“We’ve been talking about this for five years. There’s never been a better time for us to do it. And I don’t want to die without having lived abroad.”
That was the conversation that changed our lives forever. We were sitting in the car, driving the 10 hours home to visit our parents with the kids in the back seat. We always talked about traveling, living abroad, but it was becoming clear that we are going to spend a lifetime talking about it and never actually do it.
And so, we became a family of travelers. We lived abroad, living in Nice, France, then Berlin, Germany, all with two toddlers in tow. After we came back to Canada to have our third, we hit the road again, living for a year in Athens Greece.
You can still see pics of our travels from our Instagram feed.
Travel made us come alive and changed our lives forever. And although I’m writing this in the middle of a pandemic, when travel is really hard, I have no doubt the world will open up again. And in the future, there will be even more travel jobs, as remote work becomes the new normal and gives us a level of flexibility we’ve never known before.
So, whether you are looking for a high-powered job that lets you fly around the globe meeting with business leaders or diplomats or whether you want to be a digital nomad living in Croatia and working out of a coffee shop, this post is for you. I want to give you 10 jobs that pay you to travel.
Before we start, I should say that these 10 jobs are best for college grads. Some even require a Master’s degree. So if you’re a grad who’s ready to become a professional traveler, let’s get started.
These traveling jobs will let you see the world on somebody else’s dime.
10 Jobs That Pay You to Travel
- Program Officer
- Policy Analyst
- Project Manager
- Digitalization Specialist
- Equities Analyst
- Medical Science Liason
1. Program officer
The most well-traveled people I know work in international development. They work on issues like refugee resettlement, food insecurity, women’s economic empowerment, and a bunch of other meaningful things. The most obvious place to do this sort of work is with an organization like the United Nations, which hires people to run their programs.
But it’s hard to get hired by the United Nations and its many subsidiaries. A good stepping point is to work for a huge nonprofit, like the International Rescue Foundation or World Vision, which will let you do a lot of this work. Another way to work your way into United Nations agencies is work in government, which we’ll talk about below.
Program officers and program managers run the many programs of the UN and similar orgs. Rest assured, if you work as a program officer, you’ll see the world.
Diplomats, or foreign service officers, represent their countries abroad, usually stationed at a mission or embassy for chunks of time. A diplomat I know explained to me that they normally work in three different streams: security, political diplomacy, and trade. (He also said that most people think about security and politics, but that trade is more fun! Helping businesses connect to the home country.)
The average salary for a diplomat is about $85,000 yearly, and there are usually other bonuses like travel and housing allowances. If you want to get paid to travel the world, this is a great way to do it!
Check your government’s job banks or recruitment processes, especially with departments that deal with international relations. There’s information on joining the diplomatic core in the US here.
3. Policy Analyst
When I worked for the government as a policy analyst, I worked on an international facing file: immigration.
While I wasn’t stationed abroad, a section of my department was–these were the diplomatic jobs you could apply for. But even for us policy analysts, there were opportunities to travel for foreign delegations, and we had a whole team in my department who supported international meetings with the UNHCR in Geneva. These happened on a regular basis, and teams would travel for these meetings too.
If you don’t want to travel internationally, and want to see your own country, many of the policy and program roles in government also require travel. You might travel to the Arctic to see a new naval base, or to rural Arkansas to interview farmers about a farm program.
If you are interested in a career as a policy analyst, you will very likely be able to move towards something that had some travel involved.
4. Project Manager
Project manager is a huge job title, encompassing everything from construction to research. If your project requires you to be in another place to oversee construction, meet with someone, or present results, you’ll get paid to travel.
Yes, more sales will over to zoom in the future.
No, they won’t all be done remotely. There will still be people who travel for sales. If you want to know who these people will be, take a look at the industry. People will travel to sell big things, for multi-million dollar deals. Think battleships, solar farms, or enormous real estate projects. Finally, think about selling things that have to be done in a certain place–like a restaurant franchise. These will have travel involved too.
Sometimes research takes travel. This will remain true long into the future.
People who study marine biology, the opinions of customers in Metro Vancouver, or rare genealogical records in the archives of France will all be paid something to travel. If you’ve got a research question you’re working on, is there a way you can adjust it to include a foreign component?
7. Digitization Specialist
And, speaking of those archives in France, more and more records are going digital. Digital archivists need to travel for a living to remote museums and Libraries where archives are held. They will also sometimes hold positions in different museums and archives for an extended period of time.
8. Equity Researcher
If you’ve seen the movie The Big Short, you might remember this scene where the characters travel to different parts of the country to see if there was a housing bubble. It was set around the stock market crash of 2008.
The montage ends with Steve Carell on his cell phone yelling, “There’s a bubble! Short everything.”
While it’s a field that’s in fast transition, there are still equity researchers that do this kind of work. They travel to future investments, which could be in different countries, far-off labs, or remote extracting centers, kicking the tires to see if its a good place to park a billion dollars or so.
9. Medical Science Liaison
Medical Science Liaisons need to have some serious training, often a PhD in Pharmacy or Life Sciences. An MSL is somebody who explains the role or effect of a certain drug to doctors. Basically, they go between pharmaceutical industries and people practicing medicine.
In the past, there was a ton of travel for this role as MSLs visited doctors but also spent a lot of time at conferences and industry events. While the field will evolve towards less travel, it seems likely that there will still be some.
Consultants get paid to travel, and it seems unlikely that this will change anytime soon. Those that work for the big consulting firms like KPMG, Deloitte, Mackenzie, and Bain exist in a global marketplace. There’s almost always travel involved, whether it’s domestic or international, as they help to reform the management structures of huge multinationals or advise governments on the delivery of digital services.
This type of consulting work is perfect for people who love a constant change of pace and don’t mind solving big problems, and that’s why it’s the last and one of the best options on this list for people with advanced degrees. Of all the jobs that pay you to travel, this might be one of the best.
I spent a few years of my life traveling, and it was a thrill I never got over. The excitement of boarding another plane. The thrill of touching down in a new city where you don’t know anyone and don’t speak the language.
If you’ve got some wanderlust, these traveling jobs will help scratch your it and pay you to do it.
So what are you waiting for? Try one of these 10 jobs that pay you to travel and grow your bank account while you see the world!