As a linguist you will use your skills to help ASIO to assess threats to Australia's national security
Working as a linguist in our unique environment is challenging and rewarding, and we require people with more than just foreign language skills. That's why you should use the information presented to understand if the role is right for you.
The linguist role
Should I Apply?
The linguist role
On a typical day you will review large volumes of foreign and English material and report information of significance to ASIO investigations. You’ll constantly exercise sound judgement to ensure that critical information is provided accurately, promptly and concisely in your daily written reports and verbal briefings. Close collaboration with linguists in other language groups is necessary in order to complete multilingual tasks.
We are looking for people who work well in diverse teams, and who have a flexible attitude to work.
ASIO employs linguists in both fixed-term contract positions and ongoing positions, full time and part time.
The key parts of the role are:
- To derive information of intelligence value from the material.
- To evaluate and report on the broader context of material processed, and explain subtle differences of meaning.
- To produce daily written reports in clear and concise English.
- To provide interpreter support for various activities as required.
- To periodically provide verbal briefings to officers on the broader cultural and country-specific context of the work.
- To competently use IT systems to process and report information.
- To work effectively in a team environment and collaborate actively with colleagues.
It’s not about what you do; it’s about what you’re doing it for!
Linguists generally start on an annual salary of $68,568 (plus superannuation) and can progress over a number of years to $94,830 (plus superannuation). Casual contractors are paid a casual loading but do not receive annual leave, personal leave or superannuation. In determining your starting salary, we will consider your education, professional qualifications and employment history.
To be eligible to apply, you must have Australian citizenship.
If you are able to understand more than one language/dialect, this will make your application more competitive. Whether it’s your mother tongue, or you studied the language, you will need to have an in-depth knowledge of the spoken language(s)/dialect(s) and social/cultural context. The ability to read and write the foreign language(s) is also desirable.
Apart from you being interested in the various aspects of the linguist role, it is also important you understand the selection process involves a detailed security vetting process which takes into account a range of personal and professional information to ensure you are suitable to hold a high level security clearance.
Applicants need to be found suitable to hold a security clearance in addition to being found suitable to perform the linguist role.
While our headquarters is in Canberra, ASIO recruits linguists across Australia. However, applicants are required to work out of one of the mainland state/territory capital cities. ASIO linguists are not able to work from home. Applicants must be able to attend each stage of the recruitment process. We do not conduct assessments overseas.
Our recruitment process includes testing your foreign language skills, assessing other competencies relevant to the linguist role, and evaluating your suitability to hold a high level security clearance.
Should you be unsuccessful, you will be advised as such, although you will not be provided with specific feedback.
If you have any queries about the recruitment process, please contact the recruitment team on 02 6257 4916.
ASIO offers a broad range of training opportunities for Officers at all levels so your skills are always kept up to date.
Should I Apply?
Read Rima’s story about a typical day’s work for an ASIO linguist to find out more about the role and the work environment. Then, please ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I feel comfortable working cooperatively in a team environment with other staff, including other linguists, and collaborating with people from diverse backgrounds, cultures and opinions?
- Am I naturally curious about language and the subtle ways language is used by native speakers?
- Am I aware of my strengths and weaknesses as a linguist, and motivated to continue learning and improving my skills?
- Do I enjoy the challenges associated with translating foreign language material, and always seek to produce high quality work?
If your answers are ‘yes’ to all of these questions, you might be the person we are looking for.
Rima's Story - A day in the life of ASIO Linguist Rima
The train journey from my home to the ASIO office where I work in the city usually takes about 45 minutes. I usually start work at about 8.30am. My husband usually drops the children off at school, but occasionally I have to do that, which means I start work a little later. I find ASIO’s flexible working hours (‘flexitime’) really helps me manage my family commitments.
My linguist colleagues come from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, and it’s a really friendly and diverse environment to work in. We work as a team all the time, sharing our knowledge of different parts of the world and helping each other to make sense of some of the finer points of languages, dialects and the cultural differences. Our diversity is really a strength in many ways!
A typical work day for me begins with reading reports which give me more understanding of the wider issues affecting my work. Then, I would begin my normal work – this might include putting on my headphones and transcribing foreign language audio material, looking at a range of foreign language internet material and providing English translations, or even translating hard copy foreign language documents into English. Each day I produce a report containing mostly summaries in English of the information which I have processed.
As a linguist, I work very closely with the investigative officers. They provide me with written and verbal briefings and updates on priorities and developments with the investigation. There is always a large amount of work to get through, so I really need to focus on what the investigative officers tell me is most important. Some of the material I listen to, or translate, may not be directly relevant to security, but whatever is relevant to the investigation needs to be reported by me in clear and concise written English, and sent electronically to the officer in charge of the investigation. That officer provides me with regular feedback and often asks me to report particularly significant information again in greater detail.
The work can require me to listen to audio material or work at a computer for extended periods, so I make sure that I take regular short breaks and stretch my legs. While the work can be quite demanding at times, I feel very well supported by my manager and my colleagues around me. There is always someone to turn to for advice.
ASIO ensures that I keep developing my skills by providing me with training opportunities in a range of areas relevant to my work. By making the most of the training and development opportunities which ASIO has offered me, I have gained a good understanding of the wider context of my work and can clearly see how linguists like me make a direct contribution to ASIO’s work in protecting Australia, its people and its interests.
Please note: ASIO holds all employment applications in the strictest of confidence and it is essential that you do the same and do not discuss your application with others.
The recruitment process is lengthy, but necessary. We thank you for your efforts in submitting an application, and for investing your time in our selection process.