Let's dive in...
What Is the Study of International Relations All About?
"The study and practice of international relations is interdisciplinary in nature, blending the fields of economics, history and political science to examine topics such as human rights, global poverty, the environment, economics, globalization, security, global ethics and the political environment," according to InternationalRelationsEdu.org.
What Can I Do with a Degree in International Relations?
Getting a degree in International Relations is one surefire way to make your mark on the world and work towards making the world a better place. You'll have opportunities to support positive diplomatic relations between countries, help prevent international conflicts in an ever-globalizing world, and help create peace by dealing with existing conflicts.
In fact, many argue that a degree in international relations is more important than ever.
"We desperately need not only answers but new ways of thinking about, framing, and analyzing the most important global questions — and this applies not only to government but also employers in the private and nonprofit sector," writes Foreign Policy contributor, Francis Gavin
. "As Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other large technology companies no doubt now recognize, no amount of training in computer science or marketing can fully prepare a global corporation for the challenges of operating in a deeply politicized, complex, and often counterintuitive international environment. Other industries, old and new, for profit and nonprofit, will join tech companies, if they haven’t already, in requiring that employees have a richer, deeper understanding of international affairs."
So you can go ahead and get yourself a degree in international relations but, how many years does it take to study international relations, and what kind of job will you get when you graduate?
Most students first obtain a four-year Bachelor's degree in international relations
or a related/more-specific discipline (such as economics, history or political science). And, from there, many go on to obtain a Master's degree, which usually takes about two years to complete. Upon completion, you can look for jobs in a wide array of settings.
"International relations is an extensive, interdisciplinary field of study that involves advancing international understanding, prosperity, peace and security," according to InternationalRelationsEdu.org. "Careers in international relations are diverse, with specialists working for governmental agencies, intergovernmental organizations, international and multinational corporations, consulting firms, research organizations, nongovernmental organizations, advocacy groups and policy think tanks."
Here are some examples of the types of companies and organizations for which you can work:
- Humanitarian Organizations (such as nonprofits)
- Government Agencies (like the Department of State, Homeland Security or Commerce)
- Research Centers and Think Tanks (such as the Center for International Policy or the Council on Foreign Relations)
- International Corporations (such as Nestle or General Electric)
- Intergovernmental Organizations (such as the United Nations or NATO)
- Media Outlets (such as the Wall Street Journal, the BBC or the New York Times)
- International Communications (such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International or Reporters Without Borders)
What Is the Average Salary for International Relations?
A career in international relations can be lucrative, but your salary will certainly vary depending on the specific job type.
For example, a 2013 survey, which revealed the median salary for international relations professionals by sector, suggests the following average salaries per sector:
- Private: $71,000
- Public: $62,000
- Nonprofit: $58,000
- Multilateral: $56,000
More specifically, according to 2015 job vacancy announcements, these are the typical ranges of salaries offered to professionals working for government agencies:
- International trade specialist for the Department of Commerce: $52,668-$118,069
- Foreign affairs officer for the Department of State: $90,823-$118,069
- Public affairs specialist for the Department of the Army: $71,613-$93,101
- Logistics Management Specialist for the Department of State: $52,668-$68,465
- International News Writer for the Department of Defense: $37,239-$47,879
- Economist/Statistician for the Department of Labor: $42,215-$54,875
Meanwhile, according to the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2014, here are the average expected salaries for careers in the private sector that involve international relations:
- Media and communications workers: $58,630
- Public relations specialists: $60,090
- Business operations specialists: $68,600
- Financial analysts and advisors: $74,640
- Advertising and promotions managers: $83,760
- Administrative services managers: $91,630
- Financial managers: $111,740
- Human resources managers: $116,710
- Marketing managers: $119,050
- Legal occupations: $123,770
- Marketing and sales managers: $124,810
- Sales managers: $126,100
Where to Find Jobs with an International Relations Degree?
There are tons of job boards out there to find jobs with your international relations degree. Here are five to get you started.
- UN Jobs
- INT Jobs
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.