There are many ways to take your career overseas. For the young and uncommitted, the world offers dozens of ways to live an itinerant lifestyle, from hostel bars to travel blogs. As long as you don't mind some rough accommodations and questionable dining (not to mention company), you can find plenty of opportunities to finance the grand adventure.
The same goes for people willing to work remotely. Today's job market makes it possible to build or extend a career from just about any coffee shop or wifi hotspot around the world. Taking your career overseas intact has never been more possible than it is today. But what about people who just want to go get a job? A normal, ordinary job that advances their career and just so happens to involve living by the Mekong or the Seine?
Turns out that's quite possible too. Try one of these ten careers on for size.
How to make money working overseas.
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It's been my experience that about a third of first year law students say that they want to practice "international law," and they generally have no idea what they're talking about. Scratch beneath the surface and you'll find someone who envisions themselves as a sort of ink-fueled cowboy, righting wrongs and wandering the Earth with the power of a J.D. behind them.
This, it should go without saying, is nonsense.
The real opportunity is for transactional lawyers and some small number of litigators. Global companies and firms need sharp legal minds to represent their interests around the world, and foreign companies looking to do business in America need experts in our legal system. Most of this work will involve corporate law and contracts, so brush up on those corporate papers students.
Three-quarters of people who take the Foreign Service Exam fail. The best way to study for it, according to the State Department, is to just to spend years reading the newspaper every day, making it less of "test prep" and more "just being smart." Once you've passed the exam, you then have to pass an oral interview and then apply for and receive one of the State Department's coveted foreign posts.
In other words, breaking into government-backed foreign service is not easy by any stretch of the imagination.
Once you do, however, a marvelous career opens up. Few organizations will make your resume shine better than a posting with the State Department of the United States, and their pay scale reflects the agency's high standards. With average pay upwards of $80,000, not to mention the future doors this job will open, foreign service is one of the premier ways to advance your career and see the world.
When you were in college someone might have suggested you learn a language to help advance your international ambitions and career. That person might have suggested French or Arabic or maybe Chinese.
Your friend might, though, have been better off recommending Python or C++.
Software developers, particularly those known as "full stack developers," currently enjoy a booming employment market, and many of those jobs come from either companies that allow remote work or those which are simply looking to hire overseas. This is particularly true for growing American tech companies. As more and more U.S.-based firms open offices around the world, every year brings opportunities for someone to start her career in Palo Alto and take it abroad.
Not many people actually know what a technology evangelist is. At a guess, they might say that it involves preachers with Power Point (or maybe someone who has mistaken Alexa for the voice of God).
In truth, an evangelist works for technology companies, convincing other businesses to use their platform. Whether spreading the gospel of Windows, Citrix, or Google, the goal of this job is to spread adoption and build users. For many people that means working within the United States. For many others however this means building their company's brand out around the world.
An average technology evangelist can make a comfortable six-figure salary. As American companies increasingly focus on trying to position themselves in rapidly growing markets like India and China, expert evangelists will become more critical than ever before.
Users are the 21st Century gold rush, and technology evangelists are the prospectors of the future.
At the University of Bordeaux, you can get a master's degree in wine management. The Culinary Arts Academy of Geneva, Switzerland is world-renowned. Students looking even further can also try programs in Manila, Phnom Penh, Beijing and more.
In today's kitchen, you almost have to.
Diners increasingly expect global influences in their food. They want creativity and new ideas, and nothing quite brings that to life on the plate like new experiences. For aspiring chefs, working and learning around the world can be one of the best career steps they'll ever take. From a financial standpoint that can all pay off too. A professional chef can make well over $90,000 per year in the right kitchen, and major hotels and restaurants look to staff their kitchens around the world constantly.
Sharpen your knives and learn how to garnish with flair, because, let's be honest, everyone around the world has to eat.
Also universal? Everyone needs a good doctor from time to time.
Few careers translate as well around the world as medicine, particularly for primary caregivers. A good primary care physician, family doctor or skilled nurse can find employment just about anywhere they choose to look. This is a field in which demand almost always exceeds supply, and one in which pay almost always holds up quite well. (We emphasize almost here, however, as in some countries like the U.K. this isn't necessarily true.)
In particular, however, we will call out the extraordinary work done by Doctors Without Borders.
Few careers offer the opportunity that Doctors Without Borders does. A physician who wants to make a difference and have an adventure can go and do just that without completely upending her life. It's the best of all worlds. Getting there isn't easy, but when it comes to career, money and adventure a determined doctor can have it all.
Here's one of the coolest things about working for a major consulting firm: they have you traveling almost constantly. Go to work at a firm like McKinsey or Bain, and you may find yourself working in Montana, Mumbai, London and Lisbon all in the same year.
Here's one of the worst things about working for a major consulting form: they have you traveling almost constantly. Go to work at a firm like McKinsey or Bain and you may see home only intermittently, spending a disproportionate amount of your time in Montana, Mumbai… you get the picture.
At a certain level of consulting, overseas work can become a staple of your profession. The more junior you are the less say you'll have in where the firm sends you, but climb the ladder a bit and you'll start getting to call the shots. You'll get more time in Paris, France and fewer nights in Paris, Texas.
Of course, there's always the trade-off too: this is a career for the committed road warrior. Yes, those frequent flier miles and periodic business class tickets are a blast at 25. Just be absolutely sure you'll still want to call a hotel room home in your mid-30s.
Here in the U.S., it's tough to recommend that someone become a travel agent. Unless you have a particular service to offer or a new take on the industry, opening up a shop that competes with Orbitz will be tough going. Representing a travel agency overseas, though, turns those rules on their head.
Elite travel programs have begun to flourish in recent years, offering high end travelers the chance to see the world in style… sometimes for an eye-popping price. Their customers expect the very best of representation on the ground, and that's where you come in.
Whether as a corporate representative, local fixer or even tour guide and speaker, this is a new take on the industry that can pay you real money while you see the world.
Companies need truckers. One report issued just two years ago found that America needed approximately 50,000 more truckers to take the roads, and that's just domestic demand. Companies face the same problem all around the world: too many products to ship, not enough people to ship them.
That can mean serious opportunities for someone who carries a commercial license.
Truckers looking to get overseas, or workers looking to make a change, might want to consider this career as an often-overlooked way to see the world. The pay can climb upwards of $70,000 or even $80,000 per year, and employers need drivers a lot more than they need another artistic photo of Angkor Wat.
An average worker on an oil rig will make roughly $100,000. A highly skilled worker can make a quarter of a million dollars. Employers will fly these workers to the rig from almost anywhere, and will fly them back out to almost anywhere.
Mineral extraction is a booming business and, as in many industries, companies desperately need skilled laborers.
Now, this is an area that cuts both ways. On the one hand, skilled mineral and oil work is an excellent ticket to high-paying, overseas placement. Companies will send workers to where the resources are, and with a little bit of determination it's very possible to head out and see the world while collecting a solid paycheck.
At the same time, companies send workers to where the resources are, not necessarily fun or interesting cities. Working at a mine or oil platform can mean spending months or even years in some of the most remote locations on the planet. This industry has a lot of potential, just be careful about the downsides too.