How to Get Paid for Another Language in the Army

The US Army pays extra for soldiers proficient in certain foreign languages.

The US Army pays extra for soldiers proficient in certain foreign languages.

The United States Army continually seeks to recruit soldiers proficient in critical target languages, such as Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Chinese, Korean and others. If you speak any of the target languages, the Army will grant you a pay bonus of up to $1,000 per month upon proof of proficiency. To obtain this bonus, you must be enlisted or commissioned in the Army and obtain the appropriate score on a defense language proficiency test.

Notify Your Command

If you speak or have knowledge of a target language and wish to participate in the Army Foreign Language Program, notify your command to arrange a DLPT. Although the Army trains active-duty linguists at the Defense Language Institute, it still seeks to utilize any critical language skills that soldiers serving in other occupations may possess. For this reason, the Army offers compensation to soldiers who demonstrate and maintain certain critical language skills on the DLPT as part of the Army Foreign Language Program.

Register for the Exam

Once you've notified your command unit of your language skills, you must register for the DLPT. You can prepare for the exam through practicing and personal study of your target language, particularly listening and reading. The DLPT is usually administered annually but is also subject to change according to the needs of the command.

Take the Exam

Take the DLPT exam on the scheduled date. The DLPT contains several sections to test your reading and listening levels in your designated target language. You must score at least a two in both reading and listening out of a possible scale of zero to five to pass the exam. A level two indicates a "limited working proficiency" of the target language. To receive foreign language proficiency pay, you must score above a two in at least one section.

Maintain Language Proficiency

Once you achieve the appropriate score to receive foreign language proficiency pay, you'll receive up to $1,000 per month, depending on your proficiency level and mission needs. You'll be responsible to maintain at least a level L2/R2 on subsequent yearly re-evaluation tests. Maintain your language proficiency through taking command-sponsored language classes, conversing with other speakers of your target language or through independent study.

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About the Author

Chiara Sakuwa has been a writer since 2005. Her work has appeared in publications such as the "Liberty Champion" newspaper and "The New World Encyclopedia" project. She is also the author of the novel "The Lady Leathernecks." She holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences from Campbell University and a Master of Criminal Justice from Boston University.

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