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An embassy is an office maintained by one country on foreign soil to promote friendly relations between the host country and the home government. An embassy's support staff includes the ambassador, political officers, economic officers and consular officers.
The ambassador is the top position in an embassy and is in charge of the supporting staff. Ambassadors typically have a background or training in foreign affairs and relations, and are appointed to the position through political nomination.
Economic officers are part of the support staff and typically handle economic issues such as economic disputes and negotiating taxes and tariffs with representatives from the host country on behalf of their home country.
Political officers are also part of the support staff. Their main function is to follow and report on the political climate of the host country. Political officers will pay attention to such issues as political dissension, increased violence from terrorist or political groups and civil unrest, then report these issues to their home government and travelers visiting the host country.
Consular officers are also part of the support staff. They deal directly with the public in the host country and are responsible for issuing visas and other travel-related documents. These officials may also visit and advise those travelers from back home that are imprisoned in the host country.
Many American embassy workers with a bachelor's degree and no professional experience will begin their career as a FP-6, Step 5 ("FP" stands for federal pay). For each additional year of professional experience they have, one step may be added. The average starting salary for a FP-6, Step 5, is $43,213, as of 2009.