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Diplomatic Courier

Diplomatic Courier

United States Department of State
An Equal Opportunity Employer
How to Apply

Announcement No: DCS-2013-01
Position Title: Diplomatic Security: FOREIGN SERVICE DIPLOMATIC COURIER
Open Period: Open 07/09/2013, closing 07/15/2013
Series/Grade: FP-06
Salary: $38,394-$56,383
Promotion Potential: FE-OC
Duty Locations: Various locations around the World, WW
For More Info: DS Recruitment, 571-345-3783,

Who May Apply

Potential applicants are urged to read this entire vacancy announcement to ensure they meet all the requirements for this position and they fully understand the special circumstances involving a career in the Foreign Service before applying.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens, at least 20 yrs old to apply and at least 21 yrs of age to be appointed. All candidates must be appointed to the Foreign Service prior to the month in which they reach 60 yrs of age (preference eligible veterans excepted).

Appointment Duration

Full-Time Permanent

Marketing Statement

The Department of State is developing a rank-order list of eligible hires to fill entry-level Foreign Service Diplomatic Courier vacancies. The specific number to be hired will depend on the needs of the Foreign Service.

Job Summary

Starting Salary: FP-06 -- $38,394 to $56,383 per annum. (This figure does not include the 16.52% Overseas Comparability adjustment for overseas assignments or locality pay for domestic assignments.)

Additional Benefits: Tax-Free Housing overseas; Tax-Free Education Allowance for eligible dependents, etc. (Additional information about benefits for Foreign Service Specialists is available online at

The U.S. Department of State is the lead foreign affairs agency formulating and implementing the President’s foreign policy and representing U.S. interests throughout the world. The Department carries out this mission at over 275 embassies and consulates around the world, offices in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area and other locations in the United States.

Foreign Service Diplomatic Couriers assist in worldwide security programs that provide secure transportation services for Department of State diplomatic pouches.

The Foreign Service is more than a job – it’s a career. As a member of a diplomatic team, you will not only help to accomplish the mission of the Department of State, but also will be a representative of your country to the people of other nations. A Foreign Service career involves uncommon commitments and occasional hardships, as well as unique rewards and opportunities. A decision to enter this career should be based on extraordinary motivation and a firm dedication to public service.

Many overseas posts are in small or remote countries where harsh climates, health hazards, and other discomforts exist and where American-style amenities and the latest in technological advances often are unavailable. Personal security frequently becomes an area of concern in countries where there is political unrest or terrorist activity. However, careers in the Foreign Service offer special rewards, including the pride and satisfaction of representing the United States and protecting U.S. interests abroad.

The Foreign Service strives to maintain diversity in the representation of gender, geographic region, race and ethnicity within its work force.

Key Requirements

Each applicant, in order to be considered for selection, must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Be at least 20 years old to apply and at least 21 years of age to be appointed.
  • Pursuant to the Foreign Service Act of 1980, be appointed to the Foreign Service prior to the month in which they reach age 60 (except for preference-eligible veterans).
  • Be able to obtain and maintain a Top Secret Security Clearance.
  • Be able to obtain the necessary medical clearance for Foreign Service work.
  • Be able to obtain a Suitability Clearance, based on a standards set forth in Chapter 3 of the Foreign Service Manual. For more details see or
  • Be able to perform physically demanding duties.
Major Duties

The duties of a Diplomatic Courier can vary according to the requirements of each mission. Diplomatic Couriers are required to safeguard and escort diplomatic pouches containing classified and sensitive material between U.S. diplomatic missions and the Department of State. Diplomatic Couriers are entrusted with ensuring the inviolability of diplomatic pouches and their safe and secure delivery throughout the world. They operate under the auspices of international agreements and treaties as governed by the Vienna Convention. They are responsible for complying with Department of State policies, regulations and implementing the strict security procedures that define the control and movement of U.S. diplomatic pouches internationally and within the United States. Diplomatic Couriers spend a substantial portion of their careers living and working overseas in a nearly constant travel status using conveyances to include passenger and cargo aircraft, trucks, trains, and ships.

Couriers are responsible for the security of the Department of State’s Courier-accompanied diplomatic pouch operations worldwide. Diplomatic Courier duties may include the supervision of subordinate staff and the actual performance of some, or all, of the following functions:

  1. Act as a Diplomatic Courier for the Department of State and other US government agencies that may need to transmit official, government classified or sensitive materials across international boundaries. Identify needed logistical support; provision for the storage or staging of pouches; detect and bring to resolution the cause and impact of delays or other logistical problems; adjust plans and schedules for all related actions to accommodate timely and secure movement of pouches.
  2. Develop, plan, and implement pouch escort programs and schedules; assess the efficiency and effectiveness of operations and provide practical solutions when problems arise; ensure the proper allocation and expenditure of appropriated funds; provide timely and appropriate pouch delivery and dispatch services to posts worldwide. Other responsibilities include maintaining internal management controls in order to prevent waste, fraud and mismanagement.
  3. Assist in labor intensive duties, including warehouse duties sorting and moving pouches, packing material, escort missions, and working with the cargo crew to move heavy pouches on airport tarmacs.
  4. Manage, regulate, coordinate, or otherwise exercise control over the pouch material. This includes initial planning, provisioning and determining handling and accountability, and oversight of physical accountability (maintenance and management of inventory records, conduct of periodic inventories, and releases from accountability).
  5. Plan, coordinate and implement travel and pouch transportation support needs domestically and at posts serviced worldwide, including motor vehicle operations and needs, issuance of travel orders, and ticketing for commercial and military air and surface transportation. Evaluate, negotiate, and participate in awarding contracts with commercial organizations and other government agencies involved in provision of, or support of, travel and transportation.
  6. Enforce Department of State pouch regulations required to ensure the inviolability of diplomatic pouches from the point of origination to international destinations as governed by the Vienna Convention.
  7. Assess risks to movement of diplomatic pouches and sealed official diplomatic cargo; detect and report attempts to damage or subvert the principle of inviolability of the diplomatic pouches and cargo.
  8. Conduct, administer and implement diplomatic pouch security training and training assistance programs for US foreign affairs personnel, and officials of designated foreign governments.

It is important that a Diplomatic Courier have the physical endurance to withstand the challenging physical stresses from working long hours, lack of sleep, extremes of heat or cold, and other discomforts. A Diplomatic Courier must have the physical strength to lift and move heavy items such as diplomatic pouches and crates that may be oversized and weigh as much as 70 lbs., or carry heavy equipment.

Some essential functions of the job have a physically demanding component. A Diplomatic Courier often has to physically lift and move diplomatic pouches and other large objects, some of which may weigh as much as 70 lbs. The work frequently involves climbing ladders and working in and around aircraft, trucks, trains, aboard ships, etc. In addition, a Diplomatic Courier is required to perform work that involves regular and recurring periods of prolonged standing, bending, and stretching.

In addition, candidates must have vision that is correctable to 20/20 in one eye and 20/40 in the other, no color blindness, adequate night vision and good peripheral vision. Candidates must have good hearing with no loss of greater than 30 decibels at 500, 1000, 2000 ops level.

The Office of Medical Services will conduct or arrange for a physical examination of each applicant offered a position to ensure that the candidate meets the physical and medical requirements necessary to perform the essential functions of the job and can meet the standards required for a worldwide medical clearance.

Applicants should possess worldwide availability, tolerance of intensive world travel, and the ability to work and live in difficult and / or isolated conditions.


Applicants must have at least an Associate’s level degree or 60 credit hours from an accredited college or university at the time of appointment. Official transcripts must confirm the Associate’s degree or 60 credit hours. Applicants currently pursuing an Associate’s degree may apply up to nine months preceding their graduation. An official transcript that confirms award of the degree or 60 credit hours is required prior to appointment.


  1. Applicants with 18 credit hours of undergraduate level study in addition to an Associate’s level degree may substitute that academic achievement for one year of general experience.
  2. A Bachelors degree from an accredited university may be substituted for two years of general experience.

Three years of work experience with progressive responsibility. Experience should demonstrate that the candidate has the ability to analyze problems, gather pertinent information and data, plan and organize work, form solutions, implement action, and communicate effectively both orally and in writing. Although not a requirement, fluency in a foreign language is desirable.


Specialized experience should demonstrate that the applicant has acquired and is able to apply a combination of specific knowledge, skills and abilities appropriate to a Foreign Service Diplomatic Courier position. Examples are:

  1. Experience in office operations in a government agency or a business, or an industrial firm servicing a client or client organization, demonstrating initiative, ingenuity, resourcefulness and judgment required to organize, implement and accomplish tasks;
  2. The ability to think logically and objectively, to analyze and evaluate facts, and to apply sound judgment in assessing the practical implications of solutions such as those required for negotiating contracts, and scheduling services or production runs;
  3. Responsibility for planning and scheduling resource needs, or organizing requirements for deliverables;
  4. Experience preparing written and oral reports and presentation of findings in a clear and concise manner;
  5. Interpersonal skills, including cultural sensitivity, discretion, tact, and capacity for obtaining the cooperation and confidence of others during team efforts and when supervising; and
  6. Experience scheduling airline and other transportation. Dealings with routing practices and customs processes, or with agents or officials involved in transporting materials across international boundaries, is also credited.

All experiences must demonstrate progressive responsibility. The experience must include at least four of the six specialized experience areas listed above. Evidence of working and/or living in a multicultural environment is desirable.


Applicants must be U.S. citizens between the ages of 20 and 59 and posses a valid U.S. driver’s license. Education and experience qualifications must be met. Male candidates must be in compliance with the Selective Service Act.

Superior Oral and Written Communication Skills: In order to pass the Foreign Service’s thorough and competitive assessment process, successful candidates must consistently meet a high standard for English, both written (overall structure as well as grammar, spelling and punctuation) and spoken (overall structure as well as delivery, clarity and succinctness). Those who fall short of this standard will have little chance of passing through the Foreign Service’s highly competitive assessment process.

Professional-level speaking ability in a foreign language is welcome, but not a requirement for applying. The applicant must be willing to be trained by the Department of State in a foreign language to meet a job requirement or expectation. These will be important considerations in the competitive promotion process.

Prior to appointment, Diplomatic Courier candidates must undergo a thorough background investigation to determine eligibility for a TOP SECRET security clearance and suitability for appointment to the Foreign Service. Candidates must undergo an extensive medical examination to obtain a class one medical clearance for worldwide service. A final review of a candidate’s complete file is conducted to determine suitability for the Foreign Service.

In addition, Diplomatic Courier candidates must meet supplementary physical standards to include, but not limited to, additional vision and hearing requirements. The standards for the Diplomatic Courier position can be found at in documents entitled “DS supplementary physical qualification standards.


Candidates will be evaluated on their total background including experience, education, awards, training and self-development as it relates to the position. Part-time work experience will be prorated. Initial evaluations of candidates will be conducted through an online application screening. Those applications which rank at or above a predetermined cut score will be further evaluated to confirm that they meet the required qualifications. Candidates possessing the best qualifications will be invited to participate in further written and oral assessments.

The Foreign Service selection process may be lengthy, multi-staged, and due to the limited number of appointments available, highly competitive. It commences upon receipt of the candidate's application materials and will continue until the candidate is appointed from a list of eligible candidates (a process which can sometimes take as long as a year or more), or the candidacy is terminated.

Those who have successfully completed the entire selection process will be required to obtain the following:

  • A Top Secret security clearance;
  • A valid class 1 medical clearance and supplementary medical requirement pertaining to hearing and vision requirements, and;
  • Pass a final suitability review.

Once all clearances are received, candidate names are added to a rank-order register. Candidates can improve their standing on the register by obtaining additional points for qualifying military service and / or proven language ability as determined by the Foreign Service Institute. More information is available on our website at Selection for this position will be made only from among those candidates possessing the best qualifications. Incomplete packages will not be considered.

Application materials become the property of the Department of State and will not be returned. Failure to adequately substantiate education and work experience by virtue of documentation and verification will result in termination of your application for the position of a Foreign Service Diplomatic Courier in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

Professional-level speaking ability in a foreign language is welcome, but not a requirement for applying. However, the applicant must be willing to be trained by the Department of State in a foreign language to meet a job requirement or expectation. These will be important considerations in the competitive promotion process.

How to Apply

We are not currently accepting applications for this position. Please subscribe to receive email updates regarding this vacancy.

To apply, applicants must first register on USAJOBS at and create an online federal resume. Your online resume must be typed or you may cut and paste an existing resume into the space provided. Once you have completed the registration process, print this vacancy information document and then select the “Apply Online” button to the right of the Diplomatic Courier vacancy . That button will transfer you to Gateway to State. Please note that the deadline to submit completed applications was 07/15/2013.

Follow the “Apply Online” instructions at Gateway to State by answering self-assessment questions for the specific job to which you are applying. When completed, the information you provided at USAJOBS and the answers to the Gateway to State questions will become your application. Your registration, resume, and responses to questions will be used to evaluate your qualifications for this job. In addition, you may need to fax or upload some information to complete your application package.

You have until 11:59 p.m. Washington, DC Time on the closing date of this announcement to complete the application process and supply the required documentation outlined in this vacancy announcement. Application packages MUST be complete and received by the closing date to receive consideration.

If you are having technical difficulty with the application process, please contact the helpdesk by calling 1-866-656-6830 or by emailing

Required Documents

Applicants will have the option to either electronically upload or fax their documents into the system.

The following numbered documents are required for a complete application package:

  1. A current completed, signed, and dated Minimum Qualifications Checklist (pdf). Minimum Qualifications Checklists from prior announcements will not be accepted.
  2. Copies of transcripts that confirm your award of an Associate’s Degree or your completion of 60 equivalent undergraduate hours from an accredited college or university.
  3. If claiming veterans preference (5 or 10 points), you must provide a copy of DD214. If claiming 10 point preference, in addition to the DD214, applicants must provide a copy of their VA letter awarding the disability rating or disability determination from a branch of the Armed Forces (or documentation of Purple Heart, if applicable) and form SF-15. Specifically, the copy of the DD 214 must include character of service (e.g. Member 4 or Service 2) or Statement of Service/Proof of Service which must include service dates and character of service.
  4. A two page, double spaced narrative autobiography (5000 characters maximum) which discusses your:
    • Personal background
    • Personal interests, hobbies and travel
    • Any professional experience not included in the employment application
    • Motivation for applying for a Foreign Service Diplomatic Courier career

If faxing, please print the fax coversheets generated at the end of the on-line application process. Then fax the supporting documentation to the number listed on the computer generated fax coversheets prior to the closing date of the vacancy announcement.

If faxing, it is extremely important that only these system-generated cover sheets, and the phone number included on them, be used for faxing these documents. The cover sheets are coded to ensure that your documents are automatically attached to your online application. Please ensure that each document is faxed separately with the appropriate system generated cover sheet.

**IMPORTANT** Be sure to print BOTH coversheets and fax your documents in separate transmissions.

NOTE: The fax coversheets contain an important ID number; keep a copy for your files. Be certain to follow the instructions, otherwise you WILL lose consideration for this job.

All required documents must be received by the closing date of the announcement. Incomplete application packages will not be considered.

Important: Whether you upload or fax, please submit all your documents at the same time. If you must send any additional documents after your first submission, be sure to include your first group of documents along with the additional documents. This is because subsequent submissions erase prior submissions.

All potential applicants are strongly urged to read this entire Vacancy Announcement to ensure that they meet all the requirements for this position before applying.

What to Expect Next

Application packages that are complete by the closing date of the announcement will be assessed to determine if initial qualifications were met. Candidates will be notified if they are to be further considered or if their application is not competitive.

Competitive Applicants: The limited number of applicants who are identified for further consideration will be notified of the next phase of the selection / assessment process. That process will entail appearance before a Board of Examiners panel to participate in an oral and written assessment. The board is composed of Diplomatic Couriers and other employees of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

Submitted materials become the property of the Department of State and will not be returned.

Completed applications from candidates who were successful in the online application process and who scored at or above the determined cut score are reviewed to ensure that their application package and documents meet the minimum qualifications for the position.

Only a very limited number of those applicants will be invited to an assessment that takes approximately three to four hours.

Teams from the Board of Examiners will conduct those assessments.

The assessment consists of a written case study, a Qualifications Evaluation Process and an oral assessment. Various phases of this process are scored using the following dimensions: written and oral communication, motivation, composure, interpersonal skills, judgment, resourcefulness, initiative and leadership, adaptability / flexibility, perspective and breadth of knowledge, cultural awareness and experience, stability and adjustment, analytical and synthesizing ability, planning and organizing.

In the oral assessment, questions posed to applicants may address current events, motivation, interpersonal skills, objectivity and integrity as well as some hypothetical questions concerning the Diplomatic Courier position.

The assessment / examination process is comprised of four phases:

  • A 20 minute written qualifications evaluation questionnaire
  • A 25 minute oral qualifications interview
  • A 45 minute written exercise; and
  • An oral assessment administered by a member of the Board of Examiners and a Diplomatic Courier.

We are currently planning to conduct examinations only in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Travel to the assessment location is at the expense of the applicant.

All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their applications. Selected candidates will be invited to come for an oral assessment at the Department of State, Washington, D.C.

Selected candidates: Please note all travel and other expenses incurred in connection with the oral assessment are the responsibility of the candidate.


Health and medical coverage, federal retirement benefits, generous paid leave, and an unprecedented chance to see the world and experience different cultures. Overseas benefits include paid housing or a housing allowance and paid education for dependent children between K-12.

Additional Benefits: Tax free housing overseas, tax free educational allowance, etc. (See Compensation and Benefits on our website at, for more information.)

Other Information
Initial Salary

Newly-hired Diplomatic Couriers are assigned at the FP-06 level. Initial base salary upon appointment will be within the FP-06 pay grade. The specific step within this grade depends on experience level and salary history, and will be determined at the time of an offer of employment. The entry-level salary for current Federal civilian employees without a break in service will be set at the rate, within the Foreign Service FP-06 grade, which is nearest to their previous base salary; however, the maximum salary is limited to the step 14 of the FP-06 grade.

Salaries at the time of appointment may also be adjusted to include domestic locality pay. Overseas salaries may be adjusted to include a 16.52% overseas locality / comparability payment, cost-of-living allowances, post differentials, danger pay, and / or other allowances specific to the post of assignment. The actual differences in pay will be determined by the location of assignments.

Competitive Promotion and Within-Grade Increases:

Diplomatic Couriers appointed at the FP-06 level will be administratively promoted to the FP-05 level following completion of 12 months in class with satisfactory performance, and to the FP-04 level after an additional 18 months of satisfactory performance. To proceed beyond the FP-04 level, Diplomatic Couriers are considered for promotion annually in competition with their peers. The highest possible competitive promotion is to the FE-OC level. Due to the limited number of yearly competitive promotional opportunities, promotion panel selections are based on published criteria and quality of performance. Performance is evaluated annually, in writing, by the supervisor.

All employees are evaluated, in writing, at least once a year. The employee is an active participant in this process. The evaluations form the basis for promotions, which are made by a panel of more senior employees. In addition to the formal training program, Diplomatic Couriers advance in their career by performing well and taking progressively more responsibilities in their assignments.

In general, Foreign Service employees with documented satisfactory performance are eligible to receive a within-grade increase annually up through step 10 and biannually from steps 10 through 14.


All Foreign Service Diplomatic Courier career candidates are considered for tenure after they have acquired two years of experience in the Foreign Service as a career candidate and have been administratively promoted to the FP-04 level. A tenuring board recommends tenure based on demonstrated ability to perform satisfactorily along with the potential to perform at higher levels. If tenure is not granted during the first review, a second review will be made one year later. Failure to achieve tenure within the prescribed time frame of four years is grounds for separation.


Initial assignment will be to the Department of State in Washington, D.C., for orientation and training.

After orientation and training, the initial assignments will be made to domestic locations in the Washington, DC area or in the Fort Lauderdale, FL area, or to Diplomatic Courier Offices overseas in locations such as: Bangkok, Thailand; Dakar, Senegal; Frankfurt, Germany; Manama, Bahrain; Pretoria, South Africa; Sao Paolo, Brazil; and Seoul, Republic of Korea. Initial assignments are made in accordance with the needs of the Foreign Service.

Following the mandatory two assignments as an entry-level employee, the Diplomatic Courier bids on subsequent domestic or overseas assignments every one to three years. Specialists serve with the management team at their Foreign Service posts. They may have an opportunity to participate in non-technical embassy work and in social and community activities as part of the embassy family. After the first two assignments, employees may request assignments in any embassy or consulate worldwide where Diplomatic Courier positions are available. Assignments are made in consultation with the employee's Career Development Officer, taking into consideration the needs of the Department, the particular interests / skills of the employee, career development requirements, family circumstances, and individual preferences.

Other Information

Executive Branch agencies are barred by 5 US Code 3303 as amended from accepting or considering prohibited political recommendations and are required to return any prohibited political recommendations to sender. In addition, as mandated by 5 US Code 3110, relatives of federal employees cannot be granted preference in competing for these employment opportunities.

It is the policy of the Federal Government to treat all of its employees with dignity and respect and to provide a workplace that is free from discrimination whether discrimination is based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity or pregnancy), national origin, disability, political affiliation, marital status, membership in an employee organization, age, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors.

The Department of State provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodations for any part of the application or hiring process should so advise the Department at, within one week of receiving their invitation. Decisions for granting reasonable accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis.

All potential applicants are strongly urged to read this entire vacancy announcement to ensure that they meet all of the requirements for this position, and that they fully understand the special circumstances involving a career in the Foreign Service before applying.

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