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Currently, in 2022, there are more people displaced by conflicts and disasters than in any time in human history. With 79.5 million refugees in the world, significant work is being done to assist displaced people. A career working with refugees can be highly rewarding, with the chance to directly impact people who have often lost all they have as they flee from war, crises or persecution.
However, you may be wondering how the education and skills you have can be used in jobs helping refugees, or what kinds of roles organisations that work with refugee’s recruit? As the worldwide refugee crises is huge in scale there are almost unlimited role in the refugee aid sector. We’ve broken down some of the key jobs that work directly assisting refugees…
One of the main jobs you can get working with refugees is known as Field Coordinator. Humanitarian NGOs set-up bases of operations in areas where refugee settlements are established, and a Field Coordinator are responsible for managing refugee assistance projects at a specific base. The job of Field Coordinator oversees the direct implementation of refugee aid programmes.
The job Field Coordinator manages all aspects of an NGOs refugee aid operation. The role includes managing the team, ensuring logistics, finance and grant management, as well as overseeing safety and security and distribution of aid to refugees. Humanitarian NGOs working in refugee aid have a Field Coordinator for each area of operation, meaning responses with many refugee settlements will have multiple jobs.
In order to get a job as a Field Coordinator working in refugee aid you need several years front-line humanitarian field experience. The position also requires extensive knowledge of humanitarian logistics, project management, HR, finance and grants. To be a Field Coordinator in a refugee response you also need strong understanding of how refugee assistance programmes are ran.
Some of the top NGOs recruiting Field Coordinator jobs with refugees are:
Another important front-line job working with refugees is a Case Worker. Case Workers assist refugees directly with a ride range of issues. In countries of resettlement, Case Workers can help refugees with accessing services or asylum claims. In refugee camps, Case Workers can assist especially vulnerable refugees and help to ensure their protection.
The job of a Case Worker helps refugees with information, support, advocacy and guidance to ensure they can access services. The role of Case Worker is to help refugees settle in their new location and assist them to integrate into the society they are now in. A crucial part of the job of Case Worker is to inform refugees of their rights and entitlements and help them to avoid exploitation.
The job of refugee Case Worker can be paid or a volunteer position. The position of Case Worker usually requires some experience working with refugees or vulnerable people. More senior jobs as refugee Case Workers may require qualifications in social work.
If you are looking for jobs as a Case Worker with refugees, check out the job pages for some these NGOs, among others:
Community Health Worker
Community Health Workers are on the front-line of refugee responses. The job of Community Health Worker is to distribute crucial health messaging to refugee populations, whilst also assisting them to gain access to healthcare. Community Health Workers are usually employed from the refugee community so as to ensure they are fully integrated into the refugee community’s needs.
The job of Community Health Worker is a key position directly assisting refugees. When people are displaced, they often lose access to medical services. They can also struggle to get their health needs met as they migrate or in their new places of settlement. The role of Community Health Worker is to directly assist refugees in their health needs, whilst also making sure they have the medical information they need.
If you want to be a Community Health Worker assisting refugees, you usually need some medical experience. You will also need some health-related qualifications, often in nursing, midwifery or as a paramedic. Community Health Workers often come from refugee populations, and so it is a great job to apply for if you are a refugee and want to work assisting your community.
Community Health Worker jobs are recruited locally in the field and so you will need to search local job boards.
Refugees and Migration Online Courses
If you are interested in learning more about refugees and migration, and the types of jobs available, we highly recommend the Sciences Po International Migration: A Global Issue course. We think it’s the best online short course offering an overview of the issues facing displaced people and the communities that host them. Follow the link to the course’s page.
Another online short course on refugees and migration we highly recommend is the University of Glasgow’s Interpreting for Refugees: Contexts, Practices and Ethics. It looks at both the theory and practice of assisting refugees and migrants. The link is to the course’s page with more information.
The University of Glasgow also offers an online short course on Working Supportively With Refugees. Students on the course learn the principles, skills, and perspectives needed to provide assistance to those forced to flee their homes. Click the link to go to the course’s page.
Human Rights Lawyer
A very important job that works with refugees is human rights lawyer. A human right lawyer can take on refugee cases where human rights have been violated and work to assist them to receive justice. The role of a human rights lawyer is to work on behalf of refugees through a range of legal avenues, addressing cases specific to individual, or groups of, refugees.
Working as a human rights lawyers means using legal proceeding to protect vulnerable people, often refugees, as well as working to protect, where possible, others from human rights violations. Human rights law is an extensive area of the legal profession and working as human rights lawyer can be a great way to use legal knowledge and qualifications to assist refugees.
To get a job as a human rights lawyer working in refugee aid you first need to go to law school. Once you have achieved the correct legal qualifications, ideally specialising in human rights, you need to go through the process in your country to become a certified lawyer. This is different for each country. After you are a qualified lawyer you also choose to focus on human rights work to help refugees.
Mental health is fast becoming a key area in refugee aid. The job of Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support Officer (MHPSS) is to implement the mental health programme of an NGO assisting refugees. The job can work managing teams of psychologists and councillors, as well as developing MHPSS tools, practices and conducting supervisions. The role of MHPSS Officer is the main front-line mental health job working with refugees.
The position of MHPSS Officer oversees the day-to-day management of the mental health programme of an NGO working in refugee aid. Refugee MHPSS projects are often integrated with medical projects and the MHPSS Officer must work to ensure refugees that access healthcare can have their mental health needs met too. Refugee MHPSS projects also need to be culturally sensitive and MHPSS Officer must work to ensure this.
If you want to work as an MHPSS Officer helping refugees you first need to gain formal qualifications in mental health. You will then need to have some experience working on the front-line with refugees, such as in a councillor or social worker role.
Many NGOs are now including mental health support to refugees in their responses. Some of the leading NGOs recruiting MHPSS Officer jobs to work with refugees include:
When people are displaced, they often have no place to go. As a result, camps are established for refugees. Jobs in refugee aid that set-up and runs camps are known as Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) roles. The position of Camp Manager sits within the CCCM Cluster and is responsible for oversight of a specific refugee camp or area within a larger camp.
The job of Camp Manager is to ensure that refugees receive the services they need within the camp. This can mean overseeing the establishment of shelters, as well as ensuring food, water, education and healthcare for refugees in the camp. Another key part of the job of Camp Manager is to coordinate between refugee aid agencies in the camp to ensure all areas of need are covered.
To work in the position of Camp Manager within a refugee camp you need some years of professional experience working in refugee aid. You should also get formal qualifications in humanitarian aid, as well as trainings in effective camp management.
There are some refugee aid agencies that specialise in camp management. These include:
Child Protection Coordinator
Children are especially vulnerable when societies are distributed by displacement. The job of Child Protection Coordinator is to run refugee aid projects aiming to protect children from violence, abuse or exploitation. Using a variety of activities and services, the Child Protection Coordinator works to limit the impact of human displacement on children.
The job of Child Protection Coordinator in a refugee aid agency includes setting-up safe spaces for children, building networks of referrals for especially vulnerable children and working to reunite children separated from their families. The position of Child Protection Coordinator working in refugee aid usually manages a team of Social Workers and Case Managers who also work directly with children.
The requirements for working as Child Protection Coordinator assisting refugees is usually a qualification in social work or child protection. Some experience working directly with refugees, even in your home country, is also beneficial.
There are lot of local NGOs working directly with refugees in child protection, so be sure to check. Some of the leading international NGOs that recruit Child Protection Coordinators to work with refugees include:
Advocacy aims to create long-term and systemic change. The job of Advocacy Officer in a refugee NGO is to work on advocacy campaigns around refugee rights. These can include working to improve refugee access to services, changing government policy towards refugees or fighting for improved refugee rights. The position of Advocacy Officer is one of the main campaigning jobs in refugee aid.
A key part of the job of Advocacy Officer is to network with stakeholders related to refugee issues to try and create long-term improvements. This can mean working with governments, policy makers, law enforcement and community groups to advocate on behalf of refugees. Advocacy Officers must also work closely with refugees themselves to build a strong understanding of their needs and issues.
Many people working in Advocacy Officer roles in refugee NGOs have a communications or policy background. Usually, a higher education degree is needed. It can be good to begin by volunteering on campaigns related to refugee aid before moving into jobs in advocacy.
Most organisations working with refugees have an advocacy and campaigns team. Some of the largest and most well-known NGOs in this area include:
Gender-Based Violence Coordinator
Many women around the world face violence, and this can increase when people are displaced. Refugee aid agencies employ Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Coordinators to set-up and run projects to assist women who are victims of violence, as well as protect women who may be victims of GBV. The job of GBV Coordinator is one the main refugee aid jobs working with displaced women.
Gender-Based Violence Coordinators use a range of tools and practices to work with women who are, or may-be, victims of violence. This can include counselling work for refugee women, as well as establishing referral pathways for victims of GBV and strengthening community networks. Working as a GBV Coordinator for a refugee aid NGO is one of the best ways to assist women refugees.
Requirements for working as a GBV Coordinator with refugees is usually a formal qualification in social work, gender studies or protection. Some previous experience working with refugees is also a common requirement.
A lot of refugee aid NGO’s work on women’s issues and GBV. Some organisations to check-out if you are interested in working in a GBV role with refugees include:
Distribution Managers are responsible for overseeing the implementation of aid distributions to refugees. Many types of humanitarian aid are delivered to refugees using different distribution methods. The job of the Distribution Manager is to select the correct method of delivery for the aid being provided to refugees and for the wider context that the distribution is taking place in.
The job of the Distribution Manager on a refugee aid project is to assess the type of aid being delivered to refugees and develop plans and procedures for its safe and controlled distribution. It is also important the right types of aid reach refugees with specific needs and the role of Distribution Manager is to ensure aid reaches refugees correctly.
The requirement for working as a Distribution Manager on a refugee aid project is usually some previous experience in humanitarian aid, as well as formal qualifications, often in humanitarian action or logistics.
Almost all NGOs do distributions as part of their refugee aid projects. However, the job of Distribution Manager is usually tasked with overseeing large distributions of aid. Some organisations that often employ Distribution Managers include:
The role of Policy Officer in refugee aid is one of the main positions developing policy positions to improve the situation for refugees. Many NGOs working with refugees, as well as think-tanks and governments, employ Policy Offices specialised in refugee issues to develop platforms. The role of Policy Officer is also to provide analysis and advise on how policies may impact refugees.
The job of Policy Officer within an organisation working to assist refugees is to research how current government policies impact displaced people as well as to develop improved policies. The position of Policy Officer is also to engage with other stakeholders across a range of refugee issues with the aim to develop joint platforms that can push for improved policies for refugees and asylum seekers.
To work as a Policy Officer specialising in refugee aid you will need a higher education degree. You will also need expertise in policy, research and advocacy.
Most major organisations working with refugees employ Policy Officers. Some of the largest include:
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Cash Programme Manager
The humanitarian industry is beginning to move more towards providing direct financial assistance to refugees. This is more efficient and gives refugees more choice and ability to meet their own needs. The main job that oversees the cash transfer programming for refugees is the Cash Programme Manager. Roles in cash transfer aid programmes to refugees are fast expanding.
The job of Cash Programme Manager is the main job overseeing cash distributions to refugees. Cash programming roles work to ensure funds are transferred correctly and securely to refugees in need and the position of the Cash Programme Manager is to make sure the NGO uses cash effectively as aid. Another key part of the job is ensuring that cash distributions to refugees does not disturb the local economy.
Working as Cash Programme Manager as part of a refugee aid response is a specialised role. You will likely need a background in economics or livelihoods development, as well as some experience in micro-finance project management.
Cash transfer programming is a growing sector within refugee aid. More refugee aid agencies are moving into cash transfer programming; some of the major ones working in the sector include:
There are lots of jobs you can get related to working with refugees in different areas of research. Many universities, as well as think-tanks, governments and international organisations recruit researchers to investigate refugee issues. The research produced helps these institutions develop tools, practices and policies to better assist refugees.
Jobs in research related to refugee aid cover a wide range of areas. Working as a researcher can include looking into the root causes of refugee crises, the experience of refugees and displaced people, as well as how to improve resettlement and repatriation. If you are interested in jobs combining refugee aid and research, there are plenty of positions out there.
The requirements for getting a job in researching refugee issues are likely to include a university degree, probably up to PhD level. You may also need to begin working as research assistant before being able to undertake your own refugee aid research.
Almost all institutions that work assisting refugees will conduct research. Look for Research Associate roles at large NGOs and academic institutions that focus on refugee aid.
Another front-line job in refugee aid is Logistics Officer. The Logistics Officer is responsible for the day-to-day procurement, storage and movement of aid for refugee projects. The job of Logistics Officer is to ensure that the correct aid is delivered to the refugees in need effectively as possible. Logistics Officers coordinate the supply chain operation within a specific location of a refugee aid project.
Alongside the purchasing, transportation and warehousing of aid for refugee project, the Logistics Officer must also effectively plan aid supply chains. The job of Logistics Officer on a refugee aid project often also includes overseeing the fleet of vehicles and premises management. The position of Logistics Officer is one of main supply chain and logistics jobs in a refugee aid project.
The requirement to work as a Logistics Officer on a refugee aid project usually includes a formal qualification in humanitarian logistics. Often some experience in supply chain management, perhaps in the private sector is also asked for. You can also begin in a Logistics Assistant position to gain some experience.
Almost all NGOs that work with refugee will have logistics positions. Some of the largest include:
Cultural Mediator / Interpreter
A key job working with refugees is the role of Cultural Mediator. Also known as an Interpreter, the position assists refugees with language translation, as well as liaising with authorities and organisations. The job of Cultural Mediator is also to help bridge the gap between the refugee’s culture and the context they are now in. The job of Cultural Mediator or Interpreter is a crucial job assisting refugees.
When refugees begin to settle, either in camps, host communities or country’s they have relocated to, they require assistance adapting to their new surroundings. The job Cultural Mediator works with refugees to introduce them to their new culture, as well as assist them with formalities and bureaucracy. The position of Cultural Mediator can be crucial for refugees to access the services they need.
If you want to work as a Cultural Mediator or An Interpreter assisting refugees you need to speak a second language. Cultural Mediators are also usually recruited from the same culture as the refugee community. Some knowledge of local refugee services and bureaucracy is also required.
Cultural Mediators and Interrupters working with refugees are recruited both in the field and in countries where refugees settle. To find open position, look for postings by local NGOs and groups that assist refugees in your area.
Education Programme Manager
When children and young people are displaced, they can lose their access to education. Many aid organisations set-up projects to provide education to refugees and these are ran by the Education Programme Manager. The job of the Education Programme Manager is to oversee the implementation of education provision to refugees.
The position of Education Programme Manager in a refugee aid project includes establishing classrooms and teaching facilities, recruiting and managing teachers and sourcing the curriculum. The Education Programme Manager role is also responsible for project management of the refugee education programme, which can include supporting project logistics, budget management and external coordination.
The main requirements to work as an Education Programme Manager in refugee aid usually includes a degree in humanitarian aid or international development, and/or formal qualifications in education.
Some refugee aid organisations specialising in education projects that recruit Education Programme Manager roles include:
Refugees and displaced populations are often in urgent need of shelter. As refugee aid agencies work to provide suitable accommodation, they require technical advice on shelter construction, provision, type and suitability. The job of Shelter Advisor provides this technical service and is the key advisory position to aid agencies establishing temporary or longer-term shelter for refugees.
As an important technical position on many refugee aid projects, the Shelter Advisor is the main expert on how shelter should be provided to displaced populations. The job of Shelter Advisor is to give guidance to aid agencies on the correct establishment of appropriate, safe and suitable accommodation to refugees. Shelter Advisor’s are often employed when refugee camps are established but can also guide refugee aid agencies on assisting urban populations that need assistance in reconstruction.
If you want to work as a Shelter Advisor on refugee aid projects you are likely to need an architecture or engineering background. Some professional experience is also required and relevant trainings for shelter within refugee contexts.
There are lots of NGOs that work in shelter provision for refugees. Some that may be recruiting Shelter Advisor’s include:
If you want to know more about the types of jobs you can get assisting refugees, as well as learn the skills needed to work with displaced people, head over to our page listing the top refugee and migration online courses here.