How to Become a Diplomat
Diplomat Careers & Degrees

A Diplomat is a professional who is experienced in managing international relationships with representatives and ambassadors from other nations.

Their work is important in advancing American interests abroad and involves building strong relationships in order to rely on other nations as allies in a variety of international circumstances.

Individuals who would like to become a Diplomat will have a strong passion for international relations as well has have some innate skills such as being able to build rapport with different types of individuals and having communication skills in order to discuss the United States’ interests and viewpoints on an international level.

Education Requirements to Become a Diplomat

Individuals who are making the steps to become a Diplomat will need to pursue a specific track in order to enter this profession.

Because Diplomats work on an international level, they will need to acquire the knowledge and skills that will allow them to interact and communicate with individuals from their host country, which is typically assigned, not chosen.

Individuals who want to become a Diplomat will need to secure an undergraduate degree from an accredited university or college.

Studying a focus, such as Political Science will prepare individuals to apply for entry level positions.

The majority of diplomats work as Foreign Service Officers (FSO).

After securing a bachelor’s degree, individuals who would like to start in this entry level position will need to take the Foreign Service Exam in order to begin applying for jobs.

In addition to the exam, individuals will also need to pass a security clearance and a medical exam that shows they can fulfill any job duties abroad.

Individuals who pass the rigorous exam and clearances are then required to participate in a 10 week introductory program provided by the.

Visit the Department of State for more information on specializations within this department.

Diplomat Job Description

Represent interests and policies of the United States.

Diplomats from the United States are responsible for managing international relationships with various representatives, leaders and professionals from other nations.

This involves having personal contact with professionals from a specific nation on a regular basis.

Meeting with other international diplomats may include familiarizing themselves with their host country’s culture, policies and perspectives while also presenting the same concepts about the United States.

In addition to meeting with international government officials, Diplomats will also meet with other individuals from their host country including: media, civilians, local business communities including owners and other members as well as individuals from the artistic and academic sectors.

In addition to understanding the customs, belief systems and policies of one another, a Diplomat is also responsible for implementing foreign policy formed by the President of the United States as well as representing economic and political interests.

Meeting with various professionals from a host country can bring upon certain change that can benefit both countries involved in the partnership.

Some common benefits that can arise from an established relationship and partnership may include:

  • Exchange programs
  • Trade agreements
  • Social action programs
  • Educational and artistic exchanges
  • Stronger local press

These types of programs, agreements and exchanges are small stepping stones that are used to creating trust between the United States and other nations; these types of small steps are necessary to be able to create a relationship between two nations that can also be relied upon when an incident on a larger scale occurs.

In addition to meeting with individuals from a host country, Diplomats will also perform daily activities that showcase their skills and knowledge in representing the interests and policies of the United States; these tasks may include the following:

  • Traveling to and from the United States to host country
  • Attending state or host dinners
  • Arranging a Visa for a visitor to the United States

Diplomat Salary and Career Path

Diplomats are grouped into the general profession of Political Scientists.

According to figures from 2012, the annual median wage for these professionals was approximately $115,740 per year.

In addition, the job outlook for all political scientists is expected to grow by 21 percent through the year 2022, which is considered a higher than average growth when compared to other professions.

Individuals who are interested in pursuing a career as a Diplomat have several things to look forward to including having the ability to use their personal characteristics to pursue the personal interests of the United States, working abroad to strengthen international relationships and being able to help fellow compatriots overseas.

This is all in addition the healthy income and job prospects associated with this profession.

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 a diplomat do?

A diplomat is a person appointed by a nation-state in order to represent and protect the nation’s interests in another country.

There are four ranks of diplomats that are determined by international law – envoys, ministers, charge d’affaires, and ambassadors.

The main aim of a diplomat is to form and maintain international relations with regards to such issues as peace and war; culture; trade and economics; human rights; the environment.

The typical responsibilities of a diplomat also include negotiating international agreements and treaties before those are officially endorsed; 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 role of a diplomat is constantly changing in our modern world.

QuestionHow much do diplomats make?

On average, a diplomat can make a little more than $86.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $48.000 and $139.000 annually.

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

Diplomats that work in the District of Columbia and California, for example, have the highest average salaries.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a diplomat?

The educational requirements to become a diplomat 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 diplomat.

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 diplomats?

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

The number of diplomats is maintained by the U.S. State Department (around 270 positions).

The diplomat 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 a diplomat?

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 diplomat, 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.

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