You love to travel. You need a job. Why not choose a career that offers both? With the right industry -- and the right training -- you really could get paid to globetrot. Intrigued? Here are just a few careers that let you travel the world (and degree programs that may help you land them).
5 of the Best Careers for Travel
Aeronautical or Astronautical Engineering, Purdue University
The job: Pilots bring globetrotting to a whole new level: traveling is what they do. Period. It may seem a romantic profession -- especially for international pilots who explore destinations all over the world -- but the long hours and the skill required to pilot a plane safely requires both passion and training. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov, 2012), employers increasingly prefer more candidates with four-year degrees. This degree can technically be in any field since the bulk of your training will come from flight school or through Federal Aviation Administration courses, but the BLS notes studying aeronautics or engineering might give you an edge in the job market. If you want to see the world in a more literal sense -- as in from outer space -- these degrees could be especially helpful.
The training: Purdue University's School of Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering -- which offers degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels -- may provide just the type of training employers appreciate. Students should walk away with a firm understanding of math, science and engineering; know how to design and test aerospace systems, components or processes; be able to identify and solve engineering problems; work well on multidisciplinary teams; and communicate effectively. Want to get a head start on that world-travel goal of yours? Purdue's AAE School maintains a Study Abroad program that lets students complete at least some of their classes at a wide selection of partnering institutions across the globe.
Formula 1 Engineer
Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
The job: If you want a career truly in the fast lane, becoming a mechanical engineer for Formula One -- the world's most popular motorsport -- should make your short-list. Job competition can be fierce, but those who make it can travel the world designing, modifying, preparing and maintaining these precision racing cars for competition. Race and trial days can give you a heart-pounding adrenaline rush, and the nature of the industry lets you meet and work with teams of experts from all across the globe. Building an amazing racing machine is as much an art as a skill, however, so in this field, training counts.
The training: If you want to become a Formula 1 engineer, enrolling in a program like the Georgia Institute of Technology's Mechanical Engineering program could put you on the right track -- literally. According to Georgia Tech's website, graduates should walk away knowing how to design, implement and test systems and components, and how to design and solve engineering problems. In other words, the type of skills Formula 1 owners and teams need to keep their cars ahead of the pack. Though Georgia Tech offers degrees all the way to the doctoral level, the BLS (bls.gov, 2012) reports that for this field, a bachelor's is usually sufficient.
English Language Teacher
English, University of California at Berkeley
The job: Think book worms and closet linguists are destined to a sheltered life in the library or academia? Think again. These professionals can often work in any country, so long as they speak that nation's native language well enough to get by in the classroom. You could work independently, for a university, or with a government, or an aid agency. Whatever path you choose, this career could give you an opportunity to exchange knowledge, culture and ideas with people from all across the globe in a way few professions can.
In 2009, The New York Times reported that many linguists believe English will forever be the world's most dominant language. The Ayusa Global Student Exchange, meanwhile, reports that English is more widely spoken and published than any other language -- but can be tricky to learn. These factors suggest that those who understand and can teach English may be in demand in places outside of the U.S.
The training: Of course, speaking and teaching English is not precisely the same thing. If you want to know how to teach English effectively, it helps to study under someone who, well, teaches English effectively. According to its official website, the University of California at Berkeley's English Department has received 26 university Distinguished Teaching Awards, which is more than any other department at the school. Programs, which range from undergraduate through doctoral, allow students to specialize in a particular aspect of English, like literature or linguistics -- both of which would be suitable for one who wants to teach the language to non-native speakers.
Geology, The University of Wisconsin-Madison
The job: In 2010, Scientific American published an article on the Earth's natural resources -- and their limits -- called, "How Much is Left?" The short answer: Not as much as you might think. As many of our natural resources dwindle, companies that mine or otherwise depend on them are eager to find more. That is where exploratory geologists come in. These professionals hone a very specialized knowledge of the Earth's surface to find these resources, which can range from things like silver and copper to natural gas. They may work domestically, but many have an opportunity to travel the world. Earning a degree in geology does not necessarily ensure you globetrotter status, however, but with time, experience and, of course, the right training, you just might see far-off lands.
The training: The University of Wisconsin in Madison's Department of Geoscience offers undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees that could help you prepare for a career as an exploratory geologist, but it does not stop there. Geology can be a close-knit community, and UWM may help you get a head start in networking through a number of geology clubs and student organizations. The department can also let you test-drive your geo-exploration skills early on by arranging excavations that give its "geobadgers" practical field experience at sites all across the country. As for specific programs, as of 2013, UWM offers degrees in geology and geophysics, geoscience, and geological engineering.
International Relations, New York University
The job: If you love your country, but are just as passionate about seeing the world, a career in civil service could give you the best of both worlds by allowing you to represent your nation virtually anywhere. The U.S. State Department employs a number of professionals, particularly within American embassies across the globe. Other organizations, like the United Nations or the World Health Organization, also maintain a number of civil-political posts internationally. Though it may be helpful to speak the language of the nation in which you hope to be stationed, it is not always required. Other preferred skills and training -- often in the form of a degree in International Relations -- are often honed in the classroom.
The training: New York University's Department of Politics hosts an undergraduate honors program in International Relations that aims to prepare students for a global career in politics or civil service. Students should develop an in-depth current and historical understanding of global political and economic environments. Courses are designed to provide in-demand skills, like foreign language competency and cultural awareness. According to the program's website, students who want to expand their knowledge of a particular country -- or just get a little field experience -- can participate in the NYU Study Abroad program, which allows students to spend a semester to a year studying in a foreign nation.
Not sure what types of careers would be a good fit for you? Try this career assessment test to help determine what professional fields match your personality and skills.