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The Requirements to Be an Ambassador

by Alejandro Russell, studioD

The United States of America maintains diplomatic relations with approximately 180 states; an ambassador operates in most of the American embassies in these countries as the personal representative of the president. Data from the United States Foreign Service Pay Schedule approximates that as of 2010 the lowest paid ambassador made around $47,024 annually. The amount, however, increases over time; the state gives considerations to educational advancement, work experience, and location of an ambassador – for example, in a hostile region. The status of an ambassador as the president’s representative requires that he possesses certain qualifications.

Educational Requirements

The basic educational requirements of an ambassador include a bachelor’s degree in politics, history or international relations. You should supplement these studies with undergraduate and postgraduate fellowships, and conferences centering on foreign policy matters. A broad spectrum of knowledge on your country and the rest of the world is a vital quality for an ambassador. This information comes in handy during discussions, conferences, and negotiations with diplomats from across the world. The Council on American Ambassadors offers undergraduate fellowships on international relations.

Work Experience

Extensive work credits in the field of foreign services are vital for an ambassador. It provides hands-on experience in the daily dealings in international relations. An internship or post as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO), for example, consular, economic, political and public diplomacy officers prepares you for future careers in foreign relations such as ambassadorship. You need to be at least 21 years old and less than 60 years to qualify as an eligible candidate for a post as a FSO. You can submit your job application to the US Department of State. Careers in embassies and participation in political parties also provide you with the requisite experience in foreign relations.

Communication Skills

Proper communication skills include both written and spoken language. For an ambassador it relates to imparting relevant information to your country and other diplomatic forums. Good communication skills assist you to properly convey your country’s position on an issue and influence discussions to reflect positively on your country. Literary proficiency in more than one language is an essential tool. In addition to easing communications with other diplomats, it promotes a kind of conviviality, especially during sensitive discussions. Karl Gruber – the Austrian Foreign Minister and Austrian Ambassador to the United States, Spain, Switzerland, and West Germany – applauds efficient communication skills as the distinguishing factor between inferior and superior ambassadors.

Initiative and Leadership Qualities

The responsibilities of an ambassador include the management of FSOs and other employees in foreign agencies in the United States. This post requires you to properly coordinate and direct others in the course of their duties. You need to exercise excellent leadership qualities in the application of good judgment in foreign interrelations with other leaders. This determines the results of any decisions affecting your country.