Aid Worker


Aid Workers usually operate in front line positions, assisting with essential services such as food, healthcare, education and housing for individuals and communities who have been the victims of natural disasters, disease, famine or conflict. They frequently work in remote, often destitute communities all over the world, on projects ranging from HIV/AIDS prevention to management education. The duties of Aid Workers encompass planning, implementing and/or administering aid.

While specific tasks vary considerably according to their area of specialisation and the situation they are responding to, they may include some or all of the following:

• Assessing emergency situations to determine the project requirements, ensuring compliance with relevant national and international regulations, policies and procedures

• Coordinating activities with other emergency departments and response teams

• Ensuring adequate supplies of food, medicine and equipment

• Participating in emergency activities including:

• Providing services such as healthcare, food, shelter or education

• Ensuring the safety of staff working in potentially dangerous situations

• Recruiting, inducting, training, supporting and supervising staff, including volunteers

• Managing budgets

• Working with local agencies to ensure that long-term initiatives are implemented

• Monitoring and reporting on progress

• Preparing funding proposals.

Sectors and industries

Local, national and international government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) provide volunteer and paid work opportunities.


Personal Qualities

Aid workers need to have high levels of integrity and accountability, be adventurous, and be able to adapt to different cultures and languages quickly. Being an aid worker requires high energy levels and the ability to adapt to highly challenging situations and withstand emotional strain. Aid workers also need excellent communication, interpersonal and negotiation skills in their dealings with various stakeholders, and to be flexible and resourceful.

Entry Requirements

Many aid agencies require professionals such as engineers, agronomists, environmentalists, logisticians, linguists, and medical professionals, IT specialists, business and accounting professionals, and skilled managers. However, Social Science and Arts graduates are highly valued due to their well-developed writing and research skills. Masters degrees are frequently required for aid related work.

It can be difficult to obtain employment with aid agencies. However, making connections by becoming a volunteer with various agencies, being prepared to work your way up over a couple of years, building and networking contacts via attending conferences, learning a second language and gaining international experience, either through study, travel or volunteer programs, will help you to obtain your goal. Agencies such as the Peace Corps and Voluntary Services Overseas provide training, language classes, support and a post-assignment network of contacts for new employees. It is also necessary to advertise your skills such as research and communication, and be clear about your motivations for wanting to join the agency.