How to become a diplomat

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Diplomats, also known as foreign service officers (FSOs), are part of the U.S. Foreign Service. They represent the American government around the world and fulfill a wide variety of assignments, such as issuing visas, reporting on diplomatic issues, and helping U.S. citizens overseas. Diplomats' terms abroad usually last from two to four years.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Make sure that you fulfill the basic requirements. You must be a U.S. citizen between the ages of 20 and 59.

  2. 2

    Avoid drug and alcohol abuse and make sure your finances are in order. A lack of responsibility in either of these areas may jeopardize your eligibility as a foreign service officer down the line.

  3. 3

    Visit the Department of State website. You can look for it with a search engine like Yahoo! or Google.

  4. 4

    Register for the Foreign Service Written Exam (FSWE), which is offered once a year in cities around the world.

  5. 5

    Review and select from one of five career tracks: Management, Consular, Economic, Political and Public Diplomacy.

  6. 6

    Take the written exam. Bring your admission ticket, a black pen, several No. 2 pencils and valid identification such as a photo ID card or a driver's license with photo.

  7. 7

    Take the Foreign Service Oral Assessment. Your eligibility to take it depends on your performance on the written test.

  8. 8

    Take a foreign language test, provided you are proficient in a foreign language, to enhance your eligibity.

  9. 9

    Be prepared to undergo a background investigation as well as a comprehensive medical examination.

  10. 10

    Be willing to serve anywhere in the world, including high-risk areas.

Tips and warnings

  • Study diligently. On average, only 30% of the people who take the written test are invited back for an oral assessment.
  • Consider how a career as a foreign service officer will affect your family. They may have to travel with you and put their own careers and goals on hold, or you may be separated from them for extended periods of time.
  • Going to a college or university and obtaining a Bachelor's degree may help you advance in your career and obtain higher salaries.
  • You may be assigned to an area under dangerous circumstances, such as political instability or prevalant disease.

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