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Life of Diplomats

While in recent years more than half of the developed nations has reduced their diplomatic presence worldwide, the Global Diplomatic Index reported the existence of at least 6,000 diplomatic posts across 660 cities in the world.

With communication going digital and increased government budget cuts, is it appropriate to wonder if we need embassies and consulates anymore? Nevertheless, the career of a diplomat is still one fascinating people that desire to travel the world and to do something meaningful in their life.

From representing and protecting the interests of the sending state to the facilitation of strategic agreements, treaties and conventions, the role of a diplomat can vary greatly.

The role of a diplomat

Diplomats work for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the UK, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Italy, the U.S. Department of State in USA, The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Australia, The Federal Foreign Office in Germany, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in Spain and so on, to protect and promote their country’s interests, as well as support their citizens and businesses across the world. Generally foreign offices deal with issues including conflict resolution, counter terrorism, trade and investment, forced marriages, human rights and climate change.

Diplomats are required to relocate several times throughout their lives, and may have to move to a new country every two or three years. Due to this, relocating with family can certainly take its toll. Moving from one country to another on a frequent basis is certainly disruptive for families, and can put a strain on relationships. Even though the life of a diplomat can be challenging at times, it is a highly rewarding role which enables people to see parts of the world they otherwise may not get the opportunity to visit. In the same way, being a parent as a diplomat can be just as challenging, as children will have to move repeatedly during their childhood.

Responsibilities

Despite what many are influenced to believe, there is no such thing as a ‘diplomatic career’. Diplomats could be based anywhere in the world, and could even be chosen to work on global issues in one of the larger embassies in Paris or Washington.

Specialising in the practical side of diplomatic work, diplomats are typically required to work in foreign policy and service delivery overseas, with the opportunity to further influence international and diplomatic development. In order to deal with complex and sensitive issues, diplomats are required to consistently produce work at a high level. Some diplomats may even give advice directly to ministers, and thus must be able to think things through in a well-considered way and remain up-to-date on their area regardless.

Diplomats work in one or more of the areas operated by the foreign offices, which are:

  • Political: diplomats in this field of study are responsible for monitoring political and economic developments overseas.
  • Commercial: diplomats in the commercial area are responsible for helping businesses trade overseas.
  • Consular: In this area, diplomats are required to assist their citizens in other countries.

Qualifications & Training Required

The entry requirements of a diplomat vary greatly depending on the grade of job, and the role. In general, to join a foreign office at any level, applicants must meet the nationality and residency requirements and be successful during the rigorous security vetting process.

In the UK Graduates with at least a 2:2 can apply to the Civil Service Fast Stream Programme, but for the Government Economic Service Fast Stream, applicants are required to have a 2:1 in an economics-related subject. The most successful candidates have at least a bachelor’s degree in international relations, business administration, law, journalism and economics. From country to country, these requirements may differ.

Career Progression

Generally diplomats have access to a selection of training in order to help them prepare for their first overseas posting, including foreign language training. Employees are often encouraged to identify their own training needs as part of a staff development programme. On average, diplomats can expect to spend up to five years in their initial level before promotion.

If you are considering relocating diplomats abroad on an international work assignment, and you want to discuss how we can help you or if you are a diplomat moving abroad alone or with your family, get in touch with a member of our expert team today.

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