As a division of political science, the field of international relations focuses on the relationships between countries and on understanding the institutions and culture within a foreign nation. Students who earn college degrees in international relations may pursue exciting careers in the U.S. Foreign Service, international human rights advocacy, diplomacy, or even at the CIA.
International Relations Careers
The federal executive branch is the largest employer of political scientists, and several departments within the federal government hire those with degrees in international relations, including:
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Defense
- Department of State
- Peace Corps
- U.S. Agency of International Development
- U.S. Information Agency
Some federal jobs include counter-terrorism analysts who work within the CIA and advise policymakers on matters of national security. These analysts must evaluate what terrorist groups plan to do and why, and offer analytical support to both law enforcement and intelligence operations. Another potential job is a foreign affairs officer who monitors the governments involved in multilateral organizations, reviews statements and documents on human rights and democracy issues, and is the delegate in multilateral human rights negotiations.
International Relations Career Training
Social Science program in International relations majors should have a broad understanding of many subjects including history, business, anthropology, law, and economics. Courses in mathematics and statistics are traditionally important in order to conduct research and analyze data.
In addition to these core subjects, you might specialize in one particular aspect of international relations, such as:
- International development
- Comparative policy
- Environmental policy
- International management
- Human rights
Since many international relations students hold a deep love for international travel, they may appreciate the versatility that online degrees offer. With online degrees, students can complete homework at any location with an Internet connection, whether it is a Berlin bar or a Paris café.
Most jobs in this field require advanced degrees, such as a master's degree or PhD, especially for those who wish to become post-secondary teachers of international relations.
International Relations Career Prospects
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for political scientists was $91,580 in 2007. However, some of the top paying fields include (mean annual salaries):
- Universities and colleges ($53,990)
- Scientific research and development ($84,790)
- State governments ($55,300)
- Social advocacy organizations ($54,500)
Unfortunately, very few jobs exist outside of the federal government, meaning job growth is much slower than the national average for all occupations at only 5 percent between 2006 and 2016. This could change, though, with the increase in globalization and the need to work with international governments and corporations more now than ever before.
This means that those with a background in international relations could go on to a variety of other careers, using their international training to appeal to employers. In those instances, it can help to have a second specialty, such as one of those mentioned above.