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Language Specialist Series 1040

Language Specialist Series, 1040

Individual Occupational Requirements


Undergraduate and Graduate Education: Major study -- the appropriate foreign language from an English-speaking college or university, English from a college or university in the other country, or translating or interpreting where English and the foreign language were prerequisites.



General Experience (for GS-5 positions): Knowledge of both English and the appropriate foreign language are required. This knowledge may be demonstrated through education, experience, or a combination of the two for entry level positions as listed below:


  • Three years of work experience requiring considerable use of English.
  • A full 4-year course in a college or university in any subject where the instruction was primarily in English.
  • Experience in speaking English where English was the second language in the high school system of a non-English speaking country.

Foreign Language

  • Experience in speaking or writing in the language because it was the language (a) in which the applicant was educated (through the high school level), (b) of the household, or (c) in which the applicant worked for a long period of time, including service in the Armed Forces.
  • A full 4-year course in an accredited college or university in a country where the foreign language required for the position to be filled is the native language.

Specialized Experience (for positions above GS-5): Experience in translating, interpreting, or other work requiring the use of English and the other language; or a combination of work (that required English and the other language) and training at the Defense Language Institute, Foreign Service Institute, or comparable training.

The following are examples of work in the required language that may have provided the required abilities: translator; interpreter; librarian or information specialist required to make abstracts, screen, index, and scan material; intelligence; writer or editor; international organizational work, such as the Peace Corps, World Bank, United Nations, business, or other organizations; or professor, teacher, or instructor work at the high school or college level that required use of the foreign language.

Testing Provisions

Agencies may test applicants for foreign language proficiency on a pass/fail basis prior to appointment. Agencies must document the connection between the level of proficiency required and the duties of the position to be filled. Test material for applicants for the same position or grade level should be equally difficult, and should be selected from typical work-related documents.

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