IAS vs IFS: Why UPSC Candidates Choose IAS over IFS?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

IAS vs IFS provides a comparison between the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Foreign Service in great detail. Both IAS and IFS are entrenched and prestigious in the Public sector. An IAS officer takes care of day-to-day administration within our country, whereas an IFS officer is a career diplomat who has to launch and safeguard Indian welfare abroad. However, the most preferred choice among Civil Services Candidates is the IAS instead of the IFS, even though both hold equal worthiness.

This article will surely help those who are feeling perplexed about choosing one from both services when the time comes. So, let’s start the comparison between IAS vs IFS and understand the difference between their salaries, power, roles and responsibilities, the pros and cons of both services, etc., so that you will be able to choose the best service as per your interests.


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 power, IAS vs IFS 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. They have diplomatic immunity in most matters when they work abroad. The officers posted outside India don’t have to worry about the unwarranted interference of politicians.

  • On the other hand, the IAS officer spends most of their time in the sub-divisional towns or district headquarters.
  • They must travel within the posted area and district as part of the job.
  • The social life of the IAS officer 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 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 the 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 from IAS vs IFS is impossible.
  • A noteworthy IAS vs IFS difference is that if someone wants to impact people’s lives and serve within India positively, the IAS would be an ideal choice.
  • 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.

Difference Between IAS and IFS: Life & Flexibility

Both Indian Administrative Service Officers and Indian Foreign Service 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 both IFS vs IAS 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 IFS 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. Read the following points to get an insight into the life of an IFS officer:

  • 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.
  • They may have to move frequently, challenging their official and their spouse’s careers.
  • 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 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, 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 the most challenging role in the life of an IAS Officer. The newly recruited officers have to deal with field assignments.

  • The fieldwork for IAS officers ends at the district level, and most of the officers work in the state secretariat and take positions in the state government.
  • In the state secretariat assignment, 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 Officer Salary

IAS vs IFS difference in salaries is that IFS officer salary is higher than IAS officers, making their overall salary more than Indian Administrative Service officers. Additionally, those IFS officers who live abroad get a special foreign allowance which further increases their salary. Let’s discuss the IAS vs IFS Salary in brief below.

IAS Officer 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), Dearness Allowance (DA), medical benefits, and other perks as well.

IFS Officer Salary

The entry-level pay band of an IFS officer per month is around Rs 15000-39100 with a 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 IFS vs IAS officers below and make their choice accordingly. A major responsibility of IAS vs IFS is that IAS implement and supervises policies, whereas IFS is to defend the national interests.

Functions of IAS Officers

  • 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

  • Promote friendly relations among the countries
  • Representing India’s foreign embassies, high commissions, and permanent missions to other countries
  • Encouraging national developments that would encourage global impact

Is IFS Better than IAS?

What is so special about IAS is that almost 95% of the candidates prefer it in their DAF compared to IFS or IPS. Among IAS vs IFS, Indian Administrative Service officers play a huge role in the policy formation of the State and Central governments.

  • IAS officers get faster promotions among all the civil services in India.
  • They have more control when it comes to the exercise of power.
  • The social prestige of an IAS officer is far more than other officers.

Why IFS is 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 challenging not only for the IFS officer but also for 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.

IAS vs IFS – Who is Senior?

Applicants pick their administration based on their goals and UPSC ranks in the exam. Considering the seniority level of IAS vs IFS, IAS can be a perfect choice if a candidate desires to serve the nation by residing in their native country and having an instantaneous productive effect on people’s lives, accelerating the nation’s development directly.

  • IFS will be the best option if aspirants are ready to move and experience meeting new individuals from different societies.
  • The opening of IAS is more expansive as compared to IFS.
  • To be an IFS, one needs to have more capabilities, especially in handling remote engagements, the nation’s economy about outside businesses, war-related problems, and more parallel situated demonstrable skills.
  • The greater count of applicants can only have a little adaptability.
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