International Jobs for Americans

Edited by Kathy McGraw

Whether you want to work in another country because opportunities in your field are scarce back home, or you want to expand your horizons and see more the world, there are plenty opportunities to find work abroad. The world is a huge place and organizations, from non-profits to government agencies, to large multinational companies are always hiring new talent. This article will discuss how to go about finding an international job, common jobs abroad, and provide you with some resources to help your search.

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How to Get an International Job

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Finding a job in another country is the same in many ways as finding a job in your home country: you have to search out opportunities, send a resume, and hopefully land an interview. However, jobs overseas also require you to factor in relocation costs as well as any language barrier that may exist. Then there are the costs of obtaining a passport and the necessary work visas. Some companies may offer assistance with relocation costs and travel documents, but others may not.

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  1. 1
    Look for opportunities to work for the government in another country
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    The United States government has the need for people to work overseas in every field from psychology and sociology to engineering and biology. The State Deparment has a list of available jobs on its website, so that's the best place to start your search.
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  2. 2
    Ask about international opportunities at work
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    If you already employed with a company that has offices around the world, start by asking about job opportunities there. Express your interest in working in another country and ask what qualifications you need and the best way to get them, if you don't already have them.
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    Talk your friends, family, or church group
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    Just like finding work at home, getting a job abroad is more about who you know than what you know. Ask if anyone in your circle knows about any international opportunities or ways that you could find out about them. Some church groups offer mission opportunities to other parts of the world, which can lead to further opportunities in those countries.
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    Learn another language
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    You have the best opportunity to find international employment if you know the language of the country where you want to work. Most people take at least one second language as part of their schooling, but if it has been a while since you've used it, you probably need a refresher course or two. If you haven't taken any training in another language, it's never too late to start. Many community colleges offer courses in other languages, and there are programs such as the Rosetta Stone that are of tremendous value.
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    Find out if the company will help you with your travel-related expenses
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    Some companies, particularly if you are transferring from one department to another, will offer to pay for your relocation expenses and work visas. If these expenses aren't covered, you might need to ask your family and friends to help you out or make other arrangements.
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Common Overseas Jobs

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The following jobs are among the most common that Americans working abroad get. This list is by no means complete or exclusive. Most of them are low-paying entry level jobs suitable to young people just out of college or taking a sabbatical year in between their studies.

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    Teaching English as a Second Language
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    English is the universal language for business, and many countries have the need for ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers. Most ESL teaching jobs require only a four-year degree and that you know English. The State Department (see the link above) is a good place to look for such positions, as well as The Council on International Educational Exchange.
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    Teaching on a United States military base on foreign soil
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    The State Department runs the Teaching Overseas program, through which teachers can apply to work on U.S. military bases teaching the children of military families living abroad.
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    Overseas medical jobs
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    There is always a demand for doctors, nurses, and medical support people around the world. You can work in a hospital or as part of a medical outreach program. Another option is to work for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC); the CDC operates globally to investigate and research trends in diseases and to help manage regional outbreaks, such as the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016.
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    Hospitality jobs
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    Hospitality jobs include any job in the hotel industry, from entry level positions such as desk clerk and bellhop all the way up to hotel manager. Also included are food service jobs such as Chef, sous chef, or waiter/waitress. While these jobs might not pay the best, depending on the country where you work, you can earn enough to live on and have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture.
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    Become an Au Pair
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    Au Pairs are basically nannies that care for the children of well-to-do families. If you love children and want to travel, this could be a great opportunity to live in another part of the world while gaining valuable child development training. Au Pairs don't make much money, but since your living expenses are covered, any additional money you make is free for you to spend on the fun stuff.
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    Travel writer
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    Travel writers typically work freelance and write about their experiences in a particular foreign locale for travel websites such as Lonely Planet or Frommers. Each website has different pay rates and requirements, so be sure to read these before you submit your work. Another option is to get on staff with one publication, but this is much harder to do.
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    Seasonal hostel jobs
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    Some hostels regularly hire people who speak English to cook, clean, man the front desk, and any other work that pops up over the season. While these jobs don't pay much beyond covering lodging, they offer a great opportunity to earn a little money while living abroad for a short period of time.
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  8. 8
    Work for a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)
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    NGOs are a treasure trove of employment opportunities in almost every field, plus aside from getting to live and work in a foreign country, you get to feel like you're making a difference. Because NGOs are typically non-profits, don't expect a grand salary or benefits, especially for entry level positions, but the opportunity to advance is virtually limitless.
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    Tour guide
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    Tour guides are experts on a particular region or sites and educate tourists and students during guided tours of the area or attraction. If you are a history buff who loves to travel, becoming a tour guide could be the perfect international job for you.
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The Bottom Line

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The jobs we've listed are only the tip of the iceberg for what's available, and these are just the most modest of them. The truth is that you can get a job in another country in almost any field, but it will require some research and careful planning and negotiating to make sure the logistics work.

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International Job Resources

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In addition to the links provided in the text above, the following are places online where you can get information on overseas jobs:

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please post in the comments section below.

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