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Washington DC, Second Tour and FSCE career info

Our fifth assignment with the Foreign Service took us back to Washington, DC for a second tour stateside. I've decided that I'll write this tour's posts to provide more information about our specific Foreign Service Construction Engineer career field, and am also specifically tailoring them for anyone out there who is considering applying to become a Foreign Service Construction Engineer (FSCE) with the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO).

This is OBO Construction Management Coin

With over a decade of experience as an FSCE, I'm right in the middle of the pack at OBO. In that time, I've noticed several trends emerging and information gaps appearing that often don't get addressed until after joining the Foreign Service. I think transparency is important, so I'll be writing about what I think you should know before applying for or accepting a job offer to become an FSCE. Bear in mind that things can and do change, so this information is current as of the summer of 2023.

Of course, the pandemic created a lot of disruptions during 2020-2023 for everyone, OBO included. I happen to be in the unique position to be able to compare and contrast what my job was like during our first assignment in DC in 2012-2014 against what it's shaping up to be 2022-2024 and beyond.

While I've organized this post as a tour summary (DC22-24), it's more of a platform to delve more deeply into various aspects of the FSCE career field to supplement my FSCE FAQs page. All this info is available for access from outside the Department, but you probably wouldn't know where to look or what it means until you're already on board. 
  • Salary and benefits, with career example...is it worth it to you?
  • FSCE promotion and retention statistics from the last 20 years...what do the numbers tell us?
  • Assignments, staffing, work culture, and career progression...your mileage may vary.
  • What to expect during your first two FSCE assignments (typically two years in DC and two years overseas...but not necessarily in that order)
  • Why do people join, and why do they leave? (I'll point you to Reddit /r/foreignservice/ for that discussion because I can only speak to my own priorities in this case).


Quarterly Posts
Here are some posts that address some of the more frequent FAQs and feedback from new hires about what they wish they'd known more about before joining:

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