FAQ – Work Abroad 101

Working abroad is probably the best way to really gain insight into a foreign culture because when you live in a place for an extended period of time, you are able to really immerse yourself in the daily life. You’ll be eating, sleeping talking, and working abroad – you’ll be a part of the abroad experience.

At the Work Abroad Blog and at Student Traveler, we get a lot of questions about how to work abroad — so we decided to put together this helpful list to get you started and get you on the road. Welcome to Work Abroad 101!

Work Abroad 101

  • Can I just go to another country and get a job?

Well, no – it’s not quite that easy, although we wish it was! You’ll have to make sure you have the proper documents to allow you to work abroad. Typically, you’ll need a work visa, which allows you to live and work in a foreign country for a specific period of time.

  • How do I get a work visa?

Getting an overseas work visa can be tough. Several companies make the process less painful by arranging a fixed-period work visa for you in exchange for a fee. Most of these visas are for the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, though some opportunities exist in Latin America and Asia.

New Zealand currently runs a work visa exchange with the United States, making it pretty easy for Americans to work abroad in New Zealand. If you are still in college, or a recent grad, companies like BUNAC can help you to secure work visas for a fee.

Check out these websites to get you started:






  • Do I need a resume to get work abroad?

As with any job, you are going to need a solid resume. When applying for jobs overseas, you may want to consider simplifying your resume to make it more straightforward. When your interviewer’s first language isn’t English, clarity is important.

  • What should I wear an interview for a job abroad?

A suit, or at least a nice shirt and pair of slacks is a great way to make a good first impression. You might not be able to communicate your skills as well as you’d like, so appearance is important.

If you’re going to be working abroad in Thailand, as a sea kayak instructor, you might not need that suit. Use your own judgment, but remember: a resume, a smile, and some nice clothes will always make a good first impression.

  • Do I need my Degree to get a job abroad?

Obviously, this depends on the job you are applying for. Having a college degree is important, so if you’ve got one, bring a copy of your diploma. Apparently, degree fraud can be a problem in certain countries, so make sure you have contact information for your university in case they want to check up on your graduation status.

  • How much will it cost to get started?

It’s a good idea to have enough money to survive for a few months before you go, and enough for a plane ticket home (if you still have a home, you adventurous nomad, you!) just in case your work abroad plans don’t work out.

A financial buffer will allow you to take your time to meet locals and other expats and find the best job available.

  • What types of jobs are available?

Just because you speak English, doesn’t mean you have to teach English for a living. There are plenty of opportunities available to educated foreigners, so keep your eyes open. Check out our list of job options here in Student Travler’s Work Abroad Directory.

Also check out this article for some ideas: 12 Jobs Abroad.

  • What’s the best way to get a job?

Really want to work abroad? Then you’ll have to get out there and start looking! You can’t expect to land a job by sitting alone in a hotel room and emailing out resumes. You have to go to office buildings, ask around, and talk to people. It might be tough, but you’ll meet people to point you in the right direction, and make contacts along the way.

Finding the job can be the biggest and most exciting part of the work abroad adventure, so don’t be afraid to get your feet wet and dive in to the overseas job market.

  • Can I work for the Government?

Working for the government may be your best bet to a long-lasting career overseas. Over 50,000 U.S. Citizens work abroad with the government, most working as foreign service officers in one of 230 U.S. embassies worldwide. Check the following listings for more information.

  • Federal Government

The Department of State offers paid and unpaid opportunities for one semester or quarter during the year. Most positions available in Washington DC with overseas opportunities. For details go to www.state.gov or send inquiries to:

Intern Coordinator
Recruitment Division
Department of State
Box 12209
Rosslyn Station
Arlington, VA 22209

  • The Peace Corps

The Peace Corps is always recruiting US Citizens over the age of 18 for volunteer programs including education, healthcare, agriculture, among others. For more information call (800) 424-8580 or go to www.peacecorps.gov

  • The U.S. Information Agency

The US Information Agency offers a few paid internships each summer. For details go to www.usia.gov or send inquiries to:

Employment Branch U.S. Information Agency

301 Fourth Street, SW

Washington,DC 20547

  • The Agency for International Development

The Agency for International Development recruits students in areas of public health, accounting, finance, agriculture, and international relations. For details go to www.info.usaid.gov or send a transcript of grades, a Standard Form 171 (Personal Qualifications Statement) and a letter of endorsement from your school to:

Student Program Coordinator
Office of Personnel Management
Agency for International Development
2401 E Street NW
Washington, DC 20523

  • The Agency for International Development

The Agency for International Development offers 30 intern positions a year that can lead to full-time positions. For details go to www.info.usaid.gov or send inquries to:

International Development Intern Program
Recruitment Staff, FSP/RSS
Agency for International Development
Washingnton, DC 20523

  • The Central Intelligence Agency

The Central Intelligence Agency offers limited opportunities overseas. For details go to www.cia.gov.

  • The Inter-American Foundation

The Inter-American Foundation is an independent government corporation that supports social and economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Inter-American Foundation
901 N. Stuart St.
Arlington, VA 22203

  • International Trade Administration

Within the agency, employees are hired into one of four departments; International Economic Policy,Trade Development, Trade Administration, and Foreign Commercial Services.

Travel Services, U.S.
Department of Commerce
14th Street and Constitution Ave. NW
Washington,DC 20230

  • United Nations

United Nations is another solid option for working abroad. The UN has 600 stations nationwide, yet only 10% of UN workers are from the U.S.

Summer Internship Program
Division of Personnel
United Nations Development Program
One U.N. Plaza NY NY 10017

  • UN Development Program

Eight to ten weeks on-the-job training for enrolled graduate students fluent in two of United Nations’ official languages. For details go to www.undp.org or send inquiries to:

UNDP Summer Internship Program
U.N. Secretariat
United Nations
One U.N. Plaza
New York, NY 10017

We hope that this FAQ helped to answer some of your questions about Working Abroad. If you still have some work abroad questions that we didnt answer here, feel free to contact us and we’ll do our best to find the answers!