Humanitarian Careers that Make a Real Difference

Humanitarian work is all about ensuring human welfare and supporting global communities. Humanitarians can choose from diverse and exciting careers, from social work to nursing.

Irrespective of their area of expertise and professions, humanitarians share several essential traits, including compassion, selflessness, stamina, and interpersonal skills.

In this article, we discuss the humanitarian careers that make a difference.   

Death Doulas

The term doula or midwife typically refers to a labor assistant who helps mothers during childbirth. However, there are also death doulas or death midwives.

So, what is a death doula? They are trained professionals supporting individuals that have gone through miscarriage, induced abortion, or stillbirth.

One of their most prominent roles is assisting the dying. Death doulas provide immense support to adults in geriatric care who have no family, close relatives, or friends. With their help, individuals can perform various tasks, such as writing a will or planning a funeral. They offer spiritual, psychological, and social support, helping them die peacefully.

Social Workers

Social workers have been the pillar of society for centuries. Their responsibility is to support individuals with different cultural backgrounds, education, socio-economic statuses, religion, and disabilities.

Employees in social work help individuals and their families enhance the quality of their lives by providing them with essential needs, such as food or shelter. Their take care of numerous social problems, including abuse, poverty, unemployment, addiction, or mental illness.

There are various types of social work, such as:

  • Child welfare social work
  • Developmental disabilities social work
  • Health care social work
  • International social work
  • Mental health and substance abuse social work
  • Occupational and employee assistance program social work
  • Public welfare social work
  • School social work
  • Aging social work
  • Administration and management social work
  • Social work research 

This role involves a combination of critical thinking, problem-solving, and empathy. A social worker needs to connect with a client and build an honest relationship. Based on the client feedback, they need to understand the problem they are going through and implement a practical solution. Next, they meet with the client regularly and supervise their progress over time.

Foreign Aid Workers

Foreign aid workers travel abroad to support deprived communities and developing countries. They cooperate with non-governmental organizations, local communities, and international foreign agencies. 

That is an enriching and dynamic career opportunity. Foreign aid workers travel to various areas and experience different cultures.

To become a foreign aid worker, one needs to have a degree in international relations, human rights, and humanitarian aid. The knowledge of foreign languages is obligatory, too.  

This role also requires lots of passion, determination, and persistence. That is because it comes with numerous health and safety risks, such as exposure to death, diseases, violence, and war.

Apart from humanitarian aid, the responsibilities of a foreign aid worker also include:

  • Providing reports and evaluations of local communities
  • Training volunteers 
  • Collaborating with local authorities
  • Planning, implementing, and managing projects
  • Fundraising

Environmental Health Officers

Environmental health officers perform risk assessments and enforce laws and regulations. They maintain optimal public health by reducing chemical, biological, or physical environmental factors. 

Some other responsibilities of an environmental health officer are:

  • Informing employees about different aspects of environmental health
  • Creating thorough reports
  • Providing environmental health training
  • Investing complaints, such as food poisoning or air contamination
  • Collaborating with other organizations
  • Providing evidence in court

The environmental health officer position requires a degree in environmental health and additional training. They need to have a high understanding of toxicology, epidemiology, microbiology, and parasitology.

They can work in local governmental institutions, the army, commercial firms, technical services, or food manufacturing.

Legal Aid Officers

Some people cannot afford costly legal advisory and court representation. Fortunately, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals have access to legal aid.

The roles of a legal aid officer are multiple. They should provide clients with legal advice and respect their interests in every situation.

To become a legal aid officer, you need to have a law degree. Some organizations require legal advisors to have a few years of industry experience.

Depending on the area of law, legal aid officers may need to invest in additional training and qualifications. For example, you need to be familiar with refugee and international human rights laws to provide migrants with legal assistance.


Nursing is the nerve center of the healthcare system. According to research studies, healthcare organizations need 1.1 million nurses to bridge the current nursing shortage. 

Given that, we can claim that nursing is a lucrative career opportunity for everyone aiming to pursue a career in healthcare. From registered nurses to nurse practitioners, the career opportunities are multiple. 

To become a nurse, one needs to take a nursing degree. They can choose from child nursing, disability nursing, adult nursing, and mental health nursing. 

Nurses can also work in schools, GP practices, hospitals, companies, NHS trusts, prisons, and residential homes. Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Offering pre- and post-surgery care
  • Monitoring medication and providing intravenous infusions
  • Supervising and tutoring interns and junior staff
  • Providing support to patients and relatives
  • Taking patient samples, measuring temperature/blood pressure, etc. 

Over to You

Humanitarian work penetrates all industries, from healthcare to engineering. This career opportunity comes with an immense moral obligation and requires empathy. However, the fact that you have dedicated your life to saving lives evokes unimaginable inner fulfilment and satisfaction. 

We hope these examples will inspire you to pursue a humanitarian career.

What are your thoughts on humanitarian work? We are looking forward to hearing from you!