Step into the career of your dreams – Humanitarian Aid

Monday, December 21st, 2015

How you can get your humanitarian career up and running.

From engineering to public health nutrition, aid work covers a wide variety of challenging roles. No matter where your interests or talents lie, you can channel them into helping others around the world.

Humanitarian work benefits

● A job with meaning – humanitarian work is vital. It makes a huge difference to people’s lives, and gives workers a sense that their achievements are valued and worthwhile. Aid work is also something that may align closely with your values, in a way that a job in the traditional corporate world does not.
● The chance to make a difference – aid work gives you the opportunity to change the lives of others for the better.
● Travel – humanitarian relief is needed across the globe. You could be in Turkey one month, and in Burundi the next. Humanitarian disasters can occur anywhere, at any time. Aid work takes you to the far corners of the world, where you’ll experience a wealth of different cultures and unforgettable moments.
● Rewarding and challenging – whatever line of aid work you choose, you’ll find it’s never dull. Each day presents new challenges and rewarding experiences.
● Sense of community among co-workers – while the traditional workplace can be highly competitive, aid work creates more of a community spirit. You’re all working together towards a shared goal, not individual gain, and the tough and intense situations that you may find yourselves in tend to create strong bonds and friendships that last a lifetime.
● Increased responsibility – you’ll find that you may encounter more challenging roles and be handed more responsibility and authority earlier in your career than you would in the corporate world.

But how do you get started?

This depends on the area of aid work that interests you. Entry-level jobs exist, while more specialised jobs, such as engineering, HR, administration and health services, require specific qualifications.

Humanitarian aid worker Martha Reggiori-Wilkes, in an interview with Forbes, explains that it can be surprisingly difficult to step into a role without lots of experience – or the right qualifications.


Open recruiting isn’t common – humanitarian work is often carried out to tight budgets. For this reason, many organisations advertise internally or on industry-specific boards rather than on the open market, as this is a cheaper way to recruit. Organisations also rarely hire in large numbers via careers fairs. Because there are fewer fully open recruitment channels, it can be a harder sector to break into.

Many workers are sourced locally – although this varies by country, many aid workers tend to be hired locally in areas where relief is needed. Workers sourced from abroad tend to be more qualified staff for skilled roles; senior managers or technical experts, such as engineers or medical staff, who cannot be found on the local job market.

This is where a degree can help.

Attaining a degree in a humanitarian-focused subject can help you gain the skills you need to enter the aid work sector.

Earn the degree you need – while you build practical experience in the field

Employers in this sector also value experience in the field very highly, so a degree like the University of Lincoln’s distance learning BSc (Hons) in Humanitarian Supply Chain Management is ideal.

It’s a one- or two-year ‘top-up’ degree delivered via work-based distance learning (WBDL). That means you’ll earn a fully accredited BSc degree while you continue to work and build on your practical experience. Your previous academic achievements and professional experience are also used as accreditation for the first one and two years of the course.

Modules covered by this degree include:

● Integrating Professional Humanitarian Supply Chain Experience
● Management of Change in a Humanitarian Organisation
● Humanitarian Supply Chain Strategy
● Applied Problem Solving with the Humanitarian Supply Chain

The University of Lincoln Work-Based Learning top-up degrees will help you achieve your career goals and obtain a qualification with a global focus. Find out more about the Lincoln WBDL programmes.


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