Persian (Farsi)
  • Russian
  • Turkish
  • Urdu

To learn more about language positions at the CIA, visit CIA Careers.


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Posted: Mar 18, 2010 11:51 AM
Last Updated: Apr 30, 2013 12:36 PM