Salaries for International Relations Professionals

International relations is an extensive, interdisciplinary field of study that involves advancing international understanding, prosperity, peace, and security. Careers in international relations are diverse, with specialists working for governmental agencies, intergovernmental organizations, international and multinational corporations, consulting firms, research organizations, nongovernmental organizations, advocacy groups, and policy think tanks.

Categorizing international relations jobs by sector is an effective way to highlight salary expectations:

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Salaries in Government and Intergovernmental Organizations

The following agencies are sources of international relations jobs in government, policy, and law:

  • S. State Department
  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • S. Agency for International Development
  • National Security Agency
  • World Trade Organization
  • United Nations
  • NATO

Job vacancy announcements reveal the range of salaries offered to professionals working for government agencies:

  • International trade specialist, Department of Commerce: $52,668-$118,069
  • Foreign affairs officer, Department of State: $90,823-$118,069
  • Public affairs specialist, Department of the Army: $71,613-$93,101
  • Logistics Management Specialist, Department of State: $52,668-$68,465
  • International News Writer, Department of Defense: $37,239-$47,879
  • Economist/Statistician, Department of Labor: $42,215-$54,875

International relations professionals working for the United Nations can expect to earn the following salaries:

  • Entry-level professionals: $37,000-$80,000
  • Mid-career professionals: $67,000-$106,000
  • Senior-level professionals: $95,000-$123,000

Salary data comes from a survey of federal job boards conducted in June of 2015.

Salaries for International Relations Specialists Working for Research Centers

International affairs research and advisory organizations such as these are sources of international relations jobs:

  • Brookings Institution
  • Global Public Policy Institute
  • Center for International Policy
  • Council on Foreign Relations
  • Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs
  • The Heritage Foundation
  • International Peace Institute
  • RAND Corporation

Recent job posts for positions with the Brookings Institution provide insight into salary ranges in this sector:

  • Research assistant, Arab-Israeli Relations, Center for Middle East Policy: Low to mid $40s
  • Publications and Translation Coordinator: Low to mid $40s
  • Project Assistant, Center for Universal Education: Low $40s
  • Research assistant/analyst, Development Assistance and Governance Initiative: Low to mid $40s

Salary data comes from a survey of job boards conducted in June of 2015.

Salaries for International Relations Specialists in Humanitarian Organizations

Humanitarian relief organizations provide assistance in response to humanitarian crises resulting from war, natural disaster, climate change, and poverty. The following organizations serve as sources of jobs for international relations professionals:

  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • Action Against Hunger
  • Feeding America
  • UNICEF
  • Save the Children
  • Doctors without Borders

As an example, a survey of job announcements with Doctors without Borders revealed the following salaries offered for key positions within the organization:

  • Fundraising systems associate: Mid to high $50s
  • Project manager: Low to mid $80s
  • Media relations manager: Low $90s to $100s

Job vacancies with the organization Action Against Hunger reveal the following salary ranges offered for field officer positions:

  • Program managers: $27,000-$33,600
  • Coordinators: $32,400-$41,400
  • Deputy country directors; $37,200-$47,400
  • Country directors: $43,800-$54,900

Salary data comes from a survey of job boards conducted in June of 2015.

Salaries for International Relations Specialists Working in Private Industry

Private sector corporations of virtually every kind rely on international relations experts to support their business endeavors:

  • Consulting firms
  • Banking and financial institutions
  • Legal agencies
  • Defense and intelligence
  • Business and manufacturing
  • Media companies
  • International development
  • Research
  • Technology and telecommunications

The US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics has published salary data (as of May 2014) for careers in the private sector that often involve an element of international relations:

  • Media and communications workers: $58,630
  • Public relations specialists: $60,090
  • Legal occupations: $123,770
  • Financial analysts and advisors: $74,640
  • Business operations specialists: $68,600
  • Human resources managers: $116,710
  • Financial managers: $111,740
  • Administrative services managers: $91,630
  • Advertising and promotions managers: $83,760
  • Marketing and sales managers: $124,810
  • Marketing managers: $119,050
  • Sales managers: $126,100

Salary Surveys for International Relations Jobs

A number of colleges and universities survey graduates of international relations programs to gain a frame of reference for the kinds of jobs they fill and the salaries they earn.

Academic institutions that furnished data from salary surveys include George Washington University, School of International Affairs and Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

A 2013 survey revealed the median salary for international relations professionals by sector:

  • Private: $71,000
  • Public: $62,000
  • Nonprofit: $58,000
  • Multilateral: $56,000

A 2010-2011 survey found that graduates of master’s degree programs in international relations earned within the following ranges according to sector:

  • Nonprofit sector: $40,000-$50,000
  • Private sector: $57,000-$67,000
  • Public sector: $50,000-$60,000

The survey also organized annual salaries according to degree earned:

  • Master of Arts: $49,000-$59,000
  • Master of Arts/Master of Business Administration: $70,000-$80,000
  • Master of International Policy and Practice: $72,000-$82,000
  • Master of International Studies: $50,000-$60,000

Salaries for international relations professionals also varied by the concentration they pursued during their graduate studies:

  • Asian Studies: $50,000-$60,000
  • European Studies: $42,000-$52,000
  • International Affairs: $48,000-$58,000
  • International Science and Technology Policy: $60,000-$70,000
  • Security Policy Studies: $54,000-$64,000
  • Middle Eastern Studies: $54,000-$64,000
  • International Development: $43,000-$53,000
  • International Trade and Development: $58,000-$68,000
  • Latin American Studies: $52,000-$62,000
  • International Policy and Practice: $60,000-$70,000
  • International Studies: $50,000-$60,000
  • Global Communications: $57,000-$67,000

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