Our Objective The United States Department of State directs America's foreign policy through diplomacy, lobbying, and aid, with the goal of furthering the interests of the American people, their safety, and economic development. It is a major player on the global stage, working with other countries to solve problems and create opportunities.
How does one become a diplomat? To qualify as a diplomat, you must be a citizen of the United States or have permanent resident status. You can also be recruited into the Foreign Service after graduating from an accredited college or university with a bachelor's degree in any field. Additional requirements include passing a rigorous exam known as the Foreign Service Exam and meeting age limits for appointment to specific posts. Persons with exceptional talent may be appointed without prior service if they meet certain other qualifications. The salary ranges from $52,500 for an Assistant Secretary of State to $160,000 for a Minister-Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in London.
Where do they send diplomats? Diplomats are assigned to post offices called embassies or high commissions. There are seven locations where members of the Foreign Service are stationed: Brussels, Belgium; Copenhagen, Denmark; Islamabad, Pakistan; Jerusalem; Nicosia, Cyprus; Washington, D.C.; and London. Each post has a chief of mission who is usually a political officer.
The US Department of State serves as the federal government's diplomatic department, conducting foreign relations with other countries and international organizations. The principal mission of the State Department is to advocate American foreign policy across the world. It does so by organizing and managing U.S. diplomacy through a network of over 800 posts abroad; supporting partners who work with us overseas; and providing information on Americans living in other countries.
State officials work in both the Secretary's office and throughout the organization. They make decisions on issues such as hiring, training, promoting, and compensating staff members. Some duties may be assigned directly to officers at lower levels within the organization. For example, an administrative assistant might be assigned the task of preparing documents for her supervisor to approve. She would not handle more involved tasks, such as interviewing candidates or planning trips.
All employees of the Department of State, including those working for embassies and other missions abroad, are required by law to be accredited members of the National Foreign Service Association (NFSA). The NFSA provides career development resources, including workshops, seminars, and conferences that help employees build skills and advance their positions. In addition, the association offers social events where members can meet others in their profession and get advice from experienced colleagues.
State officials come from all walks of life and hold many different jobs before they join the Department.
The Department of State advises and leads the country on foreign policy problems. The State Department negotiates treaties and agreements with other governments and represents the US at the United Nations. It also conducts an extensive program of educational outreach that teaches about American values and institutions throughout the world.
The Department of State has nine bureaus and a staff of approximately 47,000 employees. They are called officers because they used to be paid by the month like a military officer. Today, they are usually paid by salary but may have some temporary assignments that can include bonuses or other compensation.
State officials are divided into two major categories: political officers and professional officers. Political officers are responsible for managing US embassies around the world. They work with local government officials to help them establish diplomatic relations with other countries and promote trade between those countries and the US. Professional officers deal with issues such as human rights, environmental protection, international crime, and nuclear proliferation. They work in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; the Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs; the Bureau of International Organization Affairs; and the Bureau of Legislative Affairs.
Both political and professional officers are given authority by Congress to make decisions on behalf of the US government. However, only political officers can sign treaties or join multilateral negotiations.
Everyone who works for the US Department of State contributes to the advancement of US interests and the implementation of foreign policy. Our personnel make a difference every day by contributing to our global community and defending and advancing our country's interests and ideals.
At the Department of State, we work with a wide range of partners from around the world to advance American interests and assist those who seek freedom, democracy, and economic opportunity. We work in many countries across the globe, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen.
We have two main components to the Department of State: diplomatic and administrative. Diplomatic officers are represented in over 200 locations worldwide, while administrators work out of offices in Washington, DC. They help manage billions of dollars' worth of aid that Congress approves each year, coordinate government activities with other agencies, and provide support to diplomats when they are working abroad.
Diplomats work with their governments' foreign ministries or embassies to develop policies regarding trade, investment, military relations, human rights, climate change, and other issues relevant to America's interest. They may also work with international organizations such as the United Nations or NATO. In addition, they work closely with corporations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to promote US values and business opportunities overseas.