People enter the field of international education for a variety of reasons, including:

  • The impact of an international living/educational experience
  • An interest in different cultures
  • A desire to be constantly challenged
  • The belief that international and intercultural understanding is necessary in promoting world peace, and social or economic justice

Possible Career Paths

The work of international educators can be broken down broadly into the following three categories:

  • Supporting groups and individuals coming into the United States
  • Supporting groups and individuals going abroad
  • Supporting the field of international education

Supporting Groups and Individuals Coming Into the United States

International educators whose work supports groups and individuals coming in to the United States may work in a variety of settings and fields. International student and scholar advisers work most closely with students. International students and U.S. institutions depend on support from many internal and external sources, including marketing and recruiting experts, overseas education advisers, ESL teachers and administrators, sponsored program administrators, immigration law specialists, credential evaluation agencies, insurance and travel providers, and community programming administrators and volunteers who work to welcome and integrate international visitors into local communities.

Supporting Groups and Individuals Going Abroad

International educators whose work supports groups and individuals going abroad most often work in U.S.-based colleges and universities or in private study abroad agencies. Their work involves making connections overseas and developing new programs, recruiting and preparing students to go abroad, administration and logistical planning including travel, safety, and insurance, working to ensure academic rigor and proper credit transfers in their programs, and incorporating the study abroad experience into their institutions' overall academic programs.

Supporting the Field of International Education

International educators do not only work to support physical exchanges, they also promote international understanding through education at all levels. High-level college and university administrators work to internationalize their campuses in a multitude of ways. Faculty members are also involved in internationalizing courses and curricula. Many graduate students and researchers support international education through their research in intercultural communications, international issues in education, anthropology, and other related fields.

International educators may work for the U.S. government in a number of capacities that facilitate and encourage international exchanges, including the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, or Congress. Many nonprofit agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) also support the mission of peace and understanding through international education. Professional associations like NAFSA and others provide networking opportunities, professional development, advocacy, and other resources to professionals in the field of International Education.