How to become an Expat?

Now I present you with my third article on Expat! We’ve discussed what expat meant and the advantages of being an expat in previous articles. Now we will talk about how to become an expat and is there a formula you can apply to become an expat for those who read my previous articles and are intrigued.

Short answer is: No, there isn’t a formula to become an expat.

Now let’s discuss the long answer for those who are interested. As you can conclude from the short answer there isn’t a specific thing you can do to become an expat. However, there are things you can do to increase your chances of being chosen as an expat in a multinational company.

Knowing Foreign Languages

Knowing foreign languages is a big advantage. As you know knowing a foreign language is crucial to not only being an expat but also getting employed by a big company. However, if you want to increase your chances you should also learn a second language. Not to be a buzzkill but today almost everyone knows at least one foreign language.

A second language will be a great advantage for you. It is better for you to choose a language that isn’t that common in your country. This will give you an even greater advantage.

Now let’s talk about what to consider when strategically choosing a foreign language. You need to take into account how much place that language holds in the world, English speaking levels of those that are native speakers of that language and how important the countries that use that language are to your career.

Let’s take Portuguese as an example. The number of countries that speak Portuguese are not that high. The most popular ones are: Brazil and Portuguese. However English-speaking rates of these countries are not high either. So, speaking Portuguese can be an advantage for the companies that do business with Portuguese, Brazil and other developing countries that speak Portuguese.

Another example can be Norwegian. It is a language that has a narrow area of usage. It is only used in Norway. Yes, there are many companies that do business with Norway but are these companies looking to hire someone that speaks Norwegian? A big percentage of Norwegians already speak English well. So, learning Portuguese may be a better choice than learning Norwegian.

Lastly, you might be thinking “I already started learning Spanish at school. Can’t I just go on from there?” Learning Spanish can be a great investment but since there are so many people who speak Spanish you need to stand out from these people. For example, your “I could manage myself” level Spanish won’t be enough. You need to be able to speak professional level Spanish.


Some positions at large multi-national companies will require a university diploma. Your diploma will especially be important for positions like engineering, marketing or accounting.

On the other hand, higher education is not the only type of education. Having a university diploma is definitely not a necessity for being an expat. For example, there are many successful expats in the construction industry that don’t have a university diploma. The important thing is the kind of qualifications and industry needs of their employees. Some industries may require a level of technical background or some special certificates in their employees.

Work Experience

Work experience is also a good advantage. For example, let’s say you have years of experience in the logistics industry. The company is aware of your professional knowledge and the quality of your work. Why shouldn’t they trust you to operate their business abroad? Proving your talents at your current position can immensely increase your chances of becoming an expat. As I’ve mentioned before, work experience in fields that require technical knowledge is more valuable.

Experience in Abroad

This is a great advantage. As I’ve stated before, companies make a serious investment in their expats. The worst thing that can happen in this situation is the expat changing their mind and quitting. This will result in a great waste of their investment and it will affect their operation in the said country very badly.

Living in a totally different country and different culture can be a lovely opportunity and a great experience but it is also very hard. So, both you and the company needs to be sure if you are up to the task. If we put aside the part about convincing your company, I’ve written “you” in bold letters because you need to be sure you are ready for this experience. You can check out my article Advantages and Disadvantages of Being an Expat to help you decide.

Your experience abroad will teach you to stand on your own two feet and adapt to different cultures. (It’s a beneficial experience even if you don’t want to be an expat.)

In conclusion

As I said, these things don’t guarantee that you will become an expat.

Your company might not choose you for the expat position even if you’re a person with a master’s degree, speak 3 languages, have experience both in the field and abroad. You never know. Maybe they were considering a younger person for that position and they will choose someone who is less experienced, doesn’t have a master’s degree and only speaks English.

You may even encounter an expat who does not speak any foreign languages, has never been abroad before or has just started their professional career. There are many people like this. After all, it is the company that makes the assignment, and it up to them to decide who they find most suitable for this position or what features they seek for the position.

The purpose of this article is to show you that there are things you can do to be expat, but there isn’t an exact formula. My suggestion to you is that if you really want to work abroad as an expat and you have a certain industry in mind, you should do research on that industry.

For example, are you interested in automotive? Try to find out which companies are sending expats in the automotive industry and what features they look for in the people they send. Use platforms like LinkedIn. Check out Internations, try to meet expats. Try messaging people who are expats in the industry you want. (I know I sound like the university career advisors, but that’s the way.)

In conclusion, there is no definitive answer to the question “how to become an expat”. But there is nothing you can’t achieve when you put your mind into it. If you see yourself in various parts of this article and want to be expat with all your heart, do your research, draw a path for yourself, and slowly start walking on that path. That’s all I can say.

Information about the article:

Date of Translation: February 22, 2020
Translated by: Dilan Sen 

This blog is voluntarily translated by students who are eager to improve their translation skills! If you’d like to share your feedback with these hard-working students, please leave your thoughts in the comments! Also, if you’d like to contact them, please send a message to Ters Mevsim through the Contact Page. Thank you!