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Diplomatic service officer

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Diplomatic service officers help to promote and protect British interests, businesses and citizens overseas.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £25,000 to £45,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) to join as an administrative officer. If you apply to become an operational or policy officer, you'll usually need A levels.

It may help if you have some relevant work and life experience, like a proven interest in other countries and culture, international relations or foreign language.

If you're a graduate with at least a 2:2, you can apply to the Civil Service Fast Stream programme, which leads to senior management posts.

For the Government Economic Service Fast Stream you'll need a 2:1 in an economics-related subject.

The Summer Diversity Internship Programme offers undergraduates and graduates from ethnic minorities and under-represented backgrounds a paid training placement in a government department. This could be a stepping stone to the Fast Stream programme.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • initiative and flexibility
  • excellent communication skills
  • the ability to relate to people from all societies and cultures

3. What you'll do

You'll work in one or more of the 3 areas covered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. These are:

  • political - monitoring political and economic developments in other countries, and representing Britain in government and the media
  • commercial - helping British companies to trade overseas and promoting investment in Britain
  • consular - assisting British citizens in other countries and processing UK visa applications

Your day-to-day duties will depend on your role:

  • policy officers research issues and help to develop policy and strategy
  • executive assistants draft letters, handle accounts and invoices, and provide clerical support
  • administrative assistants provide clerical support

4. Salary

Starter: £25,000

Experienced: £28,000 to £35,000

Highly Experienced: £45,000

You may receive additional allowances for working overseas.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll normally work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, if you're based in the UK. Overseas, your hours and conditions may vary according to the culture and climate of your host country. You may also be on call 24 hours a day.

You'll spend between 18 months and 3 years in London before your first posting overseas. Most overseas postings last from 3 to 4 years. You must be willing to work anywhere in the world.

6. Career path and progression

You'll have access to a wide range of Civil Service training, designed to prepare you for your first overseas posting. This includes foreign language training.

You'll be encouraged to identify your own training needs as part of an appraisal and staff development programme.

After 2 years, you can apply to join the Fast Stream programme if your manager thinks you have the potential for senior management.

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Last updated: 11 September 2018