Foreign Service

Foreign Service is the front line of USAID operations.

Our Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) address global challenges in our overseas offices. FSOs apply their technical knowledge, program design, management, and evaluation expertise to improve health and food security, address global climate change, and help countries achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.

Generally, FSOs are energetic, optimistic professionals who enjoy working with a diverse range of colleagues in environments that can be unfamiliar and challenging.

FSO work includes:

  • Collaborating with foreign governments, representatives, development agencies, and non-governmental partners to deliver U.S. foreign assistance
  • Developing, managing and evaluating country and regional programs
  • Ensuring that programs meet the needs of partners cost-effectively
  • Responding to crises and humanitarian emergencies
  • Economic growth and trade
  • Peace and security
  • Education and health
  • Democracy and governance
  • Conflict mitigation
  • Humanitarian response

By working with our overseas partners, we aim to create a more secure, prosperous, and democratic world for the benefit of the American people and the international community.

Learn more about specific FSO career tracks.

Where We Work

USAID FSOs work in countries around the world, as well as in Washington, D.C.

Regions we serve include:

Becoming a Foreign Service Officer

USAID recruits new FSOs through the following programs:

  • Career Candidate program – This program seeks qualified junior professionals and a limited number of mid-level professionals who want to make a long-term career commitment to the Foreign Service and international development. It incorporates the Development Leadership Initiative (DLI) through which new FSOs were recruited between 2008 and 2012.
  • Foreign Service Limited Appointments (FSLs) – These are non-career officers hired for specific appointments mainly in Critical Priority Countries.

Foreign Service Requirements

Foreign Service work is rewarding, but it can be very difficult. It can also require working under dangerous conditions. Members of the Foreign Service must serve anywhere in the world, even in places where family members cannot go due to political instability. In some situations, family members must leave a post due to dangerous conditions.

To qualify for a Foreign Service position with USAID, you must be:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • At least 18 years old
  • No older than 60 years old on the day you are appointed as an FSO
  • Be in good health
  • Able to pass a rigorous physical examination prior to appointment
  • Able to receive a security clearance
  • Willing to accept assignments at any USAID location

Competitive applicants also have:

  • A graduate degree or some combination of a bachelor’s degree and relevant work experience
  • Development experience, such as working in a developing nation or with economically-deprived communities in the United States

USAID does not require the Foreign Service exam.

Learn more about our Employment Requirements.

Foreign Service Opportunities and Benefits

Learn more about the specific job opportunities currently available.

Learn more about Foreign Service Benefits and Salaries [PDF].

Last updated: February 24, 2014

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