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Top Public Policy Jobs in International Relations and National Security

Public Policy Jobs

In today's increasingly interconnected and rapidly evolving world, the fields of international relations and national security have gained immense importance. As countries grapple with complex global challenges, the demand for skilled professionals who can navigate the intricacies of public policy in these domains has never been higher. From crafting diplomatic strategies to ensuring the safety and stability of nations, the impact of public policy in international relations and national security is far-reaching.

This article explores the top public policy jobs in the realms of international relations and national security, shedding light on the roles and responsibilities of professionals who shape policies that have implications at the global level. Whether you aspire to work for governmental bodies, non-profit organizations, think tanks, or international agencies, this guide will provide you with valuable insights into the most coveted positions within these fields.

Intelligence & Cybersecurity

Intelligence and cybersecurity are critical fields within the realm of international relations and national security. They involve the collection, analysis, and protection of information and data related to national security interests. Here's an overview of significant aspects of careers in intelligence and cybersecurity:

  • Intelligence Gathering: Intelligence agencies play a crucial role in collecting information about potential threats, activities of foreign governments, and emerging security challenges. They employ various methods, including human intelligence (HUMINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), and open-source intelligence (OSINT), to gather actionable intelligence that informs national security decisions.
  • Risk Assessment and Analysis: Intelligence professionals analyze gathered information to assess risks and evaluate potential threats to national security. By analyzing data from diverse sources, they provide insights into the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors, helping policymakers understand the security landscape and make informed decisions.
  • Counterintelligence: Counterintelligence focuses on identifying and neutralizing threats posed by foreign intelligence agencies and non-state actors seeking to gather sensitive information or engage in espionage. Counterintelligence professionals work to protect classified information, detect and counter foreign intelligence operations, and safeguard national secrets.
  • Cyber Threat Intelligence: With the rise of cyberspace as a domain for conflict, cybersecurity intelligence has become essential. It involves monitoring and analyzing cyber threats, including cyber espionage, hacking attempts, malware campaigns, and state-sponsored cyber activities. Cyber threat intelligence helps identify vulnerabilities, prevent attacks, and respond effectively to cyber incidents.
  • Cybersecurity Operations: In an increasingly interconnected world, protecting critical infrastructure, government networks, and sensitive information is of paramount importance. Cybersecurity professionals develop and implement measures to secure networks, systems, and data from cyber threats. They work to prevent unauthorized access, detect and respond to intrusions, and ensure the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of information.
  • International Cooperation and Information Sharing: Intelligence and cybersecurity efforts often require international cooperation. Countries collaborate in sharing intelligence, best practices, and threat information to collectively address transnational security challenges. Effective information sharing helps enhance early warning capabilities, improve incident response, and strengthen global cybersecurity resilience.
  • Policy Development: Intelligence and cybersecurity professionals provide expertise to policymakers in developing national security strategies, policies, and legislation. They contribute insights on emerging threats, technological advancements, and the implications of international developments, assisting in the formulation of effective policies to safeguard national interests.
  • Incident Response and Crisis Management: In the event of a security breach, cyberattack, or intelligence failure, experts in these fields play a crucial role in incident response and crisis management. They collaborate with relevant stakeholders to mitigate the impact, investigate the incident, attribute responsibility, and develop strategies to prevent future occurrences.
  • Technological Advancements and Innovation: Intelligence and cybersecurity fields continually adapt to advancements in technology. Professionals work on developing innovative tools and techniques to enhance intelligence collection, data analysis, and cybersecurity measures. Staying at the forefront of technological trends is essential to maintain an edge in national security efforts.

Intelligence and cybersecurity are dynamic and ever-evolving fields that play a vital role in protecting national interests, maintaining international security, and adapting to emerging threats in an increasingly interconnected world.

Intelligence & Cybersecurity Salaries

Salary expectations in the fields of intelligence and cybersecurity can vary based on factors such as job role, experience level, location, organization, and qualifications. It's important to note that the following figures are general estimates and can vary significantly:

  • Intelligence Analyst: The salary range for intelligence analysts can vary from around $50,000 to $100,000 per year, depending on factors such as experience, specialization, and the employing organization. Senior analysts or those with extensive experience and expertise may earn salaries exceeding $100,000.
  • Cybersecurity Analyst: Salaries for cybersecurity analysts typically range from approximately $60,000 to $110,000 per year. Factors such as experience, certifications, and the complexity of the role can influence the salary level. Senior cybersecurity analysts and those with specialized skills or leadership responsibilities may earn higher salaries.
  • Cybersecurity Engineer: Cybersecurity engineers, who design and implement security solutions, can expect salaries ranging from around $70,000 to $130,000 per year. Factors such as experience, technical expertise, and the size and industry of the organization can impact salary levels.
  • Cybersecurity Consultant: Salaries for cybersecurity consultants can vary widely depending on factors such as experience, specialization, and the consulting firm. Entry-level consultants may earn around $60,000 to $90,000 per year, while more experienced consultants can earn salaries exceeding $100,000.
  • Security Operations Center (SOC) Analyst: The salary range for SOC analysts typically falls between $50,000 and $90,000 per year. This range can be influenced by factors such as experience level, location, and the size and complexity of the organization's security operations.
  • Chief Information Security Officer (CISO): CISOs, who hold senior leadership roles responsible for an organization's overall cybersecurity strategy, can earn salaries ranging from approximately $120,000 to $250,000 or more annually. The salary level depends on factors such as industry, organization size, and geographic location.

It's worth noting that these salary ranges are approximate and can vary based on regional cost of living, market demand, and other factors. Additionally, individuals with advanced degrees, industry certifications, specialized skills, or in-demand expertise may command higher salaries.

When considering salary expectations, it's important to research specific job markets, consult salary surveys, and consider other factors such as benefits, career advancement opportunities, and job satisfaction.

Department of State

The Department of State is the United States government agency responsible for conducting foreign affairs and implementing US foreign policy. The agency has a range of roles and responsibilities, including:

  • Diplomacy: The Department of State engages in diplomatic efforts to advance U.S. interests and values abroad. This includes negotiating treaties and agreements, promoting democracy and human rights, and working to resolve conflicts and promote peace.
  • Consular Services: The Department of State provides consular services to U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad, including issuing passports, providing emergency services, and assisting with legal and financial issues.
  • Economic Diplomacy: The Department of State works to promote U.S. economic interests abroad, including through trade negotiations and investment promotion.
  • Public Diplomacy: The Department of State engages in public diplomacy efforts to promote understanding and goodwill between the United States and other countries, including through cultural and educational exchanges.
  • Political Officers: The Department of State plays a role in analyzing political events within host counties and engaging with foreign government officials as part of its five Foreign Service Officer career tracks (or “cones”).
  • Intelligence: The Department of State plays a role in U.S. intelligence efforts, including through the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, which provides analysis and assessments on foreign policy and national security issues.

Department of State personnel include a range of professionals, including diplomats, policy analysts, consular officers, economic officers, public diplomacy officers, management officers, political officers, and intelligence analysts. They must have strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as a deep understanding of international relations, foreign policy, and the culture and politics of other countries.

Overall, the Department of State plays a critical role in advancing U.S. interests and values abroad and promoting international cooperation and understanding.

Department of State Salaries

The salaries for different roles within the Department of State can vary depending on factors such as job classification, level of responsibility, location, and years of experience. It's important to note that the following information is based on general ranges and may not reflect the exact salaries for specific positions. Additionally, please keep in mind that salary information can change over time, so it's always a good idea to consult up-to-date sources or official government websites for accurate information. Here are some approximate salary expectations for different roles within the Department of State:

  • Foreign Service Officer: Foreign Service Officers are typically hired at specific salary levels based on their education and experience. Entry-level officers, known as Class 6 officers, can expect a starting salary range of approximately $40,000 to $60,000 per year. As officers progress through the ranks, they can achieve higher salary levels, with Class 1 officers (Ambassadors) earning salaries that range from approximately $120,000 to $190,000 per year.
  • Civil Service Employees: Civil service positions within the Department of State cover a wide range of roles, including administrative, technical, and professional positions. Salaries for civil service employees can vary significantly depending on the position and grade level. Lower-level positions may have starting salaries ranging from approximately $30,000 to $50,000 per year, while higher-level positions can have salaries exceeding $100,000 per year.
  • Diplomatic Security Special Agents: Diplomatic Security Special Agents are responsible for protecting diplomats, embassies, and enforcing U.S. laws overseas. The starting salary for Diplomatic Security Special Agents typically falls within the range of $50,000 to $70,000 per year. With experience and promotions, agents can earn higher salaries.
  • Foreign Service Specialists: Foreign Service Specialists include various professional positions such as medical professionals, IT specialists, engineers, and more. Salary ranges for Foreign Service Specialists can vary widely depending on the specific field and grade level. Entry-level specialists may start with salaries ranging from approximately $40,000 to $70,000 per year, while higher-level specialists can earn salaries exceeding $100,000 per year.

Please note that these figures are approximate and may not be applicable to all positions within the Department of State. The Department of State's official website or government publications can provide more accurate and up-to-date salary information for specific roles.

Foreign and Diplomatic Service

Foreign Service is a career field within the US Department of State that involves working to promote and protect US interests abroad. Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) represent the US government in US embassies and consulates in countries around the world. They engage with foreign governments and societies and help advance US policy interests.

FSOs may work in a variety of areas, such as political affairs, economic affairs, public diplomacy, and consular services and management. They may be involved in negotiating treaties and agreements, supporting US businesses overseas, advancing US human rights and democracy policies, and providing assistance to US citizens abroad. FSOs also provide critical insight and analysis to policymakers in Washington, DC on political, economic, and social developments in their countries of assignment.

It's a role that requires skill and professionalism as you serve as the official point of contact between your government and the host country's government and responsibilities include promoting diplomatic relations, negotiating agreements, and safeguarding your nation's interests.

Here are some responsibilities of Foreign and Diplomatic Service jobs:

  • Advancing National Interests: Diplomats work to protect and advance their home country's interests in various areas, including politics, trade, and economy. They engage in negotiations, diplomacy, and advocacy to ensure that their country's concerns and priorities are taken into account.
  • Diplomatic Protocol: Diplomatic services adhere to diplomatic protocols and conventions. They handle ceremonial matters, official visits, state receptions, and ensure proper diplomatic etiquette is followed. They also assist visiting dignitaries and provide guidance on protocol matters to officials and diplomats.
  • Political Reporting and Analysis: Diplomatic services gather information on political developments and analyze them to provide insights and advice to their home governments. They monitor local politics, assess policy trends, and report on issues relevant to national interests, helping shape foreign policy decisions.
  • Consular Services: Diplomatic services provide consular assistance to their citizens residing or traveling abroad. This includes services like issuing passports and visas, assisting in emergencies, supporting citizens in legal matters, and providing travel advice and support.
  • Bilateral and Multilateral Diplomacy: Diplomatic services engage in bilateral diplomacy, conducting negotiations, signing agreements, and fostering relationships with other countries. They also participate in multilateral forums, such as the United Nations, regional organizations, and international conferences, representing their country's positions and promoting collaboration.
  • Cultural Diplomacy: Diplomats promote their country's culture, language, and heritage abroad. They organize cultural events, exchange programs, and exhibitions to foster cultural understanding, enhance people-to-people connections, and build goodwill between nations.
  • Economic and Trade Promotion: Diplomatic services play a crucial role in promoting economic ties and trade between countries. They facilitate business interactions, attract foreign investment, support export initiatives, and advocate for favorable trade policies to benefit their home country's economy.
  • Crisis Management and Conflict Resolution: Diplomatic services work to resolve conflicts and manage crises. They engage in diplomacy, mediate disputes, and facilitate dialogue between conflicting parties to find peaceful resolutions and maintain stability.

To become a diplomat, you usually need to pass competitive examinations and undergo specialized training in diplomacy and international relations. Typically, diplomats are employed by their country's foreign ministry or diplomatic service and can be stationed at embassies, consulates, or international organizations abroad. This line of work demands strong communication, negotiation, analytical, and intercultural skills, as well as a deep understanding of international law, politics, and economics.

Foreign and Diplomatic Service Salaries 

The salary expectations for positions in the Foreign and Diplomatic Service can vary depending on several factors, including the country, the specific diplomatic service, the level of the position, and the years of experience. It is important to note that I do not have access to real-time salary data, as my training was completed in September 2021. However, here is general information about salary ranges for these positions.

  • Entry-level positions: Diplomatic service typically offers competitive salaries for entry-level positions, which can range from $40,000 to $70,000 per year, depending on the country and the specific diplomatic service. These positions often include roles such as junior diplomats or diplomatic officers.
  • Mid-level positions: With several years of experience and additional responsibilities, mid-level diplomats can expect higher salaries. The salary range for mid-level positions can vary significantly, generally ranging from $70,000 to $120,000 per year. These positions may include roles such as senior diplomats, consular officers, or political officers.
  • Senior-level positions: Senior diplomats who hold high-ranking positions within the diplomatic service, such as ambassadors or senior advisors, can earn significantly higher salaries. These salaries can range from $120,000 to $200,000 or more per year, depending on the country and the specific diplomatic service.

It's important to note that the salary ranges provided are estimates and can vary depending on the country, the diplomatic service, and other factors. Additionally, diplomats often receive additional benefits such as housing allowances, health insurance, and educational support for dependents, which can significantly enhance the overall compensation package.

For accurate and up-to-date information on salary expectations in the Foreign and Diplomatic Service, it is advisable to refer to official government sources or consult with professionals in the field.

Public Policy Jobs


Looking to make a positive impact on society in foreign policy and security? Consider pursuing a Master of Public Policy with a specialization in international relations and national security at Pepperdine University!

Our program stands out with its comprehensive and interdisciplinary curriculum, designed to equip students with the essential knowledge, skills, and practical experience required to tackle complex policy challenges head-on. We empower our students to develop effective, value-based solutions that shape the future of foreign policy.

As a student in Pepperdine's Master of Public Policy program, you'll have access to experienced faculty members who are at the forefront of international relations with State Department career experience and who are actively engaged in policy research and advocacy. You'll also have the opportunity to participate in internships, networking events, and other experiential learning opportunities that will help you build a strong professional network and prepare for a successful career in foreign policy.

At Pepperdine, we believe that public policy should be rooted in values and informed by data. Our Master of Public Policy program prepares students to become effective policy leaders who are committed to creating tangible impacts. Join us in making a positive impact on society by pursuing a Master of Public Policy at Pepperdine University.