People in many parts of the world suffer from a wide spectrum of problems ranging from famine and disease to civil war. Many of these situations present a vicious cycle of events in which poverty, lack of education and insufficient infrastructure lead to a worsening of the situation. Humanitarian careers are an option worth considering if you are one of those moved by a desire to do something to assuage this state of events.
Careers in humanitarian relief span an entire range of activities, with each job having its own specific requirements. Besides local governments, several nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations respond to emergency and disaster situations that call for rescue and relief operations. People participate in such operations in various capacities such as search officers, field officers, information officers, health care professionals and logisticians. Once a reasonable amount of stability has been achieved, other workers such as engineers, project managers and food security specialists step in to restore services such as food, water, shelter and sanitation.
A bachelor’s degree in the chosen area such as public health, nutrition, food security or logistics is generally essential for entry level humanitarian jobs. For higher level positions, a master’s degree in Economic and Political Development or Public Administration is required for administrative jobs. A master’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in Humanitarian Assistance or Health and Human Rights is especially useful to those seeking a career in humanitarian aid. Experience as a volunteer with an NGO or nonprofit organization involved in humanitarian aid services is a definite plus point.
To render service in the humanitarian field, it is not enough to have theoretical knowledge of ways to tackle emergencies and disasters. What is more important is the strong desire to serve others, willingness to adapt to a multicultural environment and the ability to work as part of a team. Knowledge of foreign languages, ability to communicate with clarity and patience, a mature, empathetic approach and physical and emotional toughness are other vital prerequisites for a career in this field.
Various organizations offer employment opportunities to those seeking a career in humanitarian services. Some of them are religious organizations while others are of a secular origin. Organizations such as the American Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, United States Agency of International Development, Catholic Relief Services, International Rescue Committee and Save the Children employ people to work in their global humanitarian operations. Many of these accept volunteers and have internship programs that provide candidates with an idea of what a career in this field involves.
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