How to Become an International Student Advisor



Working as an international student advisor is a great career choice for liberal arts grads with great interpersonal skills, familiarity with issues facing international students, and a passion for serving others.


Jobs in this field typically offer decent pay, a “9-5” office-based environment with structured guidelines, and varied opportunities for career advancement.


Below, we’ve outlined everything you need to know to become an international student advisor. We’ll show you what employers will be looking for in terms of your education and experience, as well as what skills and personal traits you’ll need to be able to bring to the table in order to be effective. 


We've also included helpful supplementary information, such as a job description, an overview of the job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employer types and much more!



Is Becoming an International Student Advisor a Good Fit?

Regardless of the education and experience you’ll need, the most important thing you’ll bring to the table is, you. 


To succeed as an international student advisor, you’ll need a certain set of personal traits, as well as professional interests and ambitions. Having them will help you stay energized, motivated and focused in your work, which can lead to being great at your job. Here’s an overview of these desirable traits:


Terrific interpersonal skills are the most crucial trait to have, since most of your duties will require interacting with students, parents and other school employees. Being highly organized, comfortable speaking to the public and equipped with basic teaching skills are also crucial, as you could be working with hundreds of students in your constituency.


The ultimate quality to have in this profession, is being passionate about helping international students transition to their new life, and supporting them throughout their educational journey at your school. 


Other important traits are:


• Enthusiasm and initiative 

• Interest in a “9-5” career in the field of education 

• Interest in a career with clear structure, guidelines and processes

• Patience and empathy when listening to the problems of others



Educational Requirements 

There is no standard educational requirement for becoming an international student advisor, employers are generally free to set their own hiring requirements and guidelines for this role. Most employers however, will only hire candidates with a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, which typically includes any liberal arts degree, a degree in education, or a degree in counseling. 


Please Note: Many employers will list having a master’s degree as an asset, but not a requirement. 





Relevant Experience Requirement

Employers will want proof that you can bring a certain level of competence to the role, as well as familiarity with the type of work you’d be doing. 


The main thing employers will be looking for, is that you’ll have working knowledge of issues facing international students, and experience advising, teaching or counseling students (international or domestic). To gauge this, they will look at your work history. Types of relevant experience on your resume could include:


• Experience working in immigration regulation, advisement, and/or compliance

• Professional or paraprofessional experience in the field of International Education and/or Student Affairs (Education Abroad, International Student Services, Multicultural Affairs, etc.), which could include teaching experience

• Experience in a student services environment, preferably in a post-secondary environment, with experience in one or more of the following: international student advising, client advocating, admissions/records, or recruitment

• Experience working with international populations and acute knowledge of: issues facing international students, intercultural communication theory and practice, international education systems and cultures, and student development


Success Tip: If you’re a graduate student, experience as a graduate assistant in any of these capacities is often counted as ‘relevant’ by employers.



Skills You Might Need

Employers might list some, or all, of the following skills on job postings. In general, if these aren’t listed as requirements for the job, they are strong assets to have:


• Familiarity with education systems in other countries

• Knowledge of world geography and cultures

• The ability to integrate into a new team and work together toward achieving set/common goals

• The ability to prioritize and manage a diverse workload within a changing and fast-paced office environment

• Awareness of and sensitivity to diversity and cross-cultural differences

• Proficiency with MS Office Suite

• Fluency in another language



More About this Profession: General Job Description 

In broad definition, an international student advisor (ISA) is responsible for the creation and coordination of service delivery for international students, and the advancement of the internationalization of the school that they are employed with. 


A big part of their job is to help international students integrate into the culture of their host city. The ISA provides advisement and counsel on social, cultural, academic, personal, financial, career, and immigration matters.


At the same time, they assist in the planning and execution of international student success programs, and research and implement best practices for effective service delivery. 



Typical Job Duties 

Although the duties can vary from job to job, international student advisors are generally responsible for the following tasks and duties:


• Assisting the registrar and admissions officer with the development of accurate information for prospective international students

• Providing activities and programs for international students which will assist in maximizing their chances of success, such as Peer Correspondence programs

• Creating a schedule for airport reception services and making arrangements for temporary international student accommodations

• Keeping relevant parties informed as to any changes in the laws and regulations surrounding international students

• Developing, maintaining and evaluating policies and procedures guide for the Office of International Students as well as relevant material pertaining to the needs of international students

• Supervision of student staff of the International Office

• Ensuring institutional compliance with all federal regulations as well as maintenance of student and campus records

• Cultivating relationships with international students

• Advising students with regard to complex issues related to immigration regulations, such as maintaining lawful status; eligibility for part-time enrollment; campus or external employment, and other issues





Average Salary Level

International Student Advisor Salary - Canada: According to the 2016 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey (the latest salary figures available at the time of writing), the average salary level of Albertans working in the “Educational Counsellors” occupational group is $67,814 per year. The average overall wage is $31.20 per hour. Unfortunately, at the time of writing there were no figures available from reliable sources for the rest of Canada (July 15, 2019). 


Salary - United States: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the “School and Career Counselors“ occupational group is $56,310 per year, or $27.07 per hour (May, 2018 figures).


Please Note: The actual wages and salaries of international student advisors can vary greatly, typically depending on the following factors:


• Their level of education and experience

• The amount of responsibility inherent in their job

• The size of their student base

• The region in which they work

• Various other factors 



Who Employs Them?

International student advises are employed almost exclusively within colleges and universities. However, they can also be employed within high schools, although this is relatively uncommon.



International Student Advisor Jobs - Current Opportunities

Our job board below has international student advisor job postings in your area (when available). Give it a try to see if there are any positions that interest you:



Work Environment and Conditions 

Working Hours: International student advisors usually work standard office working hours, although they may spend additional evening and weekend hours meeting with students, families or co-operative professionals.


Work Setting: ISAs usually work in offices where they can conduct private interviews with students, and in classrooms or boardrooms where they conduct group sessions. Work related travel is not common or frequent in this profession.



Career Advancement Opportunities 

If you display a high amount of competence, commitment and a strong work ethic in your role as international student advisor, you’ll have opportunities to move into roles of greater responsibility and pay, or, the opportunity to move into related roles, some of which may not be in the field of education at all.


For example, you could become a supervisor or team leader in your department, which would come with more responsibility and pay, or, you could even become the department manager. With enough experience, you might even have the opportunity to become the director of international student admissions, or the director of all admissions.


Alternatively, you could become an international student immigration advisor or consultant, or a general immigration consultant, which might require additional education, certification or training.



Similar Career Guides in Our System

Listed below are occupational guides in our database for careers that are similar in nature to “international student advisor”, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Academic Advisor

Career Counselor

Education Abroad Counselor

ESL Teacher

Immigration Consultant

School Counselor



References for This Career Guide

The following sources were referenced in the preparation of this career guide. Please visit them to learn more about the various aspects of this profession.


Occupational Profiles:Education Counsellor.” (March 9, 2016). Alberta Learning & Information Service - Government of Alberta. Retrieved July 15, 2019.

Occupational Outlook Handbook:School and Career Counselors.” (April 12, 2019). United States Department of Labor - Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved July 15, 2019.

Blog:Academic Advisor: Job Requirements and Salary Info.” Robbie Bruens (October 4, 2012). Concordia University Portland. Retrieved July 15, 2019.

Ask an International Student Advisor:May 2019 Student Advisor - Martin Dada from Appalachian State University.” (n.d.). Retrieved July 15, 2019.


Please Note: Actual job postings were used in the preparation of this career guide. However, due to the brief nature of their online presence, they are not listed here as references.



Scholarships for Becoming an International Student Advisor

Any of the scholarships listed in our database are relevant for becoming an international student advisor. Our scholarships can be found here.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships for which you are even remotely qualified - millions of dollars in scholarship money go to waste every year in Canada and the USA due to a lack of applicants…millions.



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below can serve as an excellent educational foundation for this career:


Top Banner Image: