Careers in Humanitarian Aid
Humanitarian aid organizations provide various employment opportunities for any individual seeking to assist nations and communities that experience poverty, war, natural disasters and other conflicts.  However, once you figure out that you want to do something it can still be difficult to determine the right humanitarian job that matches your skillset.  We have put together some humanitarian careers to help you find your path.

  • Field Officer- The field officer is the first line of defense in an aid organization.  They work directly with aid beneficiaries to determine their needs, determine any developing trends in the response and gather data for statistics.
  • Information Officer (I.O.)- The I.O. shares the organization’s activities and achievements internally and with the outside world.  Other responsibilities can include preparing and disseminating press releases, appeals, documents and briefings.
  • Camp Manager- Managers coordinate the overall humanitarian activity within camps for refugees and internally displaced persons.  They also help create self-governance structures that make decisions on how the camps will be organized and prioritize humanitarian interventions.
  • Disaster Risk Reduction Specialist (DRRS)- DRRS’s help communities prepare for and reduce their vulnerability to natural disasters.  They help create early warning systems and risk reduction measures for vulnerable countries.  DRRS’s can be engineers, architects, geologists and social scientists.
  • Food Security Specialist- A food security specialist identifies populations that are at risk of food shortages, develop monitoring systems to track their progress, and help create channels for food distribution.  It helps to be knowledgeable of global food security issues, especially since this role may require coordination with government officials and affected populations.
  • Health Professional- Health professionals such as physicians, surgeons, nurses, midwives, anesthesiologists, nutritionists, lab technicians and others are all in great need during emergency situations.  Along with the Field Officer, health professionals are on the ground in the disaster or conflict area.
  • Logistician- a logistician delivers humanitarian supplies and services where and when they are needed during an organization’s response.  Various positions within this category can require the management of purchasing, importing, transferring, tracking and deployment of supplies.
  • Protection Officer (P.O.)-  P.O.’s are tasked with keeping affected populations safe from any human rights violations.  They intervene in areas of child protection, gender-based violence, housing, land and property issues as well as issues concerning access to justice systems.
  • Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene- These individuals are responsible for providing clean water, arranging for safe disposal of waste and educating affected populations about sanitation practices.  Roles related to this field generally require engineering degrees.
  • Program Director- The program director makes sure the organization’s priorities and mandates for work are adapted to local conditions and achieved.  This is the highest position within a humanitarian organization and requires several years of management experience.

Humanitarian aid offers a wide variety of career choices for those who want to use their skills in an impactful and positive way.  Within each field, there are several related job opportunities at all levels of skill.  It is important to identify your skills and interests before pursuing a particular organization.

Sunny Bhatt

Sources: Inside Disaster, UN Careers
Photo: Borgen Project