Careers in International Business


International business covers a large territory of possibilities. Opportunities to work around the globe come with new challenges including, cultural beliefs and laws. Forming strong relationships with local workers in another country will win the cooperation of local workers for the international business person. There are many areas of interest to consider before getting into international business.

Explore an international business career
Explore an international business career (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Culture and business

Often, international business people will speak multiple languages, and work with people from all around the world in any number of countries. Being able to handle huge diversification and cultural differences (including gender values) is a must for the international business person. Cultural barriers or restrictions on international trade are common problems in international business careers. One must be able to overcome obstacles and renovate solutions quickly. Some restrictions on international trade may include religious beliefs about certain products or advertisement attitudes. In some respects, international business may not necessarily affect a culture or people in a positive way. For example, international companies may hire farming families in South America to grow crops such as coffee. While the expense of growing coffee is reduced by outsourcing, seasonal sales may drop. When sales drop, farmers in South America may be let go. This results in the farming family having to dig up their coffee crop, and replant food for their families before the harvest. International business requires responsibility for doing business with other cultures. In other ways, international business improves life on a global scale. Cultures are brought together by keeping in communication with their neighbors around the world. Businesses bring products, such as medicine and food, to underdeveloped countries.

South American farmers
South American farmers (Image: Getty Images/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

International Laws

Instability in a government (such as the introduction of a new regime or political structure) is something to be expected in other countries. Countries within the United Arab Emigrates will generally be tolerant of Western culture, while countries like Saudi Arabia will tend to be strict regarding their company dress codes. Laws in some countries are not democratic. Some countries are run by a theocracy, in which the legal system is ruled by religion.

Do business in Saudi Arabia
Do business in Saudi Arabia (Image: Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images)


Today, most international companies provide some relocation assistance. Most contracts last between a year and 18 months (a big reduction since the 80’s when contracts lasted a few years at a time). Contracts are usually extended, which helps to avoid costly relocation fees. Vacations are extremely limited for working abroad in some countries. The idea is to reduce the cost to the company, while increasing productivity. Relocating to a new country can be difficult for a spouse who is not working. Sometimes it is impossible for the spouse to get a job in the new country. This leaves the spouse at home all day, and in a country that is foreign.

Most international companies provide relocation assistance
Most international companies provide relocation assistance (Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)


Understanding some of the language for the country you work in may not be necessary for the job. However, knowing some of the language will make life easier. Things like shopping become difficult if you can’t communicate with the locals. Some international business assignments may not require you to live in another country, but will likely require you to travel between countries. Knowing the language of the country you do business with will allow you to travel more easily. Doing business with countries around the world will require the international business person to be understanding of business negotiations with non-English speakers. In Japan, for example, business men are indirect. The Japanese consider it rude to be too direct—whereas American business people will tend to view such social behavior as untrustworthy. In the western world, being indirect is a sign of avoidance or deception. Tolerance and understanding is important in the use of language in international business.

Business men in Japan are indirect.
Business men in Japan are indirect. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Working hours

The amount of hours you spend at work in another country might be more or less than in your home country. Usually, however, long hours are required for international businesses. Companies will want to get the most productivity they can for an assignment. In countries with extremely hot climates, such as Saudi Arabia, working extra long hours in an air-conditioned office reduces your exposure to the heat of the desert. Some companies may require you to work overtime or in the evenings, and on the weekends.

Long hours are often required for international business.
Long hours are often required for international business. (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)


Working abroad or traveling as an international business representative can require you to take some risks. Some countries have very hostile attitudes towards Americans. Particularly the countries in the Middle East may show hostility towards Americans. The risk of assault in some underdeveloped countries is higher for Americans than other international workers. However, working abroad often leads to strong friendships with people from other cultures. International business people and workers find life long friendships with people they’ve learned to rely on and trust. By taking these risks, international business brings the world together in prosperity.

International business
International business (Image: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Career types

There are myriad career paths for the international business person. Most commonly associated with international business careers is international trade. An individual’s career may include trade agreements and negotiation. Other opportunities are evolving, particularly in language education. English remains the standard for international business, and English is highly valued in the educational systems of other countries. As Asia becomes more westernized, the interest in western fashion, trends, and products increases. Due to the increase in international trade, countries are communicating regularly, and the end is a reduction in conflict. Some international business professionals specialize in political science, and are highly valued team members in international companies. Conflicts are avoided or reduced by these specialists, who understand international trade agreements and treaties between nations. Importing and exporting are among the top international business careers. A thorough understanding of shipping, import/ export regulations, religious views, international laws, and political structure is a must for international importers/ exporters. Some of the top international businesses include automotive, fast food, restaurant chains, and fashion outlets. Entertainment, such as pop music and motion picture, is a giant among international business trades. Accounting and financial specialists play a key role in international business. These international business professionals ensure that stability and accuracy of monetary transactions in companies all around the world. The number of careers in international business is as diverse as the people around the globe.

Work in international trade
Work in international trade (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

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