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
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.
Program Costs and Financial Aid
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:
Projected Job Growth
|Operations Research Analysts||104,200||$88,350||25.6%|
|General and Operations Managers||2,289,770||$123,880||6.9%|
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.