10 Jobs That Let You Work Anywhere in the World
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Who doesn’t dream of travelling the world?
Unfortunately, most of us are hampered by the need to earn a living. It’s no wonder, then, that so many people try to choose jobs that enable them to travel. That can take a few different forms. There are the jobs where you can work at a distance anywhere in the world that you like, such as being a freelance writer. Your publisher won’t care where you go to write as long as you hit your deadline on time. The disadvantage of these is that they necessarily entail working independently, which isn’t for everyone. And for many roles that involve distance working, you might find that you can work anywhere in the world that you want in theory, but in practice that can mean spending half your time waking up in the middle of the night for meetings that are taking place halfway around the world in a different time zone.
Another option is to choose a job that requires you to travel – for instance, doing international sales or training for a global company, or becoming a diplomat. But in these jobs, you don’t get to choose where you go; you might dream of flying south in the winter to escape the British rain, only to discover that you’ve got a three-month posting to Norway. Additionally, you’ll often get travel without the joy of travel; you might visit a new country every fortnight, but see its airports, chain hotels and conference centres rather than its monuments and culture.
Perhaps the best way, then, to choose your job in order to see the world is to choose a job that makes you employable all over the world; so that if you wake up one day in Germany and decide you’d prefer to be in Chile, you know you have a good chance of being employable there. Additionally, you’ll want to choose a job that is genuinely transferable across the world; every country requires people who are skilled in marketing, but how you approach marketing depends on a level of cultural understanding that might not easily be transferable from country to country. The same is true of HR. Similarly, there are jobs that require specialist local knowledge, such as being a lawyer or a tax advisor, that mean that while they exist in every country, you can’t hop from one place to another and be sure you’ll find work. In this article, we take a look at jobs that truly enable you to live and work anywhere in the world.
The obvious choice for many people who want to travel the world, especially when they’re younger, is to become an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teacher. Getting an EFL qualification takes a bit of work, but less than most of the jobs on this list, and there are some countries where even that isn’t always required. It’s true that in the countries where being a native speaker with an entry-level qualification is all that’s required, salaries are understandably low, but once you have some experience under your belt, you can move to countries where salaries are much higher.
The disadvantage of becoming an EFL teacher is that there’s a good reason that it’s generally a career for younger people: there isn’t much by the way of career progression. Demand for EFL teachers is such that the difference between 5 years’ experience and 10 years’ experience won’t make much difference to your salary, and the next steps, such as writing a curriculum or even running a school, require a different skillset from the one you’ll have developed by teaching, so you’ll need more training in order to be promoted.
Obviously this isn’t a job that you can do anywhere in the world – landlocked countries are usually out – but it’s open to you anywhere that’s by the sea and has a tourist industry, which includes most of the places that people are thinking of when they say that they want to work anywhere in the world.
Becoming a diving instructor involves a lot of training. You’ll need to be certified as a competent open water diver in your own right, to advanced level; you’ll need to be a competent rescue diver to ensure that you can keep the group you’re instructing safe; for the same reason you’ll need CPR and first aid training; you’ll need to have done at least a hundred open water dives; and only then will you be able to take an instructor development course, which takes at least 10 days, followed by passing an instructor examination. It’s clearly not a good option if you’re looking for any old job that enables you to work internationally; you’ll need to really love diving.
Almost any kind of medical professional can work anywhere in the world; after all, human bodies are the same everywhere, even if the pressures of the job will vary. The World Health Organisation estimates that there’s a shortage of 4.3 million health professionals worldwide, especially in developing countries, and especially general practitioners.
Even in a country like Norway, with 4.42 doctors per thousand inhabitants (one of the highest ratios in the world), there is still a shortage of nurses and medical assistants. Medical doctors are described as being required across the EU, yet no EU country has less than 2.2 doctors per thousand inhabitants. In other words, you can find work as a medical professional even in countries that don’t have a shortage of medical professionals in absolute terms. And if you choose to work in the developing world instead, where salaries are low and working conditions difficult, you could represent a lifeline to a community that might otherwise lack medical care altogether.
Being a web developer offers you the chance to work anywhere in the world, either as a freelancer (with the problems discussed above) or as an employee of a company. In developed countries in particular, web developers frequently feature on lists of skills shortages, meaning that immigration processes will be much easier. And if you are self-employed, many countries have self-employed immigration routes; their primary concern is whether you’ll genuinely be able to contribute to the country when you’re there, and if you have a strong track record of self-employment, that increases your chances of getting a visa.
Nor is this a job that’s likely to go away any time soon, though a growing number of people seeing how lucrative and in-demand it can be means that competition for jobs may become fiercer. But that’s in countries where web access is nearing saturation point; there are still plenty of parts of the world where widespread internet access is still a work in progress, and people with web skills will remain in shorter supply.
Like being a web developer, being a graphic designer is something that you can do either freelance or by being employed by a company. Either way, design work is something that’s required nearly everywhere and can be done nearly anywhere. A bit of local knowledge might be required for the occasions when tastes vary (some cultures prefer their graphic design sleek and minimal, others not so much) but that’s the kind of thing you’re likely to pick up quickly enough wherever you move.
Unlike most jobs on this list, beyond the vocabulary of design (colours, shapes, moods and descriptions of photographs), you don’t need to be completely fluent in the local language to be competent as a graphic designer; it’ll seldom require you to handle multiple different tenses, for instance. That makes it a particularly good option if you plan on moving from place to place regularly, or if you’re not confident in your language skills.
One of the best things about being a computer programmer is that it’s your programming language skills, not your foreign language skills, that will count towards your success in a career wherever you end up being based. It’s also one of the better-paid options on this list, as a role that requires significant skills and is in short supply in many places.
In some cases, a company will be happy to employ you permanently (not freelance) and have you work wherever in the work you’d like, or at least if you work hours that correspond to their timezone (which could leave quite a lot of the world open to you without becoming completely nocturnal). That means as long as you pick places with a reliable internet connection, you could have career security while travelling the world, which is an exciting combination to have open to you.
Engineering is probably the best known job that lets you work all over the world and provides you with a good salary too. Whatever flavour of engineering you’re interested in – civil, electrical, chemical, mechanical – chances are it’ll be something someone needs wherever it is that you’d like to live. That’s particularly the case if you’re hoping to work in a big, exciting city; engineers are needed from Munich to Shanghai.
One of the best things about being an engineer is that if you work for an international company, you might be able to find a role that lets you move from country to country on a regular basis without the need to quit and apply for a new job each time. Oil and chemical companies are particularly known for enabling their employees to live in several different countries across the world.
As ‘big data’ goes from being a buzzword to an invaluable tool for many businesses, and digital storage ceases to be a limiting factor, data analysts are only going to become more in demand. Any large company will require data analytics, whether that’s database management, analysis of customer behaviour or historical sales patterns. That’s handy, because it’s likely you’ll need to work for a local company given the restrictions on sending data across borders. Alongside the option of working for private companies, the public sector and the third sector also have data analysis needs if you’d prefer that kind of employer.
Thankfully, while you’ll probably need some ability in the local language, this is the kind of role that you may be able to perform without complete fluency – your ability with statistics and databases will count for a lot more with prospective employers.
Just as every large company needs someone to analyse their data, they also need someone who can keep their data and systems safe, regardless of their location. Hacking crosses borders, and so to do information security skills.
Depending on the nature of your role, you might be able to work remotely, or find work locally or for an international company. For instance, if your role is primarily about testing your organisation’s security and finding weaknesses, then you may be able to achieve this remotely. But information security can also have a significant human element, so if your role involves implementing new security solutions and safeguarding against security threats from human error (such as colleagues responding to phishing emails) then being office-based can be useful. For the latter type of role, understanding local culture is a plus, but your skills will still be internationally transferable.
In academia, moving around from university to university is often a mandatory part of the job. If your academic specialism is particularly niche, that may necessarily entail moving between countries as there may simply not be all that many universities in which your specialism is studied. Being an academic is not an easy way to get a job that allows you to travel – finding a full-time position anywhere is hard work, and unless your research is very much in demand, you might find you have to follow where the jobs are, rather than moving to whichever country you most like the sound of.
The advantage of academic is that living in lots of different places is expected; in other sectors, employers might doubt your commitment when they see a CV with several countries on it, but it won’t lead to any raised eyebrows in an academic context.
Where in the world do you dream of working? Let us know in the comments!
Images: efl teacher; diving instructor; medical professional; laptop; graphic designer; computer code; engineer’s hand; data analysis; information security; books and notebook; barcelona; flights board
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