So You Think You Want to Be An International Advisor? (Part I)

“The pool of people who think they want to do overseas work is large.  The pool of people who really have the desire and are qualified is much smaller, and the pool of qualified people who have the desire and will actually leave home for at least a year is actually very, very small”

–          Recruiter for a major defense contractor.

Author’s note:  This is part I of a seven part article which is intended primarily for Americans who are seeking first time jobs overseas in the CivPol/RoL sector. Items discussed may or may not be relevant to other international positions.

Part I.  The Good

Living and working overseas as a civilian contractor for the US government’s Rule of Law projects has helped make the past few years the best of my life.  I am now working on my third contract. I work for a company that helps train and equip police in other countries. Since 2010 I have been to over 20 countries on three continents and seen places such as Venice, Paris, London, Vienna, Prague and Munich just to name a few.

Since I started doing this work a surprising number of people have told me they would also like to work overseas and many have asked how to go about doing it. It occurred to me that instead of going through the same spiel every time someone asks I should just put it in a convenient written form. So here it is. The best way I can help you is to give you the straight scoop at least from my perspective. Hopefully what I have written here and in the forthcoming sections will be helpful to you or at least be entertaining.

Here is the good news:  Working and living overseas can be fun, profitable and exciting.  If you like traveling, seeing great sights most Americans never get to see, experiencing new cultures, languages and cuisine you might like living overseas.  Many parts of the world are as nice as (or nicer than) the United States.  The work is  interesting.  You will meet fascinating people and the pay will be good.

A trained monkey can work overseas, some do.  There are as many types of jobs as you can imagine.  Most of them pay better than what you can make doing a similar job in the US.  The military uses contractors these days for pretty much everything except actual combat.  You have no real skills you say?  Well you don’t need any.  If you can do laundry, sweep floors or peel potatoes you can get a job overseas.  If you can speak English or a foreign language, you can get a job overseas.  I don’t have much to say about many of the jobs available since I do somewhat specialized work. If you want an unskilled or semi-skilled job I’d start with KBR , Halliburton, or by just doing some web searches.

If you have some specialized skills, training or experience or a security clearance it may be possible to get a very good paying job outside of the US.  By good paying I mean in the range of about $100,000 to 300,000 per year, your mileage may vary.  If you work in or retired from the criminal justice or legal field you may be in particular demand.  Police Officers, Attorneys and Judges are all needed overseas.  Every time the US goes to war, gives assistance to a country after a war or some other calamity there is a need to reestablish the “Rule of Law.”  This requires Police officers, Attorneys with criminal law experience and Judges.  Initially to do the actual policing, lawyering, and judging but also to train and mentor those in the host country who take over those duties.

Next:  Part II.  The Bad

©2012 by Steven Fenner