How to become a humanitarian aid worker

jobs for humanitarians

Many people want to find a job in humanitarian aid but have no idea how to go about it. It is a competitive field, with high entry hurdles and as such, many people struggle to get into work. This post aims to give you some pointers as we outline some of the key factors that you should follow in order to secure a job in humanitarian aid.

Humanitarian aid refers to the activities of humanitarian organizations trying to help people in distress.

There are many different types of humanitarian aid workers, such as doctors and nurses, nutritionists, water and sanitation experts, logistics and supply chain experts, engineers, social workers, and community development workers.

However, a large number of humanitarian aid workers are administrative staff who support the delivery of aid in the field or at headquarters.

There is no set route to a career in humanitarian aid. Some people will have studied a humanitarian or development subject at university, while others will gain experience from other careers before moving into this sector.

The most effective way to find a job in humanitarian work is through networking.

Most humanitarian agencies recruit through their own websites, so make sure to check regularly for new job postings. You can also try specific job search engines like or

However, the most effective way to find a job in humanitarian work is through networking. Building your network will help you stay connected to the global humanitarian community and learn about opportunities even before they are advertised. This includes:

Join humanitarian forums like the Humanitarian Web, The Aid & International Development Forum (AIDF), or the World Humanitarian Forum (WHF) not only to stay up to date about vacancies but also about current affairs in the field of humanitarian aid.

Following UN agencies, such as OCHA and UNHCR, on Twitter.

Following key aid organizations such as Save the Children, Oxfam, ActionAid International, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), CARE International, and Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on Twitter and LinkedIn.

The more you can align your career path with the needs of humanitarian employers, the better your prospects will be.

The humanitarian aid sector is a large and diverse industry, encompassing everything from international agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to national charities. As a result, it is difficult to generalize about the career routes into the sector.

However, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of getting a job in the humanitarian industry:

Learn as much as you can about the sector. This will not only help you understand the diversity of humanitarian work but also give you a better idea of the types of jobs you might be interested in.

Take responsibility for your own development. If you want to work for an international aid organization, look for opportunities to gain relevant skills and experience in other organizations. For example, if you would like to work in project management for an NGO, try to find management roles in other sectors which would help you build up your skillset.

Consider volunteering or internships. These can provide valuable experience which will help improve your CV when applying for paid roles later on.

The more you can align your career path with the needs of humanitarian employers, the better your prospects will be.

Most international humanitarian aid agencies require some form of higher education. Of course, the level of education required will depend on the position you’re applying for.

Many agencies also require that applicants have some relevant work experience in a similar field. Again, this will depend on the position you’re applying for.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in humanitarian aid, it is important to consider getting an internship with a humanitarian organization while you are still studying. This will help you gain valuable practical experience, and it will also allow you to build up your contacts in the industry.

Key qualifications for becoming a humanitarian aid worker

To get a very competitive and senior role, an additional master’s degree is almost essential. The most common qualification for an entry-level role is a relevant undergraduate degree. After that, you’d need to build up experience, which could be through volunteering or working in the non-profit sector.

You may also find it useful to be able to demonstrate that you have lived or worked in a developing country, as this will give you greater credibility with your colleagues and supervisors.

On top of the essential qualifications, you will also need to demonstrate that you have certain skills, such as strong communication skills, the ability to work under pressure and with little supervision, and the ability to work in a multi-cultural setting.

You will struggle to build a successful humanitarian career without languages.

To be a successful humanitarian aid worker, you need to be able to work in an international environment. Many people who work in international aid have language skills that enable them to work in various countries around the world.

Do take the time to learn one or two extra languages besides English, ideally French and Arabic as these tend to be most relevant for opportunities.

Once you start working as a humanitarian aid worker, it is vital that you consider each job as a building block and every post as an opportunity for professional development.

As with any career path, be open-minded about where you can go — look for opportunities to try new things and expand your horizons by taking on additional duties or working with different teams or departments.

Your professional network will also become essential to your success as an aid worker, so make sure you’re keeping in contact with peers, former colleagues, and others who are doing similar jobs.

Takeaway: It is possible to find a fulfilling career in humanitarian aid by following these steps.

What all humanitarian aid workers share is the desire and commitment to use their skills and expertise to help those who are most in need. Aid work can be demanding, stressful and dangerous; but it can also be incredibly rewarding — both personally and professionally — and if you’re looking for a job that allows you to make a real difference in the lives of other people, then it might just be the perfect option for yo


More To Explore