Life as a UK diplomat combines work at the Foreign Office in London with postings in embassies, consulates or the high commission abroad. An interest in international affairs is required and roles include immigration work, consular duties, policy making and commercial projects. Salaries are dependent on grade and experience.
Diplomats entering the service at operational officer grade earn just over £21,000 per year whilst graduates recruited through the Fast Stream programme begin on around £25,000. Salaries at more senior levels vary as they are performance related. The average salary for a head of mission is £80,852, with some earning in excess of £90,000.
Staff in the Diplomatic Service can accrue extra benefits. Annual salary increments are applied for officers who meet performance requirements and the well-regarded civil service pension is available. Postings vary and officers can expect to acquire a range of skills during their career.
Diplomats posted overseas qualify for a number of further allowances. Hardship allowances are paid for postings in countries where living conditions are seen as poor, travel expenses and rent-free accommodation are provided, and education allowances are available for children of diplomats. Living in countries with a cheaper standard of living can be a further financial benefit.
EU diplomats can earn lavish salaries. Staff working for the European External Action Service pick up annual salaries between £128,000 and £188,000 plus a living conditions allowance of up to 40 per cent. The Daily Telegraph reported in 2010 that the EU ambassador to India had an annual salary of £167, 734 plus an extra 30 per cent allowance. This was in addition to perks including 60 days annual leave a year.