IAS vs IFS: Who is More Powerful IFS or IAS Officer?

By Ritesh|Updated : July 27th, 2022

IAS vs IFS provides a comparison between the Indian Administrative Service and Indian Foreign Service in great detail. Which is better, IAS or IFS? This has been one of the most trending questions among Civil Services aspirants. IAS stands for Indian Administrative Service, while IFS is the Indian Foreign Service. Both IAS and IFS are entrenched and prestigious in the Public sector. However, the most preferred choice among the UPSC Civil Services Candidates is the IAS instead of IFS, even though both hold equal worthiness.

In this article, we have highlighted details about IAS vs IFS. It will surely help those who are feeling befuddled about choosing one from either IAS or IFS when the time comes; here, we have covered the pros and cons of both services, and if you read till the end, you will be able to choose the best service as per your interests. So, let's start the comparison between IAS vs IFS.

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Both IAS and IFS officers lead a very colourful life. No doubt they work really hard for the betterment of the country, but when it comes to powers, salary, and other benefits, these two stand above all. They usually get houses and domestic staff to live in.

IFS officers are posted both within and outside the country. IFS officers have diplomatic immunity in most matters when they work abroad. IFS officers posted outside India don't have to worry about the unwarranted interference of politicians in India.

On the other hand, the IAS officer spends most of their time in the sub-divisional towns or district headquarters. IAS officers must travel within the posted area and district as part of the job. The social life of the IAS is limited due to their work pressure and early career. But IAS is an All India Service while IFS is a central service.

IAS vs IFS- Life & Flexibility

Both Indian Administrative Officers and Indian Foreign Officers need to work in high-pressure situations. They have to handle sensitive matters in the country. Even though the job roles and responsibilities of IAS officers and IFS officers are not the same, they both play imperative roles for the country. Let's take a look at the Life of IAS vs IFS below.

Life of an IFS Officer

The Indian Foreign officer has to record every detail that might impact India's foreign policy interest and is responsible for maintaining India's relations with their posted country.

  • The responsibility of representing India to the world is huge. A diplomat is always under the scanner, and everything they say or do will be measured.
  • A wrong move can spoil the whole career of an IFS officer.
  • IFS officers may have frequent movement, which may be a challenge for the official and their spouse's career.
  • Diplomats must adjust to different cultures when moving to a new country.
  • The posting of an IFS officer can be any place in the world where there is a diplomatic mission of India.
  • Indian embassies and missions are located all over the world. It can be under-developed countries, developing countries, or war-torn countries.
  • When the Indian Foresign Officers are posted to a politically unstable country, they need to be on guard all the time.
  • Sometimes mission of an IFS can be called off in a short period of time as well.
  • The job profile of an IFS officer is highly risky because they have to coordinate with the intelligence gathering in the area they are posted in.
  • Apart from the responsibilities, IFS officers have to travel across the globe and get to enjoy different cultures, foods, and so on. They also sit with big names and enjoy diplomatic immunity.
  • Even though the job of IFS officers is challenging, they get many powers, benefits, and perks that make this one of the most sought-after services in India.

Life of an IAS officer

The functional roles of an IAS officer depend on the type of assignment they get. It can be field assignments, state secretariate/public sector undertaking, or central secretariat.

  • The field assignment is considered to be the most challenging role for an IAS officer. The newly recruited IAS officers have to deal with filed assignments.
  • The fieldwork for IAS officers ends at the district level, and most of the IAS officers work in the state secretariat and take positions in the state govt.
  • The state secretariat assignment- here the expertise gained during the field assignment is used to advise the elected representatives so that they can make better decisions and formulate policies regarding government processes.
  • Many IAS officers get posted to the public sector undertaking cadres on deputation. They become a part of various public sector undertakings.
  • The central secretariat assignments deal with the formulation, review, and implementation of different ministries.

IAS vs IFS Salary Structure

IFS officers get higher allowances compared to IAS officers, which makes their overall salary more than IAS's. Additionally, those IFS who live abroad get a special foreign allowance which further increases their salary. Let's discuss the IAS Salary vs IFS Salary in brief below.

IAS Salary

The salary of an entry-level IAS officer is Rs 56,100 per month as per the 7th Pay commission. The IAS salary can go up to Rs 2,50,000 for a cabinet secretary. Apart from a handsome salary, an IAS officer also gets House Rent Allowance (HRA), Travel Allowance (TA), and Dearness Allowance (DA), medical benefits, and other perks as well.

IFS Salary

The entry-level pay band of an IFS officer per month is around Rs 15000-39100 with grade pay of Rs 5400. The overall salary of an IFS officer is Rs 60,000 per month, including all the allowances and perks. However, IFS officers who live abroad get a Special Foreign Allowance, which greatly affects the IFS salary structure. For example, IFS officers posted at the Indian Embassy in the USA then he/she would get INR 2.4 lakhs per month.

IAS vs IFS Powers and Responsibilities

Candidates can look at the functions of both IAS and IFS officers below and make their choice accordingly.

Functions of IAS officers

  • To implement and supervise policies
  • Maintain the expenditure of the area they are posted
  • Respond to emergencies
  • To answer the parliament in case of irregularities in their cadre
  • Conduct development programs in the district

Functions of IFS officers

  • To defend the national interests
  • Promote friendly relations among the countries
  • Representing India are foreign embassies, high commissions, and permanent missions to other countries.
  • Encouraging national developments that would encourage global impact

IFS vs IAS, Who is more powerful?

IFS officers are powerful in their own way but don't have the board administrative powers that an Indian Administrative Officer has inside the country. IAS officers have a bigger impact on policy formation at state and federal levels than other officers. On the other hand, IFS officers shape India's foreign policy, which greatly impacts other departments.

However, both the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Foreign Service work for the country's development and protect the national interests in their way. Both have different roles and responsibilities, so deciding who is more important is impossible.

If someone wants to impact people's lives and serve within India positively, the IAS would be an ideal choice for them. On the other hand, if someone wants a life of travel and adventure, staying in different places, and experiencing different cultures, then IFS would suit them.

Why do most Aspirants choose IAS?

What is so special about IAS that almost 95% of the candidates prefer it in their DAF compared to IFS or IPS? Let's uncover this question below.

  • Indian Administrative Service officers play a huge role in the policy formation of the State and Central governments,
  • IAS officers get faster promotion among all the civil services in India
  • The Indian Administrative Service officer has more control when it comes to the exercise of power
  • The social prestige of an IAS officer is far more than other officers.

Why is IFS not preferred?

In 2017, the first IFS officer ranked 17th, and only 5 IFS officers ranked in the top 100 of the UPSC Exam final merit list. In 2016, the number of IFS officers in the top 100 was only seven.

  • This can be because IFS officers may travel a lot without having a permanent place to settle down.
  • It is not only challenging for the IFS officer but also the family of the officers.
  • It won't be ideal to ask your spouse to leave their job for your service.
  • Another reason is that many aspirants think being an IAS officer is more prestigious than being an IFS officer.


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FAQs for IAS vs IFS

  • The pay scale of IAS officers and IFS officers is almost the same. But the Indian Foreign Service officers get higher allowances, making their overall salary more than IAS's. IFS officers posted abroad get Special Foreign Allowance, which makes a huge difference in their salary.

  • No post is higher or lower; both Indian Administrative Service and Indian Foreign Service officers have their own roles and responsibilities. Their job profile differs from each other and is equally important for the country.

  • Both IAS and IFS are the most sought-after jobs in the country. There is no right answer to this question because both IAS and IFS play crucial parts in the country's development.

  • IFS officers don’t have administrative powers like IAS officers. But the IFS officers are powerful in their own way as they shape India’s foreign policy which influences the other departments.

  • For the general category candidates, the rank required for IFS in 2017 was 152. For the reserved category, the last rank was AIR 707 and for disability, the AIR was 986.

  • Yes both IAS and IFS officers get selected through the same Civil Services Examination which is conducted by Union Public Service Commission every year.

  • The perils of an IFS officer depend on the country of posting. Usually, they get a special foreign allowance, a vehicle for vomiting, security cover of family and self, and government-sponsored housing secure areas.

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