International Business Administrator Careers: Job Description & Salary

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What are the pros and cons of a career as an international business administrator? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary information to see if becoming an international business administrator is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming an International Business Administrator

International business administrators oversee financial and trade transactions between companies and countries, ensuring that the exchanges are legal, as well as profitable. Take a look at the following pros and cons before deciding if a career as an international business administrator would be right for you.

Pros of a Career as an International Business Administrator
Several high-paying avenues available in this field*
Opportunity to safeguard fair trade exchanges**
Pleasant working environments include large offices and support staffs*
Opportunity to help create jobs by opening up new overseas markets for domestic goods and services***
Business-related travel around the world*

Cons of a Career as an International Business Administrator
Pressure to succeed can lead to stress*
A company or an organization's bad performance can put an executive's job at risk*
Long evening and weekend hours*
Graduate degree and experience may be required for many positions*
Average job growth predicted for top-level executives (11% from 2012-2022)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **International Trade Administration, ***U.S. Department of Commerce.

Essential Career Information

Job Description

International business administration is not a one-size-fits-all job title, and professionals in this field can be employed by a variety of governmental and nongovernmental agencies, banks and multinational corporations. Some of the more easily recognizable names include the U.S. Departments of Commerce, State and Treasury, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation. General executive-level responsibilities can include managing and marketing an organization's financial activities, analyzing key performance indicators and negotiating agreements and contracts.

Some professional duties are specifically related to international financial and trade exchanges. For example, an international business development officer at a privately owned bank might be responsible for marketing and selling banking products and services to overseas commercial clients. In another bank-related position, an international loan specialist might be in charge of analyzing transactions and establishing the creditworthiness of a customer. Trade exchanges require the services of an international compliance manager to oversee the import/export process according to domestic and international regulations. International business transactions can also include services for people in need. Operations officers involved in international banking or corporate microfinance projects supervise loan, savings, insurance and training programs for people living in poverty.

Salary Information

Salaries for international business administrators vary according to position, level of education, experience and type of employer. According to Payscale.com, the salary range for most international trade compliance managers fell between $51,000 and $122,000 as of July 2015. Vice Presidents (VPs) of international operations earned a median income of $141,849, while the range for the 10th-90th percentile was between $83,000 and $187,000.

What Are the Career Requirements?

A Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a degree in a related field are the usual educational prerequisites for entering the field of international business. Undergraduate and graduate programs with a focus on global commerce are usually found in the international business departments of 4-year colleges and universities. An undergraduate business curriculum might prepare students for entry-level positions in the field, and the curriculum typically includes classes in business, communications, finance, marketing and management. An MBA program can provide students with opportunities to conduct more advanced studies of these topics. Both undergraduate and graduate programs in international business can include an internship or a consulting position abroad.

In addition to a formal business education and proficiency in a foreign language, employers are also interested in candidates who:

  • Are knowledgeable about international banking products and services
  • Have an understanding of global banking regulations
  • Have an understanding of domestic and international regulations for imports and exports
  • Appreciate the individual business cultures associated with foreign markets
  • Can perform in a multicultural situation

Jobs from Real Employers

International business administrators can be based in the U.S. or abroad. The following job postings from May 2012 can give you an idea of how much education and experience you need to work in this field.

  • A major bank in San Francisco, CA, is advertising for a business development officer to help commercial customers in Asia obtain banking services in the United States. Candidates should have at minimum a bachelor's degree in an unspecified major and formal credit training from a top bank. An MBA from a well-known business school is a plus, and candidates must speak either Mandarin or Cantonese.
  • A major farming organization in Kansas City, MO, has an opportunity for an international trade compliance manager to coordinate credit and customer service activities, global purchases, production, sales and transportation in compliance with U.S. and international regulations. A bachelor's degree in business or a related major and 3-5 years of experience in international trade compliance and transportation are the minimum requirements necessary to apply for this job. MBA candidates are preferred.
  • An international finance company based in the Middle East and North Africa is looking for a microfinance operations officer to work overseas. This is a 2-year contract position and while no degree is specified, applicants should have a minimum of seven years of experience in corporate finance and retail banking, a strong understanding of the microfinance industry and excellent oral and written communication skills. Knowledge of Arabic or French is preferred.
  • A government department in Washington, D.C., has an opening for a senior financial officer to handle all activities related to its global fixed income investments. A degree is not specified, but candidates should hold professional accounting certification and have a minimum of ten years accounting or financial experience at a Central Bank, including at least three in a supervisory position.
  • A U.S. government bank in California seeks a loan specialist to perform activities related to the underwriting of export credit insurance policies. One year of related, specialized experience in the private, public, non-profit or volunteer sector is required, and the description specifies that education cannot be substituted for experience.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

College students can acquire real-life international business experience before they enter the field by taking advantage of any departmental opportunities to study or participate in an internship abroad. Students also might apply for an internship through the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service (US&FCS) as posted on the website for the International Trade Association (www.trade.gov). The organization's Student Volunteer Internship Program is designed to encourage college juniors, seniors or graduate students to pursue careers in international business by working for the US&FCS. Internships typically last for either one academic semester or ten weeks during the summer.

If available, college students can also consider joining a local chapter of AIESEC (AIESEC was originally an acronym for the Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales). With over 60,000 members in 110 countries and territories, AIESEC is one of the largest student-run associations in the world. As a leadership organization, AIESEC provides opportunities for international internships, traineeships and study tours.

Other Careers to Consider

Securities, Commodities or Financial Service Sales Agent

Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents buy and sell securities and commodities, such as stocks and bonds, corn, gold and oil. Like international business administrators, they work long hours in fast-paced, often stressful environments and may have to travel. A bachelor's degree with coursework in accounting, business, economics or finance is required for most entry-level positions. As reported by the BLS in May 2011, the median annual salary for securities, commodities and financial services sales agents was $72,000.

Financial Manager

Financial managers analyze market trends and prepare business activity reports, financial statements and forecasts. They work long hours with top executives at banks, financial institutions, insurance companies and government agencies. The minimum educational requirement needed to work as a financial manager is a bachelor's degree in accounting, business administration, economics or finance, although more employers now prefer candidates who hold a master's degree in one of those same fields. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for a financial manager was approximately $107,000 as of May 2011.

Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Manager

Advertising, promotions and marketing managers work with advertising art directors, sales agents and financial professionals to promote products and services. Travel may be required, and the work can be stressful, especially around deadlines. Managers can be employed by advertising agencies or public relations firms, and a bachelor's degree is usually required to work in the field. As of May 2011, the median annual salary for advertising and promotion managers was about $88,000, with marketing managers earning a median annual salary of approximately $116,000, as reported by the BLS.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master : Business Admin
      • MBA: Finance
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
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      • AASBA in Business
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    2. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Global Management
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      • MA-Accountancy
    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - International Business
      • B.A. - Business Admin
      • B.A. - Operations Management and Analysis
  • Online Programs Available
    3. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin: International Business
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Administration - Generalist
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Operations Management
    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts in Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Applied Economics
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA - Management
    Master's
      • MBA
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      • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
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    6. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
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      • B.S. - Music Business
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    7. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - International Business
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      • MBA - International Business
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    8. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA
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      • B.S. - Business Management: International Business Concentration
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      • Associate of Science - Business Management
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  • Online Programs Available
    9. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - International Business (Virtual Format)
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      • Master of Business Administration - No Specialization
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Business Administration - No Specialization
      • B.S. General Studies - Business
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      • A.S. Business
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  • Online Programs Available
    10. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Management - Global Leadership (Executive Format)
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      • Master of Business Admin
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    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Administration - International Business
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Organizational Behavior
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    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Business Administration

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master : Business Admin
  • Bachelor of Business Admin
  • AASBA in Business

Which subject are you interested in?

Ashford University

  • MBA - Global Management
  • M.A. - Organizational Management: Global Management
  • B.A. - International Business
  • B.A. - Business Admin

What is your highest level of education?

American InterContinental University

  • Master of Business Admin: International Business
  • Bachelor of Business Administration - Generalist
  • Associate of Arts in Business Administration

Are you a US citizen?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Applied Economics

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • DBA - Management
  • MBA
  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • M.S. - Entertainment Business
  • M.S. - Internet Marketing
  • B.S. - Music Business

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - International Business
  • PhD in Business Admin - International Business
  • MBA - International Business
  • MBA - Financial Management

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA
  • B.S. - Business Management: International Business Concentration
  • Associate of Science - Business Management

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