Diplomat

   Government and Defence

Menu

Ambassador

Related Jobs or Working with these Jobs

 

Clerical or OrganisingAnalytic or ScientificSkill Level 5Skill Level 6

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. Future Growth Strong

A diplomat is someone who is appointed by a nation state to represent and protect that nation's interests abroad. The four ranks of diplomats are determined by international law, and include ambassadors, envoys, ministers, and charge d'affaires.

In modern diplomacy there are a number of ranks below ambassador. These ranks now rarely show a mission's importance, but rather show the diplomat's seniority within their own nation's diplomatic career ladder. This modern ranking system follows a similar, but not exactly parallel, pattern in different countries, and is as follows:

  • Ambassador (High Commissioner in Commonwealth missions); Ambassador at large

  • Minister

  • Minister-Counselor

  • Counselor

  • First Secretary

  • Second Secretary

  • Third Secretary

  • Attache

  • Assistant Attache

 

Alternative names: Diplomat, Diplomatic Service Officer

Knowledge, skills and attributes   

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 - good interpersonal communication skills

  • tact, integrity, discretion and self-control

  • intelligent, adaptable and dedicated

  • pleasant personality and sociability

  • prepared to work in any country

  • speak fluently and good at learning languages

  • fit and healthy, with good general knowledge

  • pass a selection process

  • be prepared to work in Australia before overseas

  • hold Australian citizenship

  • obtain security clearance for yourself and spouse, if applicable


Diplomats work in a variety of ways to represent Australian interests abroad. Most diplomats have at least a bachelor’s degree and the following skills:


Relationship building – diplomats work with representatives of foreign governments to advance Australian and mutual interests, so they should be excellent relationship builders

Negotiation – in this role, diplomats also provide assistance and support with a wide range of negotiations, so tact and flexibility are often necessary

Communication skills – written and verbal communication are both vital in this role, as diplomats need to communicate with foreign contacts, prepare reports for their departments and supervisors, and make presentations

Foreign language skills – diplomats should have strong language-learning skills, should have some grasp of the primary language or languages in the countries they work in, and should be willing to quickly learn and adapt to new languages

Organization skills – in this role, diplomats must be highly organized and able to coordinate many activities at once while maintaining excellent attention to detail

Conflict resolution – diplomats frequently work in tense or delicate situations, so they need excellent conflict resolution skills

 

Duties and Tasks

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.

Conduct Consular Activities

Consular officers primarily interact with and provide support to Australian citizens abroad. In this role, diplomats assist citizens with foreign adoptions and help prevent fraud and human trafficking. Additionally, consular officers provide direct assistance to citizens during evacuations and other emergency situations. They also play a central role in passport control and the visa process.

Collaborate on Economic Issues

Economic officers support positive economic and trade relations between Australia and other countries. This role can include developing relationships with economic decision-makers and business leaders in other countries to promote Australian and mutual economic goals. They may help develop economic policy and aid in sharing information and trends with Australian foreign partners in government, academic, and business settings.

Manage Embassy [or High Commission] Operations

Management officers support embassy operations from day to day. Most management officers begin by leading a single unit within an embassy and work their way up to managing larger staffs and supporting large-scale operations by negotiating leases for residences and offices. Management officers also play a central role in budget oversight and logistics within the embassy itself.

Negotiate with Foreign Government Officials

Political officers negotiate with foreign governments and monitor the political climate within their host countries. This role requires an excellent grasp of local politics and trends as well as the ability to successfully interact with foreign government representatives and experts to protect Australian interests. High-level political officers may provide direct advice to an ambassador and draft policy documents for senior DFAT officials.

Engage and Influence Nongovernmental Groups

Diplomats engaged in public relations and cultural exchange serve as public diplomacy officers. In this role, diplomats create programs and presentations to inform the public about Australian policies and organize events to strengthen relationships between countries. These diplomats interact with members of the foreign press, arrange fact-finding tours, and manage information resource centers and language institutes.

 

Working 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.

Diplomats work abroad and in Canberra, ACT, to help promote Australian interests around the world. The role of a diplomat can vary greatly depending on their particular area of focus, but they generally seek to engage foreign governments, businesses, and social groups through a variety of policies and programs.

Diplomats typically work in embassies and ultimately report to the Australian Ambassador in their host country.

This role requires an excellent grasp of the political, cultural, and economic climates within a country and region, along with extensive familiarity with the Australian goals and desired outcomes within a particular region. At times, diplomats work in tense or hostile situations and so must work well under stress.
 

Education and training/entrance requirements

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.

 

Employment Opportunities

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.

Did You Know?

Australia House London

The High Commission of Australia in London is the diplomatic mission of Australia in the United Kingdom. It is located in Australia House, a Grade II listed building. It was Australia's first diplomatic mission and is the longest continuously occupied diplomatic mission in the United Kingdom.

The building's grand interior was used as the setting of Gringotts Wizarding Bank in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

Diplomat

Air Force Officer

WHS Officer

Electorate Officer

Park Ranger

Prison Officer

Fisheries Officer

Postal Worker

Local Government Inspector

Biosecurity Officer

Border Force Officer

Naval Officer

Road Worker

Army Officer

Parliamentarian

Urban and Regional Planner

Police Officer

Community Corrections

Public Servant

Coroner

Primary Products Inspector

Tourist Information Officer

Transport Services Officer

Meteorologist

Emergency Disaster Planner

Air Force Officer

WHS Officer

Electorate Officer

Park Ranger

Prison Officer

Fisheries Officer

Postal Worker

Local Government Inspector

Biosecurity Officer

Border Force Officer

Naval Officer

Road Worker

Army Officer

Parliamentarian

Urban and Regional Planner

Police Officer

Community Corrections

Diplomat

Public Servant

Coroner

Primary Products Inspector

Tourist Information Officer

Transport Services Officer

Meteorologist

Air Force Officer

WHS Officer

Electorate Officer

Park Ranger

Prison Officer

Fisheries Officer

Postal Worker

Local Government Inspector

Biosecurity Officer

Border Force Officer

Naval Officer

Road Worker

Army Officer

Parliamentarian

Urban and Regional Planner

Police Officer

Community Corrections

Diplomat