Do you want a job helping to improve education at home and abroad? Would you like to learn about international cultures and relations? Read on to see if the field of comparative and international education might be of interest to you.
Comparative and international education (CIE) involves studying education systems from around the world and using that knowledge to improve educational policies. In this field, you might analyze how an educational system is impacted by cultural, economic and social factors, and then apply that information towards policy change. You could work for a university, a government organization, a multinational corporation or a global aid organization. You could apply your education towards a career as a school administrator, a social welfare policymaker, a scholar or a health education leader.
To do this type of work, you will likely need a graduate degree. Strong communicative skills, including the ability to speak another language, are generally necessary. You should have good interpersonal skills and the ability to work with people from differing cultures. Most degree programs will require you to take statistics and research coursework, so an affinity for numbers and analytics would be helpful.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), teachers at the university level earned a median salary of $59,140 as of May 2010 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported median wages of $54,160 for corporate training and development specialists for the same time period. While the BLS does not track salaries of policy advisors, they noted that advisors working for the federal government would likely work at the G-7 level with a master's degree, or at the G-15 level with significant education and experience. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in 2012, base salaries for G-7s ranged from $33,916 to $44,176 and for G-15s ranged from $99,628 to $129,517 (www.opm.gov).
CIE programs are offered as master's degrees in education, so you would need to earn or have a bachelor's degree in order to enter a program. You won't necessarily need to have an undergraduate degree in education, however. Degree programs are structured so that you'll take a grouping of classes in one of the social sciences, which could be in education, but might also be in anthropology, economics or international relations.
Earning a master's degree in CIE should prepare you to work in many types of international or global entities. Depending upon your area of specialization, you might work as a banker in international economics, a teacher in educational outreach or in research for a non-profit aid organization. During the course of your degree program, you would take classes in globalization and contextualization, statistics and international education policies. Elective courses might cover areas such as international finance, social movements, historical research or the international politics of oil.
Earning a doctoral degree in CIE can qualify you to teach at the university level or to work in policy advisement or research. Working in any of these areas would involve engaging in a continual cycle of research and publication, as well as preparing presentations, lectures or papers on policy questions. Program coursework at the doctoral level would include classes in international educational development, comparative education and research methodologies.