Who We Look For

A career with the Foreign Service may appear glamorous: worldwide travel, government-paid housing, generous pay and benefits. In some instances, though, working as a Foreign Service Officer can be very challenging and sometimes dangerous. During this career you can expect to be assigned to hardship posts. These posts can be in remote locations, without many U.S.- style amenities; there can be sporadic power outages, unreliable internet service etc. Health and sanitation standards can be below U.S. standards. Some assignments are "unaccompanied," which means family members may not travel to the post with you.

That’s why it takes a special type of person to represent America abroad, to advance diplomatic initiatives to the benefit of both the U.S. and the host country. Serving as a U.S. diplomat requires fortitude, flexibility, the ability to adapt to changing situations, and cultures other than your own.

When hiring Foreign Service Officers, we look for motivated individuals with sound judgment and leadership abilities who can retain their composure in times of great stress — or even dire situations, like a military coup or a major environmental disaster.

Whether you want to follow a professional path that grows your management skills, impacts economic policy or helps reunite families, you'll find five different career tracks that can direct you towards realizing your goals. Please choose carefully, as your selection will have an impact on your selection and job experiences once you enter a Foreign Service career. In order to make the most informed decision, you'll need to understand the similarities — and the differences — between each career track.

There are several areas that all career tracks have in common:

  • Each engages with host government officials, private sector leaders and international organization officials. In every career track, you will work closely with people from other countries.
  • Each fosters dialogue between the United States and the host country. In every career track, you will advocate U.S. policies, promote U.S. interests, and strengthen understanding between our country and other nations.
  • Each career track requires the same characteristics — also known as the 13 dimensions (pdf).

While all U.S. diplomats are expected to communicate U.S. foreign policy, and interact effectively with host country governments to help advance American interests worldwide, each career track has a specific focus.

  • Consular Officers facilitate adoptions, help evacuate Americans, and combat fraud to protect our borders and fight human trafficking. Consular Officers touch people's lives in important ways, often reassuring families in crisis.
  • Economic Officers work with foreign governments and other USG agencies on technology, science, economic, trade, energy, and environmental issues both domestically and overseas.
  • Management Officers are resourceful, creative, action-oriented "go to" leaders responsible for all embassy operations from real estate to people to budget.
  • Political Officers analyze host country political events and must be able to negotiate and communicate effectively with all levels of foreign government officials.
  • Public Diplomacy Officers engage, inform, and influence opinion leaders, local non-governmental groups, the next generation of leaders, academics, think tanks, government officials, and the full range of civil society in order to promote mutual understanding and support for U.S policy goals.

Who can become a Foreign Service Officer?

To be eligible, the U.S. Department of State requires that all applicants be:

  • U.S. citizens on the date they submit their registration package
  • At least 20 years old and no older than 59 years of age on the day you submit your registration
  • At least 21 years old and not yet 60 on the day you are appointed as a Foreign Service Officer

Available for worldwide assignments, including Washington, D.C.

Even though you are not required to know a foreign language to become a FSO, proficiency in one or more languages will enhance your competitiveness for selection.

If you are a capable, healthy and dedicated candidate who is prepared to step up to the challenges facing our country and the world, we want to talk to you.

Are you ready to make a difference? Click here to review 13 dimensions (pdf) sought in all Foreign Service candidates and explore the traits needed for a successful and fulfilling career.