Benefits Infographic

Department of State employees are compensated based on government-regulated pay scales. So, unlike workers in the private sector, pay scales ensure that all government employees receive equal pay for substantially equal work within each local pay area (barring geographic differences or the level of difficulty of the position.)

While the government uses at least six different pay scales, the majority of Civil Service employees are paid using the GS (General Schedule) pay scale, while Foreign Service employees are paid based on the FS (Foreign Service) pay scale.

So, what’s the difference?

The General Service pay scale for Civil Service employees features 15 pay grades, GS-1 (lowest) – GS-15 (highest) with 10 steps within each grade. The Foreign Service pay scale for Foreign Service employees features nine pay grades, with 14 steps within each grade.

No matter what your position is with the Department of State, whether it’s Civil Service or Foreign Service, your level of education and professional experience will determine your pay grade and step.

For more information on pay scales, please go to:

Locally Employed Staff: U.S. missions compensate Locally Employed Staff based upon prevailing practice in that country. This means that the total compensation, which includes salary and benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, and allowances, is based upon comparable rates that local employers are paying their employees in jobs of similar scope and complexity.

As a result, Locally Employed Staff should receive pay packages and benefits that are competitive with local compensation scales. In addition, locally Employed Staff are traditionally paid in host country currency, unless the prevailing local practice is to compensate all Locally Employed Staff in U.S. dollars.

Child Care

The Department sponsors two child care centers, Diplotots at Columbia Plaza (SA-1) across from Main State, and another at the Foreign Service Institute’s (FSI) George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington, Virginia.

A separate childcare subsidy is available to Department employees meeting certain criteria. This program provides child care assistance for employees whose total family income does not exceed a specified amount, and care is provided in a licensed facility. Families who meet this and other eligibility requirements may receive subsidies of up to 50% of their total childcare expenses.

The Foggy Bottom

The Foggy Bottom is located in the basement below the dining facility in Main State. It offers such services as a post office, a café, candy shop, barbershop, hair salon, and gift shops.

Banking Services

The State Department Federal Credit Union is located in Foggy Bottom. Department employees are eligible to join and members are offered a complete choice of low-cost financial services. There is also a Bank of America and ATM machine located in Foggy Bottom. The bank offers a full range of services to employees. ATM machines are also located in the Columbia Plaza (SA-1 Annex) on the first floor.


Transportation is available between Main State and State annexes. Anyone working for the Department is eligible to ride as long as he/she has a valid Department building pass.

Fitness & Recreation

The Foreign Affairs Recreation Association (FARA) is a private, nonprofit organization, including members from the Department of State and agencies such as the Agency for International Development (AID), Peace Corps, and ACTION. FARA’s monthly newsletter, the Spectrum, contains information on its recreational activities, store specials, and discounted services. The FARA Fitness Center is located in "The Foggy Bottom" at Main State and is open 24/7. Department of State employees may become active members for a nominal annual fee. Contact FARA for more information at:


The Ralph J. Bunche Library of the U.S. Department of State is the oldest Federal government library. Founded by the first Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, in 1789 it was dedicated to, and renamed, the Ralph J. Bunche Library on May 5, 1997. Employees may borrow books and conduct research using a wealth of resource material from the library designed as a global initiative to bring the 21st Century resources of the First Federal Library to the desktops of all Department of State employees worldwide.

Foreign Service Institute

Our workforce must stay on the cutting edge through professional development and distance learning that fosters the diplomatic, technical, managerial, and leadership skills needed to meet the challenges of the future. The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) offers a wide variety of professional training classes for foreign language, leadership and management; as well as assistance for personnel (and their eligible family members) transiting between domestic and overseas assignments or into retirement.

Career Planning & Training Resources

  • CDRC: The center provides career development assistance and counseling to the Department’s Civil Service employees and Foreign Service family members. Professional counselors are available to provide individual and confidential counseling by appointment.
  • Training Continuum: Training helps to develop the competencies needed at each level of a career with the U.S. Department of State. Supervisors and employees work together to choose courses based on the skill set required to perform at the highest level in one’s current position, as well as for advancement to the next stage. The Department has developed the following training continua available to employees:
    • Training Continuum is a roadmap to professional training and personal development
    • Leadership and Management
    • Training Continuum is a one-stop shop for employees seeking to develop their leadership and management skills.
  • MBA: These classes provide training for U.S. Department of State employees and their family members. The courses integrate information and theories from various disciplines, including accounting, economics, finance, marketing, production operations, and strategic management.
  • MSSI: The Joint Military Intelligence College (JMIC) offers Department employees a free after-hours postgraduate intelligence program, which includes courses in Information Operations; Strategic Warning and Analysis; Graduate Research and Writing; Intelligence Collection: Evidence for Analysis; National Security Structure; and Policy and International Security Environment. Upon completion, students earn a Master of Science of Strategic Intelligence Degree, the only one of its kind in the United States.
  • Civil Service Mentoring: Civil Service employees are eligible to apply as protégés or mentors, with Foreign Service employees also eligible to apply as mentors. Ultimately, this program gives employees a chance to work one-on-one with senior employees to learn more about the Department and its career opportunities. Participants commit to meet with each other for two-four hours a month for one year.

Civil Service Transition Programs

  • Mustang Career Mobility: This program is for talented Civil Service and Foreign Service Specialists vying for appointments as Entry-Level Foreign Service Generalists in any one of the five tracks: Consular, Economic, Management, Political or Public Diplomacy. The program also provides expedited entry for those who pass the Foreign Service Oral Assessment (FSOA) and who successfully update or obtain their security, suitability and medical clearances.
  • CS to FS Hard-to-Fill: This annual exercise provides opportunities for Civil Service employees to work overseas in hard-to-fill positions at various embassies or consulates. The (CS) to (FS) Hard-to-Fill Program is designed to help meet critical overseas staffing needs, while providing a unique career opportunity for Civil Service personnel. Some program participants have even used it as a first step towards qualifying for a career in the Foreign Service.