Guide to College Majors in International Business

This is the devilish thing about foreign affairs: they are foreign and will not always conform to our whim.
--James Reston

What Is International Business?

As the global economy continues to expand, the demand for international business education is higher than ever and expected to increase. As a specialist who understands the diversity of international business--and is armed with a strong business school background--you can be a valuable participant in global business ventures.

In order to compete in an international marketplace, Americans must study harder than their counterparts around the world--and do so continually. Whereas members of the European Union are accustomed to working in different languages and across borders, American business tends to be insular; most companies do not take into account the broader perspective of trade regulations of different governing bodies. In addition to language difficulties, cultural differences make international business more challenging, but with the globalization of the world markets, it's well worth your time and effort to learn multi-cultural business etiquette.

A formal, accredited international business degree prepares you to compete in the global market. Survival of American companies is dependent on the ability to expand into new markets, and to do this they must be open to change and to learning the needs and wants of their international customers.

This is one business area where a comprehensive, high level of education is crucial--even for entry-level positions. College degrees are highly valued by other countries, so as you make international contacts, having a degree to add to your name is very important. Your personality and business sense may have gotten you in the door and maybe even helped you advance your career at home, but they won't hold much weight internationally, where customs and business etiquette vary. It's better to have universally recognized credentials, cultural sensitivity, and an ongoing knowledge of world affairs if you want trade doors open to you.

Career Education in International Business

The number of degree programs offered in international business is evidence of the increased demand for quality, accredited education. In particular, online college courses in international business have become popular with students across the globe. If your location or work schedule prevents you from getting an on-campus degree, the online degree has become a common alternative.

The curriculum for international business degrees combines the standard fare of business courses with the unique perspective of how to do business on a global scale. Your core courses will often include management, economics, marketing, and even business law. You'll also learn how to conduct business on a global scale and see how it differs from domestic ventures.

Bachelor's Degrees in International Business

A bachelor of science or arts in international business is considered to be the minimum requirement for entry-level positions in American businesses with overseas markets. The courses are designed to prepare you for future management roles in international spheres. You'll develop an understanding of international business, marketing, finance, and trade through policy analysis and case studies. Developing your communication skills and taking second language courses are also very important for success in this field.

Second language courses: Spanish, Chinese, French

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Learn more about online international business degree programs offered at these universities:

University of Phoenix, Walden University, & DeVry Univeristy

What Can You Do With a College Major in International Business?

The majority of jobs in international business involve sales and marketing - in a traditional employee role, on contract, or as an entrepreneur. An online international business degree can be the backbone for economic, political and social systems at all levels. And many jobs in international business can be done in your own community, where you'll deal with a representative in another country who will liaise between you and your end consumers.

As demand for highly trained graduates increases, so do the salaries. Your education should reflect your interest in business and some specialty within it--marketing, financial management, or nonprofit management, for example. And having a proven track record in business at home will help you get your foot in the door with companies doing business internationally.

This is a career that you go into with long-term commitment. It is pursued by professionals who intend to specialize in global marketing and undertake ongoing education in the socio-economic and political factors which affect it. You may be required to travel and put in unusual or long hours, since your market will probably be in a different time zone. Average salaries vary widely by industry; an entrepreneur just starting out can earn virtually nothing in the first year of business. Top representatives for defense, maritime shipping, construction, or oilfield equipment can earn very high salaries.

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Other International Business Careers

At the federal government level, the International Trade Administration provides assistance and advice to exporters in the U.S. Job titles can include international trade specialist, international economist, economist, and import compliance specialist.

International banking is a field with great job prospects because of emerging international markets. You could either be working in a domestic banking institution with foreign accounts, or a foreign-owned institution which is licensed to do business in your country. Solid work experience in this career can lead to many other international positions, such as managerial posts within federal finance departments, or with global organizations such as the World Bank. Advanced degrees in international business are preferred.

Cultural advisers work with international businesspeople who need varying degrees of instruction in foreign languages and cultures. These professionals generally specialize in specific areas of business such as technology, management, banking, law, media, or education. They work primarily on a contract basis, since most businesses or individuals will only require their services for a learning period. Cultural advisers can also assist in market research for companies wishing to expand their market overseas, and in foreign career placement. A BA is the minimum requirement, with a master's as a better bet for career advancement--and of course you will need to be fluent in the language and culture you will be advising on.

Certification and Licensure

You can pursue the same professional designations as your counterparts who work in domestic business arenas. For example, if you're working on international projects, you will probably want your Project Management Professional (PMP) certification or Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) for project managers.

Professionals in international banking who issue and amend international letters of credit can obtain their Certified Documentary Credit Specialist designation. Endorsed by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the CDCS allows professionals to demonstrate their specialized knowledge and skills in the field. Candidates should have a minimum of 3 years of documentary credit experience.

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