Humanitarian work is not a new concept. For centuries, groups of people would come together to help meet the basic needs of society such as food, shelter, and medicine. Many organizations were faith-based. In the modern era, humanitarian organizations are usually classified as non-governmental organizations or NGOs. Today, there are thousands of NGOs around the world focusing on issues like healthcare, women’s rights, children’s rights, food security, and more.
Working in the field for a large-scale international operation is a dream come true for those who have just started building their humanitarian careers. International organizations that provide the necessary assistance to vulnerable populations in conflict or disaster-affected areas are always in need of qualified staff. Consequently, early career assistants and officers working on logistics, monitoring and evaluation, shelters, water and sanitation, and food security are also in demand.
Here are 10 international organizations that regularly employ early career humanitarian professionals to these positions.
This organization provides services and advice regarding migration to both governments and migrants. This includes refugees, migrant workers, and displaced persons. IOM’s work includes providing humanitarian assistance.
An agency of the United Nations, the WFP focuses on addressing hunger and food security. It provides help to an average of 91 million people every year. The headquarters is in Rome.
This NGO focuses on reducing poverty around the world. Their work includes sustainable development programs, humanitarian assistance, and public education. It consists of 19 independent charitable organizations led by Oxfam International.
Nutrient International focuses on vitamin and mineral deficiencies around the world. Work includes providing vitamin A, helping local processors iodize salt, and improving nutrition for young girls.
This nonprofit is made up of healthcare workers (such as doctors and nurses) who travel around the world assisting those in need. These groups include victims of disasters and armed conflict. Private donations make up the vast majority of the group’s funding. Doctors Without Borders operates in over 70 countries.
This humanitarian relief organization responds to crises around the world and helps in the rebuilding process. Their focus is on “high-impact, cost-effective solutions.” IRC helps after disasters, persecution, war, and so on.
This New-York based organization focused on women, specifically survivors of war and armed conflict. Women for Women offers job training, monthly stipends, health education, and other necessities. Based in Washington, D.C., the NGO also has offices in England, Germany, and other countries.
A global health organization, PATH focuses on healthcare like vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics. The NGO is especially concerned with women’s health. PATH is based in Seattle with more than 70 offices around the world.
Based in Minnesota, this humanitarian organization focuses on survivors of torture. This includes providing healthcare and therapy in a safe space as well as training for other organizations.
Founded in 1946, UNICEF is responsible for humanitarian and developmental aid to children. This includes disease prevention, childhood nutrition, education, and emergency relief. UNICEF operates in over 190 countries.
This humanitarian and development organization provides relief in over 30 countries. Areas of focus include child welfare, sanitation, disaster preparation, and more. While faith-based, the organization is not selective about who it assists.
The Geneva Conventions of 1949 gave the ICRC a mandate to protect those affected by armed conflicts. This includes prisoners, refugees, civilians, and others. It is one of the oldest organizations of its kind.
Founded in France, this international organization is dedicated to ending world hunger. It focuses on child malnutrition and providing sustainable solutions and safe drinking water to communities. The NGO can be found in over 50 countries worldwide.
An Evangelical Christian aid and development group, World Vision can be found in almost 100 countries. Areas of focus include emergency relief, health care, education, and economic development.
Founded in 1945, CARE is one of the biggest and oldest organizations focused on global poverty. It focuses on areas like food security, water and sanitation, education, and health.
Established in 2005 by the UN, CERF’s goal is to improve humanitarian responses and relief to areas affected by armed conflict and/or natural disasters. Funds come from governments, foundations, and individuals.
This humanitarian organization focuses on emergency medical services, healthcare training, and development programs. This includes preventative healthcare, clean water, mental health care, and women’s healthcare.
An NGO that provides emergency relief, development programs, and more, Relief International was founded in 1990. It can be found operating in 26 countries around the world, working closely with local communities to develop sustainable solutions.
Working in more than 80 countries, this international organization focuses on preparing for emergencies, preventing disease, and related areas. It was founded in 1948 by a war refugee. They send supplies to areas affected by disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and disease outbreaks.
Found in over 70 countries, Habitat for Humanity focuses on housing. Its programs include Solid Ground, which works to change land policies around the world, and Global Villiage Trips, which takes volunteers to other countries to build houses.
Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) is one of the most visible international organizations in emergency areas worldwide. Through its work, ACTED aims to support the most vulnerable ones who live in regions affected by conflict, natural disaster, or socio-economic hardship. At the moment, ACTED has offices in nearly 40 countries in the world. The organization is in constant need of qualified professionals in a variety of fields, including logistics, food security, monitoring and evaluation, and WASH.
In these areas, early career humanitarian professionals with a minimum of two years of relevant work experience can apply for positions such as Project Development Officer or Monitoring and Evaluation Officer. Some positions, such as Compliance and Transparency Officer, require only some related professional experience, in addition to a postgraduate degree.
This organization also offers a number of paid internships which last between three and six months. To qualify, candidates should have a related postgraduate degree and no work experience.
Prospective candidates can see all available international positions at ACTED on the organization’s website.
MSF employs over 30,000 people both internationally and locally, all of whom participate in providing lifesaving medical assistance to the vulnerable ones. Working with MSF could include working in the field or being one of the staff members in the international office.
In the field, MSF looks for professionals such as nurses, midwives, human resources coordinators, logisticians and others. For these positions, MSF requires at least two years of work experience. Interested candidates can get information on the organization’s website, which will redirect them to a regional MSF office where specific field jobs are advertised.
The international office in Brussels advertises fewer vacancies; nevertheless, it is also possible to join the team as a Communication Officer, Editor, or other, with a minimum of two years of professional experience.
One of the oldest and most effective international organizations, the ICRC, recruits thousands of people to work in its national and international offices, as well as in the field. In the field, the ICRC’s work falls into several thematic categories, such as Protection and Detention, Health Care, Water and Habitat, Logistics, and Communication. Resident field staff are employed at the local level to work in a specific country while mobile field staff work on an international contract and can be deployed to any country where the ICRC has a presence.
While the ICRC often hires professionals with extensive professional experience, early career professionals with at least two years of experience also all able to apply for a number of positions, including Interpreters and Delegates.
All vacancies looking for mobile field staff can be found on the organization’s job portal, while others are advertised nationally.
The ICRC also offers paid year-long traineeships at the headquarters in Geneva.
A sister organization of ACTED, Impact is a leading humanitarian organization which has established field presence in 19 countries since 2010. The organization employs hundreds of people who have been implementing more than 50 programs, working on monitoring and evaluation, assessment, and capacity building.
Prospective early career professionals can access all available international vacancies through the organization’s website. Certain entry level officer positions, such as Assessment Officer or Web GIS Officer require as little as one year of related work experience in a humanitarian setting.
Impact also regularly advertises paid internships in all locations where it has field presence as well as in the Geneva headquarters. The requirements for a field internship include a postgraduate degree and some proven work experience in the field.
Leading projects in more than 40 countries and multiple cities in the U.S., the IRC is one of the greatest organizations in the sphere of humanitarian work. The IRC’s mandate is to respond to humanitarian crises across the world and its work includes aiding refugees, internally displaced people, and other vulnerable groups.
Interested humanitarian professionals can apply for one of the international positions advertised on the IRC’s website or search for the organization’s local partners in a particular region. Internationally-contracted positions are largely open in the realms of Education, Knowledge Management, Evaluation and Research and are based at multiple locations. Certain positions, such as Grants Coordinator, for instance, require a minimum of three years of work experience.
The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is a leading humanitarian organization offering protection for refugees and internally displaces people around the world. Employing thousands of people, the DRC works in areas of emergency aid and shelter, as well as protection.
Early career professionals can join the Danish Refugee Council by applying to entry level positions such as Protection Officer, which requires a minimum of two years of related work experience, MEAL Officer, with a minimum of three years, or Distribution or Livelihood Assistant, for which some work experience is preferred.
All currently open national and expatriate positions are advertised on the DRC’s website.
The DRC also has a Stand-by Roster compiled of more than 600 humanitarian professionals who remain prepared to deploy to one of the United Nations’ operations whenever it is necessary to fill in short-term gaps.
The Norwegian Refugee Council works in more than 30 countries around the world, helping those who are forced to flee their countries. The organization’s goal is to respond quickly to emergencies by providing food assistance, water, shelter, legal aid, and education to those in need.
The Norwegian Refugee Council employs humanitarian workers both in its Head Office in Oslo and internationally. Vacancies in fields such as Shelter, Logistics, Rule of Law, and WASH are contracted internationally or nationally and are regularly advertised on the organization’s job board.
Many positions are entry-level. The Norwegian Refugee Council regularly employs Food Security Officers, Project Assistants and other assistants who are required to have a minimum of two years of experience that is relevant to the position.
Focusing on places in crisis or transition, Mercy Corps is present in more than 40 countries around the world, providing emergency relief where necessary as well as promoting meaningful changes in the communities. With Mercy Corps, humanitarian workers can join initiatives in the sphere of disaster preparedness, conflict management, health, food security and many others.
Multiples vacancies are advertised all year round. Candidates can apply for headquarters-based positions in Europe or the US or field-based international jobs. When it comes to field-based jobs, Mercy Corps particularly searches for qualified professionals for entry level positions such as Grants and Monitoring Officer, with a minimum of three years of professional experience, or WASH Grants Officer, for which one only two years of work experience is necessary. All of these positions and many others are regularly posted on the organization’s job board.
Mercy Corps also offers partially-funded internships.
With a mission to combat hunger and poverty and transform the lives of the vulnerable, Concern International has continuously been expanding its presence in emergency areas. Concern Worldwide spends most of its resources in different countries in Africa, but it also runs several projects in Asia, the Middle East, and the Caribbean.
Early career professionals interested in areas such as emergencies, gender equality, health and nutrition, and livelihood can explore numerous international and national job opportunities listed on Concern Worldwide’s website.
Concern Worldwide is in frequent need of Program Officers, for which candidates with a minimum of one year of related professional experience are encouraged to apply. In addition, the organization regularly advertises several other positions such as Advisors which require a minimum of three years of experience.
Relief International (RI) is one of the most impactful humanitarian organizations, serving over 5 million people in need annually. The organization’s mission is to relieve poverty in the world and help the most vulnerable communities create economic and educational opportunities.
This organization is currently present in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Early career professionals can join RI’s field missions in these regions or choose one of the jobs at head offices in the US and the UK.
In the field, RI is frequently looking for Livelihood Officers and Coordinators, Security Officers, Protection Officers and others. Most of these jobs are entry-level with a minimum of two or three years of related professional experience being needed. Available opportunities are regularly updated on RI’s job board.
Relief International also runs a Surge Roster for qualified candidates interested in short-term emergency response assignments.