Foreign Affairs Officer

The main objective of a country's diplomatic service is to establish friendly and mutually beneficial relations with other countries. In South Africa, the diplomatic service is administrated by the Department of Foreign Affairs. Candidates are recruited for service in South Africa, or in other countries where a diplomatic or consular mission represents the Republic.

Foreign affairs officers can be diplomatic representatives for the country of origin or provide support to more senior staff, such as ambassadors, at overseas missions. Their duties include assisting at official functions, helping prepare guest lists, and acting as host or hostess at receptions.

The work can be strenuous, but it is also very interesting and may include the following:

Representation: Foreign affairs officers represent South Africa in the country where they are stationed. They may attend official functions as South Africa’s representative and communicate messages from South Africa to the host country.

Foreign Policy: Foreign affairs officers may communicate and explain the policies and goals of their own country to the host country. They prepare documents for submission to the host country and then report the reactions back to their own country. They also attend international conferences where political, economic and technical affairs are discussed.

Information: Foreign affairs officers must inform their own government on the political, economic and military developments in the host country.

Influencing of opinion: A major responsibility of foreign affairs officers is to improve relations between their own and other countries. They try to positively influence the host country’s opinion of South African institutions, technology and training.

Administration: The head of a diplomatic or consular mission is responsible for the administration of the embassy, mission or consulate. This includes personnel, financial and general administration. Foreign affairs officers situated at the head office in Pretoria must also inform all the overseas missions on government decisions and new policies

Foreign affairs officers spend most of their time overseas. Although preferences are taken into account, the foreign affairs officer must be prepared to work in any country where there is a South African diplomatic mission.

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course

Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Degree: BA - most universities

The Department of Foreign Affairs offers a 3-year training course at their training centre in Pretoria to selected candidates who are in possession of at least a BA degree or equivalent qualification. Course content includes: protocol, diplomatic, political and economical reportage and how to influence foreign policy.


Department of Foreign Affairs

Further Information

Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Private Bag X152
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 351-1000 Fax: (012) 329-1000

Getting Started

  • hone your own and foreign language skills
  • join the debating society at school
  • develop your communication skills and obtain a broad educational background
  • get as much experience as possible working with people and speaking in public
  • make an appointment to speak to a foreign affairs officer about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

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