People are attracted to the idea of working in international affairs for many reasons, ranging from growth opportunities to the chance to travel. Positions are extremely varied and can range from public information to military, teaching or private sector consulting, depending on the individual’s skill and interests. When it comes to pay, salary ranges are equally varied, depending on responsibilities, demand and specialization.
U.S. Foreign Service
Joining the U.S. Foreign Service is one of the leading ways to gain entry in international affairs, according to Lehigh University. About 8,000 people work in U.S. embassies, the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Information Agency in Washington, D.C. Most individuals start as Foreign Service officers or Foreign Service specialists. Entry-level Foreign Service officers without a bachelor’s degree earned a 2012 annual wage of $43,213 per year according to the United States Department of State 2012 Foreign Service (FS) salary table. Salaries increase with more experience and education. Entry-level Foreign Service specialists, on the other hand, must generally hold a bachelor’s degree to become eligible for employment. They may earn a wider range of salaries depending on their specific post. Specialist salaries can range anywhere from around $30,000 to around $100,000.
Many political scientists work for the U.S. federal government. They are responsible for studying political systems and ideas, and many pursue specializations such as management, public service or public information. Some political scientists specialize in international relations and work with assigned foreign governments, businesses or organizations to establish, advise or revise public policy. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), political scientists earned a 2010 median wage of $107,420 per year.
Research assistants are employed in a variety of settings, including foreign governments, nonprofits or universities. They assist managers, professors or political leaders in gathering, preparing and distributing data. Research assistants may also help formulate and edit information for reports and other publications. According to the BLS, social science research assistants, including those who specialize in international affairs, earned a 2012 median wage of $40,760 annually.
Individuals interested in international affairs with a master’s degree or higher are generally qualified to enter the field of postsecondary teaching. They may work abroad or teach in the United States. Professors of international affairs educate students in a relevant discipline, such political science, law, government, business or foreign languages. In addition to teaching, professors of international affairs may also conduct research, head university projects or publish books. According to the BLS, postsecondary teachers, including those who specialize in teaching international affairs, earned a 2010 median wage of $62,050 per year.