A variety of backgrounds are acceptable to become a protocol officer; people in this position have education ranging from a high school diploma to an advanced degree. Protocol officers often have backgrounds in the military or the communication field. A background in event planning may also help someone to become a protocol officer. Specific protocol officer training is available for people who wish to pursue this line of work. There are also supplemental materials, such as handbooks, that can help.
Protocol officers may work for the military, government, businesses, and universities. Some of the responsibilities include planning and organizing meetings with international visitors and advising their employers on the cultural differences and customs in different countries in order to maintain diplomatic relationships with those visitors. Etiquette knowledge is a major component of the job of a protocol officer.
A specific educational background is not required to become a protocol officer because there are training sessions that someone can take to become knowledgeable in this field. Some schools offer multiple-day training courses in which students are taught the different rules of etiquette and customs in different countries, as well as in the U.S. These training courses also focus on developing leadership skills as these skills are also important to become a protocol officer.
Ethics are another example of what one may learn in a protocol officer training course. Another skill needed to become a protocol officer includes organization because this position often oversees all of the details of an international visit, for example. Communication skills are also very important to this position, which is why a background in communication may help someone to become a protocol officer.
Experience planning events will also be useful for someone who wants to become a protocol officer. One of the duties of a protocol officer is to plan receptions or dinners. This often includes figuring out seating arrangements and working with caterers, for instance. Having previous experience in this field will help someone transition to the position of protocol officer.
Finally, people who want to be protocol officers can become certified. The International Association of Protocol Consultants and Officers (IAPC) offers certification as a protocol officer. The minimum requirements to get certified are either a master's degree and experience, a bachelor's degree and a little more experience, or a high school degree and even more work experience. Certification is generally valid for three years, at which time the protocol officer may become recertified.