Want to work abroad? You're in the right place! On Idealist we have tons of opportunities around the world (just search for a job in the country where you'd like to work) and a site in Spanish that shares jobs in Spanish-speaking countries.
Additionally, our community is always sharing stories of how they found jobs they love outside of the United States. Here's how one Idealist found a job in India, while another shares the logistics of moving to another country. And here, one Idealist talks about how she launched a career in international development.
What to know before you start looking
Your options to connect with organizations based in another country may be limited by the languages you speak, whether you can obtain a work visa, the salary the organization can afford to pay you, and how much it will cost you to get there. These obstacles, however, should not discourage you from trying to find work abroad; instead they should give you a sense of the skills and resources you need to acquire to make yourself a competitive candidate while helping you focus on the opportunities that best fit you.
International nonprofits may be your best bet for finding work abroad. Many of these organizations list their job openings, internships, and volunteer opportunities on their websites and Idealist.org. These listings provide you with a sense of what types of jobs are available, and the qualifications required for the positions.
Keep in mind that it's often more difficult to find a salaried position in an international agency without previous field experience or a relevant graduate degree. To start, consider an internship or volunteer work abroad so you can gain field experience that could eventually materialize into permanent employment.
The basics of working abroad
The first step in working abroad is to determine the who, what, where, when, and how. Think about your motivations for seeking paid employment in another country—are you hoping to learn a new skill? Build an international CV or résumé? Self-fund the exploration of a new country? Knowing more about why you want to work abroad will help you determine what types of jobs would be the best fit.
Also, start thinking about when you'd like to go, how long you'd like to stay, and where in the world you'd like to work, volunteer, and travel. If want help answering these questions, check our primer on volunteering abroad, which involves a lot of the same planning and decision making.
Check out these sites to get statistics, history, and general information about a country or region.
- Country Travel Reports — Canada Consular Affairs: From the Canadian government's Foreign Affairs department, these travel updates can help you obtain more complete information for a particular country before visiting or working there.
- Country Profiles — BBC News: From this British news service, these are basic historical, economic, and political profiles about all countries and territories.
- The World Factbook — U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA): From the U.S. intelligence agency, these reports contain a variety of information about countries and locations around the world.
Once you've got a pretty good idea of the type of work you're seeking, you're ready to tackle the question of who (or more accurately, which organization) to work for. Here you've got two options:
Short-term work abroad
Whether you're on a gap year or simply want to work abroad on a short-term basis, there are a number of programs and opportunities available to you. You can explore fellowship programs like the Peace Corps or pursue academic programs like Fulbright. If you're a student, you can look into gap-year programs. To learn more, visit a comprehensive resource such as TransitionsAbroad.com for short-term work abroad opportunities.
Long-term work abroad
Alternatively, you can seek long-term or permanent work in another country. To get started, we recommend you read check out this section of TransitionsAbroad.com. Then, once you're ready to start looking for international positions, start searching our database of international nonprofit jobs or TransitionsAbroad.com
Caution: Don't neglect the logistics
Choosing to live and work in a country other than your own likely involves a range of logistical challenges, from visas and red tape on residency and taxation issues, to linguistic and cultural differences, to potential difficulties presented by your target country's economic and political stability. Careful research is essential to learning about and overcoming these challenges.
The following resources may help focus your thinking about working abroad.
- Alliance for International Educational and Cultural and Exchange: Coalition of U.S.-based international education and exchange nonprofits.
- International Careers and Jobs Overseas: Articles from Transitions Abroad about working internationally.
- Jobseekers Advice: A collection of articles about working abroad.
- University of Michigan: In depth resources on working, studying, and living abroad.
- Working World: A resource for making sound international career choices.
- Job listings around the world: Our roundup of websites posting jobs in different countries