Foreign Policy Professional: Job Description & Career Info

Learn what foreign policy professionals do and what training and education are required for employment. See about the career outlook for this job to decide if it's a good fit for you.

View popular schools

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • American Government
  • International Relations, General

Career Definition for Foreign Policy Professional

Foreign policy professionals are political scientists, lawyers, economists, and other social scientists with expertise in how countries relate to each other politically, socially, and economically. Foreign policy professionals conduct research and use their findings to advise the government and other institutions on international issues, such as trade, human rights, global food supply, energy, and the environment, according to the Foreign Policy Association. Other foreign policy professionals serve as foreign service officers and implement U.S. foreign policy in other countries.

Education Master's degree, doctorate, or law degree are most common; foreign service officers may find employment with only a bachelor's degree, usually with extra coursework
Job Skills Collaboration with others, diplomacy, communication skills, foreign language proficiency, bravery
Median Salary 2015* $99,730 (political scientist)
$99,180 (economist)
$73,760 (sociologist)
Career Outlook 2014-2024* -2% (political scientist)
6% (economists)
-1% (sociologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Most foreign policy professionals hold master's, doctorate or law degrees. Foreign service officers employed by the federal government may enter the field with bachelor's degrees, though additional education is typical. Some universities feature specialized programs, such as international affairs, international studies or international relations, specifically as preparation for careers in foreign policy. However, many foreign policy professionals choose to earn M.A., Ph.D. or J.D. degrees in the more general fields of political science, history, economics, sociology or law.

Skills Required

A successful career in foreign policy requires excellent written and communication skills for conveying research results and making recommendations to policy makers. Foreign policy professionals must be comfortable working alone and collaborating with other professionals. Diplomacy, knowledge of at least one foreign language and a willingness to serve in areas of conflict are desired of foreign service officers.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects that job openings for political scientists, a common position for foreign policy professionals, will decrease at a pace of 2% from 2014-2024. Similarly, sociologists will see a 1% decline in positions, however economists can expect positive average growth of 6%. Because foreign policy professionals come from a diversity of fields, salaries can vary. Political scientists earned a median salary of $99,730 in May 2015, economists earned a median of $99,180, and sociologists earned a median of $73,760, according to the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Related careers can include:

Urban and Regional Planner

Urban and regional planners help communities decide how to use land to meet their needs. They work with residents, developers, and local government to identify problems or goals. They also gather, evaluate, and present information about a site or project, with a recommendation to pursue it or not based on certain factors.

A master's degree in the field is typically required for employment, and a few years of relevant work experience may be preferred. Professional certification is available; state licensing requirements are uncommon. Urban and regional planner jobs are predicted to increase 6% from 2014-2024, per the BLS. The agency also reported that urban and regional planners earned median pay of $68,220 in 2015.

Anthropologist

An anthropologist studies cultures, languages, and artifacts to draw conclusions about how and why human societies develop as they do. Anthropologists conduct field work and lab research. While it's possible to get an entry-level assistant job with a bachelor's degree, a Ph.D. and work experience is required in order to lead research projects, especially those on foreign soil. The BLS estimates that jobs for anthropologists will increase 4% from 2014-2024; anthropologists earned median pay of $61,220 in 2015.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

    • Master of Public Administration
    • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • BA: Liberal Studies
    • AA: Liberal Arts

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • MA in Government
    • MA in Public Management
    • Master of Liberal Arts

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Bachelor of Arts in History for Secondary Education (ITL)

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Global Consulting
    • Master of Arts in Government - International Relations
    • Master of Arts in Government
    • Master of Arts in Government - American Government
    • Master of Arts in Government - Political Theory
    • Master of Arts in Government - Religion and Politics
    • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - International Organizations
    • Bachelor of Arts in Government - International Relations and Foreign Policy
    • Bachelor of Arts in International Studies
    • Bachelor of Arts in Government - American Government and Politics
    • Bachelor of Arts in Political Communication
    • Bachelor of Arts in Politics and History
    • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Government

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Public Administration and Policy

    What is your highest level of education?

    • MA in Global Service

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • M.Ed in Curriculum & Instruction - Social Studies

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education completed?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?