How to Work in an Embassy

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What Does an Embassy Employee Do? How Much Money Do You Make as an Embassy Worker? Why Work in an Embassy? Pros and Cons of Being an Embassy Employee? Embassy Employee Quotes

Contrary to what many people think about embassies as just a building, an embassy is actually a diplomatic delegation of a certain country to another country. Their purpose is to represent the state in the host state. It also has the role of protecting the interest of the state within the state it is located. Their interests include the nationals who are working and living in the particular receiving state. The embassies also have the role of negotiating with host state as authorized by the government which it represents, and reporting the outcomes of the negotiations to the government. Aside from that, the embassies is tasked to maintain friendly relations with the host state and endeavors to assist the host state in their relationship with the economy, science and culture. Heading the embassy is the chief of missions or ambassador, who is appointed by the president of the country sending the diplomatic mission.

The United States has several diplomatic missions in several countries. There are two types of workers in the US embassy: the generalists and the specialists. The generalists are the foreign services officers, who are occupying the top-level of the organization. Their role is to formulate and carry out the various foreign policies of the United States. The specialists, on the other hand, are called foreign services specialists, who are working for some specific function.

In order to become a Foreign Services Officer in the US, there are several qualities that must be demonstrated by a candidate. These qualifications is enumerated in the 13 Dimensions of a foreign services officer and they are reflections of the candidate’s skills, abilities and qualities as a person, which are all necessary to become part of the diplomatic mission of the US. There is no required educational qualification to become a Foreign Services Officer, but most of them join with Bachelor’s degree. The Foreign Services Specialists, on the other hand, are professionals who have specialized functions which are mostly related to healthcare, management, technical and administrative services.

All Foreign Service Officers and Specialists must all be US Citizens. They must be within the age range of 20 to 59 years old, upon their submission of their application to the US Department of State. And all of them must always be available to be assigned in various posts all over the world. A stringent qualification system is utilized for every candidate, depending on their position. The rigorous system demonstrates the type of work they will be undergoing. Foreign services officers are sometimes assigned in harsh areas of the world. And so with foreign services specialists who are required even to carry their own licensed firearms and pass a strenuous physical examination. They are also expected to work and live most of their lives away from home.

There are also positions in the embassy for US citizens who are considered expatriates; they are called Locally Engaged Staffs, whose work involves administrative, clerical, technical and other categories that provide support to the foreign services officer of the embassy. Most of those qualified in this position are residents of the host country, but are actually citizens of the US.

What Does an Embassy Employee Do?

Working in an embassy located in another country must be an exciting career to have. There are different categories of embassy work available. Newly-hired embassy employees are usually assigned outright in overseas posts. Their tour of duty will almost always lasts 2 to 3 years.

For a foreign services officer, they can choose a career track based on the following categories: consular, economic, political, management and public diplomacy. Each of these categories has different functions. Consular officer, for instance, are the ones responsible for evacuating US citizen away from combat regions; while a public diplomacy officers are the ones responsible in explaining to the host country the various laws and values of the American people.

Foreign services specialists have varied specializations when they are working in an embassy. Categories of specializations for embassy work are on construction engineering, facility management, office management, security, international information and English language program, information technology and security.

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How Much Money Do You Make as an Embassy Worker?

The starting embassy worker salary ranges from $27,431 to $43,213, based on the FS Salary Schedule of 2010. Specific amount is based on the position held and the salary grade specified for the position. Salary grade however is based on the employee’s educational qualifications and work experience. But as the foreign services officer and specialist gains more education and professional experiences, the embassy salary can reach up to $129,517. Added to the basic amount the embassy salary worker receives are the various benefits afforded to every foreign services worker. They have vacation leave benefits, sick leave benefits and 10 days of paid holidays per year. They also receive health insurance benefits, life insurance, long term care insurance and thrift savings plan, and of course a chance to avail of the student loan forgiveness program. There are also non-monetary benefits, such as the Child Care Center, Employee Consultation Services, and every foreign services worker will have the chance to utilize the fitness facilities in every embassy.

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Why Work in an Embassy?

You now know how to work in an embassy, but why?

Anybody who is interested to represent the American people in other parts of the world and is fervent in his desire to provide services to the public will have a great time working in the embassy. Having the chance to be delegated in various posts all over the world is already an opportunity to learn more about the cultures, languages and customs of the people all over the globe. When one is assigned to work for a certain diplomatic mission, it is already an opportunity to make an impact in promoting peace and prosperity for all nations and providing protection to the citizens of the United States, at home or abroad.

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Pros and Cons of Being an Embassy Employee

Being an embassy employee is categorically being a federal government employee. There are several advantages and disadvantage on becoming an employee of the government.


  • Topping all these advantages is the security of tenure. Once you are hired in a position in the government, you are assured that that particular position is yours, unless you decide to leave it.
  • The working hours of most federal government workers, such as the Foreign Services Worker, is the most decent 9 to 5 schedule. Although there are times when one is required to do overtime jobs, they are usually paid reasonably.
  • Another advantage is the retirement benefits of a government worker. While in the private sector, retirement benefits are optional; in the government it is mandatory.
  • If you want to specialize further in your profession or field of interest to advance your career, the government can provide you with funds and various types of assistance that will benefit the institution you are part of.
  • Added to these all is the sense of self-worth when you realize that your job in the government is linked to the decisions the government makes.


If there are advantages, then there are of course disadvantages to being an employee of the government.

  • Getting a promotion in the government is quite tough considering that everything is based on a hierarchy. So if a certain position is not yet vacated, you will have to wait for it until you have outgrown your patience.
  • The need to adhere to the strict policies and procedures. Even if it is systematically inefficient, you have to follow it. If you opt to introduce changes, it will take a long time for the changes to be accepted.

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Embassy Employee Quotes

“The question really is how we get Embassy Officers into the minds of the American business community. That is a much more difficult task than understanding a statistical matrix.” – Lawrence Eagleburger

“In the best of all worlds everyone in the embassy is doing something to assist U.S. exports.” – Lawrence Eagleburger

“I’m happy to be home. We had a really hard time. But we’d like to thank the people at the embassy and all those who worked to free us.” – Rene Braeunlich

“We have an embassy, and if such information appears, the embassy staff will address the issue.” – Mikhail Kamynin