How to become an aid worker
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- working towards this role
You can do a degree that will give you specialist skills, which will be useful in humanitarian work, for example:
- medicine or healthcare
You could take a subject that will give you a wider understanding of global issues, like:
- international development
- social policy
After completing a degree, you can study for a postgraduate course in:
- international development
- humanitarian aid
- disaster management
It's important to get relevant work experience through volunteering, internships or year abroad opportunities.
Your university careers service can help you find suitable vacancies like those offered by organisations including:
You'll usually need:
- 3 A levels or equivalent
- a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course
To get a paid job as an aid worker you'll need experience, so most people start out as an unpaid volunteer.
You can begin by volunteering for a charity in the UK. You can also get involved with charities while at school, college and university, through student groups and societies. Most jobs involve office-based work at first but can lead to a wide range of opportunities.
You can find UK volunteering vacancies on Do IT, or by going directly to the websites of charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Some experience of living and working overseas may be helpful.
You can also apply for internships with charities and NGOs while you're at university. Entrance to these is very competitive.
You can apply directly for jobs if you're an experienced professional. As well as professions like nursing, healthcare, teaching and engineering, you'll find organisations often look for experience in administration, project management and logistics.
Aid organisations like RedR run courses for experienced professionals, who want to put their skills to use in humanitarian aid work.
Follow aid organisations that interest you on social media to find out about opportunities. Think about small organisations, as well as the bigger, more well known ones.
You could also develop useful skills, like languages, first aid or driving. Local people are now most likely to be recruited to do the frontline jobs during emergencies, so having specialist skills or knowledge they may not yet have, will give you an advantage.
You'll need to be willing to work long hours in challenging and often dangerous situations. You'll also need to show flexibility as well as being sensitive and culturally aware.
Professional and industry bodies
You may find it helpful to join an organisation like the International Association of Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection for training and development opportunities.
You can find out more about working in international aid and the organisations involved from: