By Susan Taylor
Two years after the recession hit, and experts say the United States economy is on the rebound. That news may be surprising to the many people still out of work and looking for jobs. If you're in that group, it may be time to change your strategy. You can keep pounding the pavement looking for a position in your previous field of work, or you can pursue a government job.
Working for the U.S. Government doesn't necessarily mean sitting in a drab, windowless office doing paperwork all day. Some branches offer truly exciting opportunities, if you have the right skills. One talent that can get your foot in the door, and get you closer to a challenging and exciting job with the government is the ability to speak Spanish. Whether you already know the language, or you're willing to learn, here are three agencies where Spanish skills will give you an advantage in finding a job.
Department of Homeland Security
With so much activity lately related to border issues, illegal immigration, counterterrorism, and drug trafficking, one government agency currently expanding is the Border Patrol. Jobs with the Border Patrol range from officers actually patrolling the borders to administrative personnel who manage the agency. Border Patrol officers do much more than that, including fighting cyberterrorism and human trafficking.
You don't have to already speak Spanish in order to be hired as a Border Patrol officer. The agency administers a Spanish test to all trainees. If you score below a certain level, your training is extended by eight weeks to include a language class. By taking a little time to learn some Spanish on your own before you apply, you can start working much sooner.
Department of State
As the lead foreign affairs agency in the United State government, the Department of State is involved in matters of foreign policy. This means that many State Department employees, from the Secretary of State on down, often deal with foreign dignitaries and people from countries around the world. Not everyone who works at the State Department speaks a language, so the agency hires both full time and contract translators and interpreters.
What's the difference? Translators work on converting documents of all kinds from their original language into English. Interpreters perform live translation, such as when a foreign dignitary visits and must be able to communicate with State Department personnel. The agency employs interpreters and translators proficient in more than 40 languages, including Spanish. If you speak Spanish, you could be well on your way to a job with the Department of State. And who knows? If you speak it well enough, you may work your way up to being an interpreter for the Secretary of State, or even the President.
CIA and FBI
Not every job in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) entails going undercover and chasing spies. But even the administrative-type jobs require special skills, and make important contributions to the success of the agencies. One of those jobs is the Open Source Officer. This person analyzes information available through open means such as radio, television, press, and the Internet, and provides reports related to political and economic conditions in countries around the world. With so many Hispanic countries, an Open Source Officer who speaks Spanish has a lot of job security.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) does things a little differently. The agency offers opportunities for new hires to become Special Agents, or Professional Staff. Many agents can benefit from foreign language skills, including Spanish, which sometimes depend on where the agent is assigned. Professional Staff jobs include analytical positions, many of which can also require language skills. If you've ever considered a career in intelligence or law enforcement, either agency is worth considering.
Government jobs aren't right for everyone. But in this job market where civilian jobs are not only scarce but uncertain, it just makes sense to consider all your options, and to give yourself as many advantages as you can, even if it means learning a new language.
Susan Taylor is a freelance writer specializing in topics that involve creating a successful and enriched life. She loves travel, foreign languages and curling up with a good book.