Guest post: Beth Leslie
Do you love traveling so much you want to make a career out of it?
A quick glance at the web will tell you the possibilities are endless. You could be a travel writer or a diving instructor, a tour guide or a cruise ship entertainer. Unfortunately, many of these opportunities to work abroad are low-paid and have limited career progression.
So if you want to actually use your degree and make some serious moolah at the same time, why not consider these options instead:
Do you love your country and want to make the world a better place? Diplomats are a bit like James Bond but without the guns and gin – they travel around the world touting the interests of their home country and helping fellow citizens who run into issues abroad.
For roles in diplomacy, the subject of your degree is not as relevant as your ability to think fast under pressure, solve problems analytically and work autonomously. Language skills are a big bonus, particularly if you can speak an in-demand language like Arabic, Russian or Mandarin. You’ll also need to be good with numbers as you’re likely to be overseeing budgets and logistics.
You can expect to be paid at least UK£25,000 at entry level, and be given perks such as language tuition, rent-free accommodation and travel allowances.
2. International aid & development worker
This isn’t one for the high-maintenance; you’ll be posted to work abroad in developing countries and have to deal with basic facilities and difficult situations, including conflict and epidemics. You should enjoy a challenge and genuinely care about helping people in developing parts of the world.
A social science degree is ideal; particularly in something like international development or social policy. Duties can vary wildly, but you’ll probably be involved in fundraising, producing reports and liaising with public bodies and NGOs. Salaries start in the low 20,000s and cap out around UK£40,000.
Workers in this field need exceptional interpersonal skills, to be able to cope under pressure and to be good at decision-making.
3. Marine scientist
Do you love the sea and everything in it? The job of a marine scientist is to scour the oceans, learning about and protecting everything under, in, and including, the waves. You’ll often be out on boats collecting specimens and data, so good sea legs are a must!
As well as a bachelor’s degree, you may well require a master’s or even a PhD in a scientific subject. As you’ll be carrying out scientific experiments on a regular basis, you’ll need to have strong research and analytical skills, and be good at interpreting data to make predictions about the future.
You can expect to be paid somewhere between UK£20,000-24,000 for your first job, and may well find yourself posted beach-side on a tropical island or two!
4. Médecins Sans Frontières
This is not a job to be taken lightly. You’re likely to be posted in poor accommodation, with limited water, no electricity and restricted contact with love ones back home. But you’ll also get the opportunity to experience completely different cultures and make a real difference to people’s lives in some of the most destitute and desperate places on the planet.
You’ll obviously need medical experience, and will have to spend two years gaining experience in your home country before you can work abroad. You’ll also have to be flexible and available at short notice.
Speaking French is a great asset, as are computer skills. Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) look for staff to be above all superb leaders and managers, as much of the role is about assisting and training local physicians. You’ll be provided with accommodation and other benefits, and will also be offered language tuition and professional training to help develop your skills.
Want to live and work abroad but don’t speak another language or have a transferable qualification? Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) offers great opportunities to immerse yourself in a different culture. You could be teaching anyone from children and adults to refugees, and you’re likely to get the chance to run extra-curricular activities too.
Degrees in English, education or languages are preferred, but more important are confident graduates who are organized enough to create effective lesson plans and can manage a classroom independently.
Starting salaries vary massively by location, but in cheaper countries such as Thailand and China you’ll often find that your money stretches a lot further than back home.
What on Earth, you may be wondering, is an ethnomusicologist?
It’s someone who studies the music produced by different cultures. You’d get to spend time with different and unique cultures, learning to play their instruments and recording their cultural music. Musical talent is useful and a love of music essential.
You’ll need a degree (and perhaps a master’s) in something like cultural sociology or anthropology and you’ll have a mind suited to intensive research and archiving. Spending time with people from vastly different cultures means you should be open-minded and a good communicator.
7. Graphic designer
It’s not so much that graphic designers do work abroad (although there are loads of openings in places like Japan, Europe, Australia and the States) as that they can. More than most other professions, graphic design lends itself to freelancing and remote working because so much of it is done online.
You’ll obviously need artistic and technical skills to succeed, but equally important is being a fantastic networker (to find clients) and communicator (to build rapport with existing ones).
Ideally your degree will be in arts or design and you’ll be incredibly creative, good at using design software and able to work to tight deadlines. It’s a competitive industry, so internships and work experience are a must.
Translators not only have to be bilingual – they’re expected to have “localization”, which is essentially an in-depth knowledge of the culture and idiosyncrasies of the countries they write for.
Almost all translators are freelance, which means that you can work from anywhere in the world. Salaries vary significantly and hours tend to be flexible, but a strong attention to detail, ability to work to deadlines and a great deal of self-motivation are musts.
Language skills are more import than your degree subject, and you’ll be expected to have impeccable writing and grammatical abilities in all the languages you translate for.
9. Merchant Navy officer
All Merchant Navy officers are expected to be natural leaders. Any degree gets you on the fast-track program, but by electing for a course in nautical science or marine engineering you could get yourself sponsored for your studies. Once on deck you can expect to earn UK£25,000-28,000 in your first year and get your on-board food and accommodation for free.
You’re likely to be posted on a range of boats, and work either on deck or in the engineering department. In both cases you’ll be responsible for the logistics and the safety of your shipment, whether passengers or cargo.
Mathematical skills are highly desirable, and you’ll need to be capable of remaining calm in tricky situations and making key decisions. You’ll also have to be a great team-player, maintain a high level of fitness and be comfortable with the regimented lifestyle of the navy.
10. Freelance (at anything!)
If none of the above jobs takes your fancy, consider whether you could do your dream role freelance. Digitalization means that these days it’s easy to connect with colleagues and clients without having to be in a physical office or meet face-to-face. Social media sites like LinkedIn let you put your work profile online and find new opportunities from a smartphone. Whether you want to be a stockbroker or an entrepreneur, there’s no longer any excuse to sacrifice your love of travel to career progression.
So grab your laptop, book a plane ticket, and get out there!
Beth Leslie is a content writer for the UK’s leading graduate recruitment agency, Inspiring Interns. Check out their blog for more graduate careers advice. If you are looking for an internship or want to explore the graduate jobs London has to offer, head to their website.