8 NGO Social Worker Jobs (And What You Need To Apply)

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If you are interested in working for an NGO and are a qualified social worker, there are many roles within the sector that are open to you. Many NGO social worker jobs are on the frontline directly helping vulnerable people affected by crises, conflicts and disasters.

We’ve put together this breakdown of some of the most commonly recruited social worker jobs in the NGO sector. It’s also for those interested in working for an NGO and wondering what jobs may be open to them as a social worker.

Social Worker

Before we discuss the many different types of jobs social workers can do in the NGO sector, first we must highlight that NGOs actually regularly recruit social workers in that role. There are many types of NGO projects that require the skills of a trained social worker, and it is common to see NGOs hiring for the position.

On NGO projects social workers often help vulnerable people to access assistance, as well as referring them to other NGO or local services that they may require. The aim of social work in the NGO sector is to protect people affected by crises from experiencing further harm. Although there are a huge range of roles open to social workers in NGOs, if you are qualified social worker and want to work for an NGO, consider taking the position.

How to Apply

In order to apply to be a social worker with an NGO you need to have completed your social work qualifications. This usually means the completion of a university degree and in some countries a period of on-the-job training. You will also need an understanding of how social work can support NGO projects, as well as an interest in the kind of work NGOs do.

Protection Programme Manager

A common job that NGO’s often recruit social workers for is as Protection Programme Managers. Humanitarian protection projects aim to assist especially vulnerable people during a crisis. They often target women, children, the elderly, or people with disabilities. When disasters strike, these groups often lose the protections provided by their communities.

The role of Protection Programme Manager is to oversee all aspects of an NGOs protection work. The position often requires a social work background. As well as designing projects to assist vulnerable people, Protection Programme Managers also oversee the team, budget, and supplies needed to run an NGO protection projects.

How to Apply

If you want to apply to work for an NGO as a Protection Programme Manager, you will often need to be a qualified social worker or have some experience in social work. The position of Protection Programme Manager is a senior role in the NGO sector, and so several years of relevant experience working with NGOs in protection roles will also be needed.

Case Worker

Another position NGOs regularly recruit social workers for is as Case Workers. NGOs working in disaster and conflict zones often encounter especially vulnerable people who may need particular assistance. These individuals can be refereed to different NGOs to receive services or can be connected to local government run projects. The role of the Case Worker is to oversee each case and ensure that the people in need receive the assistance, and protection, they require.

Many social workers in the NGO sector work as Case Workers. The role can be line-managed by Protection Project Coordinators, or MHPSS or GBV Managers. The Case Worker has direct communication with the beneficiary and must have a strong understanding of the services available in the context the NGO is working in.

How to Apply

Case Workers are generally front-line staff within an NGO. Often Case Workers have held a similar role within a hospital or as a social worker. Being fully qualified in social work is often required to become a NGO Case Worker.

MHPSS Officer

Mental health is a growing part of the NGO sector, as it becomes more recognized that people affected by conflict, disasters and displacement often have extensive mental health needs. Social workers with a background in mental health work can apply to be an MHPSS (mental health and psycho-social support) Officer with many NGOs.

The job of MHPSS Officer in most NGOs is a mid-level position. It is often based at field level and is responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the NGOs MHPSS projects. The MHPSS Officer is often line-managed by the MHPSS Coordinator, and overseas a team of social workers and case workers.

How to Apply

NGOs recruiting MHPSS Officers will look for candidates with a background in mental health. Social workers are often recruited in the position; however, you will likely need training and some practical experience working with mental health cases. A university degree in psychology, mental health or social work is also likely required.

NGO Social Work Online Courses

For those interested in social work with NGOs, explore the online course Confronting Gender Based Violence: Global Lessons for Healthcare Workers by John Hopkins University. We think it is one of the best online courses on GBV and women’s issues and is a great addition to the CV of anyone looking to get a job as a social worker with an NGO. Follow the link to enroll of the course.

If you are interested in working for an NGO in a social worker role, we also highly recommend the online course The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness again offered by John Hopkins University. It focuses on the social causes of mental health issues and is ideal for those interested in MHPSS or social work with an NGO. Follow the link to enroll on the course. The link will take you to the courses page.

If you are looking to work for an NGO, we highly recommend the online course International Humanitarian and Development Careers. We think it provides one of the best overviews of the NGO sector and gives a clear breakdown of the skills needed to get an NGO job. It also provides valuable information on how to successfully apply for positions within NGOs. Click the link to be taken to the course’s page.

Community Mobilizer

A key role in many NGOs that is often done by a social worker is that of Community Mobilizer. NGOs must have acceptance within the communities they work in order to deliver their projects. The role of Community Mobilizer is works directly within the community in order communicate the NGOs projects and services, as well as improving the connection between the NGO and community it is serving.

Another part of the Community Mobiliser role within the NGO sector is to help communities to better organize so that they can advocate for what they need. Many communities struck by disasters, or living in poverty, lack the resources needed to command the attention of local government. Social workers regularly work as Community Mobilizers in NGOs as they are often deeply rooted within their communities.

How to Apply

Those looking to work as a Community Mobiliser with an NGO would benefit from having a social work qualification. Alongside this, a strong understanding of community mobilization techniques, as well as a prominent role within the community the NGO is working with would be beneficial.

Community Health Worker

Another community focused role in the NGO sector that social workers often take is as a Community Health Worker. The role of the Community Health Worker is to assess a community’s medical needs, as well as be present in the community identify people in need of medical or mental health assistance. Social workers with a health background are well placed to take jobs as Community Health Workers with an NGO.

Many people living in poor or disaster affected communities struggle to access the healthcare they need. Often times they face discrimination or lack an understanding of the services NGOs can offer. Community Health Workers are also key in many NGO responses to building strong links with the community they are working in.

How to Apply

Social workers with experience in medical or mental health settings should consider applying to NGOs to become Community Health Workers. Often NGOs will look for candidates with social work, health care or psychology backgrounds. Having a deep understanding of the community an NGO is assisting is also an asset.

Child Protection Manager

Children are especially vulnerable when affected by crises, conflicts, or displacement. NGO’s recruit social workers in the role of Child Protection Manager to oversee their projects helping to reduce the impact of disasters on children. Social workers with expertise in working with children are strong candidates for child protection roles with NGOs.

The job of the Child Protection Manager is to oversee all aspects on an NGOs child protection work. This means no only designing and implementing the child protection intervention, but also monitoring the budget, managing the child protection team and assisting with writing proposals for new donor funding.

How to Apply

If you want to work in a child protection role with an NGO, including as a Child Protection Manager, training as a social worker is a good path. NGO’s regularly recruit social workers in child protection roles. Having a particular understanding of social work with children, as well as how children are impacted by disaster and crises, is also beneficial.

GBV Project Manager

A final job for social workers that is frequently recruited for by NGOs is the GBV Project Manager. GBV stands for gender-based violence, also meaning violence against women and girls. Crises hit communities, as well as those living in poverty, often have women facing a range of issues including violence, sexual violence, exploitation, exclusion, and abuse. Women can also struggle to access the services they need.

The GBV Project Manager is responsible for implementing an NGO’s GBV project within a specific location. Often stationed at a field base, GBV Project Managers oversees a team of social workers and GBV staff. They are usually line managed by either the Field Coordinator or GBV Coordinator.

How to Apply

If you’re interested in working in a GBV role in an NGO, it is an ideal position for a qualified social worker. As a mid-level position in the NGO sector, as well as having social work experience most NGOs will look for candidates with a few years of relevant work experience, ideally in a GBV or protection role.

If you want to learn more about working for an NGO, including in a social worker role, explore our page on the top NGO 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.