The United States Department of State is the agency responsible for foreign relations between the U.S. and other countries throughout the world. Those who wish to represent their country abroad by pursuing a career in Foreign Service with the State Department are able to choose between two options. The different types of Foreign Service jobs fall under the category of Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) or Foreign Service Specialists (FSSs).
Foreign Service Officers work all over the world by representing the United States in embassies, consulates, and other diplomatic missions. Foreign Service jobs obtained by FSOs are done under one of five career tracks. FSOs who chose the management track will be responsible for the day-to-day, efficient operation of the embassy or consulate where they are stationed. The second career track is the consular track, which requires FSOs to attend to consular duties surrounding visas and passports. An FSO on the consular track is also responsible for helping Americans who are traveling abroad with any emergencies.
The economic track is the third track which a prospective FSO may choose. Economic FSOs promote the economic interests of the United States abroad and help to advise the U.S. government on any economic development issues. FSOs who choose the political track help shape U.S. foreign policy through recommendations and promote the position of the United States on important issues within the country. The final career track is public diplomacy. These FSOs help foster relations between countries through special visits, cultural exchanges and other diplomatic events.
For people interested in Foreign Service jobs that require more specialized experience, they may be interested in becoming a Foreign Service Specialist. An FSS offers specialized skills that help support the United States in diplomatic operations throughout the world. The State Department offers skilled professionals Foreign Service jobs as FSSs in administration, construction engineering, international information, information technology, medical and health, office management and security.
Regardless of whether a person wishes to become an FSO or an FSS, the hiring process is a long one that may take as long as two years. After passing the required Foreign Service Exam, applicants must pass an oral examination, an in-depth background check and receive a medical clearance. After all these requirements are met, new specialists and officers will be assigned based on the needs of the U.S. State Department.