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What Can I Do with an International Studies Degree?

If you love to travel, find other cultures exciting and want to work with governments, schools, organizations, businesses or any other outlet that brings cultures together, you might benefit from earning an international studies degree. Read on to learn about a few career options that may be available to those who hold this type of degree.

International Studies Career Options

Having a degree in international studies can give you the opportunity to travel the world and help others. Understanding globalization and being able to study abroad while working on your college degree are keys to this particular degree. Most international studies programs are designed to give you training, skills and opportunities to get you on the right track to a future in one of these job fields. For example, you could work in public relations as an international relations specialist. Opportunities might also exist with the United States' or another country's federal government or in public affairs. As an alternative, you might become a translator, a diplomat or an humanitarian.

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Degree Levels Bachelor's, master's, doctorate
Common Courses International Economics, Globalization, Strategy and Negotiations, Policy Responses to Global Problems, Quantitative Methods
Possible Careers Government worker, international relations specialist, NGO worker, public affairs, translator, civil rights advocate
Online Availability Coursework and degree programs available online

Translator/Interpreter

The subtle difference between the two is that interpreters work with the spoken word and translators work with the written word. Knowing one or more foreign languages can afford you opportunities to travel the world in one of these capacities. Schools, businesses and organizations might require the services of translators and interpreters. Or, you might offer your services to governments, court systems or the medical field.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), opportunities to teach English to speakers of other languages exist in most countries, and demand is greatest in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia. Although a teaching license and previous teaching experience are not typically required, one must generally hold at least a bachelor's degree. The BLS reported the median salary for interpreters and translators was $49,930 as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov).

Federal Government Personnel

The federal government includes four foreign services offices: the Department of State, the Foreign Agricultural Service, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service. Workers at these agencies negotiate for and promote U.S. commercial and diplomatic interests. USAID workers, for example, might provide assistance to the victims of natural disasters, work to preserve environmental resources or help individuals in Latin American and the Caribbean start small businesses. The Office of Personnel Management indicates entry-level federal workers at the GS-1 level have a base pay rate of $19,048 at step 1 up to $23,827 at step 10.

Humanitarian/Civil Rights Advocacy Worker

Nongovernmental organizations are also involved in humanitarian and human rights advocacy projects. An international studies degree program may allow for specialized study in conflict resolution, nonproliferation of arms and other issues. The BLS stated that the majority of jobs within advocacy, civic and related organizations are administrative support positions and service, management, and financial occupations. The BLS posted the median salary as of May 2018 for all social and human service assistant workers was $33,750.