International Business Salary and Job Outlook

Salaries for international business careers vary widely. Learn what you could make after completing your degree.

international business salary and degree programs

In the same way that business administration provides the general skills that can transfer into a wide array of careers in business, international business offers a multitude of career opportunities. The exciting thing about international and multinational business is that you can literally take your skills with you—and to just about anywhere. With applications across a spectrum of industries, salaries will vary depending on what type of business you specialize in, who you work for and where.

Here are some statistics on salaries, job growth, and employer types for careers in international business.

Median Annual Salary

Take a look at some of the salaries for popular careers in international business:

International Business Career Median Annual Salary*
International Finance Management $109,740
Management Consultant $78,600
International Marketing Manager $119,480
Translator / Interpreter $45,430

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

What is my earning potential?

It is difficult to know what to expect from salaries in international business, since they reflect already varied salaries in the world of business in general. Many possible career paths are open to those interested in business and travel, each with varying levels of supply and demand.

As with almost all careers, the higher degree you hold, the higher your salary: A bachelor's degree in business administration can add $2,000 to $5,000 or more per year in earning potential, while an MBA can add yet another $7,000 to $11,000, though many MBAs start out in higher-level management jobs with more responsibility, and consequently earn a larger salary that may include a bonus package.

Is there demand for this career?

While job growth depends on the area of business in which you choose to work, the prospects for success in international business grow as the world shrinks due to technology. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for business administrators is expected to grow about as fast as average for all occupations. But, as corporations establish operations overseas or seek to strengthen their bonds with existing global partners, demand for those with specialized skills—such as translation, ethics, advising and management—will likely increase.

What is the job growth for the field?

Take a look at how some of the business administration occupations compare as far as job growth:

Job Outlook Comparison Through 2022

  • Management analyst—19 percent, faster than average
  • Budget analyst—6 percent, slower than average
  • Human Resources Management—13 percent, as fast as average
  • Financial Management—9 percent, as fast as average
  • Translator/Interpreter—46 percent, much faster than average
  • Marketing Management—13 percent, as fast as average

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook

How much competition will I face for a job?

The job market for those in business has become increasingly competitive, and what once worked for job-seekers now requires more education and credentials. For example, an MBA was once a near-guarantee for a great career in business administration. Employers are now seeking candidates with a DBA and certifications as business becomes more global and fast-paced. Proficiency in a second language will be a major advantage to international business workers. Similarly, you will need to prove your tech savvy, and willingness to develop it continually as new processes and systems emerge for communication and business management. The more knowledge and experience you have with computers and software, as well as with people, the better.

What kind of companies hire workers in international business?

Here are some of your workplace options:

  • International business expatriate assignments: Many large corporations have overseas offices and often employ a staff that is comprised of both local and expatriate workers. In decades past, an assignment in India or China meant the worker would take family with them, but budgets often don't allow for that now, and many international workers are either spending time apart from their families, or the people that apply for these jobs don't have families. This is an important consideration to make when applying for positions overseas.
     
  • Public Sector Jobs: There are many jobs held by civilians in the public sector and government, such as the aerospace industry, in embassies, education, administration, information technology and health care. Many of these jobs require some sort of security clearance, and as a contractor or civil worker, you may be required to follow certain government practices or regulations. Other government jobs may be in the trade arena, such as international trade specialist, international economist and import compliance specialist.
     
  • Short-term International Jobs: A cultural advisor works with international business people, usually as a contractor, in specific areas of business such as technology, management, international trade, banking, law, media and education. These types of consulting jobs can be short- or long-term, and you may be hired by a specific firm in the United States and travel abroad, or you may want to find a position overseas first. If you want to work for a few months, you might find a position teaching English, as an intern in an international law firm or business, as a tour guide, or in a hotel or restaurant

How do I advance in my international business career?

The ability to spot trends and patterns and to conduct business within a code of ethics would at one time have taken you far. But with the world becoming smaller thanks to technological advances, business administration is more complicated and complex than ever.

Earning at least an MBA could increase your career options and give you access to management and administrative roles, but earning a doctorate will open avenues in areas such as academia and research. If you want to be considered for that great promotion, you might want to think about one (or both) of these tips:
 

  • Learn a new language—Places such as India and China are huge market opportunities.
  • Get computer savvy—take some IT and computer science classes and learn the different software applications you’ll need to do your job better and faster.

Also, earning certification or licensure in your field (where applicable) shows potential employers that you are a qualified and accomplished professional in your chosen career, and may play a role in employment decisions or promotions.
 

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International Business Career and Degree Guide