Future Jobs

Future Jobs

International Sales Manager

If you’re outgoing, persuasive, and multilingual, a career in international sales might be your ticket to happiness.

In any sector that produces goods, you’re likely to find international sales positions. Many international sales positions focus on B2B sales, which means “business to business.” Businesses often sell their products to other businesses, and while these negotiations are often considered more complex, they can also be tremendously satisfying for a skilled negotiator. Plus, they often pay more due to the perceived difficulty.

International sales positions may require traveling abroad or negotiating from a local office. Regardless of where you work, international sales positions often require language skills and enough cultural competency to avoid offending.

To pursue a career in international sales, it’s helpful to have a bachelor’s degree in business administration and/or experience in sales. Speaking one or more world languages is also important, particularly for specialized fields with strong regional ties.

For instance, if you want to go into ginseng sales, you’ll undoubtedly need to know Chinese. In general, Chinese is useful for anyone looking to go into international sales since China is a huge market with a lot of spending power.

While salaries can vary wildly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that sales managers make a median salary of $117,960 per year.

Study Abroad Coordinator
If you’re passionate about the educational power of travel, a job as a study abroad coordinator might make your heart soar.

These coordinators serve as a university’s go-to person for study abroad opportunities. As such, they promote study abroad programs, provide students with information, consult with students on how the study abroad opportunity fits into their education, prepare students for travel, and monitor international safety issues. They also handle administrative tasks associated with study abroad programs.

Study abroad coordinators are usually expected to have traveled abroad themselves. In addition to language skills, they may often have master's or doctoral degrees in related fields like business administration and/or student affairs.

The most useful languages to speak are from countries that are likely to host study abroad programs. Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese are some of the most frequently spoken languages in study abroad programs, so learning any of these languages will be useful.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for postsecondary education administrators is $90,760, though this varies based on rank, region, and school.

Foreign Service Officer

If you want to use your language skills while representing your country abroad, a career as a foreign service officer might be right up your alley.

Foreign service officers serve as representatives of their home nation in countries throughout the world. Depending on their career track, they might help Americans abroad, protect American borders, work to negotiate with foreign governments, manage embassy operations, promote mutual understanding, and more. If you’re U.S. based, you can find more information on foreign service career tracks from the U.S. Department of State.

Skill and experience requirements vary by position, but due to the international nature of the positions, language skills are always useful. Since foreign service officers are stationed all over the world, any language may be useful. Widely spoken languages like Chinese, Spanish, French, and Arabic will provide you with more flexibility, though learning an uncommon language can set you apart from other candidates.

Pay scales vary based on position and location.

International Development Program Officer
If you love helping people, a job in international development might float your proverbial boat.

International development jobs focus on helping communities across the world. This may involve addressing issues like health, clean water, economic development, energy, the environment, and more.

Both governmental and non-governmental organizations employ program officers to oversee international development programs.

Technical-oriented positions may require exceptional technical expertise, while other positions require more administrative skills. Since international development workers often work abroad, it’s important that they have enough language skills to interact with locals. Other relevant areas of study might include healthcare, economics, and international development.

Devex provides job listing in the international development field that you apply for or use to plot your career path.

The language skills you need are based largely on what region you’ll focus on. Since Spanish and French are spoken in many countries around the world (if not as a first language, as a common second language), these are particularly useful. Learning a more specific regional language can help provide additional direction for your career path.

Foreign Correspondent

While journalism jobs are on the decline, foreign language speakers with a passion for sharing the most pertinent world stories might still seek out an exciting career as a foreign correspondent.

International journalists and foreign correspondents travel throughout the world to cover breaking news stories. They’re often in the field for major disasters, including extreme weather and armed conflict. This makes it an appealing career for adrenaline junkies.

Knowing additional languages is a valuable skill for foreign correspondents since it allows them to interview people in their native languages. Additionally, those seeking these jobs usually need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Journalism and communication are popular majors, though journalists covering more specialized fields may benefit from studying political science, economics and/or law.

The languages most in demand depend on what region you’re covering and where news is happening. Since international correspondents often focus on conflict regions, learning the languages of these regions is particularly useful.

For instance, since much news coverage focuses on the Middle East, Russia and North Korea, languages that are currently useful include Arabic, Russian and Korean. The news is constantly changing, though, so this can turn on a dime.

Intelligence Operative
Everyone’s seen a spy movie.

While all the gadgets and glamour might not be real, intelligence positions remain a legitimate option for avid linguaphiles.

Being an intelligence operative doesn’t necessarily involve sneaking into parties to follow around shady characters. It might involve field work, but there are also many positions in analysis, STEM and support.

If you’re based in the US, the CIA website offers a helpful breakdown of job categories.

While there are foreign language roles that focus predominantly on language skills, these skills are useful for any intelligence position. Most CIA positions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and a strong GPA and necessary skills often include analytical abilities. Each individual position also has additional education and experience requirements, so if this is a field you’re interested in, it will be beneficial to look at specific job requirements before proceeding.

The U.S. has identified a number of languages that are particularly needed for national security, so you might consider studying these critical languages if you’re looking for a position in intelligence.

Pay grades vary by rank and position, but salaries start around $50,000 and go up to over $100,000.