Representing the interests of your country abroad, protecting the interests of its citizens aboard and interacting with officials from foreign governments -- it's all in the day's work for a foreign diplomat. Diplomats, known officially in the United States as foreign service officers, perform a multitude of duties in American embassies and diplomatic missions abroad. The job can be exciting, as foreign diplomats are immersed in the cultures of other countries, but entry to the foreign service is difficult, and the hours are long.
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Foreign diplomats from the United States serve in American embassies and diplomatic consulates around the world. They issue visas, protect American citizens who are travelling abroad, accompany foreign officials and report to the U.S. government on diplomatic matters. Experienced diplomats or people with important political ties can receive presidential appointments to serve as U.S. ambassadors overseas. Ambassadors lead American diplomatic missions.
Foreign diplomats (also known as foreign service officers) spend a lot of their working hours handling reports. Reading, writing and proofreading reports, as well as assembling and reviewing information for inclusion in various reports, can consume as much as 60 per cent of a foreign service officer's time. For this reason, people wanting to be foreign diplomats need excellent reading and writing skills.
To become a foreign diplomat, you must be between the ages of 20 and 59. According to Princeton Review, many starting foreign service officers have an average age of 30. The first step toward being a foreign diplomat is taking a written test for the foreign service, which the U.S. State Department administers. Individuals who pass the written test may then undergo an oral assessment designed to determine their communication skills and how well they work with others. Passage of the oral assessment then leads to a physical examination, a rigorous background check and a final review to determine a person's suitability for foreign service employment. It is not necessary to know a foreign language to be eligible to be a foreign diplomat, but such skills are a plus.
Many new diplomats start their careers in Washington, D.C., where they learn the protocols of diplomatic service. Their first foreign assignment may be anywhere in the world, based on the foreign service's needs. Everyone may want assignment to England, France or Japan, but Haiti, Romania and Iraq need diplomatic representatives as well.
Foreign service officers are classified into one of five specialisation areas (known as "cones"): economic, political, public diplomacy, consular or management.
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