A career in diplomacy is an excellent way for an American to use his or her unique talents to make a positive difference in the world. Diplomats promote U.S. interests and protect U.S. citizens who live, work or travel in foreign countries. If you're interested in international relationship or government jobs, you may want to look into career information needed for becoming a diplomat.
There is no specific course of study that is a prerequisite for a career in the diplomatic service. A logical choice of major would be international relations, public administration, or history, but another major wouldn’t necessarily preclude someone from becoming a diplomat. Depending on the student’s career goals, a law degree could also be helpful. You may want to also research career information for government jobs in this field so you can get an idea of what type of work diplomats do. Perhaps you can get internships now to prepare.
Because a career as a diplomat entails long-term employment in U.S. embassies or consulates, an aptitude for foreign languages is essential. Prospective diplomats should work at becoming proficient in at least one foreign language as a way of developing important study skills. When assigned to a foreign country, the State Department provides language training (if necessary) prior to departure.
The ability to communicate well with people of different backgrounds and political beliefs is also essential. Undergraduate students should therefore consider taking classes in public speaking to build self-confidence.
Service is not limited to students who are fresh out of college. Any U.S. citizen between the ages of 21 and 60 at the time of appointment is eligible.
Procedures for applying for a career as a diplomat are spelled out in detail on the State Department’s website (www.state.gov). Clicking on the Careers tab on the top menu bar takes you to a page that links to information on different types of department jobs.
An applicant may seek information on positions as a Foreign Service officer, Civil Service officer and Foreign Service specialist, as well as other types of employment in embassies and consulates. The links define what each of these classifications entail and provide step-by-step information on registration and application procedures.
Applicants for Foreign Service officer are asked to choose a career track. These tracks include management officer, consular officer, economic officer, political officer and public diplomacy officer. Written and oral testing is required, as are medical and security clearances. Applicants can obtain study guides to help prepare them for the tests.
If they excel in their work and are successful in advancing U.S. interests in foreign postings, career Foreign Service officers may eventually be selected for ambassadorial positions. Now you know how to become a diplomat!