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5 Common Career Paths in Peacebuilding

It is very common to hear about wars and conflicts across the globe, especially on the continent of Africa. Wars and conflicts are our present-day realities, but research suggests that the rate and spate of wars have fallen drastically in recent years, especially in Africa. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Yearbook 2007 listed 19 ‘major armed conflicts’ which occurred in 17 locations in Africa between 1990 and 2006. In 2006, the number of current major armed conflicts was three (down from 11 in 1998 and 1999) – in Burundi, Sudan, and Uganda.  The 2008 Yearbook reported only one major armed conflict in Africa in 2007 – in Somalia. Ethiopia and Eritrea recently buried the hatchet and opened up air operations between both countries after decades of hostility.

Granted, the world is still plagued with conflicts—Yemen and Syria are telling examples of the devastating effect of wars, but peacebuilding, it seems, is working.  Much of the reduction in global wars can be attributed to peacebuilders across the globe who are sometimes unrecognised, and who most times, work in dire conditions. The success of peacebuilding activities across the globe has given rise to renewed interest in graduates in peacebuilding or some peacebuilding expertise. This article explores common career paths in peacebuilding.


Peacebuilding graduates are increasingly finding relevance in various areas such as rule of law, human rights, conflict management, livelihood, and health, as well as education. The complexity of transforming a society from war to peace includes establishing formal systems, as well as new social norms. Graduates of peace and conflict studies, especially those with experience in peacebuilding often go on to become researchers and/or teachers in the field.

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One important aspect of peacebuilding is the need for adequate research before a peacebuilding initiative is undertaken. Researchers spend ample time understanding the sociocultural, sociopolitical and socioeconomic contexts of conflicts, as well as the various actors involved. They conduct also research on the conflict’s dynamics, vis-à-vis major actors and their interests in the conflict. This knowledge helps peacebuilders prepare interventions that are context-specific and that ultimately lead to successful peacebuilding initiatives.

Required Skills & Qualifications:

Peacebuilding academics/researchers are often required to possess postgraduate degrees in peace and conflict studies, and other related disciplines. They are also required to possess Strong communication and interpersonal skills.

Estimated Salaries: €50,159 – €76,891. This depends on the years of experience and geographical location.

Trauma Awareness Advisors

Since graduates of peacebuilding (or peace and conflict studies) come from very diverse and multidisciplinary backgrounds, they often find relevance in a multiplicity of peacebuilding jobs, including as trauma awareness advisors. Peacebuilding and trauma awareness advisors are typically responsible for situational awareness, trend analysis, and programme adaptation to reflect best practices and lessons learned for stabilization and conflict mitigation. The trauma awareness advisor also develops and facilitates programmes aimed at trauma healing, coordinates across project technical teams to ensure that other members understand trauma and how trauma affects specific project activities, provide guidance and direction for programme strategy and activities in the areas of conflict mitigation, develop or adapt conflict mitigation assessment frameworks, support the integration of conflict assessment findings into other program activities, etc.

Required Skills & Qualifications:

  • Trauma awareness advisors are typically expected to possess some years of relevant experience developing, implementing and monitoring conflict mitigation, peacebuilding, and trauma-awareness programs in a fluid, politically sensitive conflict and post-conflict
  • A relevant bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. Postgraduate degrees in peace and conflict studies (peacebuilding) is usually an added advantage.
  • Experience using small grants to help local organizations, individuals, communities, and constituencies advocate for, develop or implement conflict mitigation, peacebuilding and political transition activities;
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills required.

Please note that skills requirements depend to a large extent, on specific geographical locations and project peculiarities.

Estimated Salaries: €35,159 – €66,891. This depends on the years of experience and geographical location.

Measurement Officers

Graduates of peacebuilding or those with expertise in peacebuilding also build careers as measurement officers for international organisations. They play very important roles in tracking, quantifying, communicating and acting on results, which is driven in part by laid down organisational Outcomes and Evidence Frameworks (OEF). Measurement officers also support the development and use of core indicators and related data collection and measurement tools, in collaboration with colleagues. Measurement officers support field officers in building capacity to collect, store and analyse programme data through training, technical support and monitoring data quality.

Required Skills & Qualifications:

Measurement officers are expected to possess bachelor’s degrees in social science and/or humanities. Candidates with postgraduate degrees, especially in peace and conflict studies are often preferred.

Please note that skills requirements depend to a large extent, on specific geographical locations and project peculiarities.

Estimated Salaries: €45,159 – €56,891. This depends on the years of experience and geographical location.

Development and Communication Specialist

Peacebuilding graduates also find career paths as development and communication specialists. They work directly with civil society leaders to provide relief to vulnerable members of the society. Perhaps one of the most vital aspects of their work is that they monitor conflicts and present a more balanced and conflict-sensitive view to the members of the public and policymakers, thereby enhancing public understanding of the immediate and remote causes of conflicts, which in turn helps to consider nonviolent responses to conflicts. This is a very important aspect of the peacebuilding process. Development and Communication Specialists also carry out grant writing, news analysis, and the development of effective communication strategies for the attainment of set developmental goals.

Required Skills & Qualifications:

Development and Communication Specialists often come from multidisciplinary backgrounds with degrees in public affairs, peace and conflict studies, mass communication, journalism, international relations, political and/or social sciences, etc. Additionally, Development and Communication Specialists are required to possess excellent written and verbal communication skills, strong interpersonal skills, as well as impeccable organisational abilities.

Please note that skills requirements depend to a large extent, on specific geographical locations and project peculiarities.

Estimated Salaries: Development and Communication Specialists earn between €51,100 and €102,600 yearly, depending on qualifications, geographical location and years of experience.

Policy Officer

Graduates of peacebuilding function effectively, and build careers as Policy Officers, working with peacebuilding teams and local stakeholders to help empower local communities, by engaging with civil society, donors and decision makers from local to global levels. They also assist in the formulation of policies on political, commercial and socioeconomic matters. They contribute primarily to the policy influencing areas of the organisations they work. Their rich background in the dynamics of conflicts means that they are often equipped to write progress reports on peace negotiations, conflict resolution, as well as peacebuilding initiatives. Policy officers also play a multiplicity of roles such as in press and public affairs, consular and immigration management, as well as active involvement in the process of mediation and negotiation.

Required Skills & Qualifications:

  • Policy Officers typical possess a master’s degree in International Development, Conflict Resolution/Peace Building or other relevant fields.
  • Excellent understanding of the dynamics of conflict resolution in the context the community of the country where they operate.
  • Excellent research, policy analysis, and report writing skills.
  • Minimum 2 years policy and advocacy or peacebuilding experience with strong familiarity with fragile states/contexts.
  • Proven ability in relating to national staff and governmental authorities.
  • Must have the ability to travel and a flexible approach to living conditions.
  • Able to work in a harsh and demanding environment and adaptable to rapidly changing contexts.

Please note that skills requirements depend to a large extent, on specific geographical locations and project peculiarities.

Estimated Salaries:  Policy officers earn a base salary of €43981.481. The salary varies according to the place of employment and on organisational salary scales. Postgraduate degree holders tend to earn higher to the base salary.