Careers in Humanitarian Aid – 10 Advantages and How to Start

More than 90% of Careers in Humanitarian Aid are available in developing countries across the world; it can also include third world countries. The main goal of such careers is to improve the living standard of the citizens and provide them with basic life necessities. There are multiple opportunities available in this field including technology, healthcare, and even engineering. Currently, several emerging risks are faced by many countries. These include:

  • Climate Changes: Due to global warming, many countries face floods, storms, and droughts which disrupt citizens’ food supplies, water, and health, thus leading to crisis.
  • Economic Crisis: With an increase in hunger and malnutrition conditions, several third-world countries face this crisis. It has been estimated that more than 50 million people globally are under the threat.
  • Disease outbreak: From cholera to Ebola and currently COVID19, many countries face outbreaks and need assistance from experts to fight the economic and health crisis.
  • Natural Disasters: One of the primary reasons for food crisis in several parts of the world is a natural disaster.

Top 10 Advantages Of A Career In Humanitarian Aid:

All people in this field are deployed to the locations that have been hit by disasters as mentioned above and need assistance for their citizens. The Humanitarian Workers work in all conditions including poverty to help people in need. Today, many people have joined the industry that helps in the management of such projects in far-off locations from their homes. Below, we have identified several advantages of working in the humanitarian aid sector. Let’s go through them.

1. Help People In Trouble:

Crisis, disasters, and conflicts happen all around the year and humanitarian organizations need a workforce that can deliver life necessities to affected masses. The exposure is massive as you get to experience a variety of projects related to the vulnerable population. You will be directly helping the people in their lives!

2. You Get To Travel All Across The World

The locations are unlimited and you get a chance to step out of your home country and work in abroad as per your deployment. There is frequent travel in such jobs as a crisis can happen anytime anywhere in the world. You get a chance to explore the world from a different angle as you work in remote places and the most dangerous areas of the world.

3. You Are The Frontline Worker

In any crisis, the aid workers play a vital role as they are the frontline workers in every crisis. With your skills, you can work with a variety of crises and assist the masses. Viewing the news on TV is a lot different from what you will experience on the ground. On the ground, the reality is a bit challenging and emotional but the exposure is massive!

4. Working With International Resources

Just like you will be assisting your organization in a crisis state, there will be a lot of people from different countries who will have a common goal like you. It’s a great chance to work with a variety of people from different parts of the world and you get to learn different things from each other when you work as a team. All such missions have a blend of international and local support groups who together bring the best in each other. It will be a great chance for you to build connections in one place with people in your field internationally.

5. Chance To Impact The World

There are very few jobs that provide you with a chance that can directly impact someone’s life in a time of crisis. If you believe in basic elements of human rights, justice and disaster management then you can be a great fit for this role. All human beings grow up with values instilled in them but which job will provide you with a platform better than humanitarian aid to put your values forward to help others? It’s a chance to make the world a better place through your services and you will get to learn a lot more infield.

6. Chance To Build Your Skills

In this field, you are not only on your duty but also getting a chance to learn every day. With new challenges coming your way, one gets to know about multiple aspects of the humanitarian aid program like project management, Human resources, Grant Management, Finances, and Logistics. Depending on your field, you can specialize in a variety of sectors like shelters, water and sanitation, healthcare, nutrition, and overall camp management. These skills have a different scope when it comes to crises and disasters.

7. Chance To Explore The Global Market

Organizations like Red Cross, UNICEF, UNDP, and US Aid are known for their work in humanitarian aid and this will be a great chance for you to serve these organizations in your career. The learning and growth are promising with unlimited challenges as they work in almost all parts of the world. Working as an aid worker will allow you to work on the frontline and grassroots level to help the communities in times of need.

8. Promising Financial Advantage

As you progress in your role, the management-level positions have good pay and incentives. Many people think that humanitarian aid is about volunteer work but it’s not. You get paid for your work. Other incentives provided by the industry include accommodation, insurance, and travel allowance. If you get to serve in highly dangerous areas, known as hard areas, the pay is more as compared to other areas. With such exposure, it’s a good way to save your money and secure your future for better plans.

9. It’s A Long Career

Working in humanitarian aid is different from other jobs as you are investing your time for a lifelong career instead of a few hours. With training and different projects, government and NGOs are always looking to hire people with great years of experience. You start your career in the basic role as a frontline worker but with experience, you can continue working in management and regional office positions. Your progress in your role and move to different locations in your career.

10. Variety Of Experience

Nobody gets a chance to work in different parts of the world, especially those which are not easier to access. While living in difficult conditions during the projects, you will get to experience gross root things that won’t be possible in any other job. Staying away from your home and also the necessities of life that we have been used to, you will be challenged at every step but your experience and connections will outnumber it soon!

5 Steps To Start Your Career In Humanitarian Aid

As basic as it can get, you need a proper degree and pieces of training in hand to join this field as a long-term career. Many people are interested in this field and it’s a challenging task to set yourself apart from the crowd. Many organizations have set up their standards to allow people to join them on the field. While you are planning to work in this sector, make sure your resume, cover letter, and interview skills show your deep interest in the overall idea of humanitarian aid.

Step 1: Develop Your Skills In Favor Of Field

There are a lot of choices when it comes to the humanitarian field including Finance, Law, Disaster Management and Relief, Health, Project Management, and much more. No matter what your interest is, there are a lot of options in choosing an organization for your career. If you have shortlisted your domain to work in this sector, search for relevant people in the field on LinkedIn.You will be able to see what their career path has been, you can see their degrees, pieces of training, and different places they have worked on. If you feel right, you can contact them on LinkedIn and ask for your advice. Few people will respond and few might not. Do not be disappointed if you do not get a response.

As a basic step, choose a graduate or postgraduate degree relevant to the humanitarian field. For training and add-on courses, you can search on Google for relevant details online. Many online platforms like edX, Coursera, and Udemy offer the option of a varied and interesting course.

Step 2: Get Relevant Work Experience

Even if you are enrolled in an undergraduate degree or postgraduate, getting relevant work experience is a must. The practical world is a lot different from academic knowledge. By the time you will graduate, you will have work experience that is essential for entry-level in various organizations. Sometimes having a volunteer experience or internship experience will give you a better chance to get your dream job. While studying, make sure that you have a good network in your field because summer internships in your relevant programs are difficult and a few positive words from your circle are going to make it easy.

Step 3: Learn A New Language

In several humanitarian aid projects, you will be sent to third-world countries where your language expertise will be needed. A few common languages that are common in humanitarian aid projects are Spanish, French, and Arabic. Learning a local language will give you an edge when working at the grassroots level because English might not be an efficient language to communicate with refugees or the local population.

Step 4: Understanding Global Crisis And Issues

To perform well in this field, you need to have an interest in it otherwise you will get bored soon. As a basic, try to have basic knowledge about ongoing global crises and disasters and understand what is happening in different parts of the world. Your knowledge will be your driving force when it comes to getting hired for your role in this field. To gain knowledge, watch the news – both local and international and also read publications regarding the crisis of different media houses.

Step 5: Prepare Your Resume And Cover Letter

Your resume and cover letter should show your interest in the field. Many people apply for such jobs for the sake of applying and do not have an interest in the field or organization. To get your interview call, make sure that your resume mentions the essential skills required for the role you are applying for in humanitarian aid. Mention your volunteer experience and internships that you have done. Don’t forget to mention great references. For the cover letter, mention your interest in the field and how passionate you are about this role.

Top 5 Essential Skills For A Career In Humanitarian Aid

For any role in humanitarian aid, you need a combination of technical skills as well as soft skills. We have mentioned the top 5 essential skills for any role in humanitarian aid that would be beneficial.

Skill 1- Team Working

All job roles in this field require each one of the working members to be a team player. There is hardly any task that is a solo task. To cater to the needs of a challenged society, teamwork is essential as your achievement is dependent on various factors. The challenges are complex and places are hard to live in so you need the support of your team to manage the workload and continue working in stressful situations. The operational tasks require teamwork as you are working with people from different backgrounds and cultures. It is important to have teamwork as your essential skill to perform better on the ground.

Skill 2- Problem Solving Skills

The response time to all crises and disasters is quite quick. That is why all aid workers need to have problem-solving skills because challenges will keep on coming your way and you need to work through them. One needs to be adaptive and find required solutions to serve the project with full enthusiasm. With a variety of projects coming your way, the challenges are unique every time and all humanitarian workers need to respond immediately to the crisis so that aid can start reaching the areas. If you have got experience working in a crisis zone then chances for your next deployment are high because your experience is required in the zone.  Solving the challenges and rising above all is your goal on the field.

Skill 3- Knowledge Of Use Computer Or Smart Gadgets

Yes, this field also requires IT-related knowledge for better performance. Few basic software knowledge like Microsoft Office including PowerPoint, Excel, and Word are required. On the field, you might have to use Excel for inventory maintenance or budget management. You might be using Word for creating reports and sending them back to your home office as per protocol.  Today many organizations conduct basic IT tests to gauge the skill set of the applicant before hiring.

Skill 4- New Languages

As mentioned above, learn a new language that is commonly used in areas of crisis and disaster. English, French, Spanish, and Arabic are a few common languages that you need to have command of as your second language. It is not mandatory but will give you an advantage when compared to others. To deal with a local organization in your aid work, command over a second language will be beneficial.

Skill 5- Flexibility In Work And Travel

One should have the flexibility to travel and live in difficult areas of the crisis zone. The sooner you adapt to the environment, the easier it will be for you to focus on your work from day one. Humanitarian aid workers are deployed immediately to such a zone that does affect personal life. If you are flexible in this regard, it can be an added benefit.

Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What Is Meant By The Duty Of Care?

All staff working at deployed locations by any Humanitarian Aid Organization has a legal and moral obligation, known as the duty of care to stay and deliver their duties at any station. The Duty of Care covers the medical, psychosocial, and administrative support along with security in such locations.

2. What Are The Types Of Employers In This Field?

There are 4 types including Non-Profit and Voluntary organizations, Private organizations, International NGOs and Charities.

3. Can You Choose Your Assignment Yourself?

Not at all! The organizations gauge your skills and prepare you for assignments based on your skills. The worker does not have a choice in the initial years but as you progress, you will have more control in developing your career.

4. What Is The Average Salary For A Humanitarian Aid Worker?

On average, it’s between $46000 to $56000. It depends on the industry.

5. What Are The Global Humanitarian Organizations Working For The Causes?

Few best organizations that are working without borders and helping populations in disasters and crises are:

  • Human Rights Watch
  • Red Cross
  • Red Crescent
  • Amnesty International
  • American Red Cross
  • Refugees International
  • Doctors without Borders
  • Global Rights and
  • United Nations Foundation.


With your passion and skillset, it will be a great opportunity for you to work on saving the lives of many human beings who need help at the time of crisis, both manmade and natural. There are varieties of sectors in which you can offer your services. Start working on your resume today and make a difference for people who need you.

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