Ways to Become a Foreign Service Officer - NewBalancejobs
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Ways to Become a Foreign Service Officer

Who is a foreign service officer?

A foreign service officer is one of those lucrative jobs that attracts most top talents as they represent the United States around the world. They are usually commissioned members of the United States Foreign Service. Foreign Service Officers are responsible for the formulation and implementation of the foreign policies of the United States.

The United States’ foreign relations has been in existence since the late 1770s, when Benjamin Franklin served as the first-ever country’s official international representative, establishing a relationship with France that became integral to the nation’s victory in the Revolutionary War. In the 230-plus years since that time, the United States has opened embassies and consulates in nearly every country in the surface of the earth excluding Iran, Bhutan, and North Korea. The number of foreign service officers staffing those embassies and consulates are almost 10,000 and they’re all crucial players in our international relations.
So if you’re interested in traveling around the world with a frequently changing job condition, and the ability to enact meaningful change on a global scale, this may be the career path for you.

What Does a Foreign Service Officer Do?

Foreign service officers, which are also known as diplomats, help manage economic and political relations with the specific host country. Their areas of expertise encompass varieties of issues, ranging from the economic and financial sectors to health, politics, military, and even the entertainment industry. Diplomats under the direction of the secretary of state work for the State Department.
What a foreign service officer does differs based on his/her niche.

The State Department has listed five different types of U.S. foreign service officer careers:

  • The consular officers who address humanitarian issues, such as adoption, the evacuation of American citizens in another country, and fighting human trafficking
  • The economic officers who work with foreign governments and other governmental agencies on issues ranging from technology and science to economics and trade.
  • The management officers who work as embassy leadership, learning about real estate, budgeting, and human resources management to make sure the embassy or consulate runs smoothly.
  • The political officers who specialize in the politics of the country in which they work, staying in touch with government officials at various levels and keeping a close eye on any potential issues down the road.
  • The public diplomacy officers who help to influence public opinion on important matters, working with non-governmental agencies, think tanks, and society in general to “promote mutual understanding and support for U.S. policy goals.”
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Steps to Become a Foreign Service Officer

Planning on how to become a foreign service officer takes a whole lot of work. Which would require the right academic background combined with passing the State Department’s rigorous testing processes are just the first steps toward qualifying for this ever demanding and competitive role.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

A Bachelor of Arts in International Studies is an excellent degree for pursuing a career as a foreign service officer of the U.S.
This degree program usually offers students the opportunity to explore global problems while preparing them for working overseas and mostly includes an optional internship or study abroad opportunity. While it’s vital for diplomats to advocate for U.S. policies, they also need a meticulous understanding of the host country and its political climate. Additionally, broad knowledge and understanding of global and regional politics will help students prepare for a job abroad. A minor in a foreign language would also make applicants more competitive.

Gain Experience and Learn Global Politics

Beyond the four walls of a classroom, it’s of great significance to stay abreast with world events, especially in regions where the aspiring foreign service officer would like to work. Hands-on experience, intensive internships, study abroad programs, and volunteer efforts allow graduates to apply knowledge gotten in the classroom in the real world.

Apply to Work for the Federal Government

The State Department has described the eight-part procedure for becoming a foreign service officer in detail. So prospective diplomats need to select a career track from the five listed earlier in this article before they apply because this is part of the registration process for the department’s Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT).

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Applicants who successfully pass the foreign service officer tests multiple-choice and essay sections are needed to submit a personal essay and then participate in a day-long oral assessment covering all 13 aspects of foreign service work. Those still in the running will then complete the medical and background clearances and be reviewed by a Panel before being placed on a list of individuals approved for federal service, sorted by career track.

Now beyond a reasonable doubt, I know you’ve found out what it takes to become a foreign officer and how to go about it. Good luck with your career search.