Protocol officers think about everything from security to the type of gifts
that can be presented to different leaders.
The word protocol refers to the customs and rules of politeness and courtesy
established between an individual and society. By understanding other people's
customs, protocol officers can help make relations between leaders, governments
and nations run smoothly.
The work of government protocol officers generally includes regulating
official visits and events. They must make sure that the use of emblems such
as flags and anthems are accurate and the correct forms of address are used.
They follow ceremonial guidelines.
In addition, they look after details such as seating plans, guest lists,
gifts and dress codes.
Protocol officers can work in a variety of settings. Each state has protocol
offices for dignitary visits. Cities also have protocol officers or people
who handle official visits to the mayor.
Protocol officers work in government offices, in the military and in private
companies that deal with international clients. They are also hired by institutions
such as universities and airports. In fact, any organization that deals with
foreign visitors or hosts events for dignitaries may have a protocol officer.
Protocol officers don't work regular office hours. "This isn't 9 to 5,"
says David Harris, the chief of protocol for a government. "I am on the road
sometimes, and I have to be ready for events that can happen in the evening
or on the weekend."
Working in protocol isn't a typical office job. It may be difficult for
people with physical challenges. "I'm afraid that there is a lot of driving,
travel and you have to be able to do all kinds of things -- like help load
up a van -- and move quickly," says Harris.