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Five Tips For Becoming A Humanitarian Aid Worker

It takes a specific type of person to be a humanitarian aid worker. Spending three months in South Sudan, a couple of months in Afghanistan and then a quarter of a year in Nigeria. Most people wouldn’t dream of it, but as a compassionate humanitarian, it energizes you, giving you that motivation to keep doing what you do.

It’s not that easy to become a humanitarian aid worker

But the NGO world remains one of the hardest sectors to get into. It takes a lot of skill and dedication to make a career out of it because there are a lot of outstanding people who want to do it. Here are five tips to send you on your way to becoming a humanitarian aid worker.

1. Make hours as an unpaid intern

It’s almost impossible to get your first job in the humanitarian world without some internship experience on your CV. Unpaid internships are the norm for NGOs, so as with many things in life, you first have to invest in yourself, before reaping the rewards.

2. Get a master’s degree

If you haven’t built up an extensive volunteer experience, then a master’s degree is a ‘must’ for the NGO world. The master’s degree doesn’t necessarily have to be focused entirely on a humanitarian crisis skill like nutrition, but you have to be able to put it to use in the field, either through study or dissertation.

3. Bring a skill to the table

Having particular skills like food security, finance or nursing can also be an efficient way to fast-track your entry to a humanitarian organization. Probably, you still need to have a master’s degree, but you will find there aren’t hordes of freshly graduated finance majors who want to work in a developing country.

  1. Think Ahead

What remote areas of the world are you attracted to? Find out your interests and research conflicts in the region and see how your abilities match what's needed there. However, for an emergency response like an earthquake or a hurricane, this strategy won't work. Instead, try to get to the crisis earlier than most so that you are on the ground at the beginning of the humanitarian efforts. 

  1. Search, search, search

Once you've developed the skills and experience, it's time to hit the internet, looking for job opportunities. Search sites like, or are great for international postings. Or you can take a look at our tips on how to find a humanitarian job of course!

Raptim Humanitarian Travel is a not-for-the-profit travel agency with offices around the world. Our people are available at all times, willing to listen and understand the changing travel needs of humanitarian, faith-based and volunteer organizations. Contact one of our offices should you require more information about humanitarian travel!