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Many people in the security industry would like to work for an NGO. Putting the skills you have in security management to use for an NGO is a fantastic way to help people in need and keep those assisting them safe. There are a wide range of roles for security professionals in the NGO sector.
If you would like to work for an NGO and have a security background, or you are thinking of training in security management and want to join the NGO sector, check-out our full break-down of the most common security roles. We’ve also included details of what most NGOs will look for when recruiting for these jobs.
The role of Security Manager within an NGO is to oversee the development and implementation of security protocols within a certain area. Security Managers can work in the country office, or in an NGO’s HQ. At HQ level they will often be responsible for a specific region or group of countries.
In most NGOs, the Security Manager ensures all staff are aware of security tools and how they work. They also continuously monitor the security context and update management when changes in operations or programming are needed. The Security Manager will often line-manage the Security and/or Access and Liaison Officers.
How to Apply
If you want to work as a Security Manager for an NGO you will need some years’ experience working as a security professional. Most NGOs will prefer candidates with previous experience in the sector but previous experience working for private companies in the same context can also be beneficial. A formal qualification in security management – such as a master’s degree, will also help your application.
Security Officer is the mid-level position within an NGO security team. They are responsible for the day-to-day implementation of security measures. This can include updating security tools, developing and circulating security reports, tracking movements and checking security equipment such as satellite phones are fully working.
In many NGOs, the Security Officer will be located in field base and will report directly to the Field Coordinator. They will indirectly report to the Security Manager or Security Coordinator in the country office. The Security officer often line-manages the Liaison Assistant.
How to Apply
NGOs recruit Security Officers from a wide range of backgrounds. However, some professional experience working in security management will be needed. NGOs will preference candidates with previous experience in the sector, but previous work for private companies could be an asset. A degree or formal training in security management will also definitely help your application.
The job of a Liaison Officer for an NGO is to lead the engagement with local authorities. Liaison Officers are usually based in an NGOs country office. Their job is to build relationships with governmental authorities. They are often responsible for collecting permits, filing reports, clearing shipments and ensuring the NGO remains compliant with government regulations.
The Liaison Officer is usually line-managed by the Security Manager. Their role is closely related to security and they are among the NGO staff most closely linked to government entities. The Liaison Officer will regularly update senior management on issues related to the NGOs compliance.
How to Apply
If you are looking for roles as a Liaison Officer with an NGO you will need some previous experience working between government entities and either private businesses or NGOs. Most NGOs will look for a strong track record of facilitating arrangements with government departments when recruiting Liaison Officers so this is key to highlight in your application.
Some NGOs combine responsibilities for access with the security management role. Access is ensuring that NGO workers and aid supplies can reach the locations they are needed. In many conflict and disaster zones, access can be restricted and there must be continued negotiation and follow-up in order to ensure regular access.
The job of the Security-Access Manager is to ensure effective security implementation across an NGO’s mission, whilst also ensuring smooth access. They often line-manage the Security Officer and Liaison Assistants. The Security-Access Manager usually reports to the Head of Mission.
How to Apply
NGO’s recruiting for Security-Access Managers will usually look for candidates with previous experience working for NGOs. This is because the skills needed for the role, especially in negotiating access, can be unique to the NGO sector. Previous experience as a Security Officer would be highly beneficial.
NGO Security Online Courses
If you are interested in working in the NGO sector in a security role, we highly recommend the online short course International Security Management by the Erasmus University Rotterdam. It goes over the wide range of security threats organisations face in the modern globalised world and would be a fantastic addition to the CV of anyone looking to get an NGO security job. Click the link to enrol on the course.
We also think the Security Awareness Training online course offered by ISC is a must for anyone wanting to work in an NGO security role. The course shows how every member of an organisation, especially those working in challenging environments, must be aware of their own, and the organisations, security. Follow the link to the course’s page for more information.
The job of Liaison Assistant is often the most junior position within an NGOs security team. The job is to engage directly with governmental authorities, often delivering paperwork, receiving signatures or arranging meetings. Government liaison can involve extensive negotiations and the arrangements for these for the NGOs senior staff are made by the Liaison Assistant.
The Liaison Assistant role is often line-managed by the Security Manager. They may also indirectly report to the Head of Mission as their work often requires their input. The Liaison Assistant is almost always based in an NGOs country office usually within a country’s capital.
How to Apply
Liaison Assistant roles are entry-level positions within the NGO sector. Minimal prior experience is needed. However, the NGO sector is competitive so the completion of a relevant master’s degree, or ideally an internship, would help your application.
Some NGOs combine logistics with security. This is done either in smaller NGO missions or at field-base level. Logistics and security cover many of the same areas and so are seen as having a logical overlap.
In many NGOs the Logistics-Security Officer is responsible for the day-to-day logistics operations as well as the implementation of the security procedures within their area. The job is highly demanding, requiring the balance between these two key functions. The Logistics-Security Officer is usually line-managed by the Logistics Coordinator or Field Coordinator.
How to Apply
NGO’s recruiting Logistics-Security Officers will look for some years professional experience within the NGO sector. You will need to demonstrate a strong technical understanding of both logistics and security processes. A formal qualification in either logistics or security will benefit your application, but you are likely to need to have worked in roles that cover both functions previously in order to secure the job.
There are NGOs that combine the role of Security and Liaison Officers. This position covers the day-to-day implementation of security protocols, whilst also engaging with government officials. Usually, the Security-Liaison Officer is stationed at a field-base. They report directly to the Field Coordinator and indirectly to the Security-Access Manager in the country office.
In most NGO’s the Security-Liaison Officer will divide their time focusing more on security than liaison work. They will predominantly be involved in base security management and completing liaison work when directed to the by the country office. The Security-Liaison Officer may line-manage a Liaison or Access Assistant.
How to Apply
If you would like to work as a Security-Liaison Officer for an NGO you will need a strong background in security management, as well we some professional experience engaging with authorities. Many NGOs will take candidates with private sector experience but previous work with an NGO would be seen as an advantage. Also consider completing a formal qualification in security management.
The position of Security Coordinator is the most senior job in an NGO security team. The Security Coordinator directly manages the country office security staff and usually has indirect reporting lines from security staff in the field bases. They sit as part of the senior leadership team and report to the Country Director.
Most NGOs deploy Security Coordinators to contexts with high risks and where events can pose significant threats to NGO workers. Security Coordinators are often expats positions. Once an NGO’s security protocols are established, often the role of Security Coordinator is handed over to national staff or merged with Liaison and Access positions.
How to Apply
NGO will look for candidates with significant experience when recruiting for Security Coordinator jobs. You will likely have worked in several different countries in expatriate roles for NGOs in order to be a successful candidate. Additional experience in the private, public sector or military could be an asset.
Some NGOs have the security function on a mission sit within the logistics team. There are significant areas of crossover between security and logistics management and there are NGOs who feel that combining the functions increases efficiency and stream-lines decision making. For these NGOs, the Logistics Coordinator will be the most senior security role on a mission.
The Logistics Coordinator reports to the Country Director. They will line-manage the senior logistics and security staff in the country office and often have indirect reporting lines to the logistics and security staff in the field.
How to Apply
NGO’s recruiting for Logistics Coordinators that are also responsible for security will look for candidates with significant experience in NGO logistics, as well as a proven track record of security management. You will often need experience working in multiple countries as well as a formal qualification in logistics to apply. Additional qualifications related to security management will enhance your application.
If you want to know more about how to get a job at an NGO, including in a security role, explore our list of the top NGO online courses here.