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How to Get a Career in International Education
People who work in International Education often have...
- Been inspired by a work, study or travel abroad experience.
- An interest in different cultures.
- The belief that intercultural communication and understanding can foster peace and social equality.
- A desire to work in an ever-changing environment that may require travel, adaptability and life-long learning.
Does this sound like you? Read on to learn more about the education required, types of career paths and tips for reaching your goal of working in international education.
In general a BA or BS is required for most international education positions while a Master's degree is often preferred. Education degrees are popular however, it is not unusual to find people who majored in liberal arts, political science, public affairs, psychology or a foreign language. Several graduate schools offer programs in International Education, Intercultural Relations, Higher Education Administration or Student Affairs.
Examples of where international educators work
Colleges, Universities, and 2 year institutions:
Work in an international student office, education abroad office, or foreign language and TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) department. There are many specializations within each office /department such as advisers, teachers, specialists, and counselors.
Teach English as a second language within or outside the United States .
Education Abroad Program Providers:
Coordinate and oversee various programs around the world. Different program providers offer different types of opportunities including studying, volunteering, working, or teaching abroad.
Practice law specializing in immigration or other related issues.
International Education Associations:
Work to aid international educators by providing networking opportunities, publications, and advocacy support to help promote international education.
Perform credential evaluations for students planning to study in the United States.
Local Community International Centers:
Provide international student/community outreach programs including: implementing international programs, finding homestay opportunities for international students, and/or developing and coordinating community service projects. For a listing of activities in your area, please visit http://www.nciv.org/
U. S. Government:
Work in any of a variety of international careers with the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Congress, or Foreign Service.
NAFSA (Association of International Educators) is a professional organization for international educators. They hold regional and national conferences, publish respected resources and have a very informative website. Click here to link directly to their page about international education careers.
Listed below are some detailed tips tailored to help you prepare for a job in study abroad but they are also useful tips for any international education career.
"I Want YOUR Job!" - or - How to Find a Job in Study Abroad
Compiled by: Kathleen Barnebey, former NW Field Director, Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University
First things first:
- Study abroad! More than once, in different countries, if possible.
- Learn a second (or third) language.
- Work as an international ambassador, work study student or intern in your school's study abroad or international programs office.
A BIG plus and strong recommendation:
Get your master's degree (optimally in international studies/relations or student/personnel administration, but those two little letters after your name are really all that counts). If possible, integrate an internship with the international programs office into your master's program.
Recommended software skills:
- Learn all the Microsoft Office programs (especially PowerPoint).
- Learn to do simple design and layout in a desktop publishing program.
- Learn how to design and maintain a Web site.
- Learn how to use a database program.
Reality check: if you want to work in study abroad (besides having done all of the above), you need to:
- Be flexible about what part of the country you're willing to work in.
- Start at the bottom.
- Not have dreams of becoming rich.
- Be proactive and send in your résumé to organizations you think you'd like to work for (do your research first!) even if they haven't posted a job - there's lots of turnover in the field
If you want to become a "Road Warrior" (e.g., traveling recruiter), optimally, you need to:
- Love airports and being in airplanes.
- Like to drive.
- Like spending time alone.
- Love staying in hotels.
- Preferably, be single and not be in a committed relationship.
- Not be a pet owner.
- Not have a garden or houseplants (unless someone else can take care of them for you).
What other types of jobs are available in study abroad? Here are just a few examples:
- Program coordinator/adviser/director
- Overseas resident director
- Database manager
- Marketing or external relations manager/director
- Academic director
- Credit transfer evaluator
- Budget manager/director
(In many smaller study abroad offices, one person is often responsible for ALL of the above!)
Networking/job searching tips:
- Get involved with NAFSA: Association of International Educators (for job directory, conferences, and general info about international education).
- For job postings, sign up for Secuss-l by going to http://www.nafsa.org/.
Choose "Shortcut for NAFSAns" in the drop-down box on the right.
Then choose "Secussa"
Then choose "Secussa's Listserv" and follow the directions (it's important to read all the information - there are Secuss-l "police" who make sure you're using the listserv correctly!)
- See the University of Michigan's Internet Resources for Study Abroad for a bibliography of study abroad information online.
- Tell your study abroad director or adviser that you're interested in working in the field (study abroad is a very well-connected field; many advisers know other study abroad people all across the country and are familiar with many other study abroad offices, organizations and programs).
- If you're not already familiar with Peterson's Guide (or petersons.com), Academic Year Abroad (published by IIE), studyabroad.com, or goabroad.com, you should check them out to get a handle on how many different study abroad programs and organizations exist.
And finally, remember:
There are a gazillion universities/colleges/community colleges in this country, all offering study abroad, as well as innumerable "third-party providers" to consider in your job search. If you have the right background and skills set, and are flexible about where you work, with some research and networking, chances are good that you'll find a position in one of them.