Careers in Diplomacy: Job and Salary Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in diplomacy. Read on to learn more about career options along with their education requirements and potential salary by reading on. Schools offering International Relations and Sustainability degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Diplomat?

Diplomats are an envoy from a country (in this case, probably the United States) who represents their home in a foreign land. Diplomats may find employment in multiple places in diverse fields, such as human rights, poverty, and climate change. Three of the more common options include becoming a financial management officer, a diplomatic courier, or an English language officer. Financial management officers handle finances and budgeting for their assigned posts, creating strong relationships with foreign banks and businesses while there. Diplomatic couriers are entrusted with keeping United States secrets safe and transporting important information across distances. English language officers use their knowledge of English to plan English language resources for teachers and students in foreign countries.

Read on to discover if a career in diplomacy is right for you.

Financial Management OfficerDiplomatic CourierEnglish Language Officer
Degree Required Bachelor's Associate's Master's
Education Field of Study Accounting
Finance
Security management TESL, TEFL, TESOL
Applied linguistics
Key Skills Superior oral skills, superior written communication skills, working and living in difficult and/or isolated conditions20/20 to 20/40 vision, no greater hearing loss than 30 decibels, superior physical fitness Current U.S. teaching theory and application, secondary language ability at international level, able to assess needs of English teachers and learners
Beginning Annual Salary (2015-2016)*$54,610-$98,972$39,166-$57,517$67,395-$98,972

Source: *U.S. Department of State

What Diplomacy Positions Should I Explore?

If you're interested in a career in diplomacy, you'll find the U.S. Department of State (USDS) has several diplomacy occupations you could explore (www.state.gov). You could work as a civil service officer, a diplomatic security officer, foreign service officer, and foreign service specialist.

You may want to explore jobs in these USDS categories: Afghanistan Jobs, Civilian Response Corps, International Organizations, Peace Corps, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Embassies and Consulates, U.S. Intelligence Community, USAJobs: Working for America, and Virtual Student Foreign Service.

You may also be interested in opportunities with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. This global organization focuses on a variety of issues which include human rights and democracy, nonproliferation, disarmament, poverty, and development (usun.state.gov). The mission also focuses on issues related to climate change.

If you're a student, you may be interested in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which handles student abroad programs. The USDS noted there are other opportunities for students such as internships and fellowships.

Where Might I Work?

While you'll usually work in another country, you may also work in Washington, D.C. As of March 2017, the U.S. has consulates, diplomatic missions, and embassies in numerous countries around the world, with a presence on every continent besides Antarctica.

What Are The Job Requirements?

If you're a high school or college student, you may want to consider applying for an internship with the USDS. This would provide you with an opportunity to develop relevant skills as well as learn about foreign affairs. According to the USDS, interns work overseas as well as in Washington, D.C.

To become a foreign service officer, you'll need to meet basic application requirements including being a U.S. citizen between the ages of 20 and 59, and be willing to travel to other countries or work in Washington, D.C. Fluency in another language may give you a hiring advantage, but it's not mandatory, according to the USDS.

Other requirements include being willing to work in a hardship post, which are locations in remote parts of the world that are often stressful and potentially dangerous. For example, you may be sent to work in a country which has experienced natural disaster.

There are five career-track positions: consular officers, economic officers, management officers, political officers, and public diplomacy officers. Basically, you may work with leaders and officials of private businesses or host governments and international organizations to represent the United States. This includes advocating for U.S. policies and interests, as well as opening and maintaining communication channels with the host country.

If you became a consular officer, you may be required to assist with adoptions or to evacuate U.S. citizens from foreign countries. As an economic officer, you may work with government agencies in the U.S. and abroad on science, trade, or environmental issues.

What Type of Salary Will I Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you would be paid based on the General Schedule, or GS (www.bls.gov). There are 15 basic pay grades, and each contains step increases. In general, you would earn step increases based on length of employment and performance.

Government salaries are based on specific categories with a pay grade system of classes and steps. According to the USDS' 2015 Foreign Service Salary Table for professionals overseas, the Class 9, Step 1 level begins at $32,498 per year. Individuals at the class 1, step 14 level earn $153,446 per year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

USAid, a government humanitarian organization aimed at ending global poverty and encouraging the creation of democratic societies, has many foreign and domestic job opportunities. Fields include accounting, human resources, project management, translation, and many more depending on what is necessary at different locations. Education requirements will vary depending on the employer and skill set needed for a position.

The International Trade Administration offers many foreign service jobs, as well. One such career includes foreign commercial services officers, who travel overseas to help create and explain United States commercial policy, protect commercial interests, and promote exports to bolster the economy.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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