Become a Diplomat

Are you interested in a career that includes an excellent salary, extensive travel, meeting high-ranking dignitaries from around the world, and enjoying unique perks that other professionals would never imagine? Join the diplomatic service. The eligibility requirements for diplomats are universally stringent, but if you’re willing to devote many years to serious study and aren’t intimidated by the high level of competition, it's a career path that's has many rewards. Here’s how you can get started.


  1. Find out the criteria to become a diplomat in your country. Contact the government agency that handles international relations. In the United States, it is the Department of State. In France, it is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
    • Ask about educational requirements, like professional degrees, preferred fields of study and whether you must become proficient in other languages.
    • Know about other qualifications, such as whether you must be a natural born citizen and whether you must meet certain age requirements. For example, applicants in the United States must be between the ages of 21 and 59.
  2. Consider your personal qualifications.
    • Assess your physical readiness. Diplomats must receive medical clearance that they are able to travel broadly and live in areas with limited access to healthcare facilities.
    • Determine whether you would pass security clearance. Governments perform Run an Instant Background Check to confirm that applicants have no criminal background, are financially responsible and have not abused drugs or alcohol.
    • Decide whether you possess the right temperament to relocate to any country your government sends you to and to uphold your government’s policies even though you may not agree with them.
    • Reflect on your ability to speak effectively through an interpreter and your ability to negotiate and persuade without antagonizing others. Diplomats also must be able to adapt to living among people of diverse cultures.
  3. Complete the necessary formal course work at accredited schools. Universities in some countries offer special programs that prepare you to become a diplomat. Examples are the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University in the United States or the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.
  4. Register with your government’s foreign affairs office. American citizens must complete an application with the Department of State. Citizens in Great Britain should apply with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
  5. Pass the necessary written and oral exams. While the particular exams vary according to the country, you should expect that you must demonstrate a high level of proficiency in world and national history, political science, writing and current events.
    • American citizens must first pass the Foreign Service Officer’s Exam, a written exam that usually lasts 3 hours. Applicants then sit for oral examinations that measure their personal aptitude to represent the United States government abroad.
    • Complete a practical training program. The governments of the United States, France and Great Britain all require that prospective diplomats complete further classroom study devoted to the principles of diplomacy. This training also requires them to make frequent trips to government offices where they learn how other branches of government function.


  • Read all books on diplomacy you can find in the library and on the Internet.
  • Learn as many different languages as you can.
  • Find successful diplomats and request they be your mentor.
  • If you still go to school, put extra focus on classes like foreign languages and social studies.
  • If you want to be a diplomat in a specific part of the world, learn the main language in that part of the world.

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