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The international development sector can be hard to break-into. However, there are actually a wide range of entry-level jobs in international development. These jobs are ideal for those graduating from university and wanting to start a career in development work. These entry-level positions in international development are also good for those wanting to transition from a career in the public or private sector to work in the development industry.
The Project Assistant works to support the implementation of international development programmes. Recruited as an entry-level job, the Project Assistant works supporting the wider project team to ensure project objectives are achieved. The Project Assistant also helps with smooth-running management of development projects. The Project Assistant is usually line managed by the Project Manager.
Tasked with assisting with finance, HR, logistics and programme implementation, the job of the Project Assistant in an international development NGO is a broad entry-level role. It is a good job for those wanting to start a career in international development and learn a wide range of relevant skills for the industry.
For those wanting to enter the international development industry in a Project Assistant role, a university degree, usually a masters, related to international development is often required. However, previous experience supporting projects in the private or public sectors can help with getting an entry-level role as a Project Assistant.
Project Assistant jobs are recruited both at HQ and field-level in international development organisations. At HQ level Project Assistants are often recruited from recent graduates from international development master’s degrees. Project Assistant roles can also be filled by those recently completing internships within international development NGOs.
The job of Project Assistant is a good entry-level role in international development. Working supporting development projects provides a wealth of experience in the sector, and allows for the gaining of key skills needed such as HR, finance, project management, project monitoring and evaluation and often field work.
The Finance Officer manages the day-to-day accounting and financial management within an international development NGO. Often an entry-level position, the Finance Officer works as part of the wider finance and admin team to manage specific tasks such as budget monitoring, keeping financial records, managing petty cash and processing invoice and payments.
For those with a financial background, the job of Finance Officer is often the best entry-level position within an international development organisation. Applicants seeking an entry-level international development position as a Finance Officer will need a university degree in financial management and accounting, as well as a few years’ experience perhaps in the private or public sectors.
Within an international development NGO, the Finance Officer is usually managed by the Finance or Admin Coordinator and is tasked with implementing financial processes. The role of Finance Officer doesn’t’ require extensive understanding of international development finance management and so is often an entry-level job.
Entry-level jobs as Finance Officer in international development NGO’s are often recruited both at HQ level, and at mission level. For jobs within international development NGO’s HQ, those looking for an entry-level role as Finance Officer should apply through the websites of the main development organisations. Entry-level Finance Officer roles in the field are often advertised on the main job boards.
The job of Finance Officer is a strong option for those wanting to work in international development and have background knowledge of accounting and finance. International development NGO’s often recruit young-professionals as finance officer’s and so after gaining a few years of accounting experience, the job of Finance Officer is a good entry-level position for those wanting to work in international development.
Human Resource Officer
International development NGO’s manage large teams of people spread across head offices, regional offices and field missions. International development organisations have Human Resource (HR) teams at all these levels to manage their staff. The job HR Officer is to ensure the smooth running of HR processes for the staff attached to their office.
For those wanting to work in international development, the job of HR Officer is a good entry-level position. Although some previous work experience would be of benefit, some international development NGOs will recruit HR Officers with only academic qualifications. The key tasks of the HR Officer are implementing the HR processes of the organisation so it makes a good entry-level role.
The HR Officer assists with the recruitment and onboarding of new members of staff. Often, they will ensure job adverts are widely circulated, assist with booking and conducting interviews and ensure new staff are inducted into HR policies of the organisation. International development NGO’s have a lot of staff turn-over so often have several HR Officer positions available for entry-level staff.
In international development organisations, the HR Officer is often managed by the HR or Admin Coordinator. At HQ level, where there are often large HR teams overseeing worldwide development operations, the HR Officer in an international development NGO may cover a specific geographic region. This can be good for entry-level staff as they can gain experience before moving to work in HR roles in the countries within their region.
Within an international development NGO’s country office, HR Offices are either based in the capital managing the HR for staff across the country, or at field offices managing HR for a specific field base. Securing the job of HR Officer in an international development NGO can be a great entry-level position to learn more about how development organisations work before moving onto higher jobs.
International Development Online Courses
If you are looking for an entry level job in international development, taking an online short course can be a great way to boost your application. We highly recommend the course Management of International Development: Towards Agenda 2030. It looks at the current international development model as well as the trends that will be key to global development in the near future. Follow the link to the course’s page for more information.
We also think the online course Sustainable Development in the 21st Century by Yonsei University to be one of the best for those interested in international development. Delivered by former UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon, the online course would be a great addition to the CV of anyone looking an entry level job in international development. The link is to the course’s page.
If you are interested in the practical methods used on international development projects, we recommend the online course How To Design & Fund International Development NGO Projects. The course teaches students the tools needed to establish and run impactful development projects. Click the link to visit the course’s page for more information.
The Logistics Assistant is usually the most junior role in an international development NGO’s logistics team. Logistics is a key part of international development interventions, ensuring the right supplies and procured, stored, moved and distributed as needed. The Logistics Assistant is a key entry-level role in international development for those wanting to work in logistics and supply chain management.
The job of the Logistics Assistant is to ensure the smooth implementation of logistics processes within an international development operation. Processing procurements, ensuring correct paperwork and filing and monitoring purchasing trackers and asset registers are key parts of the Logistics Assistant role. Often international development NGOs have the logistics assistants as entry-level roles into the logistics team.
As well as overseeing the implementation of procurements, the Logistics Assistant can also work in warehousing – ensuring correct packing and storing of the goods needed for international development projects. Sometimes international development NGOs will also recruit Warehouse Assistants, which is also an entry-level job within the logistics team of a development NGO.
The Logistics Assistant can work on transportation assisting with moving supplies for international development interventions to the locations they’re needed. Often the Logistics Assistant will cover multiple areas of the logistics needs of an international development NGO’s work which makes it a great entry-level job to learn a wide-range of logistics skills.
Those looking to work in international development and hoping to secure an entry-level job as Logistics Assistant usually need a formal qualification in logistics. Completing a specific course in logistics aimed at international development is beneficial, although general logistics qualifications can be accepted too. A few years professional experience working in logistics in the private or public sector can also help with securing an entry-level job as Logistics Assistant in an international development NGO.
International development projects need extensive monitoring and evaluation (M&E). This ensures projects meet their targets and achieve their objectives. The job of the M&E Assistant is to work as part of the wider monitoring and evaluation team to assess ongoing development projects, report on their progress and evaluate the projects outcomes.
The job of M&E Assistant is a good entry-level position for those with strong numerical and analytical skills who want to work in international development. M&E Assistant roles are recruited by international development NGOs at HQ and field-level, as well as by academic institutions and research projects on international development.
The role of M&E Assistant is often considered an entry-level job in an international development NGO. To work as M&E Assistant strong skills on Excel are definitely needed, as well as good understanding of how data is managed and analysed. The job of M&E Assistant can also be known as Data Assistant or Data Input Assistant on international development projects. All are entry-level jobs.
M&E Assistant jobs are often available at both international development NGO HQ’s and field offices. Although previous experience in project management may be useful, international development project M&E is quite specific to the industry – learning on the job is one of the key things that make the role of M&E Assistant is good entry-level job.
The job of M&E Assistant is a strong entry-level position in the international development industry. Often M&E Assistants go on to more senior jobs as M&E Managers, or move into project management or grants roles. M&E Assistants can also go onto more field management roles on international development projects, which is why M&E Assistant is seen a good entry-level job.
Research is a key part of the international development industry. There are several large development organisations that specialise in researching development. There are also many academic institutions and universities that have departments for international development research. Most large international development NGO’s also have research teams working on their researching their area of expertise.
The role of Research Assistant works within a team of researchers completing administrative and academic tasks to assist with the research. A good option for those looking for an entry-level job in international development, Research Assistants are often recruited from graduates from international development and related degrees.
Research Assistants hired to help with international development research can be recruited by institutions to work on more administrative tasks. In this case, the role of Research Assistant is often based in the headquarters of the international development NGO or the university campus where the research is based. Joining as a Research Assistant in this capacity is good way to get begin working in international development.
As well a working as a Research Assistant in an international development NGO or the global development department of a university, Research Assistants are also recruited to help with field research. Often hired in the locations where the international development research is being conducted, Research Assistants can help with international development field research which can be a great entry-level role.
The role of Research Assistant is a good entry-level job in international development for those with strong academic backgrounds. A degree is needed to work as a Research Assistant, as well as often a masters and sometimes a PhD. The entry-level role of Research Assistant can lead to further jobs in development research and eventually to an academic career related international development.
International development NGO’s receive grants from donors to fund their work. As donors require development organisations to remain compliant with the terms of their grants, NGO’s have grant teams that assist with managing the wide range of grants held by an NGO. The Grants Officer is often the entry-level role in an international development NGO’s grants team.
Grant Officers usually work coordinating between the project implementation teams at HQ and field-level, the Grants Managers and the donor agencies. A key role supporting international development NGOs to manage donor grants effectively, the job of Grants Officer is a strong entry-level job that can then go on to more senior grants roles or project management jobs in the field.
Another key responsibility of the Grants Officer is assisting with writing and submitting donor proposals for the international development NGO. This makes the job of Grants Officer a strong option for those wanting an entry-level role in international development as gaining experience in proposal development is key to most more senior roles in the industry.
The job of Grants Officer is a good entry-level role for those wanting to work in international development. Although some experience in working in a charity grants role would help, international development NGOs often take people with less experience for Grants Officer roles. A relevant masters to international development is almost always required though.
Grant Officers at field-level for international development NGOs work to ensure the project meets the donor requirements as well as acting as the main contact with HQ and the donor agency for the grant. Grant Officer jobs on development field missions are often recruited locally. Grant Officers jobs at HQ-level are often advertised on the NGO’s website.
The role of the Field Officer in an international development programme is to work supporting the mission team in project implementation. Often based at the site where the project is running, such as refugee camp, distribution site or village, the Field Officer’s job is to directly assist the project work. The Field Officer is one of the main entry-level jobs at mission level in the international development industry.
The main tasks of the Field Officer are to ensure the development programme is running correctly. This can cover a wide range of tasks including admin, programme support, finance, logistics and HR. The Field Officer is the key operations support for a field office and is a good entry-level job in international development for those who want to work in ops.
Field Officers in international development programmes are often recruited in the country where the project is being implemented. As the job of Field Officer is an entry-level position it is rare for staff to be deployed internationally as Field Officers. However, if you live in a country where development projects are ran, Field Officer roles are a great entry-level positions to apply for.
The job of Field Officer usually requires a university education, and ideally some work experience. However, often it is not needed to have previous development experience or only limited experience in development work. Often Field Officer’s bring additional skills such a being able to speak the local language or knowledge of local culture or bureaucracy.
The position of Field Officer is one of the main entry-level jobs in international development at mission-level. Gaining experience in the field directly implementing development projects is vital for a career in the development sector. Completing a job as Field Officer on a development programmes allows for further positions moving into management roles.
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Administrative Assistants usually work a part of the wider finance or admin teams in an international development organisation. Often combining finance tasks with administrative work, the Admin Assistant role is a good entry-level position in international development. Admin Assistants can be assigned to a specific project or unit, or work across large departments.
The job of the Admin Assistant in an international development NGO usually covers tasks such as filing documents, retaining records, managing databases, booking travel, managing petty cash and assisting with ad hoc admin. The role of Admin Assistance doesn’t usually require previous international development experience and is seen as an entry-level job in the industry.
To work as an Admin Assistance in an international development organisation, a university degree at master’s level is needed. Although the Admin Assistant is an entry-level job in an international development NGO, some previous administration experience can be beneficial. Those applying Admin Assistant positions also need to have strong computer skills such as on Word, Excel and PowerPoint skills.
The position of Admin Assistance in an international development NGO is a strong entry-level option. The job allows for the development of many of the skills needed for international development work, as well as a chance to work in and across key teams in a development organisation. Admin Assistants also do valuable work for more senior staff that can provide good learning opportunities.
The job of Admin Assistant in an international development organisation can be to assist a specific department, or part of the logistics or finance teams. Often Admin can also cover HR, meaning the Admin Assistant role can cover three or more support areas. This is highly beneficial for those in entry-level jobs as it allows them to learn from lots of functions within an international development NGO.
The job of Personal Assistant in an international development organisation is similar to that in any large international company. The Personal Assistant, or PA, is usually attached to a senior member of staff and works to support them in their role. Getting into the international development industry by working as a PA for a senior staff member is a good move and the job of PA is often seen as an entry-level role.
The Personal Assistant working within an international development NGO is usually tasked with managing the calendar, meetings, travel and arrangements for senior staff members or a small team. The PA can also complete administrative tasks such as processing expenses or manging finances for staff member and senior management teams.
The role of Personal Assistant is a good entry-level job in the international development sector. Applicants to PA positions can either apply with limited admin experience and university qualifications, or previous experience as a PA. Working in an international development NGO as a PA is a good start to a career in the development sector.
A major advantage to working in the role of a PA in an international development organisation is getting to work closely with senior members of staff. This can provide significant learning opportunities and allow for good experience in the development sector to be gained. It can also lead onto other support roles in the development sector such as in logistics, admin or finance, which makes the job of PA a good entry-level job in the sector.
The position of Personal Assistant within an international development NGO is usually a good entry-level role. Although for large organisations and very senior staff international development NGOs will recruit for the role of PA someone with previous experience in a similar role, often small and medium sized NGOs see the role of Personal Assistant as an entry-level job for someone to then be trained up in.