The Foreign Service is a group of dedicated individuals who work to carry out the foreign policy interests of the United States and assist American citizens living abroad. There are more than 270 posts around the world where personnel operate, and they can be found in various roles within organizations like the State Department, USAID, Foreign Commercial Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, and the US Agency for Global Media.
Being part of the Foreign Service is not just a job; it’s a unique lifestyle. Imagine having the opportunity to travel the world, live in different countries for two to four years at a time, and truly experience the local culture. One exciting part of this career is the chance to do “details” or tours in places like the National Security Council, the White House, and the Office of U.S. Trade Representative.
While this career comes with amazing benefits, such as paid language learning, free housing overseas, and top-notch education for your children, it also has some challenges. Being away from family and friends, frequent moves every 2-3 years, and adjusting to new environments can be tough. Despite the cons, many members in this career believe that the pros outweigh them.
For diplomats in the State Department, there are five exciting tracks to pursue: Consular, Economic, Political, Management, and Public Diplomacy. Becoming a Foreign Service Officer involves a few key steps:
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily need a college degree to become an FSO with the State Department. You do, however, need to be a high school graduate, at least 20 years old, and no older than 59 when submitting your application. Knowing an additional language besides English is helpful, but not mandatory.
This career can be thrilling and awarding, allowing individuals to represent their country, experience diverse cultures, and contribute to global diplomacy.