How To Work in Humanitarian Aid as A Teacher

You are currently viewing How To Work in Humanitarian Aid as A Teacher

This page contains affiliate links. This means if you a follow a link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you, Humanitarian Careers will receive a commission. Thank you for supporting the site.

Many teachers would like to use their skills and experience to assist children affected by crises and disasters. Education is a vital part of humanitarian assistance and there are many roles in the aid sector for qualified teachers.

If you are a teacher looking to work in humanitarian aid, we’ve put together a full guide of the steps you can take.

Humanitarian Teaching Qualifications

If you want to work in humanitarian aid as a teacher you need to get the right qualifications. For most teachers looking to enter the aid sector, there are two stages to becoming qualified.

The first qualifications you need to get to work in humanitarian education is to formally train as a teacher. Completing teacher training in your home country is a vital first step to working in humanitarian education. Aid agencies require the level of skill and experience that teaching training provides and it is difficult to work in humanitarian education without being a fully qualified teacher.

Although there are routes into humanitarian education without becoming a qualified teacher, those looking to join aid projects or build a career in humanitarian education should first focus on getting their teacher training qualifications.

The second step in becoming qualified to work on humanitarian projects as a teacher is to do specialised trainings related to humanitarian education.

There are a huge range of short-courses on humanitarian response, humanitarian education and project management for disasters. Many are provided by aid organisations. As a qualified teacher, these courses will build on your formal education and provide you the necessary knowledge needed to adapt teaching to a humanitarian context.

There are courses in humanitarian education that can be taken online or in-person. If you are looking to work as teacher within the humanitarian sector, completing relevant short-courses will be a key step in starting your career.

Humanitarian Education Organizations

There are many humanitarian organisations that focus on education programming and employ teachers. If you are a teacher looking to work in humanitarian aid, it’s important to target your applications at the right NGOs.

Humanitarian organisations that run education projects and employ teachers can be broken down into three main categories.

The first group of humanitarian education organisations are large international NGOs that run projects employing teachers in many countries. Some of the biggest humanitarian organisations that deploy teachers are:

If you want work in the aid sector as a teacher, the above are some of the largest and most prestigious organisations. Generally, you are best to target job applications are these types of NGOs once you have a few years’ experience in the field working as a teacher or running education projects.

The second group of organisations that take on teachers in humanitarian roles are the major volunteering agencies. Some of the top organisations that deploy teachers as volunteers to humanitarian projects include:

Importantly, these organisations are not ‘volu-tourism’ agencies that charge a fee to volunteer abroad. These are major humanitarian volunteering organisations that deploy qualified teachers on longer-term missions to support their education projects.

Taking a volunteer placement as a teacher with one of the major humanitarian agencies can be a great way to begin a career in international aid. It can also be a great way to get some teaching experience abroad as a break from your career in education in your home country.

The final group of humanitarian organisations that take on teachers are local NGOs. There are a huge number of small to medium sized NGOs across the developing world that employ teachers locally. There are also some that take qualified teachers from abroad to provide technical guidance, assist in project management or take on teaching.

If you want to join the humanitarian sector as a teacher, explore locally ran NGOs in the countries you are interested in. Contact them directly to see if they take teachers on and the exact needs the organisations have.

Working as a teacher on a humanitarian project with a smaller local NGO can be a great way to start your career in humanitarian education. It can also be way to give assistance on the front-line of many humanitarian education projects.

Humanitarian Teaching Online Courses

If are interested in working in humanitarian aid as a teacher, we highly recommend the online course Classroom Management – Fundamentals of Teaching and Education. Schools supported by humanitarian organizations often operate in difficult contexts. Children who attend aid funded schools can have experienced violence, conflict, and trauma. Showing in your humanitarian teacher application that you understand classroom management will significantly help your chances of landing a humanitarian teaching role. Follow the link to the course’s page for more information.

Another online short course we really recommend for people wanting to be a humanitarian teacher is Get Organized: How to be a Together Teacher. Humanitarian teaching jobs are challenging. Showing in your application that you understand how to plan and organise your teaching will be highly valuable. Click the link to the course’s page for more information.

Schools supported by humanitarian organisations often operate in disaster or conflict zones. Normal teaching methods do not always work in these contexts. We think the online course Uncommon Sense Teaching includes many fantastic techniques that humanitarian teachers can use to engage their students. We also think it would be a great addition to the CV of anyone applying for a humanitarian teaching job. The link is to the course’s page.

Humanitarian Teaching Roles

There are many different jobs for teachers working in humanitarian aid. Let’s go over some of the main ones.

Firstly, teachers supporting aid projects can work on the front-line delivering lessons to students. This may be in schools in disaster hit areas, in refugee camps or in impoverished communities. Teaching in these humanitarian roles is in many ways similar to teaching in your home country, but be prepared for limited resources, basic facilities and children who may have experienced some difficult events.

The second type of role that teachers can take on within the humanitarian sector is that of programme manager. Teachers working in humanitarian programme management jobs often oversee education projects ran by aid NGOs. Education programme manager is a senior role requiring some years of experience in the aid sector, but there are also project officer and other support roles open to teachers as part of humanitarian responses.

Other roles that teachers can take on as part of a humanitarian response include capacity building – working with local NGOs and institutions to improve educational outcomes. Teachers also work as consultants providing technical insights on humanitarian education projects. Teachers with knowledge of child protection can also work on humanitarian protection projects.

Humanitarian Careers now offers career coaching.

Want to become a humanitarian worker? Get tailored career guidance and gain an in-depth understanding of the aid sector through a 1-2-1 coaching programme.

Applying for Humanitarian Teaching Jobs

There three main ways that teachers can apply for job within the humanitarian sector. The first is by directly applying to NGOs that recruit teachers for positions within their education projects. The second is by applying to emergency rosters and the third is to apply for short-term volunteer placements.

For teachers looking for jobs in the humanitarian sector, applying directly to positions with aid NGOs in a good method. Humanitarian organisations will list on job boards and their websites the open positions they are recruiting for. Regularly browse the job pages of NGOs that run education projects and apply for positions when they open.

As well as applying directly through the websites of humanitarian NGOs for relevant teaching jobs, also regularly check the major job boards for the aid sector. Humanitarian organisations will recruit teachers for relevant jobs through job boards, some of the largest are:

When applying for a job with a humanitarian NGO it is important you meet, or at least come close to the requirements advertised for the role. You may need some years teaching experience and some humanitarian experience to get jobs with the major NGOs, but some smaller ones may take qualified teachers who have completed relevant humanitarian education short-courses and volunteer placements.

Another way that you can apply for teaching and education jobs with humanitarian NGOs is through emergency rosters. Many aid agencies take applications to rosters so they can have a pool of staff ready to deploy when a humanitarian crisis hits.

Applying and getting on an emergency roster does not guarantee you a job or deployment, but it can be a great way for teachers to get their first mission on a humanitarian response.

The third way to apply for teaching and education jobs in the humanitarian sector is through volunteer schemes. These can be a great way for teachers to do some humanitarian work if they only want a short deployment abroad whilst retaining their job in their home country.

When looking for teaching positions as a volunteer on a humanitarian project, avoid ‘volu-tourism’ agencies that charge a large fee. The issues with these are well documented and actually the experience you gain will not be so relevant if you want to go on and build a career in the aid sector.

There are several good ways to search for volunteering roles teaching on humanitarian projects. You can apply through the major aid volunteering scheme such as UN Volunteer or Peace Corps.

Another way to apply to volunteer as a teacher on a humanitarian project is through schemes such as WorkAway and HelpStay. A final way you can find volunteer positions as a teacher to do humanitarian work is by directly contacting local NGOs in the country you wish to work in.

If you want to know more about working in the humanitarian aid sector, including as a teacher, explore our page on the top humanitarian aid online courses here.


Duncan is the founder of Humanitarian Careers. With over ten years experience in the aid industry across fifteen countries, Duncan set-up Humanitarian Careers to help people launch their own career in international aid.