International Relations Careers

A globe in front of a cityscape is spun by two businessmen's hands.

International Relations is a field concerned with global interactions. It emphasizes understanding and capitalizing on relationships between world parties in both the governmental and private sectors, says the London School of Economics and Political Science. It combines subjects such as political science, history, economics and foreign language. With the rise of globalization, careers in international relations are becoming increasingly relevant.


The study of International Relations can be applied in many sectors of employment.

Public Sector

Jobs in the public sector serve to help power local, state and national governments. While some governments have strict policies against hiring non-citizens, others may employ foreign nationals who possess desirable skill sets, explains the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA). Those entering the public sector must possess certain aptitudes, such as strong communication skills, including those in foreign languages; an understanding of policy and political processes; substantial knowledge in areas like economics, law or social science; and critical thinking abilities. Additionally, they may need to pass security clearances and extended examinations in order to qualify for jobs.

Private Sector

Private sector jobs are found in for-profit companies that are not backed by the government. Most often in the form of multinational corporations, examples include Deloitte and Coca-Cola. Those seeking work in this sector do best with prior experience in areas such as political risk management, economics, strategic planning, public communication and particular knowledge about whatever local region in which they work. Candidates must also be proficient in foreign languages and have the skills to communicate across cultural barriers.


Also called “non-profit,” “not-for-profit,” or “non-governmental organizations,” the non-governmental sector comprises organizations dedicated to serving public interest. Efforts often focus on issues with global impacts like human trafficking, wildlife conservation, global food security, microfinance or education. Those seeking to enter this sector usually require previous experience working in these areas. It is also valuable for them to possess strong communication skills (including foreign language proficiency), critical thinking ability and program management experience.

International Relations Careers

International Relations can be applied to many different careers. Below are a few of the most common.

Foreign Affairs Specialist

Foreign affairs specialists have multifaceted responsibilities within the government, providing services to those on both domestic and foreign bases. Ultimately, the job of a foreign affairs specialist is to represent U.S. interests abroad. The Department of State cites eight core areas those considering this position may enter: administration, construction engineering, facilities management, information technology, international information and English language programs, medical and health, office management, and law enforcement and security.

Immigration Specialist

Immigration specialists offer assistance to immigrants regarding official documents and advocacy. They may help immigrants complete and translate forms, and assist them in obtaining other supporting documents such as birth certificates, the National Notary Association explains. While they cannot offer legal advice, immigration specialists are federally accredited to serve as legal representatives for their clients. This allows them to represent their clients before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This job may also be titled “immigration consultant,” “immigration assistance provider,” or “immigration clerical assistant.”

Intelligence Officer

Intelligence officers work for the government or military on issues of national security, says the U.S. Office of Intelligence and Analysis. Depending on their department and position, intelligence officers may analyze and evaluate data from worldwide sources, develop assessments for policymakers, offer advice, serve as liaison intelligence support or collaborate with global partners to ensure national safety.

United Nations Specialist

United Nations specialists work specifically within and for the U.N., an international organization dedicated to solving pressing global issues such as peace, climate change and gender equality. U.N. specialists are “recognized authorities,” or those who have expertise in fields related to the U.N.’s mission and work. They may analyze problems, direct seminars or prepare documents for conferences. Overall, their goal is to expertly advise the U.N. on the issue of their specialty.

Human Rights Officer

Human rights officers are responsible for receiving, investigating and handling complaints regarding human rights violations, the U.N. says. They may review and monitor relevant activities, research information, recommend action, design and implement programs or support the work of treaty-established bodies. Their ultimate goal is to help uphold international human rights standards and humanitarian law.

A Global Career

Those entering International Relations are on their way toward a truly global career. For a solid educational foundation, they can earn their online bachelor’s degree in political science. Brescia’s program is designed to be completed in as little as two years, offering students an accelerated opportunity to earn their degree and begin their careers.