printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Security Engineering Officers

Security engineering officerSecurity engineering officers are highly skilled engineers who serve worldwide.

Security engineers are responsible for the technical and informational security programs at our diplomatic and consular posts overseas. In the United States, engineers provide support for our overseas operations.

View the Security Engineering Officer brochure.

For more information, visit or contact us at


  • U.S. citizenship
  • BS degree from an ABET-accredited U.S. college or university in Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Electrical Engineering Technology, Electronics Engineering Technology, Computer Engineering, Computer Engineering Technology, Mechanical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Physics, Engineering Physics, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology, Electromechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, General Engineering, Industrial, Systems or Manufacturing Engineering, Materials Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Telecommunications Engineering, Telecommunications Engineering Technology, Wireless Engineering.
  • 21 years of age
  • If required, registration under the Military Selective Service Act
  • Undergo written and oral assessment
  • Undergo a thorough background investigation and qualify for a Top Secret security clearance
  • Pass a stringent medical exam and be available for worldwide assignment
  • Be willing to travel and accept assignments throughout the world.Officers are required to live and work a substantial portion of their career overseas.
  • Foreign language ability is desirable, but not mandatory
  • Understand and be able to apply the physical and mathematical principles of electronics engineering techniques, standards, and practices related to the security engineering field.

Diplomatic Security has a corps of top-flight men and women who serve as security engineering officers (SEOs). SEOs are assigned throughout the world to develop, implement, and manage technical and countermeasures programs.

The State Department's work in security technology began more than 40 years ago by detecting and removing clandestine listening devices from State Department facilities. Since those early days, our job has grown to keep up with rapidly evolving technology in detection equipment, computer systems, intrusion detection systems, and access control equipment.

Technical security systems development, installation, and project management are a major part of a SEO's job. SEOs are increasingly called upon for their expertise as the State Department's dependence on computer systems grows. As a technical security expert, an SEO advises State Department managers on a wide variety of issues. An engineer's knowledge must extend to the leading edges of electronic technology, physics, and engineering, yet officers must be willing to use a hands-on approach to investigate indications of a technical threat.

The Department of State has greatly expanded its security programs to combat espionage attacks and terrorism on our diplomatic facilities and personnel. For the security technology program, this challenge has increased our need to design, develop, and install sophisticated electronic detection systems. SEOs analyze complex engineering problems and design effective systems to solve them.

^Top of page^


Typically, security engineering officers are initially assigned to a two-year posting in the Washington, DC, area, of which nine months is a comprehensive technical training program. Each employee must successfully complete a specialized training program. After training, an officer is assigned to a domestic or overseas position, usually with a senior security engineering officer who provides on-the-job guidance and training.

Security engineers are specialist members of the Foreign Service and spend a substantial portion of their careers abroad. They are based in 65 engineering service offices around the world. Travel to nearby countries to conduct engineering surveys and security inspections, install equipment, and to provide electronic maintenance can occupy up to 50 percent of an overseas officer's time.

^Top of page^

Salary and Benefits

Entry-level salaries fall within the Foreign Service grade FP-6 pay scale, depending on qualifications. Candidates who possess specialized skills or who have applicable work experience may be eligible for slightly higher starting salaries.


During the first three years of a probationary appointment, a Security Engineering Officer’s satisfactory performance can win automatic grade and pay increases. Thereafter, promotions are competitive, based on performance ratings and the recommendation of the annual promotion selection board.

An excellent benefits package includes:

  • Health Benefits Plans
  • Thrift Savings Plan (equivalents to 401(K) with Government matching)
  • Life Insurance
  • Long Term Care Insurance
  • Annual Leave
  • Sick Leave
  • Family Medical Leave
  • Student Loan Repayment Program
  • Ten Paid Holidays Per Year
  • Career Counseling and Development
  • Child Care Centers (Domestic only)
  • Child Care Subsidy (based on income)
  • Credit Union, Fitness Facility and More
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Employee Consultation Service
  • Employee Recognition through our Incentive Awards Program
  • Employee Recreation Association
  • Extensive Training Opportunities through our Foreign Service Institute (FSI)
  • Flexible Work Hours (alternative work schedules)
  • Locality benefits when assigned domestically
  • Managerial and Leadership Development
  • MetroChek Transit Subsidy
  • Periodic Performance-Based Pay Adjustments (within grade/step increases)
  • Voluntary Leave Transfer Program
  • Workers' Compensation Coverage for Work-Related Injuries/Conditions
  • Government-provided quarters or housing allowance overseas
  • Home leave to the United States between overseas assignments
  • Rest and recuperation leave, with transportation partially paid, when employees and their dependents are assigned to designated hardship posts
  • Cost of living allowance
  • Educational allowance for dependents under certain circumstances
  • Danger pay at designated posts
  • Moving expenses for assignments

A high level of responsibility, good opportunities for promotion, and an excellent benefits package await you. Make the most of your unique skills and abilities as a security engineering officer.

^Top of page^


Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.