How to become an International Aid Worker
The world is not perfect, from natural disasters and wars, to challenges in developing nations there is always someone in need. However, there are those whose mission it is to give those people affected hope and comfort. If this sounds like something up your alley it could be worth considering a job as an international aid worker.
What is an international aid worker?
International aid worker is a broad term which covers lots of different roles and different situations, people could be based in an office near your favourite coffee place or handing out food rations on the other side of the world. Roles and responsibilities for these workers differ but both sides are vital.
Those who work on the administration side handle needs assessments, budgets and fundraising. They create proposals and reports and make evaluations on emergency situations and what response is needed. They manage and train staff and volunteers, as well as reaching out to stakeholders and the public to help when needed.
The other aid workers are those working in the field or affected areas. They monitor and evaluate the situation first hand and provide necessary services varying from medicine, security to construction of housing, engineering and logistics. They have to address the safety and security of their team and the locals with an understanding of national and international procedures, their policies and codes. Part of their job is to train staff or volunteers to be efficient and safe in their work.
Being an international aid worker means you will likely be exposed to situations which are stressful and challenging. High pressure with time always being short is the norm so you must be able to multi-task and problem solve quickly. You need to be resilient but empathetic as you deal with people in terrible situations. Knowing more than one language would be useful, and being culturally sensitive to those you are helping is a must.
Hours & Conditions:
International aid worker tend to have a full time job if in administrative roles. For those in the field is varies from being on contract for months to years but the day to day hours may be unpredictable and change with the situation on the ground. In an admin role, you would typically be working in a state or regional office whereas those who are in the field are often working in dangerous suburbs, or remote areas and living in very basic conditions.
How to become an International Aid Worker: Qualifications
You usually need to complete a bachelor’s degree in an area such as social science, international relations, business or economics to become an international aid worker. Those who have a degree in engineering, medicine, nursing or teaching are qualified for specialist roles.
A number of NGO employers today offer a variety of workshops and training courses to let individuals know what to expect and better understand the role.
To get this kind of role you usually need to have experience as a volunteer worker. Initial roles often cover basics such as travel and accommodation but do not pay an actual salary. Paid roles are generally offered to those with several years experience.
To look at courses that will help you find a role as an international aid worker, check out
If you are thinking of becoming an international aid worker, there is a positive outlook for this role. The challenges we face globally from weather events, conflicts and new and developing nations means there are more people needed both on the ground to help but also manage the logistics and funding behind the scenes.