What to Know About Federal Overseas Jobs

Here is a brief overview of some issues to consider before applying for or accepting a Federal overseas job.

Even though the majority of great paying jobs that the Federal Government offers are here in the United States, there are still many other job opportunities for those who are willing to work overseas. This includes almost every area of work that the Federal Government has to offer including technical, administrative, and even supervisory employment.

However, getting an overseas job with the Federal Government is not always as easy as saying you want one. Usually, the Federal Government will fill openings that come up with their overseas jobs by using career Federal workers from the United States and then transferring them abroad where they are needed. If that is not an option then they will seek local Americans living in the in the foreign country in question to fill the job openings.

But, should there be no career workers or locals either, then the openings are made available to anyone who qualifies and this is determined in part with an exam. Additionally, another way an individual person can get an opportunity to work overseas is by directly applying with a specific Federal agency for a position that is foreign related, such as a translator or interpreter.

There are a number of Federal agencies that routinely employ people overseas. While the list is indeed long, some of the more notable agencies are:

  • Agency for International Development
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of the Air Force
  • Department of the Army
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of the Navy
  • Department of State
  • Peace Corps

Before You Apply

Before you ever apply for a Federal job abroad it should be noted that every applicant will have to undergo a thorough background check. This background check can take a few weeks to a few months to complete and this is only done when an applicant is being considered for the applied position. So, you should not only be sure you have no skeletons in your closet before you apply for a specific job that will take you overseas, but you should also be sure you have the time to wait on the lengthy background check.

How Much Do They Pay?

In the case of salary for those working a white collar overseas job the base pay is typically the same as it is here in the United States. However, there may be certain provision that allow for a cost of living allowance, which is known as a “post differential.”

The same basically holds true for blue collar overseas jobs too. The base pay will be directly linked to that of the job in the United States with a possible post differential awarded.

Of course there will be exceptions to the rule. The best way to determine what the actual pay will be is by reviewing what is posted on the specific job opening you are interested in.

Other Considerations for any Federal Overseas Job

Before applying and/or taking an overseas job, there are a few considerations you must make. First, you need to find out if you will be reimbursed for your move to another country. This might not seem like it would be a big deal, but any move can be quite costly and this is especially true for a move overseas. While this type of expense is usually covered by the Federal agency you end up working for, it isn’t always, so you should find out beforehand.

Along with the expenses of the move there, find out about the move back as well. Most Federal jobs that are abroad are only for a specific amount of time, which is called a “tour.” A typical tour will be anywhere from 12 months to 36 months depending on the job you end up getting. Once your tour is up you will want to be sure you will have the resources you need to come back stateside.

Another factor to think about is your family. While most overseas jobs allow for your dependents to be with you during your tour, some will require them to go at a later date. So, this is another thing to consider before you apply for or accept a specific job.

Additionally, you will want to consider any other special requirements that might come with the job you are interested in. For the most part the qualifications for an overseas job will be much the same, if not exactly the same, as the overseas job’s stateside counterpart.

However, there may be certain special requirements depending on the Federal job you are being considered for. For instance, in many cases it is quite likely that you will be required to know the language of the country where you will be working. While this isn’t always the case, it is a safe assumption to make. Along with a foreign language, there may be other special requirements such as a transportation agreement that must be signed.

Some overseas jobs offered by the Federal Government will even require a physical to be taken before an applicant is ever considered for the position. Should you have any physical ailments or limited capabilities in a physical sense then there will be certain overseas jobs that you will be unable to qualify for. Any special requirements will be clearly spelled out within the specific job posting that you are interested in.

The Best Qualified Get the Jobs

As a general rule, there is always a steady flow of Americans who are completing their overseas tours and coming back to the United States. While that is good news, the bad news is that Federal overseas jobs are often jobs that are in high demand.

Even though the competition for many of these overseas jobs is great, you should still have ample opportunity as long as you are qualified for the position you are applying for. Just as in the private sector, often times it is the person who is the most qualified who ends up with the government job that takes them out of the country.

About the Author

Jason Kay is a professional resume writer and regular contributor to KSADoctor.com, a professional federal resume service and repository of sample KSA statements.