Is an International Business Degree for You?
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As the world becomes increasingly globalized, there will continue to be an added emphasis on international business. International business majors study other cultures, politics, foreign languages and law, as well as the logistics of international trade and investing. They become familiar with markets and cultures that differ from our own and can understand how they function together. Students can tailor their degrees to specific careers they are pursuing too, such as concentrating on disciplines such as economics, accounting, finance, management and marketing. They can also focus on the specific regions in which they would like to work and learn the language. As the global economy grows and regions and countries become even more closely tied together through trade, the number of careers in international business will likely continue to rise.
Advice for Earning Your International Business Degree Online
When searching for an online international business degree, it's essential that you make sure the schools and programs you are considering are accredited. Accreditation is a measure that ensures colleges are performing to the satisfactory educational standards established by accrediting organizations. By checking the U.S. Department of Education's Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, you can find out whether a school is accredited or under review. You can also find out whether your prospective business program is accredited by checking the website of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Before diving into specific international business courses, students usually take prerequisite classes in financial accounting, managerial accounting, principles of macroeconomics, principles of microeconomics, business administration and business law. Once they have completed those courses, they enroll in classes such as principles of marketing, international marketing strategies, business finance, international business finance, organizational behavior, principles of management operations and quantitative business analysis. Of course to function internationally, these business people must also communicate in the language of the region. Some programs require up to three years of study in a foreign language, and some offer business concentrations tailored for specific countries. In addition, dedicated students can gain hands-on experience by studying abroad.
Common Career Paths
A degree in international business can take you around the world. Graduates find careers working for international firms. To attain the best jobs upon graduation, it helps to have accumulated experience working overseas in the country in which you hope to work. Participating in multiple internships helps as well, as they can provide the experience and connections that are crucial in the business world. Common careers include (but are not limited to):
- Foreign Service Officer: Foreign service officers work within the State Department, which represents the United States abroad. Foreign service officers have five career tracks: consular, economic, management, political and public diplomacy. Those with a degree in international business are best prepared to work as economic officers or management officers. According to the State Department, economic officers work with foreign governments on issues regarding trade, the economy and energy, while management officers are responsible for embassy operations. Competition for these jobs can be especially tough in slow economic conditions. As a result, prospective foreign service officers should make themselves as marketable as possible by studying abroad and fulfilling internships. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth in the federal government to be about 10 percent from 2010 to 2020. This will include State Department jobs, especially as the U.S. continues to clarify its policies abroad.
- International Travel Agent: These professionals help travelers by guiding them in deciding when, where and how to travel, as well as facilitating their trips to and from international destinations. Essentially, international travel agents do all of the time-consuming legwork so that travelers can focus on enjoying their vacations. International travel agents have to be accustomed to the variety of cultures, languages and laws they may encounter while booking and researching trips. Employment of travel agents is expected to increase 10 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The demand for international travel agents will increase as people seek out more exotic locations to visit. The increasing number of visitors to the U.S. from other countries will also boost international travel agents' business. Because job competition will be stiff, those interested in becoming an international travel agent should strongly consider getting as many credentials as possible before seeking out work. Travel agents' median annual salary was $31,870 in 2010.
- Foreign Market Analyst: Foreign market analysts work with companies to gather information regarding the ability of a product or service to succeed in a foreign market. They gather this information from a variety of sources, such as cultural traditions, potential consumers' needs and foreign laws. They then advise companies as to how to produce, price, distribute and market the product or service in a way that will maximize sales and minimize costs associated with rolling out and maintaining the product lines. Furthermore, foreign market analysts can help companies decide whether a certain product or service should be discontinued or modified within a foreign market. Employment of market research analysts is forecast to expand 41 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median annual salary was $60,570 in 2010.