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Many people join the humanitarian sector because they want to dedicate their career to helping people affected by conflict, disasters and poverty. However, many people also join the aid industry because they want to travel. Jobs in the humanitarian sector can often give extensive opportunities to travel and although helping people is a big motivator for doing this work, having a career that let’s you travel the world is definitely a huge bonus.
So, if you want to travel and work in humanitarian aid, what are the best jobs to aim for? We’ll show you…
Emergency Response Manager
One of the humanitarian jobs that travel the most of the role of Emergency Response Manager. Emergency Response Manager’s work on the frontline of humanitarian disasters coordinating aid relief. They travel frequently as they move between different responses where their skills are needed the most. If you want to work in humanitarian aid and are up for a lot travel, pursue a career in emergency response.
Emergency Response Managers are often deployed to humanitarian crises as they develop and are usually the some of the first international responders to travel to the disaster zone. If you work as an Emergency Response Manager you’ll travel frequently as you move between humanitarian missions. The job of Emergency Response Manager often sets up a humanitarian response before handing over to longer term staff and traveling on to the next disaster.
Ask any doctor that does humanitarian missions and they will tell you they travel… a lot. Many humanitarian doctors work full-time in their home country’s health systems taking short breaks to support aid projects abroad. This means they often travel between their home and humanitarian missions that need them. Humanitarian doctors can also travel between different aid projects as their skills are needed elsewhere.
As well as humanitarian doctors that retain their positions as medical professionals in their home countries, there are full-time field based roles that require medical training. Humanitarian doctors that take these roles can travel a lot as they move from one posting to another. Humanitarian medical professionals are highly qualified, combining medical knowledge with expertise in crises zones. Those with jobs as humanitarian doctors can travel to many different project locations as their skills are needed.
The job of humanitarian Logistics Coordinator overseas the procurement, storing, moving and delivering of aid. As one of the most important positions within a humanitarian response, Logistics Coordinators can travel frequently. The role of Logistics Coordinator is the most senior logistical role in a humanitarian mission, meaning they can travel often between bases or to HQ or regional offices. They can also travel to meet suppliers if needed.
Logistics Coordinator’s are one of the humanitarian roles that can travel the most. The position of Logistics Coordinator is needed in almost all humanitarian responses and so post holders can move between missions frequently. The job can also be brought onboard to set-up a new humanitarian response and Logistics Coordinators can establish a mission and build it up before traveling on to the next response.
Humanitarian Aid Online Courses
If you are looking to work in humanitarian aid, we highly recommend the online course International Humanitarian and Development Careers. We think it provides one of the best overviews of the humanitarian sector and gives valuable insights for those searching for jobs in humanitarian aid. Follow the link to the course’s page for more information.
The International Humanitarian Law Theory and Practice online course offered by Leiden University in the Netherlands provides a fantastic theoretical overview of humanitarianism. We think it’s one of the top online courses for those who want to understand the basics of international humanitarian law. Click the link to visit the course’s page for more information.
We also think the Humanitarian Action Response and Relief online course offered by Coventry University is a must for anyone looking to become a humanitarian aid worker. It only takes around three weeks to complete and would be a major addition to the CV of anyone looking to work in the aid sector. The link is to the course’s page.
Roving Field Manager
The job of Field Manager is coordinate all aspects of a humanitarian mission within a base of operations. Roving Field Manager’s travel extensively as their role is to move between field bases supporting programmes as needed. Usually, a Roving Field Manager will be based within a humanitarian country office and will move between the bases, but sometimes they will be stationed at HQ and travel internationally to cover for gaps in base management.
Field Manager’s coordinate the aid programmes implementation, as well as the supporting finance, logistics, HR and grants tram at their base. Roving Field Manager’s travel frequently between bases to support as needed. The job of Roving Field Manager can also travel into new humanitarian crises to set-up field bases, before handing them over to longer-term staff and deploying again to the next emergency.
Regional Director’s are responsible for the humanitarian country programmes of an NGO within a geographic region. The role is often based at key regional capitals, such as Nairobi, Kenya or Amman, Jordon, and Regional Director’s travel from their base to country offices. Regional Directors can travel extensively as they cover many different humanitarian responses and often need visit the countries under their jurisdiction.
As a senior management role within a humanitarian NGO with extensive responsibilities across the region, Regional Director’s can travel a lot. They need to be fully aware of the country responses within their region and so travel frequently from regional offices to the country offices. The post of Regional Director also reports directly to the humanitarian NGOs HQ and so they can travel to Europe or North America for face-to-face meetings a lot too.
Technical Advisors work on areas of humanitarian response that require specific expertise. These are generally in-line with cluster system and can include nutrition programming, health, food security, livelihoods, mental health and shelter provision. Humanitarian Technical Advisors travel a lot as they deploy into humanitarian missions that are setting-up and running programmes in their area of expertise. Technical Advisors can either be stationed on a humanitarian response or based at HQ and fly into different responses as needs arise.
If you’re looking to join the aid sector and want to travel a lot, consider training in a technical area. Advisors covering the key technical functions of a humanitarian response get to travel frequently as they support different missions running projects in their area of expertise. There are also roving or flying technical advisor jobs that do short stints setting-up or gap filling on humanitarian missions that require their skills before redeploying to a different response.
Humanitarian NGOs often form partnerships to pool their resources and increase their reach. The position of Partnership Manager sets-up these partnerships and oversees the joint workings of humanitarian projects. Working as a Partnership Manager can involve a lot of travel as often the job oversees several joint humanitarian projects with the post holder moving between different locations. Partnership Managers can be travel between different field bases, countries and NGO HQs as they set-up and manager collaborations between humanitarian actors.
The role of Partnership Manager within a humanitarian NGO is responsible for all aspects of working with other organisations. Partnership Managers often need to travel to meetings with other NGOs. International humanitarian NGOs often partner with local NGOs to implement aid projects. This means the Partnership Manager must travel within the country to build relationships with local actors and establish formal partnerships.
Consultants are hired by aid NGOs to bring specific expertise to their projects. Consultants often deploy to complete specific work and so travel out to humanitarian crises frequently. Consultants working in the humanitarian sector travel a lot as they move between short-term contracts. They are often based in their home country and fly out to humanitarian crises as NGOs require specific work.
Working as a consultant in the aid industry can be a great way to travel. Consultants can add travel costs on top of their fees and as they can take many short-term assignments this means they can fly all over the world. Assignments for humanitarian consultants often require specific knowledge and expertise, but if you can develop a specialism within the aid industry, working as a consultant can be a great way to travel a lot.
Flying Head of Mission
The Head of Mission is the most senior position in a humanitarian response. The job of Flying Head of Mission is recruited by an NGO to move between countries filling in gaps for senior management positions. Working as a Flying Head of Mission means traveling a lot as you’ll cover short stints in different humanitarian responses before moving onto the where the need is next. The Flying Head of Mission may also travel to the NGOs HQ between deployments.
Aid NGO’s recruit flying roles for many different positions. If you are looking to travel a lot and want to work in humanitarian aid flying or roving positions are a good option to apply for. The Flying Head of Mission is one of the most senior positions within the humanitarian aid sector that will travel extensively. The job of Flying Head of Mission often either sets-up a new mission for a few weeks or months or covers a gap for a short-period before traveling onto the next crises response.
Programme Development Manager
Programme development within the aid sector usually covers proposal writing, grant cycle management and donor liaison. It’s a crucial position within a humanitarian response and definitely a job that travels frequently. Programme Development Managers work to increase the funding for a humanitarian response and so can travel between field bases, county offices, regional offices and HQs. They also travel to meet donors’ agencies and potential partner organisations.
The role of Programme Development Manager is usually based either at HQ or country level. HQ Programme Development Managers can cover a geographical region and so travel often out to different countries to develop proposals and work to expand the NGOs funding base. Country office-based Programme Development Managers will travel a lot within their country visiting field bases, as well out of the country to meetings, workshops and to work in-person with other stakeholders on grant applications.
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Humanitarian engineers provide technical advice to NGO projects using engineering and applied sciences as part of their response. Working as a humanitarian engineer can mean traveling a lot as often their expertise is required as the onset of an emergency. They will deploy to a response, provide advice and expertise, as well as often recruit local engineers, before traveling on to a different response where engineering knowledge is required.
The post of humanitarian engineer can be based in the field, or in an NGOs HQ or regional office. When a humanitarian engineer is based at the HQ or region, they can travel extensively out to many different countries providing technical expertise. Humanitarian engineers based in the field can travel between different field bases and the country office usually based in the capital. If you have a background in applied sciences and want to work in the aid sector and travel, consider jobs as a humanitarian engineer.
Humanitarian NGOs use communications to get their message out about their work. The job of the Communications Officer is to develop material that can convey how the NGO is responding to humanitarian crises. Communications Officers can travel a lot. They move between short deployments to humanitarian responses to create content and laisse with the media, before returning to HQ or redeploying to different missions.
If you are interested in communications, media, social media or content creation and want to work in the aid sector, consider the job of Communication Officer with an NGO. Comms Officers travel extensively as they need to be the in the field to gather information and work with media outlets. Communications Officers often travel as crises develop and use the material they create to help NGOs fundraise.
The job of Area Manager on a humanitarian mission is to oversee the implementation of aid projects across a wide geographical area. Often covering multiple field bases, Area Manager’s will travel extensively between aid project locations. The position of Area Manager is also often held by an expatriate meaning they will deploy in to the support aid delivery for a set contract length, before traveling on to a new mission.
Area Manager is the position above Field Manager within a humanitarian NGO. This means the Area Manager has responsibility for many different bases of operations and will move between these and the country office based in the capital. Area Managers may also travel to HQ and regional offices for workshops, training and meetings. If you are looking to travel, especially within a country, work towards becoming an Area Manager for a humanitarian NGO.
If you want to learn more about how to become a humanitarian worker, explore our list of the top humanitarian aid online courses here.