Study Abroad

How to Get a Job in the Study Abroad Industry

Learn about the different study abroad job types and how you can get a job in the study abroad world. Become an international educator and help inspire others to study abroad!

Do You Want to Work in Study Abroad? Here's Everything You Need to Know.

Whether your call is working directly with students in a university setting, living and working abroad, or strategizing with a team about program development, there are plenty of study abroad jobs out there to fit your interests and skills.

As more people continue to travel, study, and volunteer abroad, the field of International Education will only continue to grow, so here are a few different study abroad job options for you based on career level.

Jobs for college students

There are several career opportunities for current college students interested in getting involved in the study abroad world. Of course, if you've already studied abroad, that'll only make your chances of landing one of these positions even better. Just make sure you know how to put your study abroad experience on a resume and can talk about it in a job interview.

Student Assistants (Domestic)

  • Key skills: Excellent written and verbal communication skills, proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, organized, and well-connected on campus with new ideas for extended study abroad marketing outreach.

Work at your university's study abroad office and speak to prospective students about their study abroad options! You'll be of great help by assisting advisors in the application process of each of their students by electronically filing study abroad application materials.

Working at a university will also give you the opportunity to learn how to use software such as Studio Abroad and SugarCRM, which are commonly used by study abroad providers as well.

Campus/Program Ambassadors (domestic)

  • Key skills: Event planning, public speaking, study abroad experience, available for correspondence with prospective students in person, over the phone, or via email.

Represent your study abroad program on your home university's campus once you return as an alum! Organize potlucks and other international events to get students pumped about studying abroad. Attend on-campus pre-departure events to answer the questions of students who are just about to go overseas.

In doing so, you'll be the liaison between prospective study abroad students and their program providers, and can help to answer some of their specific study abroad questions since you experienced the program first-hand.

Interns (domestic)

  • Key skills: Excellent written and verbal communication skills, Microsoft Office proficient, ability to learn new technology and visa processes through on-site trainings, an interest in marketing and social media, and understanding of program management through personal experiences as a study abroad alum.

This is a great option for anyone truly interested in entering the field and working with different departments, from marketing to operations! Help your colleagues file visa applications, create pre-departure and orientation materials, organize mass mailings to send brochures to universities, and so much more. This is the perfect opportunity to get your foot in the door, network with people, and find out which type of study abroad job you really want.

Entry level jobs

Do You Want to Work in Study Abroad? Here's Everything You Need to Know: Entry level

There's quite a few options for post study abroad careers -- the most obvious being in international education. Recent college grads or those who have been out of school for a few years have more options when it comes to working in International Education. Some common entry level study abroad jobs include the following:

Program Coordinator (domestic)

  • Key skills: Bachelor's degree or study abroad experience in the specific country/countries in your region, ability to multi-task, works well under pressure, excellent time management, Microsoft Office proficient, ability to learn new technologies, and basic understanding of the visa process.

In this position, you'll work for a study abroad provider and will be responsible for handling the applications for all students who apply for programs within your geographical location abroad. You'll electronically file their applications, assist them in their visa application process by communicating with corresponding embassies and consulates, and will answer students' questions via phone and email about the program before they get there.

Marketing Coordinator (domestic)

  • Key skills: Bachelor's degree in communications, marketing, or visual design, knowledge of visual editing programs like Photoshop and InDesign, basic website maintenance with HTML on Wordpress, video editing experience, social media management, event planning, and a strong background in visual design and photography.

If you love social media, photography, graphic design, and strategic marketing, then this is a perfect fit! Be the voice of your organization in all forms of their media, both print and digital, via brochures and the web. Like any other position in the industry, the Marketing Coordinator also gets to work directly with students to produce content that will be a useful resource for prospective students.

Campus Relations Coordinator (domestic)

  • Key skills: Bachelor's degree in marketing, international relations, business, or the humanities, personable and outgoing, public speaking experience, sales and customer service background, study abroad or travel experience preferred. Travel required for job: 70% or more.

This position is similar to a consulting job, in that you get to travel often domestically and sometimes abroad to represent your organization by working on strengthening your relationship with prospective students and partner institutions.

In this position, you will be the first point of contact between a student and their potential program coordinator, and will often times serve as the liaison between the two. While on campus, you'll get to attend study abroad fairs, make classroom visits, and host other events such as film screenings.

Resident Assistant (international)

  • Key skills: Bachelor's degree in the regional area of the study abroad program, or focus on the native language, experience managing students in large quantities, event planning, previous experience living, working, studying, or volunteering in the program location, as knowing the city or town is crucial.

If you want to practice your already impressive language and leadership skills, then living abroad and working with staff and students is the job for you. In this role, you will be the main point of contact for students during their time abroad, and you will be responsible for communicating directly with the Resident Director about housing, social, and any student relations issue. As the Resident Assistant, you will also get to travel and manage students on excursions while they are abroad.

Study Abroad Advisor (domestic)

  • Key skills: Bachelor's degree, sometimes Master's degree preferred with a focus on the program location or geographical region, personal experience overseas, proficient in Microsoft Office, ability to learn new technologies, knowledge of the visa process, public speaking experience, and ability to multi-task.

Work at a university and assist students in the process of filling out their application. While working at the university, you will also be closely connected to various program providers and will communicate with them to ensure that all of the deadlines are being met well in advance, collaborate with professors on course equivalencies, and help to assist the organization of study abroad fairs and pre-departure orientations. You will also get to work with international students studying abroad in the US.

Finance/Accounting (domestic)

  • Key skills: Bachelor's or Master's in business, finance, or accounting, experience handling financial aspects of a business, and ability to create and present reports for quarterly financial reviews.

Without the finance department, such opportunities would not exist in the first place! Use your accounting skills to help keep track of program expenses for a university or for a program provider. Create reports and suggest budget changes as needed. Make sure all invoices are paid, and recorded internally for bookkeeping purposes.

Mid level careers

Do You Want to Work in Study Abroad? Here's Everything You Need to Know: Mid Level

Whether you've been in the workforce for a few years already, or just want to know what your options are once you've got some experience under your belt, below are some mid-level positions that you can consider:

Overseas Educator

  • Key skills: mentorship skills, experience working with teens, communication skills, organizational skills, and langauge skills. Wilderness first responder / first aid certification is also sometimes required.

For educational travel programs, experienced international educators are needed to lead the trips. Overseas educators will take students to their destination of study and lead the trip, organize logistics, and communicate with parents while the students are abroad. They will also be the first point of contact for any issues that students have while on their trip.

Program Manager (domestic)

  • Key skills: Bachelor's degree with a focus on the geographical region, fluency in the native tongue of the program location, extensive experience either living, working, studying, or volunteering in the program location, ability to work with various people domestic and abroad, accounting and financial skills, expertise in multi-tasking.

The program manager supervises the program coordinators, and works with partner institutions (in the US and abroad) to negotiate contracts which allow students to have the most positive experience possible!

While managing your team while you work in the US, you will be able to plan a program from start to finish by collaborating with faculty in the US and abroad to design the ideal program for students.

Resident Director (international)

  • Key skills: Bachelor's or Master's degree with extensive knowledge of the program location, fluency in local tongue and English, experience researching and creating contracts for housing, accounting, and financial experience, and previous work history with students.

This position works closely with the program managers to ensure that everything is running smoothly on the ground, overseas. Some tasks may include finding living arrangements abroad, renting out classroom space, organizing activities and of course, being the main source of emergency contact.

Academic Director (international)

  • Key skills: Master's in an area of study related to the program location, fluency in local language and English, experience working in academia, especially for higher education, and understanding of basic finances and accounting.

Work directly with professors overseas as well as Program Managers, to help create the program syllabi and itineraries for the semester. Recruit and hire necessary professors and other administrators overseas. Work with domestic based staff to review course evaluations and make semesterly changes as needed.

Senior level careers

Do You Want to Work in Study Abroad? Here's Everything You Need to Know: Senior Level

Further down the line, most of the previous jobs can help lead you to a more senior level role at a program provider or university. The most common senior-level study abroad job is:

Director of Study Abroad (domestic)

  • Key skills: 10+ years of experience in international education, Bachelor's degree in international relations related field, but MBA or Master's preferred, fluency in one or more languages, program management experience, a stern understanding of how to improve the academic and experiential components of each study abroad program, experience making important financial decisions, ability to work well and oversee many departments at once.

As the Director of a Study Abroad Office (SAO) you'll manage all of the advisors. Study Abroad Provider Program Directors work with all of the Program Managers to make important decisions about program locations, curriculum changes, finances, and further program development opportunities. You will also be part of the hiring process for all other important domestic and overseas staff.

Where to find study abroad jobs

Now that you've heard more about the variety of positions available within the industry of International Education, I really hope you consider pursuing a study abroad job! In order to do so, you should follow your favorite study abroad offices and providers on social media, especially LinkedIn because that's where they'll post job opportunities.

List-serves such as SECUSS-L, or websites for organizations like NAFSA are great resources for people who may not have a company, university, or program provider in mind, but are interested in learning about all openings in the field.

Remember, consistency is key. Just because your dream study abroad job isn't available now, doesn't mean that will be the case in the future. It's also very common for people to gain additional experience abroad to enhance their language skills while getting to know the region better before coming back to the U.S. for work.