U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Officer Program

Who can become a Foreign Service Officer?

To be eligible, the U.S. Department of State requires that you be:

  • A U.S. citizen on the date you submit your registration package
  • At least 20 years old and no older than 59 years of age on the day you submit your registration
  • At least 21 years old and not yet 60 on the day you are appointed as a Foreign Service Officer
  • Available for worldwide assignments, including Washington, D.C.

What is a Foreign Service Officer?

The mission of a U.S. diplomat in the Foreign Service is to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad. If you’re passionate about public service and want to represent the U.S. around the world, a challenging and rewarding career is waiting for you. The opportunity to work and experience cultures, customs and people of different nations is truly a career unlike any other.

While all U.S. diplomats are expected to communicate U.S. foreign policy, and interact effectively with host country governments to help advance American interests worldwide, each officer must choose a career track with a specific focus.

  • Consular Officers facilitate adoptions, help evacuate Americans, combat fraud to protect our borders, and fight human trafficking. Consular Officers touch people’s lives in important ways, often reassuring families in crisis.
  • Economic Officers work with foreign governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other USG agencies on technology, science, economic, trade, energy, and environmental issues both domestically and overseas.
  • Management Officers are resourceful, creative, action-oriented “go to” leaders responsible for all embassy operations (large or small) from real estate to human resources, from budget to security.
  • Political Officers analyze host country political events and must be able to negotiate and communicate persuasively and effectively with all levels of foreign government officials.
  • Public Diplomacy Officers engage, inform, and influence opinion leaders, local non-governmental groups, the next generation of leaders, academics, think tanks, government officials, and the full range of civil society in order to promote mutual understanding and support for U.S policy goals.

To learn more about being a Foreign Service Officer and the different career tracks please visit The State Department’s Foreign Service Officer information website.

Steps to Become a Foreign Service Officer

  1. Choose a Career Track
  2. Register for the FSOT
  3. Take the FSOT
  4. Submit a Personal Narrative
  5. Take the Oral Assessment
  6. Clearances – Medical & Security
  7. Final Review Panel
  8. The Register

For more information on these steps please visit the Department’s 8 Steps to Becoming a Foreign Service Officer website.

The Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT)

The Foreign Service Officer Test measures your knowledge, skills and abilities, including writing skills that are necessary to the work of a Foreign Service Officer. The FSOT is administered online at designated Pearson Vue Professional Test Centers throughout Canada (Edmonton, Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal) and takes about three hours to complete. It includes three multiple-choice sections:

  • Job knowledge: Questions will cover a broad range of topics including, but not limited to, the structure and workings of the U.S. Government, U.S. and world history, U.S. culture, psychology, technology, management theory, finance and economics, and world affairs.
  • English expression
  • A biographic information section that asks you to describe your work style, your manner of interacting and communicating with others, and your approach to other cultures.

In addition, you will be given 30 minutes to write an essay on an assigned topic. You must pass the multiple-choice tests to have your essay graded.