Business is one of the most popular fields of study at many schools. However, with today's global economy, many institutions also offer specialized programs in international business. These programs prepare students for careers doing the following:
- Analyzing global market trends.
- Developing products and marketing campaigns that will appeal to customers in a particular region of the world.
- Reviewing and recommending foreign investments.
- Overseeing the transport of supplies and goods from one country to another.
- Monitoring global events that may have an impact on business.
International Business Specializations
Not every international businessperson will complete all the tasks above. Actual duties depend on a person's occupation and specialization:
- Executives oversee the overall operations of a company or division. They direct a business's policies and decisions at a high level.
- Managers are in charge of a particular area of business operations. For instance, human resources managers ensure appropriate staffing while marketing mangers oversee product launches.
- Analysts monitor markets and business operations in order to make recommendations to managers and executives. Financial analysts and management analysts are two examples of these professionals.
- Economists consider how money moves globally and recommend policy changes based on their findings.
How to Work in International Business
You can take many paths to a career in international business, but here is one example of the steps you may take.
- Earn a high school diploma or GED.
- Attend a college or university. International business schools offer both undergraduate and graduate programs that can help you prepare for jobs in this field.
- Earn a certification. Earning a professional credential is voluntary, but it can help demonstrate your expertise.
- Advance your career. Work experience or further education may open the door to more advanced positions in international business.
Regardless of your exact career path, you'll likely need to become familiar with these topics which are typically taught in international business programs.
- International marketing
- Export management
- International finance
- Business ethics
International business certificates and degrees
With so many international business programs available, it can be confusing to determine which is right for you. Here's a look at what's commonly available.
- Certificate: Many certificate programs in international business are intended for those who already have business experience or a bachelor's degree. However, there are undergraduate certificates available at some schools for those with no prior experience or higher education. Either way, certificate programs offer a relatively quick way to become familiar with how businesses operate globally. Most can be completed in six months to a year.
- Associate Degree: An associate degree in international business may take up to two years to complete. These programs delve deeper into global trade topics to prepare students for entry-level positions with private businesses, non-profits and government agencies.
- Bachelor's Degree: When it comes to the education requirements for international business jobs, some firms prefer to hire those with a four-year degree. Those who have an associate degree in international business may be able to transfer their credits toward a bachelor's degree.
- Master of Business Administration: An MBA is considered the gold standard of business education. You don't need one for many business jobs, but this level of education may make sense for those hoping to be promoting to executive positions.
International business schools
International business programs are available at many colleges and universities. There are also online international business schools that make it easy to hold down a job while studying for a bachelor's degree or MBA. Students enrolled in an online international business degree program typically get access to the same rigorous curriculum offered on campus but with the added perk of studying with classmates from across the country or even the globe.
International business certification
Professional certification is one way to distinguish yourself from other job applicants. While there are many business credentials available, only a few are specific to international business. Here's a look at two options.
- Certified International Trade Professional: Offered by the Forum for International Trade Training (FITT), the CITP designation is suitable for those just beginning their career as well as those who already have international business experience. You must earn a FITT Diploma in International Trade either through online courses or prior learning experience to become certified.
- Certified Global Business Professional: Known as a CGBP designation, this credential is available through NASBITE International, a non-profit association of North American Small Business International Trade Educators. Applicants earn the designation by passing an exam that covers four main subject areas: global business management, global marketing, supply chain management and trade finance.
Career advancement in international business
Entry-level positions in international business may include that of management trainees or sales associates. With experience or additional education, workers may be promoted to supervisory roles. Executive positions are typically reserved for those with extensive experience, and people with an MBA may be preferred for high-level jobs. Fortunately, many MBA programs can be earned entirely online which makes them more accessible for those who are already employed.
Top International Business Programs
International business is a specialized field of study and not offered at all schools. However, we've made it easy to find the best two-year colleges that offer these programs, or ones similar, like global logistics and supply chain management. We analyzed data from institutions across the country and looked for schools with affordable tuition, flexible degree programs and student support services. Based on our methodology, these are the top international business programs at vocational schools.
Mt. San Antonio College notes its tuition is so low that California residents only have to spend about $1,400 a year to attend. Even better, students get all the same services they might expect at a more expensive school. For instance, the college offers tutoring -- including online tutoring -- counseling, an honors program and more. Busy adults may be able to take fully or partially online classes at Mt. San Antonio College too.
International business programs at Mt. SAC: The international business program at Mt. SAC includes three levels of certificates and an associate degree. Each certificate requires 9 or 10 credits, and the levels are designed to be earned consecutively. Mt. SAC also offers an associate degree in international business that covers the material found in the certificates as well as general education courses.
First-time college students enrolled at Long Beach City College may be able to take classes for free for one or two years. That's thanks to the Viking Advantage, Long Beach College Promise and Promise 2.0 programs. Long Beach City College is also notable for its flexible learning options. There are traditional classes, fully online courses and hybrid options that combine the two formats.
International business programs at LBCC: You can earn a certificate of accomplishment, certificate of achievement or an associate degree in international business from LBCC. The certificates of accomplishment provide foundational knowledge while the certificate of achievement and associate degree offer a more in-depth look into the topic. Student can choose to concentrate their studies on international business or logistics.
San Jacinto Community College was named one of the top ten community colleges in the nation for 2019 by the nonprofit Aspen Institute. The school offers flexible education programs that teach marketable skills. What's more, San Jacinto Community College says it has one of the most affordable tuition rates in Texas. The college has three campuses and 12 extension centers, but students can also take classes online.
International business programs at San Jac: The international business programs at San Jac focus on global trade. The school has both a certificate of technology and an associate degree in global logistics and supply chain management. Each teaches about topics such as import/export processes, foreign trade and custom regulations. Students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience by interning with Houston-area companies.
Founded in 1926 to make higher education more accessible to all, Glendale Community College is an affordable choice for both academic and vocational programs. The two-year school enrolls more than 25,000 ethnically diverse students. For those who would like to study internationally, Glendale Community College offers study abroad programs in seven different countries.
International business programs at GCC: Within its business administration program, GCC offers a certificate in international business. The college notes the program is appropriate for both individual entrepreneurs and established business executives. The curriculum covers topics such as cross-cultural marketing, U.S. customs and regulatory requirements. Upon graduation, students may choose to put their knowledge to work immediately, or they may continue their education in a more advanced degree program.
As one of the largest community colleges in Michigan, Lansing Community College offers hundreds of degree and certificate options. Its flagship campus is located in Lansing, but the school also operates four other locations to make it convenient for students to attend classes. For those who prefer to study on their own schedule, Lansing Community College offers several online degrees and certificates.
International business programs at LCC: You can earn an associate degree in international business from LCC. The program features a low in-district tuition rate and can be completed on campus, online or through a hybrid program that combines both learning options. The curriculum at LCC includes a foreign language, courses such as international business and marketing on the internet and a marketing internship.
Skills and Qualities for International Business Professionals
Those who are most successful in international business often have the following skills and abilities:
- Social Perceptiveness: Business professionals must understand the social norms of other countries and act appropriately when working with clients, partners or customers overseas,
- Complex Problem Solving: Doing business in or with another country can open up new challenges related to communication, government regulations and logistics. All require the ability to work through complex problems to find an ideal solution.
- Speaking: Whether speaking to colleagues, clients or staff, a good business leader needs to be able to talk comfortably and clearly to others.
- Written Comprehension: Business professionals need to be able to read and understand emails, memos and reports on complex topics.
- Fluency of Ideas: Not every business initiative goes as expected, and professionals need to have a Plan B, Plan C or even a Plan D ready in the wings in case their initial strategy doesn't pan out. Being able to come up with multiple solutions is known as having a fluency of ideas.
Career Outlook and Salary Information for International Business Professionals
The chart below shows average salaries for international business professionals, but actual wages can vary significantly depending on a person's job title, education and experience. Even the best international business schools can't guarantee a job to graduates. However, your career prospects may be best if you specialize in an occupation expected to see steady growth in the years to come:
|Career||Total Employment||Annual Mean Wage||Projected Job Growth Rate|
|General and Operations Managers||2,289,770||$123,880||9.1%|
|Operations Research Analysts||104,200||$88,350||27.4%|
Professional Resources for International Business
There are a number of finance industry organizations and associations, and here are three that may be of interest to those pursuing a career in the field.
- International Business Association - Many business schools have an International Business Association. These student groups offer career resources, networking opportunities and other services that can help those in international business programs prepare for jobs after graduation.
- International Executives Association - Designed specifically for those working at the top levels of an international organization, IEA offers a way for business leaders to connect, collaborate and share ideas.
- Entrepreneurs' Organization - If you'd like to start your own business, this global network of entrepreneurs has programs and resources that can help make that happen.
Using the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and the U.S. Department of Education's College Scorecard, we generated a list of schools that met the following criteria:
- Institution type is less than 2 years, greater than 2 & less than 4 years
- Accredited by at least 1 agency (institutional accreditation)
- The school falls under one of the following classifications: (Carnegie Classification 2015: Undergraduate Instructional Program)
- Associate's Colleges: Mixed Transfer/Vocational & Technical
- These institutions awarded associate's degrees but no bachelor's degrees with 30-49% of awards (degrees and certificates) in career & technical programs.
- Associate's Colleges: Mixed Transfer/Vocational & Technical
Associate's Colleges: High Vocational & Technical
- These institutions awarded associate's degrees but no bachelor's degrees with more than 50% of awards (degrees and certificates) in career & technical programs.
Special Focus: Two-Year Institution
- These institutions awarded associate's degrees but no bachelor's degrees with typically more than 75% of awards in a single career & technical program
- The school must offer at least 1 program for the subject in question
We ranked the resulting colleges on the following variables:
- Cost of attendance, based on the average net price for students receiving scholarship and grant aid, and the total cost of tuition, fees, books and supplies, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- No. of Associate degree and undergraduate Certificate programs offered for the subject (relevant CIP codes), National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- No. of Associate degree and undergraduate Certificates conferred for the subject (relevant CIP codes), National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Percent of undergraduate students enrolled in any distance education classes, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
- Full-time student retention rate & part-time retention rate (if full-time retention rate is not available, then use part-time retention rate), National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2017
- The graduation rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017-18
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2014-15
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017-18
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- 7 Business Careers You Can Pursue With a Global Studies Degree, Tamar Shulsinger, January 16, 2018, Northeastern University, Accessed March 2019, https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/international-business-careers/
- Certificate in International Business, California Southern University, Accessed March 2019, https://www.calsouthern.edu/business-certificate-online/international-business-certificate
- Associate of Science in International Business, University of the Potomac, Accessed March 2019, https://potomac.edu/degree-programs/associates/international-business/
- Certified Global Business Professional, NASBITE, Accessed March 2019, https://www.nasbite.org/cgbp/
- What does the CITP mean for professionals? FITT, Accessed March 2019, https://fittfortrade.com/certification
- Chief Executives, O*Net Online, Accessed March 2019, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/11-1011.00
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2017-18, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2014-15, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- Why San Jac?, San Jacinto Community College, Accessed July 2019, https://www.sanjac.edu/about-san-jac/overview/why-san-jac
- About Mt. SAC, Mt. San Antonio College, Accessed July 2019, https://www.mtsac.edu/about/
- Distance Learning, Long Beach College Promise, Accessed July 2019, https://www.lbcc.edu/distance-learning
- Long Beach College Promise, Long Beach City College, Accessed July 2019, https://www.lbcc.edu/promise-20
- About GCC, Glendale Community College, Accessed July 2019, https://www.glendale.edu/about-gcc/gcc-overview
- Our College, Lansing Community College, Accessed July 2019, https://www.lcc.edu/about/