Bilingual? Government Funding for Retraining for A New and Even Better Job in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic - Translation Skills Training

Bilingual? Government Funding for Retraining for A New and Even Better Job in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic

How to Create a Lucrative Career Using Your Bilingual Skills
October 4, 2019
Woman wearing headphones watching her computer screen transcribing and translating a document
So, You Want to Become a Translator?
November 11, 2021

Pandemic Employment

No matter what the unemployment rate might be at any moment for the rest of the country if you are unemployed, the unemployment rate is 100% as far as you are concerned. Currently, due to the pandemic, even if you are not unemployed, you may be underemployed because you are working fewer hours. Others who contribute to your household income or to your extended family may be variously impacted financially.

No job is safe. Some of us face the direct threat of contagions, such as health care workers or those who work in essential businesses, such as grocery store workers or public transportation workers. Others face the economic threat of being furloughed or being labeled as belonging to non-essential professions. Even those who work at home in any business, are feeling or will feel the creeping impact of economic downturns.

At the time of this writing, JP Morgan projects a 40% contraction of the economy in the second quarter with 25 million Americans unemployed – 20% of the population, which is higher than the worst year of unemployment during the Great Depression.

In the midst of this pandemic, there are signs of a reshuffling of the American workforce. Some people are able to work from home. Some companies are beginning to speak of job sharing. However, even under the best circumstances and with all the right intentions, common sense suggests that employers are likely to have a rocky start at implementing it because they will have to change their business model. As this article in Forbes states, “While many small, medium and large businesses may not survive, every survivor will need to adapt.” According to this article in Quora, even jobs in the digital industries are being shaken. As for job sharing, it involves a reduction in hours, and so it may not be an attractive long-term strategy for recovering household incomes. The bottom line for the individual is to think of how to adapt to the changing landscapes in new job markets.

Solutions to Unemployment During the Pandemic

It turns out that there are some attractive solutions for people facing unemployment. Logically, most seem to involve retraining, according to an article in US News which notes that in general, the “uneven mix of displacement and demand is creating a labor market riptide that presents both profound challenges and opportunities for workers who missed out on the last economic recovery to move to higher-paying careers.” Some proposals involve retraining people so they can work specifically in jobs to fight the pandemic. The good news is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is funding tracing efforts because they need an army of people to do contact tracing in every state. Lab technicians are in high demand, but there are not enough to fill the 22% increase in need projected by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other jobs directly related to the pandemic are also in high demand and pay well, such as epidemiologists, registered nurses, and mental health professionals, among the six jobs described on the website of PayScale.

There is another sector of the job market populated by individuals whose current or previous employment is so varied that it does not fit under any one particular umbrella. However, they share one asset they can monetize: they are bilingual. Another characteristic many of them have in common is that, regardless of the jobs they hold or have held, they have been underemployed even before the pandemic. Those who speak Spanish and English easily could be working full-time right now, earning $75K plus benefits as Analytic Linguists. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that this sector will grow by 28.7% between 2014 and 2024 – for a total of 17,500 new jobs. This means that Analytic Linguists are in higher demand than even lab technicians during the current COVID-19 pandemic!

The job function of an Analytic Linguist is to monitor court-ordered, non-consensual oral communication intercepts by listening to conversations in foreign languages, transcribing and translating these conversations which then are used by various United States federal, state, and local government law enforcement agencies to conduct their investigations.

The separate tasks of monitoring, transcribing, and translating each requires mastery of various skillsets which must be utilized in a coordinated manner, and some of these skills overlap between these tasks. By examining these skills in more depth, if you are bilingual, you may get a sense of how well suited you are for the job of Analytic Linguist. In the real-life workplace of Analytic Linguists, a wire room, the first task they perform is monitoring, followed by transcription, and then the translation of a court-ordered oral communication intercept. In order to understand these skills better and how they differ, it is useful, to begin with, translation, since most people are somewhat familiar with it.

As might be expected, the skills of a professional, ATA-certified translator are transferable, but not without the very important caveat that the types of texts most professional translators work with (e.g., contracts, business, and technical manuals) generally are well written in the original language, instead of being derived from colloquial speech.

By contrast, a professional translator who has worked with the translation of comic books and graphic novels that deal with crime stories would be at less of a disadvantage than one who has only worked with legal contracts. Likewise, an interpreter who has worked in criminal trials would be able to transfer this skill in terms of knowledge of vocabulary and to some extent, master of sociolinguistic registers, but since interpreters generally do not deal with written texts, an interpreter would need to master the protocols required for the production of the written translation of a transcript.

The two rather unique job functions of Analytic Linguists are those of monitoring and transcribing. When Analytic Linguists monitor a conversation between parties of interest to law enforcement, they must be able to listen in a foreign language and produce a written summary (also called a synopsis) of the conversation – in English, picking out only the details that are relevant to the case that agents are investigating. This requires considerable critical thinking skills and an ability to walk a linguistic tightrope at the same time. They must understand the affidavit which outlines the investigation. They must be familiar with slang, code words, and ciphered speech, as well as idiomatic expressions, proverbs, and cultural, historical references, especially pop-culture that appeals to criminal underworlds.

These same skills and knowledge sets must be marshaled into service when Analytic Linguists are directed to transcribe a call, but now in a different way. An agent in charge, having read a synopsis of a call, may deem it of sufficient importance to want it transcribed and subsequently translated. This step is very critical and must be carried out with great precision because it is the transcript – a verbatim is a written record of a conversation – that becomes the source text in the source language for the translation into English. It even includes identifying background noises in the midst of conversations, in addition to the obvious need to distinguish participants in a call (by name if possible) and attributing spoken lines accurately to each participant. The transcript of a court-ordered oral communication intercept is like the script of a play, but one that is written from an audio recording of the performance, for which no previous text exists. That makes it a tricky business, or a professional challenge, for those who like to solve such puzzles. But that is why they make good money – and why you can too if you are qualified and have the bilingual skills necessary.

As you might guess from considering how complex these skills are and how demanding the work is, it is logical to conclude that training, assessment, and certification as an Analytic Linguist is the best way to ensure one’s professional success in the long run.

Online Training to Become an Analytical Linguist

Translation Skills Training™ (TST) developed its program to prepare you to monetize your bilingualism. The program is 100% online and accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET). If you have at least an Associate Degree, are a US citizen, and can pass a security clearance, you owe it to yourself to investigate this career option by being trained, tested, and certified by TST. The program costs far less than the typical tuition for a semester of college and can be paid for through the Workforce.

TST’s program consists of a sequence of six (6) courses, each six (6) weeks in length: nine (9) months. Unlike what happens to so many people who finish their undergraduate degree, there are jobs waiting for people who successfully complete this nine-month program. The process begins with a screening exam to determine a potential learner’s degree of bilingualism because TST does not teach Spanish or English as second languages to non-speakers of either one. TST accepts only bilingual people whose language competence already strongly suggests genuine promise for becoming Analytic Linguists. Candidates who score sufficiently high in the screening exam may be exempted from the first two courses, shortening their course of study by 12 weeks, making it more affordable as well as shorter – only six (6) months. The minimum passing grade for each course is 80%. Upon successful completion of TST’s program, learners are given the trademarked designation of Professional Analytic Linguist (PAL) and are eligible to take a very rigorous eight-hour exam which, when passed with an 80% or better in all sections, will earn the learner the trademarked certification as Certified Analytic Linguist Professional (CALP)

The program begins with the English Grammar and Writing Process. Excellent command of written English is essential to write summaries and produce good translations. This course begins with some review because many people have not studied English grammar since as long ago as junior high school. It then challenges learners with writing tasks that are designed to enhance your critical thinking skills and practice the types of writing that Analytic Linguists typically need (e.g., narration, expository writing, and other forms). This is done progressively, from the level of the sentence to paragraphs and finally essays and letters.

The second course in TST’s series is the Spanish Grammar and Writing Process. It is similar to the English course but includes additional units directed at heritage speakers of Spanish (many of whom have not formally studied Spanish) as well as important differences between English and Spanish, particularly in regard to their written forms and styles.

The third course is Ethics and the name might speak for itself, but it deals with the types of situations that could get Analytic Linguists into legal trouble or in danger if they are not specifically taught about them. It also covers workplace issues that one might not otherwise consider, such as food in a wire room and dress codes – in other words, the types of things that could cause interpersonal problems unless people are made aware of them before starting on the job.

The fourth course is transcription, an exciting course that first teaches learners how to listen for the purpose of producing a verbatim transcript of an audio conversation. It also includes exciting units that introduce learners to ways to distinguish 24 different dialects of New World Spanish and to do so based on real, reliable linguistic phenomena. Teaching the actual process of transcription is done progressively, and actually begins with music that is popular in the criminal underworlds. Later audio recordings of various lengths and progressively more difficult, simulate real-life conversations between drug traffickers, using different dialects (so pay attention in the units on dialects!).

The fifth course teaches translation as a process of recreation, of transfer of meaning, tone, register, and message, from the source text – transcriptions of conversations in Spanish – into US English. Learners type their translations into a template whose format simulates what is known as plea paper in the legal world. This is necessary in order to teach prospective Analytic Linguists what their documents will look like.

The sixth and last course is Monitoring. Even though this is the first task that Analytic Linguists perform in a wire room, relative to transcribing and translating, it is one of the hardest skills to master, as you may guess from having read about it above. In this true-to-life audio simulations are used along with a digital template that resembles the form used in many wire rooms for preparing summaries (synopses) of calls, including notes to expound on unusual usages, such as code words or ciphered speech as used in criminal operations. The protocols and conventions for writing a synopsis are very precise and require mental disciplines, such as using the third person and past tense.

Secure a Career as an Analytic Linguist Today

Much more could be said about the courses and about the job of Analytic Linguists, but this should give you an appreciation for why it may be just the career for you.

Knowing that tuition could be financed through Workforce, depending on the state in which you live and that the course is 100% online and accredited, make TST’s program the perfect way to spend your time and talent during these months of relative isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to prepare you for a lucrative, secure career as an Analytic Linguist.

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