Government & Defence
Diplomatic Service Officer
Diplomatic service officers promote and protect Australia’s interests and citizens overseas, and provide advice on foreign policy.
What does a Diplomatic Service Officer do?
Diplomatic service officers work for the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT), either in Australia or abroad. They promote and protect Australia’s interests and citizens overseas, and provide advice and support to ministers developing foreign policy.
The work of DFAT is varied and covers every area where Australian interests and citizens are involved internationally. Diplomatic service officers can have political, commercial or consular responsibilities. They could include:
- monitoring political and economic developments in other countries
- representing Australia in government and the media
- assisting Australian citizens in other countries
- processing visa applications for people overseas who wish to come to Australia.
Key skills and interests
To become a diplomatic service officer, you would need:
- an interest in international affairs
- a willingness to work anywhere in the world
- initiative and quick thinking
- good problem-solving skills
- excellent written and spoken communication skills
- the ability to get on with people from all societies and cultures.
Working hours and conditions
You will normally work standard hours, Monday to Friday. However, when overseas, your hours and conditions may vary according to the culture and climate of your host country. Some jobs may involve being on call.
When you first start work with DFAT you would work locally for a number of years before getting the opportunity of an overseas posting.
How to become an Diplomatic Service Officer?
Entry Level Education
Diplomatic service officers are Australian public servants. Competition for Australian Public Service (APS) roles is very strong, and even more so for roles within DFAT.
There are a number of ways you can join the APS:
as a Trainee Administrative Service Officer who advances to Administrative Service Officer Level 1/APS Level 1 after completing the Government Traineeship
Graduate Administrative Assistant who advances to Research Officer Grade 1 or Administrative Service Officer Level 3/APS Level 3 after completing their training program
Administrative Service Officer/Executive Level Officer who enters with specific skills in response to advertisements for vacant positions, and may progress to Executive Level 1 or 2, in which they may undertake management roles.
APS vacancies are advertised on the Australian Public Service website at www.apsjobs.gov.au. Some jobs are advertised in local or national newspapers.
Overall employment of public service officers is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Employment of public service officers is driven by the changing structure of Federal Government departments and expansion of existing ones. The Federal Government has, in recent years, been decreasing the number of public service officer jobs available through a number of cost cutting measures. However, the Australian Public Service is a large employer, so opportunities will continue to exist for qualified employees.
Competition for positions in DFAT is very strong, as the number of available positions is comparatively small. Careers in diplomacy generally have become more important in recent times. Many diplomatic service officers find lifetime careers with DFAT.