Careers App
Security Engineering Officer

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

Announcement No: SEO-2015-0002
Position Title: Foreign Service Diplomatic Security Engineering Officer
Open Period: 12/11/2014 through 01/08/2015
Series/Grade: FP-06
Salary: $56,948
Promotion Potential: FE-MC
Duty Locations: MANY Vacancies throughout the World, WW
For More Info: DS Recruitment, 571-345-3783,

Who May Apply

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

Applicants must be American citizens and at least 20 years old to apply. They must be at least 21 years of age to be appointed. By law, all career candidates must be appointed to the Foreign Service prior to the month in which they reach age 60 (preference eligible veterans excepted).

No applicant will be considered who has previously been separated from the Foreign Service under sections 607 (Retirement for Expiration of Time-in-Class), 608 (Retirement Based on Relative Performance), 610 (Separation for Cause), or 612 (Termination of Limited Appointment) of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as amended, or who resigned or retired in lieu of separation under these provisions. In addition, no candidate will be considered who has previously been separated from the Foreign Service for failure to receive a career appointment under Section 306 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as amended, or who resigned or retired in lieu thereof.

Specialists separated for failure to receive a career appointment under section 306 may not re-apply to be a Foreign Service specialist in the same skill code, but may apply for another skill code (or to be a Foreign Service generalist).

Applicants are not eligible to reapply until one year after the application date of prior announcements, provided there is a new open Vacancy Announcement at that time.

Duration Appointment

Permanent after being tenured in the Foreign Service by the Tenure Boards.

Marketing Statement

The Department of State is developing a rank-order Register to fill a limited number of Foreign Service Security Engineering Officer (SEO) vacancies. The specific number to be hired will depend on the needs of the Foreign Service in any given year and is subject to change.

Grade and Starting Salary Range: FP-06, Step 14, $56,948


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. Foreign Service Security Engineering Officers (SEOs) are responsible for the protection of Department of State personnel, facilities, and sensitive information from acts of crime, terrorism, and technical espionage. The Department carries out this mission at over 275 embassies and consulates around the world, offices in the metropolitan Washington, DC area and other locations in the United States.

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

All applicants, 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. By law (Foreign Service Act of 1980), all career candidates (except for preference-eligible veterans**) must be appointed to the Foreign Service prior to the month in which they reach age 60.
  • Be available for worldwide service.
  • Be able to obtain a Top Secret Security Clearance.
  • Be able to obtain an appropriate medical clearance for Foreign Service work.
  • Obtain a Suitability Clearance, based on a review of the candidate's record of conduct in accordance with suitability standards defined in Chapter 3 of the Foreign Affairs Manual. For more details see or

NOTE: Individuals who have been denied a suitability clearance by a Department of State Final Review Panel within the previous three years are ineligible to apply. This two-year ban runs from either the date of the denial letter or, if the candidate appealed and was denied, the date of the appeals denial letter.

** If 59 1/2 years of age or over and claiming 5 pt. veteran's preference, you must submit a copy of your DD-214. If claiming 10 pt. veteran’s preference, in addition to the DD-214, you must submit your VA letter and SF-15. (Required if preference eligible.)

Major Duties

The duties of Security Engineering Officers vary according to the size of the post and the requirements of the specific diplomatic mission. At various times at posts around the world, or in domestic locations, the following are examples of the types of duties and responsibilities assigned to Security Engineering Officers. This list is neither exhaustive, nor in priority order.

  • Administer and manage technical and information security programs, projects, and resources worldwide.
  • Conduct technical security assessments and recommend security upgrades to deter terrorism and technical espionage.
  • Plan and conduct technical surveillance countermeasures (TSCM) surveys to detect and nullify technical penetrations of Department of State facilities.
  • Identify security risks, analyze those risks, and specify system requirements and procedural measures to ensure the integrity of stand-alone computers and network information systems.
  • Plan and conduct certification tests, as well as maintain the security requirements for information processing and secure conferencing facilities.
  • Produce a variety of written documents including memoranda, trip reports, telegraphic communications with posts, and engineering surveys or service reports detailing specific engineering services planned or performed.
  • Perform extensive travel throughout the world to service overseas embassies and consulates, often in remote locations, including the transport of technical supplies and materials (and on occasion, diplomatic pouches) by airplane, train, and public transportation.
  • Specify, design, procure, install, and certify equipment or products for technical security and information technology systems, such as:
    1. Technical security systems/closed-circuit television, intrusion detection and alarms, locking devices, access control and denial systems, countermeasures equipment, and acoustic/RF attenuation technologies.
    2. Computer systems/encryption, firewalls, forensics, network intrusion monitoring, and system security audit products.
  • Engage in work that can, on occasion, be physically demanding.



Applicants must hold at the time of appointment at least a Bachelor of Science degree (Master of Science or PhD also accepted) from a program accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) at a U.S. colleges or universities in one of the following fields:

  • Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Electrical Engineering Technology, Electronics Engineering Technology, Computer Engineering, Computer Engineering Technology, Mechanical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Physics, Engineering Physics, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology, Electromechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, General Engineering, Industrial, Systems or Manufacturing Engineering, Materials Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Telecommunications Engineering, Telecommunications Engineering Technology, Wireless Engineering, Marine Engineering. Regionally accredited Physics programs, that are not ABET accredited, may be accepted. Students at least 20 years of age and currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in one of the majors listed above may apply if they are within nine months of receiving their degree by the closing date of this announcement (exceptions will not be granted). A candidate cannot be appointed prior to his or her 21st birthday.
  • Education completed in foreign colleges or universities may be used to meet Federal job requirements for this position if the applicant can show that foreign education is comparable to education received in the United States. For this position, the degree must be accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide such evidence when applying for Federal jobs. To view how foreign education is evaluated for federal jobs, please visit

You must provide the transcripts for all degrees with your application.


Applicants for this position should have academic achievements and/or job-related experience that reflect progressively increasing levels of performance and responsibility. They must be able to demonstrate experience and abilities in some or all of the following areas:

  1. Ability to logically and objectively analyze problems, apply sound judgment in assessing possible solutions, adjust to changing priorities, and meet tight deadlines;
  2. Effective written and oral communication skills, and ability to present technical findings in a clear and concise manner to non-technical personnel;
  3. Capacity to gain the cooperation and confidence of co-workers, supervisors (professors, teachers, etc.), and subordinates as well as non-technical individuals;
  4. Understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum, and RF interrelationships and characteristics as they relate to the design and operation of electronic and electromechanical systems;
  5. Hands-on experience in the operation and use of electronic instrumentation such as multimeters, oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, sound pressure level meters, time-delay reflectometers, network analysis and similar equipment that may be applied to test, certify, and troubleshoot electrical, electronic, mechanical, electromechanical and computer systems;
  6. Knowledge and hands-on familiarity of computer systems, computer security, and familiarity with operating systems, hardware platforms, and networks; and
  7. Ability to read, interpret, create electrical and electromechanical schematics and architectural drawings, including electrical/mechanical building systems drawings.


Applicants must be U.S. citizens between the ages of 20 and 59.

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. 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.

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

Additionally, all Security Engineering Officer (SEO) candidates must be eligible for a TOP SECRET/SENSITIVE COMPARTMENTED INFORMATION (TS/SCI) security clearance. With few exceptions, the SEO candidate and all immediate family members (spouse, parents, siblings, children, or cohabitants) must be citizens of the United States in order to qualify for SCI Access. A candidate that already holds Top Secret, but does not hold SCI access, will require an upgrade to SCI before he or she can report for training or duty.

Other Requirements:


Some of the essential functions of the job have a physically demanding component. For instance, in conducting technical surveillance countermeasures surveys, a Security Engineering Officer is periodically required to perform work that requires regular and recurring periods of prolonged standing, bending, and stretching. A Security Engineering Officer is required periodically to climb ladders and work from heights in performing the essential duties. Other essential duties of the job may involve recurring lifting of moderately heavy equipment and tools. Related activities may include crawling, maneuvering, and working in cramped spaces as well as the occasional moving and transporting of diplomatic pouches.

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. 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 also have good hearing with no loss of greater than 30 decibels at 500, 1000, or 2000, Hz level. The musculoskeletal system should have no deformities, diseases, or limiting conditions that would interfere with the performance of duties.

Applicants must be available for worldwide service, and be able to tolerate intensive world travel, living away from family, and working and living in difficult and/or isolated conditions.


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. Candidates will be initially evaluated through an online application screening. Those applications which rank at or above the determined cut score will be further evaluated to confirm that they meet the minimum qualification requirements. Selection for this position will be made only from among candidates possessing the best qualifications. Candidates invited to the assessments will then be evaluated through 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 gone through the selection process will be required to obtain the following:

  • A Top Secret/SCI security clearance
  • A valid class 1 medical clearance and supplementary medical requirement pertaining to hearing and vision requirements
  • 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 on these two points, as well as the clearance process, 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 Security Engineering Officer.

Travel to the assessment location is at the expense of the applicant.

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

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, select the “apply online” button to the right. This button will transfer you to Gateway to State.

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. Please be aware that the application time is short, so make sure that your application package is complete and submitted on time.

Due to the volume of applications, fax lines can become jammed and documents may not successfully attach to your application on the final days/hours of the announcement. IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CANDIDATE TO VERIFY THAT REQUIRED DOCUMENTS HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFULLY ATTACHED TO THE APPLICATION PRIOR TO THE CLOSING DATE. Applicants can do so by going back into your application and verifying that documents have been attached. Applications received without required documents will be deemed ineligible. You are encouraged to submit your application early, and to go back into your application to confirm.

If you are having technical difficulty with the application process, please contact the Help Desk 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). A Minimum Qualifications Checklist from prior announcements will not be accepted.
  2. A copy of college or university transcripts showing a Bachelor of Science degree (Master of Science or PhD also accepted) from an ABET accredited engineering program at U.S. colleges or universities.
  3. If claiming veteran’s preference, you must provide a copy of DD Form 214 which must include character of service (e.g. Member 4 or Service 2 copy) or Statement of Service/Proof of Service which must include service dates and character of service. In addition, if claiming 10 point preference, you must submit a VA Letter or disability determination from a branch of the Armed Forces (or documentation of purple heart, if applicable) AND a SF-15 (Application for 10 point veteran preference).
  4. A two paged, double spaced narrative autobiography, no more than 5000 characters, which discusses your:
    • Personal background
    • Personal interests, hobbies and travel
    • Professional experience which was not included in the employment application
    • Motivation for applying for a Foreign Service Security Engineering Officer 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 insure 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.

For additional information please refer to our website at

Both official and unofficial transcripts are acceptable as part of the application process.

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 Security Engineering Officers and other employees of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.


Security Engineering Officer Candidates:

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

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

Teams from the Board of Examiners will conduct these assessments.

The assessment consists of a written case study, a Qualifications Evaluation Panel and an oral assessment. The assessment process is comprised of four phases:

  • A 25 minute written qualifications evaluation questionnaire which addresses knowledge of Cybersecurity, Electronics, and Engineering Concepts and Principles;
  • A 25 minute oral qualifications interview;
  • A 45 minute written case study; and
  • An oral assessment administered by a member of the Board of Examiners and a Diplomatic Security Engineering Officer.

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 technical hypothetical questions concerning the SEO position. We are currently planning to conduct examinations only in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application. Selected candidates will be invited to come for an oral assessment at the Department of State, Rosslyn, VA. Please note all travel and other expense incurred in connection with the written and oral assessments 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 and Salary Increases:

The beginning salary for a SEO is the FP-6, step 14. (The maximum starting salary is limited to the FP-6, step 14. Salary is non-negotiable.)

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:

SEOs 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-4 level after an additional 18 months of satisfactory performance. To proceed beyond the FP-04 level, SEOs are considered for promotion annually in competition with their peers. The highest possible competitive promotion is to the FE-MC level. Due to the limited number of yearly competitive promotional opportunities, promotion panel selections are based on published criteria and quality of performance.

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 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, SEOs advance in their career by performing well and taking on progressively greater management responsibilities in their assignments.


All Foreign Service SEO 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. Following the mandatory two assignments as an entry-level employee, the SEO 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 SEO 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 that 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.