Foreign Trade Degree Program Information

Foreign trade encompasses all the ways in which goods, services, money and resources are exchanged among countries and territories. Degrees are primarily available at the undergraduate level in international business.

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Essential Information

The foreign trade system orbits a world filled with policies, sanctions and tariffs. This field aims to encourage cultural exchange and improve economic conditions around the world. Undergraduate degree programs in the field will include coursework that highlights such topics as international business law, global marketing and foreign financial customs. They require a high school diploma or GED to apply.

Associate degrees are available in international business that offer the opportunity to specialize in international trade; examples include an Associate of Applied Science in International Trade. The international business bachelor degree develops a range of skills and knowledge that will prepare you for private industry, government and non-profit organizations, as well as for graduate study in business. Internships may be required to successfully complete the degree.

Associate of Applied Science in International Business

If you choose this field of study, you should be comfortable working with people and organizations of other cultures. Courses included in the associate degree program will prepare you for entry-level positions fulfilling foreign orders, determining tariff rates and working with imports and exports.

Introductory courses in accounting, law, information applications, communications and management are the business core. Schools do differ but generally require some combination of credits in English and speech, natural science, math, logistical reasoning, history, social and behavioral sciences, macro and microeconomics, humanities and fine arts, along with the following:

  • Introduction to international business
  • Document and ship exports
  • U.S. Customs oversight
  • Marketing abroad
  • International business law

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Bachelor of Administration in International Business

International business curricula include foundational courses in financial accounting, managerial accounting, micro- and macro-economics and math. You may also take history, politics, religions and language courses related to other countries and regions, and international business-related internships are offered by many schools.

Upper-division courses have a decidedly foreign focus in economics, marketing, comparative management and finance. Class titles might include:

  • International marketing
  • Business law
  • Management science with an international focus
  • International finance

Popular Career Options

After graduating, you'll be prepared for entry-level roles such as marketing coordinator, market analyst, U.S. trade and development specialist, commercial service representative or export assistant. Other opportunities could include work with U.S. Customs or a focus on transportation. Job titles associated with a foreign trade associate's degree might include:

  • International sales assistant
  • International transportation coordinator
  • Customer service representative for a multinational company
  • International document specialist

The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Department of State and U.S. Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS) offer internships and permanent positions abroad for qualified U.S. citizens. Foreign service officers with the U.S. Department of State may work as diplomats in U.S. consulates and embassies. Entry-level jobs such as these can lead to careers in public diplomacy, management, economics and political affairs.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Customer service representatives are expected to see a 10% employment increase in general from 2014 to 2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual wage for these types of professionals was $31,720 as of May 2015.

One position to pursue with a bachelor's degree would be that of the market research analyst. The BLS states that these professionals earned a median annual income of $62,150 as of May 2015, with the top-paid ten percent earning significantly more ($120,460 or greater). The job outlook for this profession is expected to be strong, with a 19% increase in employment projected between 2014 and 2024.

Continuing Education

A.A.S. programs are structured to stand alone, preparing you for immediate work experience; however, increased earnings and professional growth most often are realized through pursuit of a higher degree and professional designation. By graduating from an A.A.S. program with an international trade specialization, you can apply your credits to a wide range of bachelor's degrees.

Graduate degrees specifically titled for foreign trade are rare but international business degrees can relate to this field. A Master's of International Business Administration or a master's with a focus on trade and international economics could fit this career path. Courses may cover global politics, business, law, strategy, finance, negotiations and emerging markets.

Entering the world of foreign trade is likely to be easier after achieving a degree in the field. There are several options available to students who want to gain more skills and knowledge about how foreign trade works.

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