You can become a cryptologic linguist by enlisting in military service and qualifying for the job within a specific branch. If you live in the United States and seek employment as a cryptologic linguist in the military, you must first take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test and score a specific way to qualify for training. The Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines all offer training for this job.
For United States citizens, the first step in becoming a cryptologic linguist involves joining the military and taking the ASVAB test. Military standards for recruitment include meeting certain height and weight requirements, medical standards of fitness, and background check qualifications. The last requirement is important for anyone who wants to become a cryptologic linguist because the job usually requires top secret security clearance. This is an extensive process that looks into an applicant's criminal, financial, and character background. A personal history form is filled out fully and honestly, and references are also requested.
Background checks and security clearances are necessary because a cryptologic linguist interprets and reports intercepted information. They may be privy to details that are critical to national security. The information they translate and analyze is spoken or written in a language other than English, so the process to become a cryptologic linguist may involve many years of foreign language training. If a recruit is already fluent in another language, foreign language training may not be necessary.
Foreign language training for a cryptologic linguist takes place after boot camp is completed. It is a condensed training course conducted at a military facility. The language learned is determined by the score received on a test administered that specifically determines an individual's language learning aptitude. This test is distinct from the ASVAB, and high scores on both tests must be earned before an individual can get a job as a cryptologic linguist.
Not everyone who reaches a certain score threshold on the ASVAB and language test will be able to become a cryptologic linguist. The needs of the military for this particular occupation determine the number of people it can accept for the job within a particular branch at a certain time. In some cases, you may be asked to pick a range of jobs you would be willing to accept. When this happens, you would list cryptologic linguist as your first choice, but should be prepared to accept any job assigned. Some branches may allow you to know your specific assigned job before signing a contract.