Foreign Service Officers


Foreign Service Officers


Foreign service officers represent the government and the people of the United States by conducting relations with foreign countries and international organizations. They promote and protect the United States' political, economic, and commercial interests overseas. They observe and analyze conditions and developments in foreign countries and report to the State Department and other agencies. Foreign Service officers guard the welfare of Americans abroad and help foreign nationals traveling to the United States. There are about 12,00...

Quick Facts


Median Salary



Employment Prospects



Minimum Education Level

Bachelor's Degree



Experience in foreign affairs (in government positions, teaching,



Foreign Language


Personality Traits



Foreign Service officers are paid on a sliding scale. The exact figures depend on their qualifications and experience. According to the U.S. State Department, starting salaries for new appointees with a bachelor’s degree and zero to five years of experience ranged from $42,169 to $53,393. Applicants who either had a master’s or law degree with zero to five years of professional experience earne...

Work Environment

Foreign Service officers may be assigned to work in Washington, D.C., or in any embassy or consulate in the world. They generally spend about 60 percent of their time abroad and are transferred every two to four years.

Foreign Service officers may serve tours of duty in such major world cities as London, Paris, Moscow, Tokyo, or in the less familiar locales of Iceland, Madagascar, Nepal...


There is heavy competition and extensive testing involved in obtaining Foreign Service positions. More than 270 posts abroad are staffed by Foreign Service officers and specialists.

The Foreign Service seeks candidates who can manage programs and personnel, as well as experts in transnational issues, such as science and technology; the fight against diseases, such as Ebola; efforts to s...