printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

FAQs


Applications FAQ

  1. Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to work for your office?
  2. How long is the application process?
  3. What languages are in high demand?
  4. What kind of background do your contract interpreters possess?
  5. Is travel required?
  6. How do I start the application process?
  7. Are references required?
  8. Am I required to submit a translation sample?
  9. Where can I find the application form and instructions?
  10. What happens after I apply?
  11. Does having a clearance from another government agency help me obtain a contract work or a staff position with your office?
  12. What are your rates?
  13. Do you have any full-time, staff positions available?

 

1. Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to work for your office?

No, but you must be able to legally work in the United States. This typically means that you are a permanent resident, have a green card, or have a visa that does not require sponsorship. The Office of Language Services does not sponsor visas or work permits. If you are not a US citizen, you must show proof that you are able to work legally in the United States when submitting your application.

2. How long is the application process?

Upon submitting your application to the Office, you will receive an electronic message confirming receipt within one week. For non-critical languages, it may take from two to ten months before you receive notification regarding the Office’s course of action on your application. If your language combination is in high demand, the application process normally takes four to six months in total.

3. What languages are in high demand?

While our needs fluctuate on a regular basis, we are always seeking highly qualified candidates in any language combination, particularly for work at the conference level.

4. What kind of background do your contract interpreters possess?

Most interpreters on our language rosters have years of formal interpreting experience. Most interpreters working at the conference level have considerable conference interpreting experience if their language combination is one that is used regularly in the conference setting. Some contract interpreters, particularly in language combinations not used regularly in conference settings, have experience in legal, healthcare, and community interpreting settings. The requirements in these settings differ considerable from those of our assignments, which means that this type of interpreting experience does not necessarily carry over well to the area of diplomacy and policy. Strong interpreting candidates may have formal training in interpretation, such as a Master of Arts in conference interpreting, if such training is available in the language combination in question, and are often members of professional organizations such as AIIC (International Association of Conference Interpreters) or TAALS (The American Association of Language Specialists).

5. Is travel required?

Travel is required for almost all interpreting assignments offered through Language Services. For liaison- and seminar-level interpreting work, a typical assignment involves traveling within the United States to various cities during a period of approximately three weeks. For conference-level interpreting work, the assignments are shorter in length and may involve domestic or international travel. For written translation work, travel is usually not required.

6. How do I start the application process?

Please follow the instructions included in the application form [link]. An application must be complete, i.e., include a resume and references, for it to be considered.

7. Are references required?

Yes. Please refer to the application instructions for guidance.

8. Am I required to submit a translation sample?

If you are applying for written translation work, submitting a typed translation sample is required. If no sample is submitted, you will not be considered for translation work regardless of whether you filled out the application section indicating that you are applying for translation work. Please refer to the application instructions for further guidance on translation samples.

9. Where can I find the application form and instructions?

The application instructions are found on the first page of the application document. Simply open the document.

10. What happens after I apply?

If you are applying for interpreting and you have sufficient experience and educational background, you will be contacted by an interpreter who will conduct a basic screening over the phone. If you are successful during this telephone screening, you will be invited to come to Washington, DC, at your own expense, to sit for the formal interpreting test, which lasts approximately one to three hours. See here (link) for more information.

If you are applying for translation you may be asked to submit an additional sample; or, if you have sufficient experience based upon the quality of your application and translation samples, you will be invited to come to Washington, DC, at your own expense, to sit for the formal translation test, which lasts approximately four hours.

11. Does having a clearance from another government agency help me obtain a position with you?

No. All applicants are required to undergo a background check conducted by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security after passing a contractor test. It is up to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security to determine if clearances from other agencies can be considered as a factor in their review of your clearance application.

12. What are your rates?

We do not publish our rates. Typically rates are not disclosed until after you have passed the exam. The rates are fixed per fiscal year and are competitive with those offered by international organizations.

13. Do you have any full-time, staff positions available?

Staff openings are extremely rare. If there are any staff positions available, they will be posted at the website of the Office of Personnel Management (www.usajobs.gov), where all civil service openings are advertised.


Sign-in

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.