Diplomatic Service Careers

How to become Diplomatic Service

What does a Diplomatic Service do?

Diplomatic Service officers work in the UK and abroad for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). They are involved in the promotion and protection of British interests overseas and in supporting and advising British ministers.

The range and variety of work covers every area where British interests and citizens are involved internationally, and includes the following:

Political - monitoring political and economic developments in the host country, representing Britain's views to the government of that country, informing and advising London of the local situation, and ensuring that British policy is properly explained to the government and media.

Commercial - helping British companies to sell their goods and services in the country, arranging representation at trade fairs, ensuring that local laws do not discriminate against British companies, and promoting inward investment to Britain.

Consular - assisting British citizens who may be resident in or visiting the host country, and processing applications from local people who may wish to visit or work in Britain.

At each Embassy, Consulate or High Commission there are diplomatic officers responsible for management and support services including accommodation, residences and security.

Those based in London deal with one or more specific geographical areas or functions. They liaise with their counterparts working in those countries and with the relevant foreign or Commonwealth representatives based in London.

Responsibilities depend on the grade at which officers are employed - see the FCO website for examples. Contact details are in the Further Information section of this profile.

What's the working environment like working as a Diplomatic Service?

Diplomatic Service officers may be based in London or in other countries all over the world.

Hours and conditions vary depending on the post and the climate. Working hours are normally nine to five, but extra hours may be required, and could involve being on call 24 hours a day.

Overseas posting usually last three to four years. You will need to consider the impact overseas work will have on your family life, such as your partner's employment or your children's education.

What does it take to become a Diplomatic Service?

A Diplomatic Service officer should:

  • have an interest in international affairs
  • be prepared to work anywhere in the world
  • be able to think quickly and analytically
  • have good interpersonal and communication skills
  • be a highly organised
  • have plenty of motivation to get involved with local communities
  • have tact and maturity for management and development of staff.

Diplomatic Service Career Opportunities

There are over 3,500 people in the Diplomatic Service working in London or based in missions overseas.

Staff are recruited and promoted strictly on ability and there are clear routes through to the top positions. Fast Stream entrants are expected to gain promotion more quickly.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Diplomatic Service that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Facts and Stats:

  • The Ministry of Defence is British Industry''s largest single customer
  • Every year, civil servants are responsible for public spending of around £300bn
  • If every MP turned up at the chambers of the House of Commons at the same time, there would not be enough seats for them all to sit down

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