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What Does a Career in International Business Entail?

Are you interested in pursuing an international business career? If you enjoy the idea of being the public face of a company or organization, this may be the perfect field for you. These professionals are often responsible for facilitating deals and transactions between parties on a global scale. International business graduates often speak two or more languages, display strong leadership skills, and utilize ever-changing technologies within their specific industry, whether that is international marketing, international finance, international business law, or another international business concentration. While international business graduates can find work in many different sectors, some of the most common employers include:

  • Banks
  • Import/Export Corporations
  • Multinational Manufacturers
  • Consulting Firms
  • International Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
  • Electronics and Technology Companies
  • Shipping Companies
  • Airlines

Components of a Successful Career in International Business

An international business career is not for everyone. Because these professionals must become proficient with numerous business and finance techniques, the profession can be quite demanding. They often develop a wide variety of skills in order to be successful in the field. Those who are most successful in international business have the following characteristics:

  • Cultural sensitivity to better understand the needs and experiences of international clients
  • Well-developed proficiency with written and verbal communication
  • Patience and flexibility to travel and work abroad
  • Creativity necessary to redesign and market products and services to other countries
  • Ability to work under pressure during product and ad campaign launches

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How to Earn an Online International Business Degree

It is not difficult to find and enroll in an international business degree program. You will, however, have to work hard to complete the degree requirements and advance in the field as a professional. Keep the following steps in mind as you begin pursuing an international business career:

  • Develop and hone your interest in business by taking relevant classes and participating in related high school activities

  • Determine what level of education you need to reach your ultimate career goal (associate, undergraduate, or graduate)

  • Research institutions that offer international business degree programs

  • Create, request, and organize any necessary application materials (entrance essay, reference letters, etc.)

  • Submit applications to your preferred programs (often your first, second, and third choices)

  • Decide which institution/program meets your objectives and offer the best opportunities for future success

  • Enroll in courses that align with your specific interests

  • Join one or more of the following business organizations:

    • Beta Alpha Psi
    • Beta Gamma Sigma
    • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
    • Future Business Leaders of America
  • Graduate from your chosen college or university

  • Apply for professional employment

What Can You Do With an International Business Degree?

A degree in international business can prepare you for employment in a wide variety of industries. It is not uncommon for graduates to find work with large corporations, small business, non-profit organizations, or government agencies. Some are entrepreneurs and create their own employment. The opportunities for professionals in this field are many, but some of the most common jobs include:

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  • Translator
  • Economist
  • Financial Analyst
  • Import/Export Agent
  • Management Analyst
  • Financial Controller
  • Policy Analyst
  • Marketing Manager
  • Human Resource Manager
  • Multinational Manager
  • International Marketing Director
  • Foreign Currency Investment Advisor
  • Business Development Director
  • Foreign Sales Representative
  • International Trade and Customs Manager
  • International Management Consultant
  • International Foreign Policy Advisor

Typical International Business Degree Requirements

People who want to pursue an international business career will need to earn an online associate, undergraduate, and/or graduate degree in the field. While there are some entry-level employment opportunities available to individuals who have an associate degree, most professionals opt to enroll in an undergraduate program. Afterward, graduates can decide whether or not to pursue a master’s degree. Graduate-level educations often lead to more employment opportunities and higher pay.

Typical International Business Degree Certifications Needed

Once you have attained a business degree, there are no specific certifications required to begin working professionally. There are, however, several certification programs that can help advance your career. A few options include:

  • Certified International Trade Professional (CITP) offered by the Forum for International Trade Training (FITT)
  • International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) Certification offered by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA)
  • Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP) offered by the North American Small Business International Trade Educators (NASBITE)
  • Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) offered by the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA)
  • Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) offered by the Association for Operations Management (APICS)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI)

Academic Standards for an International Business Degree

Every educational institution is different, but all colleges and universities have established academic standards for admittance. In most cases, prospective students must provide the following items before enrolling:

  • High School Transcripts
  • Application Fee
  • College Admission Test (ACT or SAT)
  • Letter(s) of Recommendation
  • Application Essay
  • An Interview

Exam/Experience Needed for an International Business Degree

You will find that most undergraduate colleges and universities expect prospective students to complete a college admission test prior to admittance. In the United States, this means you will need to take either the ACT or SAT. Most schools will accept scores from either examination, but score cut-offs will vary.

download-program-guide When deciding which test to take, it is important to realize that the ACT and SAT are quite similar. The differences that do exist are relatively minor, but may impact which exam suits your personal preferences and testing style best. You should spend some time researching both options before registering. Alternatively, if both are accepted, you can plan to take both tests and submit the higher of the two results when applying to your degree program.

If you have already earned a bachelor degree and are ready to earn a master degree in international business, you should plan to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Most graduate programs require one of these two examinations.

Online Associate Degree in International Business

An online associate degree in international business provides a fundamental introduction to the business field. It can prepare graduates for further education and some entry-level positions. This type of program usually consists of 60 credit hours of coursework, which takes most full-time students two years to complete. They can then move on to an entry-level position. And as long as the program or institution is accredited, graduates will have little trouble transferring the credits they earn to a four-year undergraduate college or university. An international business associate degree will generally qualify professionals for employment as purchasing agents, sales representatives, international medical claims representatives, or managers.

Every college and university is different, but coursework frequently covers:

  • Business Math and Computing
  • Corporate Ethics and Import/Export Practices
  • World Economy
  • Management Principles
  • Marketing Operations
  • International Trade Regulations
  • Intercultural Management

Online Bachelor’s Degree in International Business

While an online associate degree may be enough to qualify candidates for a limited number of entry-level positions, most people interested in an international business career opt to pursue an international bachelor's degree. Many colleges and universities offer a Bachelor of Science in International Business (BSIB). Some institutions, however, provide Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) and/or Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) degrees with concentrations in international business. It is important to carefully consider all of the available options.

Bachelor degrees usually consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately four years to complete. If students enroll with transfer credits, however, the timeframe can be shortened. Those who must enroll part-time may require as many as five to eight years to graduate. After earning this degree, students will have the option to either continue their education by enrolling in a graduate program or find employment. An international business bachelor’s degree will generally qualify professionals for employment as logistics managers, marketing managers, management analysts, human resources managers, or bank managers.

Coursework is comprised of both major-specific and general liberal arts content. Every college and university is different, but coursework frequently covers:

  • International Business
  • International Trade Policies and Practices
  • International Marketing
  • International Management
  • International Banking and Finance
  • Global Supply Chain Management and Logistics
  • International Business Simulation
  • International Strategic Management
  • Computer Applications in Business
  • Multimedia and Business Presentations
  • Entrepreneurship

Online Master’s Degree in International Business

Although an online master’s degree is not required to have a successful career in international business, many people choose to pursue one anyway. This is because a graduate-level education often demonstrates a strong commitment to the field and ultimately results in more and better employment prospects. Graduates can also expect higher salaries, faster promotions, and more job security. Most individuals enroll in a Master of International Business, Master in International Management (MIM), or Master in Business Administration (MBA) with an international business concentration program.

The majority of online graduate programs are comprised of 60 credit hours that take most full-time students two years to complete. Some students may, however, require more or less time; transfer credits and scheduling restrictions play a significant role in determining a graduation timeframe. An international business master’s degree will generally qualify professionals for employment as international marketing directors, financial controllers, multinational corporate managers, business development directors, international trade and customer managers, or international foreign policy advisors.

Coursework usually includes:

  • Data Analysis and Research Methods in Global Business
  • Economic Analysis for Global Business
  • Ethical and Social Issues in Global Management
  • International Management
  • Global Forecasting, Operations, and Supply Chain Management
  • Managing Global Competition and Cooperation
  • Global Corporate Governance and Social Responsibility
  • Doing Business in World Regions
Degree Type Public (In-State) Private
Associate $3,570 (yearly)
Undergraduate $9,970 (yearly) $34,740 (yearly)
Graduate $8,670 (yearly) $29,960 (yearly)

Earning Potential for International Business Degree Fields and Occupations

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for business and financial occupations in 2017 was $67,710. Additionally, business and financial operations occupations are expected to increase by 10% from 2016 to 2026. This is quite a bit faster than the average for other employment options.

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It is important to remember, however, that there are many business and finance sub-fields and positions. Every job is different and salaries will vary greatly depending on title, education, and location.

International Business Median Salaries by Field of Study

Field of Study Entry Level Median Annual Salary Mid-Career Median Annual Salary
Financial Management $110,610 $125,080
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing $93,590 $106,130
Public Relations $101,750 $111,280
Sales Management $89,380 $121,590

Financial Management

International business professionals who work in financial management positions are generally responsible for maintaining the financial health of a company or organization that has global dealings. They frequently run financial reports, direct investments, develop long-term financial goals, monitor financial details, and analyze market trends. Additionally, Professionals in this field often supervise other employees who work with financial reporting and budgeting.

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing

International business professionals who work in advertising, promotions, and marketing are in charge of finding ways to keep customers and/or clients interested in a company or organization’s message, product, service, or event. They often plan promotional campaigns, negotiation advertising contracts, and provide marketing advice based on local, regional, and international trends. Professionals in this field are generally in charge of all social media activity, as well.

Public Relations and Fundraising

International business professionals who work in public relations and fundraising are usually responsible for planning, directing, and creating materials intended to maintain and enhance a company or organization’s global image. They often create press releases, designate spokespersons, and assist in promotional program development. Professionals in this field frequently facilitate open communication channels between employers and clients.

International Business Salaries by Occupation

Within each field of business, there are many different occupations. Keep in mind that specific international business job titles can vary drastically from employer to employer. Additionally, your current education level will greatly impact which positions you qualify for, as well as the amount of money you will earn. People with a degree in international business often find work as financial analysts, economists, and political scientists.

Occupation Entry Level Median Annual Salary Mid-Career Median Annual Salary Late Career Median Annual Salary
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers $44,700 $62,700 $67,500
Public Relations Specialists $40,700 $58,400 $66,700
Human Resource Managers $51,300 $68,500 $75,200
Securities, Commodities, and Financial Sales Agents $73,500 - -
Financial Analysts $55,200 $68,900 $75,100
Economists $58,600 $94,800 $116,000
Political Scientists $49,500 $70,000 $96,000

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts offer guidance and insight to businesses and organizations as they make important investment decisions. They often research, monitor, and assess the performance of stocks and bonds. Other responsibilities may include recommending investment portfolios, evaluating financial data, studying economic trends, estimating an organization’s value, meeting with company officials, and preparing important financial reports.


Economics majors collect and analyze data and research trends to better understand the production and distribution of resources, goods, and services both regionally and internationally. They often evaluate economic issues and gauge how they impact a business, government, or individual. Other responsibilities may include conducting surveys, collecting data, presenting findings, interpreting trends, forecasting market futures, recommending solutions, and writing informative articles.

Political Scientist

Political scientists thoroughly research political ideas and then analyze specific governments, policies, trends, and issues in relation to those ideas. They often study the origin, development, and operation of various political systems over time. Other responsibilities may include collecting data, developing and testing political theories, evaluating policy effects, monitoring current events, predicting political and economic outcomes, and presenting research findings.

Important Questions to Ask (FAQ)

How long does it take to earn an international business bachelor’s degree online?

The time it will take to earn an international business degree online will depend on your personal situation. While online bachelor programs are designed to be completed within four years, there are many factors you will need to consider. Many people choose to pursue a degree online because they are unable to enroll in a traditional, on-campus program. Whether this is due to professional scheduling conflicts or personal responsibilities at home, it means that enrolling full-time may be difficult. If you plan to pursue an online degree part-time, you can expect to graduate in five to eight years.

How much does an online international business bachelor’s degree cost?

international_business_bachelors_degree_cost As reported by the College Board’s Trends in Higher Education Series, the average in-state tuition at a four-year public institution during the 2017-18 academic year was $9,970. Attending a private institution costs more, however. The average tuition at a private colleges and universities was $35,260.

It is important to realize that these numbers are estimations. Predicting the exact cost of an online bachelor degree in international business is difficult. Tuition costs vary drastically from institution to institution and are often based on numerous factors, including school size and location. You will need to research each college and university individually for more precise pricing.

Keep in mind that the actual out-of-pocket cost of earning a bachelor degree may be higher than what is listed on the school’s website. There are many associated fees and expenses to account for and your residency status will also impact your total cost of attendance.

What does coursework look like for an international business bachelor’s degree?

You will need to complete about 120 credits hours to get your bachelor’s degree. Specific course titles will vary depending on the college or university you select, but most international business programs will consist of a similar curriculum. Common classes include:

  • International Business
  • Cross-Cultural Management
  • International Marketing
  • Global Business Administration
  • International Economics
  • Cultural Issues in International Business
  • International Trade Policies and Practices
  • Business Globalization
  • International Management
  • International Banking and Finance
  • Global Supply Chain Management and Logistics
  • International Strategic Management
  • Computer Applications in Business
  • Multimedia and Business Presentations

Does the school have the major(s) you are considering?

While most colleges and universities offer an international business degree option, not all of them do. Before selecting and applying for admittance, ensure the program you want is actually available. You should also verify that the institution offers any minor programs you may be interested in. Never settle for a school that does not provide the educational opportunities you desire.

How many students graduate “on time,” or within four years?

international_business_students_graduate_on_time It typically takes four years to complete a traditional undergraduate degree in international business. Assuming you are able to enroll full-time, this should be your goal. Before selecting a program, it is imperative that you verify the expected graduate timeframe. Most colleges and universities offer four-year programs, but not all of them have a good track record for their students graduating on time. Make sure you research an institution’s expected graduation timeframe before enrolling. You should also inquire about the program’s graduation and employment rate.

What kind of accreditation does the online program hold? How it is regarded in the field?

It is important that you become familiar with college and university accreditation. While not every educational institution is accredited, most reputable ones are. Being accredited by an accreditation agency proves that a school or online program meets certain established academic standards. There are two types of accrediting organizations: international and regional. The most prominent international accreditation organizations for business and marketing programs include:

  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Accreditation Council for Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
  • International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)
  • Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)

When it comes to business degrees of all kinds, an AACSB accreditation is optimal. This agency has be best reputation among all of the international options. If, however, you plan to pursue an online international business degree, you are more likely to find institutions and programs that have been accredited by the DETC.

While not as renowned, regional accreditation is also acceptable. This is especially true if you plan to remain in the same general area as your college or university to work after graduation. A college or university that is regionally accredited has proven that it meets all the academic expectations of the region. Regional accreditation organizations include:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCACS)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS COC)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Schools (WASC ACS)

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International Business Scholarships

Attending a college or university can be expensive, especially if you are interested in a private institution or live out-of-state. Fortunately, there are many scholarship opportunities available to individuals who are interested in international business. While aid from scholarships can help decrease the amount of money you will spend on your education, it is important to realize that very few will offset the entire expense of attendance each year. You will likely need multiple forms of financial aid to limit your out-of-pocket responsibility. Some of the most popular scholarships for international business majors include:

  • Advancing Aspirations Global Scholarship
    The Advancing Aspirations Global Scholarship is sponsored by the Womenetics Global Women’s Initiative. The organization awards one $5,000 scholarship and four $2,500 scholarships each year. The five recipients also receive an all-expense-paid trip to the Global Women’s Initiative conference. These scholarships are intended for undergraduate students pursuing their first degree in business. A 2,500 word essay is required.

  • Western Union Foundation Global Scholarship
    The Western Union Foundation Global Scholarship is part of the WU Scholars program. Multiple recipients will receive a $2,500 scholarship that can be used to help pay for tuition or other related fees. Candidates must be pursuing a degree in business, entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, or mathematics at an accredited college or university.

Professional International Business Organizations

Many people pursuing or currently in an international business career seek to continue their development by joining a professional association. There are numerous organizations available within the business field, so you will have plenty of great options to choose from. While every group has a slightly different focus, most offer several benefits to their members. The most common reasons both students and professionals choose to join an international business organization or association include resource access, networking, continued education, and idea-sharing opportunities. Some of the most popular options for international business professionals include:

  • AMA
  • EO
  • IABC



The American Management Association (AMA) strives to help professionals harness the power of continued learning by honing their skills and expanding their knowledge in the field. The association offers memberships for organizations, individuals, small businesses, and students. AMA member benefits include access to seminars, training, discount pricing, business resources, networking, and subscriptions to the AMA Quarterly Journal and Talent Playbook eNewsletter.




The Association for Operations Management (APICS) works to expand professionals’ knowledge of supply chain, as well as to accelerate their career in business. Members have access to certification programs, award-winning publications, networking, and members-only savings on educational programs. APICS offers membership programs for professionals, young professionals, and students.




Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) is the only global network dedicated exclusively to entrepreneurs. It seeks to transform the world by transforming the lives of entrepreneurs all over the world. The organization has over 13,000 members in 57 countries. EO members are granted many benefits, including access to a professional forum, global events, chapter events, executive education, mentorship, leadership training, and global student awards.




The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) endeavors to connect business communication professionals in order to help improve business results, advance careers, and resolve industry challenges. Members are given exclusive access to peer networking online, a skills-development academy, certification programs, webinars, and excellence award programs.

Choosing an Accredited College

As previously mentioned, accreditation is extremely important. Finding an online program and/or institution that is properly accredited by either an international or regional agency should be a priority. If you enroll in a college or university that is not accredited, you will be putting yourself in a precarious situation. Not only do accredited institutions often refuse to accept transfer credits from unaccredited schools, but employers may refuse to acknowledge your degree or decide to pay you a lower salary.

If you feel that a career in international business is the right fit for you and your goals, then you should begin preparing now. As a high school student, start by participating in business-related activities; as a professional, look for similar opportunities at work and within your community. Keep the following tips in mind as you look for an online international degree program.

Online vs. On-Campus vs. Hybrid Degree Programs

While many international business students choose to pursue a traditional, four-year degree by attending classes and residing on campus, this simply is not functional for everyone. If you already work full-time or have responsibilities that limit your time away from home, enrolling in an online degree program may be a better alternative. The flexible course schedule and the fact that being physically present is not necessary can make earning a degree much more attainable.

There are, however, some drawbacks associated with distance learning. The main difficulty online degree students face is the lack of networking. Because you will be unable to interact with both professors and peers, you may miss out on valuable opportunities to create connections that could be beneficial in the future. This is particularly important in business careers.

If this is a serious concern for you, consider looking for a college or university that offers a hybrid international business degree program. Hybrid degrees attempt to bridge the gap between traditional and distance education by providing courses online but requiring residencies on campus. In a program like this, you would take most of your classes at home but be responsible for completing some components of the degree at the college or university. This offers the opportunity to build stronger relationships with your professors and peers.

Post Graduate Job Placement Assistance

The time leading up to and immediately after graduation can be stressful, especially if you do not have employment prospects. Fortunately, many colleges and universities offer job placement assistance programs for their current students and alumni. While these programs do not guarantee employment, they can help better prepare you for work after school. Every institution is different, but many provide some type of interview preparation, resume development, and career coaching services. To make this potentially difficult transitional period a little easier, it is a good idea to consider colleges and universities that offer some sort of job placement assistance program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an international business degree worth it?

Well, this really depends on where you want to end up. If you want to become a vet, you don’t enter a nursing program. The same is true for international business. If you are looking for a way to make your mark in the business world and have the option to enter a variety of industries with a credential that is flexible and well-valued, this might be the perfect degree for you. After all, the new global market is overtaking nearly every industry. All of them need to make sure that they have business professionals who know how to enter and thrive within the global market, and you will be just the person for the job.

How much do international business majors make once they graduate from school?

As with many degrees, this depends on the position you are able to secure. However, an international business degree prepares you for some very well-paid positions. For example, you could find work as an operations manager. General and operations managers earned a median of over $100,000 in 2020. Or you could work as a marketing manager if you went out of your way to earn a minor in marketing or gain some experience in the field. This role earned businesspeople a median of over $140,000 in 2020. Financial managers came in over $130,000. So, as you can see, you could be in a very comfortable position once you graduate from school and find the role you’ve been looking for.


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