International Affairs Jobs & Education Requirements
Complete Guide to International Affairs Jobs
While international affairs may once have been regarded as a field only for future diplomats, today, as a result of our globalized economy, many jobs and careers require in-depth international affairs expertise.
The industry also requires qualified professionals who understand global trends and how they impact local trends. These include leaders who are willing and able to manage crises between nations, oversee foreign relations, address conflicts beyond borders, and collaborate on policy formation.
With the right educational background and professional network, international affairs job options can be limitless. Find out what you can expect when you’re researching career opportunities. Plus, see top industry employers.
Where to Find International Affairs Jobs
Whether you’re seeking a sustainable career path or a way to impact the world and find long-term purpose, international affairs can provide a wealth of possibilities. You can pursue your calling and make a difference in any one of these sectors.
Public sector jobs in international affairs can be at the local, state, or federal government level. Opportunities could also exist with foreign governments, the military, and multilateral organizations composed of several countries (e.g., United Nations). Responsibilities could center on diplomacy, peacekeeping, global security, trade, energy, health, and international aid, among others.
In the private sector, careers could be found in health care, law, financial services, telecommunications, aerospace technology, public relations, communications, international business, and more. International consulting and contracting opportunities are other options.
Nonprofit opportunities are available with nongovernmental organizations, foundations, trade associations, public interest groups, think tanks, and research organizations. Positions could also be found in education, human rights, development assistance, and public health.
10 Types of International Affairs Careers
Opportunities for those who understand the interconnectedness of global issues and have the vision and desire to address them continue to grow alongside an evolving international landscape. Here are several international affairs positions to consider depending on your career goals and experience.
- 1. Foreign Service Officer
Foreign service officers represent their nation around the world. They travel abroad to assist in peace efforts and protect their nation’s citizens abroad. They also work to promote prosperity in other countries. Positions may be found in diplomatic posts, embassies, and consulates.
- 2. Political Consultant
Political consultants support political candidates or government officials in various capacities, such as public relations, communications, strategy, fundraising, and advocacy. In addition to working for a specific campaign, political consultants could find opportunities with lobbyists, political action committees, industry organizations, or businesses.
- 3. Government Affairs Coordinator
Individuals in this position may research, monitor, and report on legislative issues and manage government communications. They might lead and manage policy development, work in advocacy, and provide logistical and administrative support. Additionally, they may work to maintain processes and systems.
- 4. Regulatory Affairs Manager
Individuals in this position make sure their organization complies with government and required agency regulations. As such, they may develop strategies to see that their organization’s production activities are in compliance. They also ensure their company is meeting specific legal, licensing, certification, and inspection requirements.
- 5. Intelligence Specialist
Intelligence specialists often work in national or state security positions. Job duties often include collecting and assessing relevant information, evaluating statistics, and determining threat levels. These professionals may also present intelligence briefings and maintain intelligence files and databases.
- 6. International Policy Analyst
Also known as foreign affairs analysts, these individuals research policies, collect and interpret data, evaluate programs, and make recommendations. To share their findings, they’ll often prepare reports and briefing materials. Additionally, it’s common for policy analysts to specialize in a particular international affairs field (e.g., health care, trade, environment).
- 7. Research Associate
Another career pathway in the field of international affairs is research and fact-checking, which could be conducted for speeches, publications, or academic outlets. Positions could be found with universities, government agencies, think tanks, or corporations.
- 8. Nonprofit Program Coordinator
Nonprofit program coordinators develop and manage initiatives in line with the mission and goals of the organization and work to strengthen partnerships with related organizations. Responsibilities for individuals in this position might include budgeting, fundraising, networking, and community outreach.
- 9. Human Rights Officer
This individual might be responsible for the research and analysis of global human rights issues, including trends and specific cases. They might also assist with the implementation of programs developed for the promotion and protection of human rights, which could be specific to ethnicity, race, and gender, among others. They may also document cases of human rights violations.
- 10. Translator
Because international affairs is an area of study with a strong foreign language component, another opportunity in this field could be to work as an interpreter, translator, or language expert. Opportunities could be found in education, legal environments, business, government, and more.
Companies That Seek Employees Trained in International Affairs
Between government, private, and nongovernmental organizations, there are numerous opportunities to find employers hiring for careers in international relations.
While you may find international affairs work in large U.S. cities, such as New York, Miami, and Los Angeles, Washington, D.C, remains the ultimate hub for careers in the field.
International affairs jobs in Washington, D.C. could be found with:
Outside of Washington, D.C., and around the world, these top employers hire for positions in international affairs:
- World Bank
- United Nations
- Fairtrade International
- Habitat for Humanity
- World Trade Organization
- Amnesty International
- International Monetary Fund
- Oxfam International
- Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom
How to Prepare for a Career in International Affairs
The study of international affairs exists at the bachelor’s degree level, which provides a broad foundation in the field. While some employers may consider applicants with a bachelor’s degree and relevant work experience equivalent to a graduate-level education, for most jobs in international affairs, a master’s degree is standard, regardless of the sector.
Master’s degree programs allow students to focus on a field-specific specialization, which can provide additional in-depth knowledge that can assist them in their desired career path. During a graduate program, students should complete a capstone project to gain practical experience in policy analysis, program development, and client recommendations.
While a master’s degree is essential for most international affairs careers, it’s equally as important to attend a university with a dedicated career services team. Having this type of professional support system can ensure your access to extensive resources and guidance you wouldn’t find elsewhere.
The school you enroll in should have a department that can help you with career preparation opportunities such as these and more:
- Career coaching
- Interview preparation
- Foreign language skills development
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Junior Program Officer, U.S. Department of State
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