Career Development and Professional Training

Beginning a career at DFATD opens the door to a multitude of growth opportunities. Within the three career choices or “streams” of International Trade, Political Economic and Management Consular, there are four employment “groups”. Terms and conditions of employment for each—for example, salary, training and what we call “rotationality”—vary according to group. You can find more information about each group on www.tbs-sct.gc.ca but the basic differences are summarized below.

  1. Foreign Service (FS): Foreign Service Officers are designated either Political Economic or Commercial Economic. Foreign service officers agree to “rotationality”, meaning they are based in Ottawa but agree to be assigned to work overseas as part of his or her career path.
  2. Policy Officer (EC): Policy Officers are designated either Political Economic or Commercial Economic. Policy officers are based in Ottawa but are not required to agree to be assigned to regional offices in Canada or overseas as a condition of employment, although they may apply for such assignments.
  3. Commerce Officer (CO): Commerce Officers usually work in the trade policy and trade development fields. Commerce officers are based in Ottawa but are not required to agree to be assigned to regional offices in Canada or overseas as a condition of employment, although like policy officers they may apply for such assignments.
  4. Management Consular Officers (MCO): An MCO belongs to the “rotational AS” group. Although they are based in Ottawa, MCOs agree to “rotationality” and to work overseas as a condition of employment.
  5. Foreign Service Administrative Assistant (FSAA): An FSAA provides behind the scenes support in a challenging environment. Based in Ottawa, they may spend half to two thirds of their carer working and living abroad.

Employees may move from one group to another as they progress in their careers. Those who join DFATD as part of one group may eventually decide to take an assignment in another group using one of the transfer avenues available to them. All groups offer excellent opportunities for training and advancement.

Foreign Service Development Program (FS Recruits) and Management Consular Development Program (MCO Recruits)

As a new recruit for either the Foreign Service Officer stream or Management and Consular Affairs Officer stream, you will enter a training program in Ottawa where a combination of classroom instruction and on-the-job training will give you a solid grounding so that you can begin your first overseas assignment with confidence.

During the training program, your progress will be evaluated with regular performance appraisals to help you identify the areas where your skills can be strengthened. Upon successful completion of the training program, you will be ready for an assignment abroad.

Professional Development (CO and EC)

Professional training is provided to policy officers and commerce officers based on individual learning plans devised by the employees themselves in collaboration with their managers.

Ongoing Training (All Groups)

DFATD is committed to supporting the professional development of every employee. Ongoing training is an integral part of working in the department, and is provided in various ways, including on the job, online and in the classroom. Annual learning plans are developed for all employees, and training is provided through courses at the Canadian Foreign Service Institute and the Canada School of Public Service, as well as through courses delivered outside government.

Advancing Your Career (All Groups)

Successfully completing your first assignment opens the door to a career path that leads upward, one that is designed to increase your skill set and reward your potential. Career advancement paths differ for each individual and will depend on your performance, interests, and the successful completion of competencies exams.

Language Training

English and French Language Training

Foreign Service Officer and Management and Consular Affairs Officer recruits who must increase their fluency to meet DFATD standards in either of Canada’s two official languages are provided with language training. This can last up to 52 weeks.

Foreign Language Training

After the initial professional training program, you will be given the opportunity to learn a specific foreign language if you are to be posted to a country where you will be required to speak it. Training is provided in Ottawa and usually begins after you have received confirmation of your posting.