American culture has you go-go-going all the time. You work hard and (if you have the time and energy at the end of the day) you play hard. You might be burnt out. You might be spending more time daydreaming and looking out your office window than you do actually working or paying attention in staff meetings. You might be saying, “I wish I could just quit my job and travel the world right now."
Well, you kind of can, by finding a job abroad. You might be thinking, “But I hate children and English! I don’t want to teach abroad or be an au pair, so what even is there for me to do? I have to make money!” We hear you, we hear you, and we totally get it. Kids are gross and English is boring (but not completely!). The stereotypical childcare or teaching international work experience isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for an alternative to teaching abroad that will take you to any and every corner of the world, but you’re not sure where to start looking or how to secure a job, we are here for you!
Here are 25 international jobs for Americans that might surprise you. Some may seem unconventional, and some are underrated, but all of them are great options to start a new adventure and earn money while traveling. A total (and permanent) career change is optional, but life changing experiences abroad are non-negotiable. Here's our favorite answers to how to work abroad as an American!
Employment in the great outdoors
If you cannot get enough of Mother Nature in her many guises, these jobs will fit you like a glove. From wrangling cattle in the rugged Australian Outback, to learning the complex science of horticulture in a warm Mediterranean climate, there are no limits to finding ways to literally work with our planet Earth.
Dust off your cowboy boots for an exciting opportunity to get your hands dirty in the Australian Outback. No task is off-limits, where duties can include anything from operating tractors to cattle mustering (that would be rounding them up for you city-folk). This is not a job for the dirt-adverse, because you will get down and dirty. It won’t be pretty, but it will be worth every ache and pain. Plus, you will be in shape like you won’t believe. Yee-haw!
There are many countries, like New Zealand, known worldwide for their stunning natural beauty, thanks to that one movie with the hobbits and the ring. Be a part of it all by following in the footsteps of Leslie Knope (unwavering enthusiasm optional) by obtaining a visa to work as an for one of these naturally beautiful country’s national parks, and be the envy of everyone when you explain where exactly your office is.
One of the world’s oldest industries, working abroad in agriculture truly allows the world to be your (Rocky Mountain) oyster. Whether you want to work in Europe or Asia, there are plenty of opportunities to polish your skills, either by working directly in the field as a temporary laborer or making your mark in an office environment with marketing, sales, or research-related duties.
Do you have a green thumb? Have your friends lovingly nicknamed your Professor Sprout? Work in Spain or Australia, where beautiful gardens abound. Experience how a different climate supports the local flora of the area, and expand your knowledge of botany in general. Work can range from getting your hands dirty in a public botanical garden to helping out with the communications for a local community garden.
Maybe you’re more of a Hagrid than a Professor Sprout. For those who have a soft spot for furry creatures big and small, working abroad with animals either in captivity or in the wild could be your calling. Working in Australia or Africa, will allow you to see animal conservation in a different country firsthand. Your office will probably be a zoo, a conservation center, a game reserve, or a national park, and jobs typically include, but are not limited to, research and fieldwork.
If you are planning on heading abroad during the summer or winter months, consider the endless benefits of snagging a temporary gig on the slopes or in the middle of festival madness. How often do you get to call the Swiss Alps your home? Uhm, never.
Ah, the smell of the campfire, marshmallows roasting, and the sound of campers’ laughter, It’s hard to imagine a better place to work than a summer camp in Australia or a language camp in Germany. During the summer months, spending your time with youngsters in the outdoors can be a highly enriching experience where you will learn as much from them as they will from you!
If the outdoors is second nature to you, and you’ve dreamed of being a Khaki Scout Master after watching Moonrise Kingdom, consider guiding teens through wilderness activities like snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, surfing, and rafting to name just a few. Destination possibilities spain South America, Canada, and Europe. You need to have previous wilderness experience, and also have valid CPR and Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certifications.
8. Ski Resorts
Would you live on the ski slopes if you could? Now you can with a seasonal winter position at a ski resort in various snowy locales around the world. For those who have a knack for working with kids, a ski resort counselor for a season is not a bad gig at all. Of course, there are also the traditional positions like helping inside the lodge with rentals or assisting on the slopes as a lift operator.
From the Oktoberfest in Munich to Carnaval in Rio, there are plenty of opportunities to help out with the logistics, like setting up the tents or helping prep the floats. This is a great chance to experience a popular event behind the scenes and realize the hundreds of hours of hard work-not to mention the army of staff that makes sure the festival goes off without a hitch.
10. Concert Staff
A close cousin to festival staff, helping out with a concert or music festival requires a lot of manual labor for the setup and breakdown, and tons of manpower to help sell merch, food and drinks, stamp hands on entry, check bags, keep artists happy, the list of jobs is never ending! From the decked out shores of Lake Malawi to rocking out in Mexico City, you are bound to find a musical event that you can contribute to. There is nothing better than listening to the headlining band and knowing you helped put the whole shebang together.
Jobs abroad at sea
For those of you who could have been swashbucklers and seafarers in a past life, there are plenty of jobs abroad that could satisfy your nautical nature. From working on boats big and small, to helping surfers gear up, there is no shortage of jobs where the surf and the sand are your break room.
11. Cruise Ships
Ever wondered what it would be like to inhabit a giant floating city? Now is your chance. Work as bus boy (or girl) in the kitchens or watch little rascals as their parents catch a few moments of R and R up on the front deck. Best of all, on your downtime you get to explore a new locale every time the ship docks.
12. Yacht Staff
If you ever dreamed of living it up on the ocean blue, then securing a job on a yacht is a perfect fit. Imagine waking up everyday to the clear turquoise waters of the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain, France, or Turkey. Tasks can range from scrubbing the deck to washing dishes down below in the tinier-than-a-thimble kitchen. Definitely not a gig for those who cherish their personal space!
If Deadliest Catch only inspires you to go out on the open seas and reel in your own bounty, then finding a gig on a fishing boat is an excellent option. Rain or shine, you will be out on the deck helping haul in the catch, maintaining the boat and casting out the nets. This is no child’s play, as the daily physical labor will whip you into shape like none other.
If mingling with surfers before they catch those big waves is something your surfer soul embraces, then consider a job in Australia or Bali, which boasts world-class waves. Help out with renting out the gear to hosing down those seawater-drenched flippers at the end of the day. After your shift is over, you can catch a few gnarly waves yourself a few feet from your “office.”
For those of you who have your sea legs, working on deck as one of the crew members of a whale watching boat is a great way to be out on the open sea alongside these magnificent creatures. Tasks often include helping with the pre-departure preparations and also taking care of seasick passengers (it’s not always fun and games!).
“Spread the word” jobs
Journalism is about being open to and communicating different perspectives, and what better way to open your worldview than taking a writing gig abroad? From capturing the latest fashion trends in Paris to catching a cricket match in Sydney, you’ll have plenty of good material to cover as a journalist abroad. Most positions will be freelance, remote (meaning you telecommute from any cafe with wifi), and paid per word or per article depending on the publication.
16. Fashion Blogger
If you feel at home among the runways and the latest clothing trends, imagine taking your love of all things fashion abroad. Work as a fashion blogger in places like Milan and Paris, that are know as the meccas for high fashion. Knowing the local language can be helpful, but there are a growing number of English language publications online with offices abroad.
For those with savvy journalism skills and an intense love of all things media and pop culture, taking your skills to international destinations like London or Sydney is a must. Whether you are a ham and live for being in front of the camera or feel more comfortable with the written word, the options are endless and plentiful.
18. Travel Writer
If you are a writer and you love to travel, than getting paid for these two loves in your life is something you don’t have to think twice about. Even though the pay might not be pretty, having this writing experience on your resume, and a very jealous Instagram following is worth its weight in gold.
A place like Hong Kong, where there’s a giant journalism market, is the ideal destination to improve your journalism chops. News never sleeps and neither will you when you need to get a breaking story out in less than 24 hours. You will also benefit from having cross-cultural experiences in a newsroom halfway across the world to add to your resume.
20. Food Blogger
Love to eat and tell the world about it? Food blogs are becoming the next big resource for foodies around the world. To find major food blogs in your destination, just head over to good ol’ Google and start contracting them to see if they’re hiring contract writers, or accept guest posts. You can also start work to monetize your own personal food blog. Try out interesting recipes around the world, attend cooking classes, and review restaurants to help fellow travelers and foodies follow their stomachs around the world!
If catching every steal, goal, and three-pointer for print is something that comes naturally to you, then consider going abroad to cover sport matches in countries like footy-crazed England or baseball-infatuated Japan. Writing about a sport in a new country allows you to not only improve your skills, but also helps you understand a new culture through a sports lens.
Working in hotels and restaurants around the world will not only improve your hospitality skills, but it can also teach you how to interact with diverse populations. Another added benefit is that you can choose places like the South of France or the beaches of Fiji to be your new home. Not a bad deal, eh?
20. Hostel Worker
Do you love the communal feel of hostels when traveling? Secure a gig at a hostel abroad and be ready for a job that never ceases to keep you on your feet. Whether you are preparing breakfast or helping out at the front desk, you are going to make friends from every corner of the world.
21. Activities Guide
From language schools to hostels, there is always a need for someone to lead guests on a pub crawl or show them some of the city’s major sights. A general knowledge of the major sights and their history is a must, plus you should know your way around the city (or a map), since you do not want to be responsible for leading your troop astray.
For night owls who can make a mean martini, bartending in a new country will not only give you new cultural insight, but also allow you to learn to make a bevy of new beverages flawlessly. Plus, as the bartender, you have the best seat in the house for people watching and practicing your language skills.
23. Resort Staff
It’s hard to find a more picturesque work environment, where your customers are blissed out vacationers. This position is perfect for those who thrive off giving exceptional customer service and as a benefit get to interact with people from all over the globe. Whether you are helping out poolside in Spain or with reception in Jamaica, working in this environment for a summer will guarantee no regrets.
This job may sound too good to be true, but individuals are hired to make sure guest are kept entertained while on holiday, and you could be one of the lucky few! What does this magical job entail exactly? Resort entertainers can be responsible for anything from performing in mini skits for the entire resort to enjoy, to keeping the kiddos happy with games, sports, and arts. In countries like Spain, a working knowledge of English plus one other European language is a requirement.
For those who have the talent of being bi- or even trilingual, being a translator for a hotel and their guests is a great position. Not only will you be able to share your linguistic skills for the benefit of others, but you will also be able to interact with a diverse range of people, whether you are helping the manager in a hotel translate official documents or assisting with new guests checking in at reception.
Did any of these international jobs for Americans surprise YOU?
Figuring out how to work abroad as an American isn't as hard as it sounds. If you’re looking for a change of pace, a new adventure, and some crazy beautiful scenery, taking up one of these underrated and sometimes unconventional international jobs could be just the ticket. You’ll have the opportunity to see the world, interact with people you might not have had the chance to interact with before while still paying the bills. This might be just the change you’re looking for!