How to Become an Ambassador
Ambassador Careers & Degrees

Ambassadors are grouped into Senior Foreign Service employees and perform a variety of duties in order to keep relationships strong with other nations.

These professionals are the personal representatives of the U.S.

President and serve to stand in place for a variety of occasions, meetings and events.

Ambassadors play a very important role in our nation’s relationship with other foreign nations.

Individuals who want to become an Ambassador will need a combination of personal characteristics, connections and diplomatic skills in order to show they are capable of representing the United States on a professional and international level.

Education Requirements to Become an Ambassador

There are several steps that an individual will need to take in order to become an Ambassador.

Although an advanced degree is not a requirement, there are some important qualities that the Department of State looks for that can be attained by attending at least a bachelor’s program.

These skills include having strong communication skills in speaking and writing; planning and organizing, quantitative skills and the ability to work well with other individuals.

Because Ambassadors are Senior Foreign Service members, they must have experience working for the U.S.

Department of State or another federal agency gaining diplomacy skills.

Individuals who want to become an Ambassador can seek experience by applying for and working as a Foreign Service Officer or as a Foreign Service Specialist.

Both of these positions give individuals the ability to begin their career by working abroad using their diplomatic skills, working on foreign policy and learning about different cultures abroad.

When seeking openings in entry level, individuals have the option to apply for the following positions:

  • Consular Officer
  • Economic Officer
  • Management Officer
  • Political Officer or
  • Public Diplomacy Officer

Individuals beginning their career as a Foreign Service employee will need to satisfy some requirements in order to enter this field.

The U.S.

Department of State does require individuals to fulfill the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be a U.S.Citizen on the date of registration
  • Be at least 20 years old, but not older than 59 years old on the date of registration
  • Be at least 21 years old, but not older than 60 years old on the date of appointment as a Foreign Service member
  • Be able to complete assignments abroad including the capital, Washington, D.C.

Although not required, knowing a second or third language may help someone standout when applying for Foreign Service entry level positions.

Ambassador Job Description

An Ambassador is an experienced diplomat that works outside of the United States who acts on behalf of the President of the U.S.

protecting the interests of U.S.

citizens abroad and on U.S.

territory.

These professionals do not have the ability to choose the country they wish to work in and will be appointed a foreign country to work as a representative to the United States.

Although a career as an Ambassador may seem lucrative to an extent because of the traveling, living abroad and government paid expenses, there is also a lot of work in creating relations with host countries.

Ambassadors may work irregular or over time hours working on diplomacy and assuring the United States has a strong reputation in the host country.

Ambassadors will engage with their host country’s government officials, some private organizations as well as international organization officials.

They will assure there is communicate between the United States and the host country while they learn to adjust to the host country’s culture.

You may visit the U.S.


Department of State’s career page to learn more information on careers in Foreign Service.

Ambassador Salary and Career Path

The exact wages for Ambassadors and Senior Foreign Service professionals will depend on several factors including the level of experience, location and other qualifications.

However, according to figures from 2010, there is a salary range that starts at approximately $119,554 to $179,700 per year.

Ambassadors living overseas or not stationed at home will also receive stipends that cover their living expenses including: housing, food and transportation.

These figures will depend on the country where an Ambassador performs their duties.

Being an Ambassador representing the United States is a significant role on many levels.

Individuals who want to become an Ambassador will have a natural interest in international relations, a knack for making important connections with other political or business professionals, and savviness for politics.

A career as an Ambassador may take plenty of years to achieve, but once in this profession, an individual will have an opportunity to travel and represent the president of the United States when meeting with international diplomats.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$120,260
$60K
$87K
$120K
$148K
$164K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Arizona$98,510
California$79,600
District of Columbia$123,940
Florida$98,710
Illinois$71,920
Maine$76,790
Massachusetts$109,060
Michigan- NA -
New York$127,660
Pennsylvania$106,590
Texas$89,310
Virginia$130,070
Washington$99,040

The top earning state in the field is Virginia, where the average salary is $130,070.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Virginia - $130,070
New York - $127,660
District of Columbia - $123,940
Massachusetts - $109,060
Pennsylvania - $106,590
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Political Scientists, OCC Code 19-3094, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat does an ambassador do?

Ambassadors are special people who act as a figurehead for their country while attending international meetings, parties and banquets.

An ambassador is one of the ranks of a diplomat.

The main aim of an ambassador is to promote international relations with regards to such issues as peace and war; culture; trade and economics; human rights; the environment.

The typical responsibilities of an ambassador also include negotiating international agreements and treaties before those are officially endorsed; assisting travelers from their home country and explaining foreign policy; evacuating refugees; representing the views of the home government; collecting and reporting certain pieces of information that can affect national interests; giving advice on how the home country should react, and so on.

The working environment of an ambassador will vary greatly from country to country.

QuestionHow much do ambassadors make?

An ambassador can make around $150.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $124.000 and $187.000 annually.

The salary of an ambassador cannot exceed the salary set for the Vice President of the United States.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the location, and other factors.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become an ambassador?

The educational requirements to become an ambassador are not specific.

However, in a lot of cases, you would need a bachelor’s degree in history, international relations, political science or a related field, in order to become a successful ambassador.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

For positions in Foreign Service, a master’s degree or a Ph.D. might be required (over $30.000).

You would also need to take the Foreign Service Officer Test (there is a $72 “no-show” fee).

QuestionWhat is the demand for ambassadors?

The ambassador job market will most likely remain the same, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of ambassadors is maintained by the U.S. State Department; around 70% have worked their way up through the rank of State Department (‘career foreign service ambassadors’).

The ambassador job market is an extremely competitive field; only those with outstanding personal qualities will be able to succeed on their career path.

QuestionHow long does it take to become an ambassador?

In case you decide to go for a bachelor’s degree, you would need 4 years to obtain one; a master’s degree will take you 2 years, while a Ph.D. might require up to 8 years of your time.

If you are an aspiring ambassador, you would have to pass the FSOT, take an oral assessment, submit a personal narrative, complete security and medical clearances, pass a panel review.

Only successful candidates will have the opportunity to start their extensive training.

Candidates should be at least 21 years old.

Bear in mind that internships and overseas experience are extremely important.

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