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.



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Public Sector

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.



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Private Sector

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. 


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Nonprofit Sector

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. 


Top Employers in Washington, D.C. 

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:

Top Employers Around the World

Outside of Washington, D.C., and around the world, these top employers hire for positions in international affairs:

If you are an international student make sure to review the 'types of employment permissible for F-1 students' and make and appointment to speak with an ISO Advisor.

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:

  • Internships
  • Networking
  • Career coaching
  • Interview preparation
  • Foreign language skills development

"I chose to pursue my graduate studies at the Elliott School because I wanted to join a program that would allow me to work and study full-time. At the Elliott School, I am able to balance everything by having flexible evening classes and events. There are also lots of opportunities to network and grow inside and outside of the classroom."

Puja Basnet
Junior Program Officer, U.S. Department of State



Interested in Preparing for an International Affairs Career?

Explore the Elliott School’s undergraduate and graduate degree programs today!