The Union Public Service Commission organizes different exams throughout the year. Among which the most popular and anticipated exam is the Civil service examination. Every year around lakhs of candidates appear for this examination to clear it.

Those who successfully clear the civil service examination become top-level bureaucratic officers i.e. IAS, IPS, and IFoS. But have you ever wondered about the difference between IAS and IFS officers? And which is better, IAS or IFS for your career?

In this article, you will find the main difference between IAS and IFS.

Union Public Service Commission

Union Public Service Commission also known as UPSC Central recruiting agency for a public servant for staff it is responsible for the appointments of candidates for group A and group B posts tender civil service and defence service cadre of the union government.

This Commission was established on 1st October 1926 as Public Service Commission. Later it was reconstituted as Federal Public Service Commission in 1935 and only after independence did it get its name Union Public Service Commission.

Indian Administrative Service

IAS or Indian Administrative Service is one of the most anticipated posts of civil service examination. The recruitment for this post is conducted through direct recruitment or promotion of state officers. UPSC conducts civil service examinations for the recruitment of IAS officers. An IAS officer is responsible for various public undertakings and international organizations.

Also Read: What is The Salary of an IAS Officer in India? Net Worth, IAS Grades and Roles Explained

Indian Foreign Service

IFS stands for Indian foreign service. It is an administrative diplomatic civil service under Group A and B. It is a part of the central civil services of the executive branch of the Ministry of external affairs.

The IFS officers are entrusted to maintain diplomatic relations with foreign countries and international organizations. They are also responsible for maintaining two-sided political and economic cooperation, trade and investment, diplomatic cultural interactions, and similar international issues.

Also Read: IFS Officer Salary: UPSC Indian Foreign Service Income and Perks

Is the IFS and IAS Exam Different?

IAS and IFS are both various posts of the UPSC CSE exam. The central recruitment agency UPSC conducts a civil service examination for the recruitment of various candidates of more than 20 different services, this includes both IAS and IFS. The successful candidates are shortlisted for these posts and they are selected for various posts according to their preference and rank.

Also Read: Indian Foreign Service Exam 2021: Here’s All You Want to Know about IFS Syllabus, Eligibility & More

Difference between IAS and IFS

Though IAS and IFS are both parts of UPSC, there is a huge difference between them. While IAS officers are responsible for administrative functions of an area, IFS is responsible to maintain diplomatic relations with foreign countries and international organizations. Let’s understand the basic difference between IAS vs IFS in detail:

Roles and Function

Role of an IAS Officer

# To collect revenue and function as court officials in matters related to revenue and crime.

# Maintain law and order

# Implement union and state government policies at the bottom level as Sub-divisional magistrate, additional district magistrate, district magistrate, and divisional commissioner.

# To act as a communication bridge between government and public.

# To handle administration and daily work of the government

# To consult with the related ministries to frame and implement policies.

Role of an IFS Officer

# To represent India in embassies, consulates, and other international organizations.

# To protect the interest of India in India as well as foreign countries they are posted.

# Work to develop friendly relations with the country they are posted to.

Grade/ scale (level on Pay Matrix) Field posting Position in state governments Position in the Government of India Pay Scale
Cabinet Secretary grade Cabinet Secretary ₹250,000
Apex scale Chief secretary Secretary ₹225,000
Higher administrative grade Divisional commissioner Principal secretary Additional secretary ₹182,200 —₹224,100
Senior administrative grade Secretary-cum-commissioner Joint secretary ₹144,200—₹218,200
Selection grade District magistrate Special secretary-cum-director Director ₹118,500 —₹214,100
Junior administrative grade Joint secretary Deputy secretary ₹78,800 —₹191,500
Senior time scale Additional district magistrate Deputy secretary Under Secretary ₹67,700 —₹160,000
Junior time scale Sub-divisional magistrate Under Secretary Assistant secretary ₹56,100 —₹132,000

Positions and Designations held by IFS Officers in Their Career

Post (in India) Post (Abroad) Payscale
Under Secretary Attaché/Third Secretary 8000-275-13500
Under Secretary Second/First Secretary 10650-325-15850
Deputy Secretary First Secretary 12750-375-16500
Counselor Director Director 15100-400-18300
Joint Secretary Minister/DCM Ambassador 18400-500-22400
Additional Secretary Ambassador/High Commissioner 22400-525-24500
Secretary Ambassador/High Commissioner 26000 (Fixed)

Also Read: What is a Typical Day of an IRS, IPS, IFS, and Other Civil Service Officers?

IAS Skills

# Knowledgeable

# Good communication skills

# Compassionate

# Have a strong sense of justice

# Possess Leadership qualities

IFS Skills

# Decision making

# Good communication

# Deep knowledge about foreign relations

# Leadership qualities

# Analytical ability

Life of an IAS officer

Every year candidates are selected through one of the most competitive examinations of India, UPSC. A typical day of an IAS officer involves reading daily progress reports, surveying government departments, reviewing policies, and attending meetings.

Life of an IFS officer

The life of an IFS officer involves maintaining peaceful and friendly relations with foreign countries as a diplomat. They have to be careful and any decision can affect foreign relations. Their life is involved with frequent travelling. Also, they can be given to carry out any diplomatic missions.

Also Read: Function of IAS Officer: The Ultimate Guide to the Roles and Functions of an IAS Officer

Popular Choice: IAS vs IFS

IAS is preferred by around 95% of the candidates. This is because IAS officers are at the highest level of hierarchy among other UPSC CSE posts. They play a major role in policy formulation with the central and state government. Moreover, they can exercise their power more freely without any intervention. Moreover, it is prestigious and has immense social recognition.


# Which is better, IAS or IFS?

IAS or IFS both have their pros and cons. They both are reputable jobs and officers enjoy various benefits. Which one to choose depends solely on the candidate’s preference. While being an IAS officer, you will be recruited as District Magistrate or Sub District Magistrate. They enjoy respect and social power. Their work is more of an administrative type and involves paperwork.

The role of an IFS officer involves adventures and missions. They travel to different countries and enjoy their stay over there. They have to represent their country in a foreign country. They also enjoy a good salary package along with additional benefits.

# Can we apply for both IAS and IFS?

Both IAS and IFS exams are conducted by UPSC. They both are different posts of civil service. Hence any candidate who gives the UPSC CSE exam and secures the required rank is eligible to apply for both posts.

# Which rank is required to apply for IAS?

Category Rank
General 92
OBC 457
SC 492
ST 528

# Which rank is required to apply for IFS?

Category Rank
General 134
OBC 450
SC 468
ST 603

To conclude, we can say that IAS or IFS both are reputable posts with several benefits. If you want to apply for any or both you need to score well in the UPSC CSE exam.

To boost your UPSC preparation, visit UPSC Pathshala. This website has customized courses, high-quality videos, preparation materials, and provides UPSC-related information.

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Deeksha is a content writer at Ufaber EduTech. She writes well-researched, SEO-friendly articles to satisfy the reader's search intent. Until now, she has written over 300+ articles for various websites on different genres. She goes by the motto “flowing like a river, rather than an immobile pond.” She is a headstrong girl who follows her heart. Apart from this, she is a nature lover, bibliophile, dancer, artist and skilled cook. She is set on her journey to unveil the mysteries of life.

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