Page updated 7/21/2016
Thousands of United States citizens work for the federal government overseas in foreign countries, in United States territories, Alaska, and Hawaii. The overseas jobs that are most often available are listed below. These federal overseas jobs are available to anyone who meets the requirements.
There are 89,204 federal employees stationed overseas in over 140 countries. The Defense Department is the largest overseas employer with 47,229 workers. The State Department is the #2 overseas employer with 22,291 employees stationed abroad. Overseas jobs are filled in several ways. In the U.S. territories, Hawaii, and Alaska most positions are filled through competitive civil service announcements.
Clerical (clerk-typist, stenographer) and secretary positions are normally filled locally overseas. There are 89,204 federal employees stationed overseas in over 140 countries. The Defense Department is the largest overseas employer with 47,229 workers. The State Department is the #2 overseas employer with 22,291 employees stationed abroad. Check out our full listing of available federal overseas jobs below.
Various federal overseas jobs are filled through Excepted Service and Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentality (NAFI) hiring programs. Nonappropriated Fund positions are paid using money generated within the Department of the Army and other military branches through sales revenues. These overseas jobs are primarily governed by military regulations.
When positions are filled locally overseas, U.S. citizens living abroad, dependents of citizens employed or stationed overseas, or foreign nationals, can be hired. Most countries have agreements with United States installations that require the hiring of local nationals whenever possible to bolster the local economy. All positions held by foreign nationals are in the Excepted Service. Excepted Service positions are not subject to OPM's competitive hiring requirements.
Of the 89,204 overseas civilian federal employees, 62,838 are U.S. citizens as of September 2010. Since 2004, total overseas federal civilian employment has increased slightly.
Most of the upper-and mid-level positions are filled through internal placement. Internal placement allows government employees wanting to work overseas to first apply for the positions in-house. If there are no in-house bidders, agencies then advertise through competitive announcements.
Overseas job applicants should contact individual Agency and OPM web sites for job listings. Contact the following Employment Service Center for NAFI and military civilian Jobs:
The federal overseas jobs that are most often available are listed below, click on the occupational title for a list of current job vacancies:
The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is the largest NAF employer. NAF personnel also work in the Army and Air Force morale, welfare, and recreation activities. Major NAF employers in the Department of the Navy include the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Navy Exchange Service Command, and U.S. Marine Corps. For more information about NAF employment, visit the following DOD NAF Component employment websites:
Also visit the Department of Defense's civilian employment center at http://www.godefense.com. This site is a wealth of information and includes extensive job listings.
The Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA), ATTN: Teacher Recruitment, 4040 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22201-1634, phone: (703) 588-3983. Applications are processed online at www.dodea.edu.
Elementary and secondary schools have been operating on U.S. military bases overseas since 1946 for children of military and civilian personnel. The DODDS provides educational opportunities comparable to those offered in the better school systems in the United States. This segment of U.S. public education consists of 194 elementary, middle, and secondary schools. The schools are located in 14 districts located in 12 foreign countries, seven states, Guam, and Puerto Rico with enrollment of 86,000 students and 8,700 educators.
European Region — Belgium, England, The Netherlands,
Germany, Bahrain, Italy, Portugal, and Spain
Pacific Region — Japan, Guam, and Korea
Americas Region — Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Puerto Rico, and Cuba
Overseas salaries are comparable to the average of the range of rates for similar positions in urban school jurisdictions in the U.S. having a population of 100,000 or more.
The school year consists of 190 duty days, with a minimum of 175 days of classroom instruction. Teachers are currently paid on several different pay bands (bachelor’s degree, bachelor’s degree plus 15 semester hours, master’s degree plus 30 semester hours, and doctor’s degree
Housing and Living Conditions
In some areas, living quarters are provided by the U.S. government. These quarters may be in dormitories, apartments, old hotels, converted office buildings, or new modern facilities. These U.S. government quarters are usually provided without charge.
DODEA Worldwide Web Sites:
Federal overseas workers must meet various requirements: physical, security, qualifications, tour of duty, etc. Announcements list specific restrictions, conditions, and special qualifications.
Individuals wanting to work overseas jobs must meet certain stringent requirements. Thorough physical exams for both the applicant and, in many cases, accompanying dependents require physicals. You must be able to physically adapt to the conditions at various locations that may not have adequate health care facilities. Individuals on medication or who require special care will not be considered for certain positions. Any physical impairment that would create a hazard to others or to yourself, or would reduce performance level, will disqualify the applicant.
Security Clearance Checks
All applicants considered for appointment must pass a comprehensive security clearance, character and suitability check. These investigations take from a few weeks to several months to complete. If you are selected for a position you will be appointed conditionally, pending the results of the investigation.
Individuals selected for overseas jobs are generally required to sign a transportation agreement. Typically, overseas tours last from twelve to thirty-six months.
Foreign Language Requirements
A foreign language that would not be a position requirement in the States may be required for certain overseas job positions. The job announcement will specify if a language is required. Several agencies appoint candidates without the required language skill and give them a period of time to develop acceptable language proficiency
There are a limited number of overseas employment positions and competition is keen. However, if you are well qualified in an occupation and available for most locations, your opportunity to be selected is good. The normal rotation of current employees back to the United States creates a large number of recurring vacancies.
Federal overseas job applications are accepted only from U.S. citizens and American Samoans.
Overseas employees in foreign areas receive the base pay on the GS pay charts with annual cost-of-living adjustments. Additional allowances such as a post differential are provided where conditions warrant. Military base privileges are authorized in many circumstances and Department of Defense schools are available for dependent children through grade 12. Because the employee’s base pay in foreign areas actually goes down due to no locality payments, overseas employment may not be a good place to work prior to retirement. Without locality pay, your retirement annuity will be less since it is based on the employee’s three year average salary.
On September 30, 2010, OPM published an Interim Rule making Alaska and Hawaii separate whole State locality pay areas and including the other non-foreign areas in the Rest of U.S. locality pay area. The Non-Foreign Area Retirement Equity Assurance Act of 2009, phases-in locality pay for employees in the non-foreign areas.
Basic benefits are the same for all civil service employees. Overseas employees also receive travel to their overseas duty station, transportation and storage of household goods, and extra vacation with paid transportation to return stateside between tours of duty.
Most agencies permit professional employees to take dependents with them. Professional positions are generally considered to be mid-level positions and above. Other employees can often arrange for dependants to follow them at a later date.
Internet Web Sites
Detailed overseas employment information is included in the paperback version of The Book Of U.S. Government Jobs. This book includes: