International Studies Majors: Salary and Career Facts
Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue with a degree in international studies. Read on to learn more about career options along with education and salary information. Schools offering Global Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Career Information At a Glance
In an international studies degree program, you will learn about global economics and politics, world religions, languages and cultures. Depending on your area of specialization, both academically and geographically, you will be qualified for a variety of careers with government agencies or global nonprofits. See the table below for information about career options and responsibilities as a foreign services officer.
|Degree Required||Bachelor's degree|
|Education Field of Study|| Religions |
Specific geographic region
|Key Responsibilities||Travel; diplomacy; coordinate with government agencies, citizens, corporations and nonprofit entities around the world; provide expert information about a specific region of the world; offer guidance in an area of specialization, such as conflict resolution, political organizing or economic development|
|Median Salary (2014)||$87,797*|
What Does the International Studies Major Include?
As an international studies major, you complete courses in international politics, globalization and economics. You are required to focus your studies and can choose from peace and conflict studies, world religions, international economics, global politics, environment and development. In addition, you must choose a specific region to study, such as Africa, Latin America, Asia or the Middle East. Some programs require that students complete a study-abroad program to experience other cultures firsthand.
What Jobs Could I Qualify For?
With a bachelor's degree in international studies, you may find work as a Foreign Service Junior Officer and be promoted to a Foreign Service Officer after three years, according to USAID, the nation's leading agency for representing foreign policy interests (www.usaid.gov). These officials work with government agencies, citizens and nonprofit organizations in other countries to manage assistance programs in trade, agriculture, education, conflict management, health and a variety of other subjects. A Junior Officer completes formal training in Washington, D.C., before their first international assignment for further training, according to the U.S. Department of State (careers.state.gov).
The U.S. Department of State also notes that individuals with the right credentials can enter as specialists or generalists. A specialist would focus their work in one of seven categories: international information and English language programs, medical and health, administration, construction engineering, information technology, office management or security. A Foreign Service Officer or generalist would also choose one of five specialty areas: consular, economic, management, political or public diplomacy. In each of these specialties, the officer would be responsible for a variety of tasks related to supporting policy and global issues in the U.S.
Individuals with degrees in international studies with an emphasis on a foreign language may also find employment as translators or interpreters, in government, business or non-profit contexts. Translators and interpreters will serve as a communication bridge between two individuals who do not speak the same language.
An international relations degree may also qualify you for a position as an international marketing manager with a private company. In this capacity, you would oversee and coordinate foreign operations, marketing and sales, using your knowledge of political, legal and cultural differences between countries to maximize profits, sales, and/or corporate performance.
You may also find work with a non-profit organization as an international service manager. Here you would use your knowledge of foreign relations to improve your organization's operations overseas.
How Much Could I Earn?
Payscale.com users identifying themselves as Foreign Service Officers report an annual salary range of $51,238 - $138,912 as of 2014. According to the U.S. Department of State, several factors determine a Foreign Service Officer's pay. The first is education and experience level. The U.S. State Department also looks at whether a candidate will lose money by joining the Foreign Service. For example, in 2014, an entry-level Foreign Service Officer with a bachelor's degree and no experience would be classified as FP-6, Step 5, and could earn an annual salary of $50,690. Foreign Service Officers may receive other benefits, such as paid holidays, life insurance and health insurance.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, interpreters and translators made an average annual wage of $49,320 in 2014, with projections to increase 46% from 2012 to 2022. Marketing managers, on the other hand, made an average annual salary of $137,400, with an outlook of a 32% increase over that same time period. Finally, nonprofit service managers made a mean pay of $59,970 per year in 2012, with projections to increase 21% through 2022.
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