A master’s in international relations is one of the highest-paying master’s degrees. However, before you start your educational journey, you might want to know what you can actually do with a master’s in international relations. This degree will prepare you to work with different nations and help you understand the different cultures around the world, especially when it comes to global issues. If you want to maximize your earning potential, consider one of the top careers in international relations, such as diplomat, ambassador, political affairs officer, lobbyist or analyst.
Building Relationships as a Diplomat
If you are interested in the relationships among different countries, you might want to become a diplomat after graduation. As a diplomat, you will get to work with different cultures around the world by helping maintain the relationship between their county and yours. Your job duties can include collecting information about one nation to report back to your own country. You may even work on negotiating agreements pertaining to immigration, trade, peace, human rights and more.
PayScale reports that the average diplomat makes $87,395 a year but has the potential to bring home $124,000 after factoring in income bonuses.
Representing Your Nation as an Ambassador
Ambassadors are the highest-ranking diplomats, which means that the path to becoming one is a little harder. A foreign ambassador generally must be chosen personally by the President. Next, they must be approved by the country they will be working at, then the Senate Foreign Relation Committee. After going through those steps, they are voted on by the full Senate.
Earning your master’s in international relations is a great start on the path to becoming an ambassador, but that is just the first step. You should look for entry-level roles as a diplomat officer and take the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT).
While the minimum pay for an ambassador is $124,406, they can also receive allowances such as cost of living and danger pay.
Getting Into Politics as a Political Affairs Officer or a Lobbyist
If your interest in other nations is primarily politically focused, becoming a political affairs officer or a lobbyist might be what you want to do after earning your degree in international relations. Political affairs officers keep up to date on political issues by collecting and analyzing information. Any political issues that could directly or indirectly affect the United States get special attention.
The primary difference between political affairs officers and lobbyists is that lobbyists work for individual clients, not the government. Lobbyists push for political and legislative changes that benefit their clients. They may go to members of Congress directly and try to convince them to support the legislation their client wants passed or they might try to persuade the public to contact the senators themselves.
Analyzing International Affairs
For those that pursued international relations because they wanted to work on broader projects, becoming a foreign affairs analyst or national security agent might be the right fit. Foreign affairs analysts pay attention to what is going on all over the world. While some foreign affairs analysts do work for the government, others work in the private sector for corporations that operate on a global scale. They use the information gather have on global events to come up with policies that would benefit their employer.
National security agents, also known as national security analysts, typically work in government intelligence organizations such as the CIA or NSA to keep on top of possible threats to our nation. However, they also can find employment with global corporations that may be at risk of attacks anywhere across the globe. The data national security agents collect is used to analyze potential threats and report them back to their organization.
Filling Other Government-Focused Options
Two other government career paths for students with a master’s in international relations graduates are government affairs manager and military operations analyst. If you want to focus on state, local, or federal affairs, then a career as a government affairs manager is for you. Government affairs managers’ jobs are to work with the government and companies – and lead communication between them – to come up with policies that are mutually beneficial.
If you’d rather take a job that’s more military-focused, consider a career as a military operations analyst. In this role, you would be responsible for planning and evaluating military functions and the impact they have. In addition, military operations analysts also help create scenarios for teams to use to improve performance.