Foreign Service Officer

Serve as a link between the U.S. and other countries.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
~ $165,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Foreign Service Officers do?

“Foreign Service Officer” is one of those broad titles that encompass a number of different, more specific positions. No matter how you do it, though, the basics of the job are this: You represent and advocate for the United States and its citizens around the world.

There are five different paths a Foreign Service Officer can take, and one of your first responsibilities when you start preparing for this career is to select one. Each path has its own specific duties, so you want to make sure you match your skills closely with the job requirements.

For example, if you’re good at remaining calm in stressful situations, consider becoming a Consular Officer, which is a position where you help in emergency situations — for example, when passports are stolen, travelers get lost, or citizens have to be evacuated. If money and economics are more your thing, look into becoming an Economic Officer, a position which puts you in charge of getting permits and setting up agreements between US businesses and foreign governments. Other positions in this field include Political Officer, Management Officer, and Public Diplomacy Officer.

Like an Airline Pilot, your biggest perk is that your passport will be getting a workout. Foreign Service Officers are found all over the world, stationed at different posts for set periods of time (like two or four years). The downside is that every Foreign Service Officer spends at least one assignment in a more dangerous country.

Once you’re stationed, your job becomes like that of an Author or University Professor. You research everything you can about your new country, learning its culture and government workings as thoroughly as your own. Your goal is to act as a liaison, advocating for the US but also fostering better connections between the two countries.

Should I be a Foreign Service Officer?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Leader: You're good at taking charge, giving directions, and inspiring other people.
  • Ready for a Challenge: You jump into new projects with initiative and drive.
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.

  • How to become a Foreign Service Officer

    Most Foreign Service Officers have a Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aca9yh&chl=|certificate+%283%25%29||bachelor%27s+%2864%25%29|master%27s+%2825%25%29|doctorate+%288%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,64
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