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There are many subjects you can study to become an international aid worker. The humanitarian aid industry needs a wide variety of skills to implement and manage aid projects across the world. However, with so many career routes to choose, what is best to study if you want to be an international aid worker?
To become an international aid worker you should study a masters degree in humanitarian aid or international development. You could also study practical skills the humanitarian industry needs such as logistics, finance, structural engineering or water and sanitation.
If you want to work as an international aid worker there are many subjects you can study that reflect the diverse needs of the aid industry.
Studying a masters in humanitarian action will give you an understanding of the history of international aid and the main trends affecting the aid industry. It will also teach you practical knowledge of how humanitarian assistance is delivered. You should study humanitarian action if you are interested in front line work in international aid, especially responding crises and managing projects addressing those affected by natural disasters, conflict and displacement.
International development is one of the top courses to study to become an aid worker. Many leading universities teach development studies and humanitarian organisations often hire graduates in international development as aid workers. International development teaches you the global trends affecting low- and middle-income countries, as well as allowing you to research practical solutions to world issues. If you want to be a humanitarian worker, studying international development gives you the knowledge needed.
Disaster and Emergency Management
If you want to become an international aid worker you could study a course in disaster and emergency management. Aid workers are often the first responders to natural disasters and humanitarian crises. Studying disaster and emergency management will give you the practical skills to understand how responses are coordinated. You will also learn how international aid workers best prepare for disasters and how they work to lesson the impact of disasters when they do happen.
Humanitarian Aid Online Courses
If you are looking to work in humanitarian aid, we highly recommend the online course International Humanitarian and Development Careers. We think it provides one of the best overviews of the humanitarian sector and gives valuable insights for those searching for jobs in humanitarian aid. Follow the link to the course’s page for more information.
The International Humanitarian Law Theory and Practice online course offered by Leiden University in the Netherlands provides a fantastic theoretical overview of humanitarianism. We think it’s one of the top online courses for those who want to understand the basics of international humanitarian law. Click the link to visit the course’s page for more information.
We also think the Humanitarian Action Response and Relief online course offered by Coventry University is a must for anyone looking to become a humanitarian aid worker. It only takes around three weeks to complete and would be a major addition to the CV of anyone looking to work in the aid sector. The link is to the course’s page.
Refugee and Migration Studies
There is a rising number of refugee crises around the world that humanitarian aid workers respond to. If you want to work in international aid, studying refugee and migration studies will give a background is forced migration and how humanitarian organisations respond. To become an international aid worker, studying refugee and migration studies would allow you to work with vulnerable people affected by war and conflict around the world.
Peace and Conflict
To become an international aid worker, a degree in peace and conflict studies could be a good choice. Humanitarian aid aims to assist those who lives are destroyed by war and help communities come together after conflict. If you want to work as a humanitarian, doing a peace and conflict degree would teach you the history of war as well as the theory and practice of peace building. To become an international aid worker, studying peace and conflict would give you the strong academic background.
Health and Medicine
Studying medicine and becoming qualified as a doctor, nurse or pharmacist is one of the best ways to become a humanitarian aid worker. Aid agencies running health programmes helping those affected by disaster, war or poverty need medically qualified staff to run the projects as well as in managerial roles. By studying medicine, you will be well placed to become an international aid worker. You can also study psychology as the aid sector is increasingly looking for qualified mental health professionals to become aid workers.
Logistics and Supply Chain Management
Humanitarian responses require huge amounts of aid to be moved quickly into disaster zones. To do this well, aid agencies need people skilled in logistics and supply chain management. To become a humanitarian, consider studying these as they will equip you with the skills needed to manage the logistics, transport and warehousing of aid. There are several recognised courses in humanitarian logistics and if you want to be an international aid worker you should consider one of these.
Accountancy and Finance
If you want to be an international aid worker you could study finance. NGOs working in humanitarian aid need qualified accountants to work in the field and manage the financial and administrative side of aid projects. This is a very good option if you want to be an international aid worker as most people study closely related subjects such as international development, but aid agencies have a real need for finance staff. Definitely consider studying finance and accountancy if you want to be an international aid worker.
One of the largest humanitarian needs in the world right now is responding to refugee and migrant movements. Huge refugee camps are set up in lots of countries. To be a humanitarian aid worker you could study engineering and focus on construction of shelters. Many international aid organisations need people qualified to oversee the building of settlements and there is a shortage of qualified structural engineers in the aid industry. Consider studying engineering to become a humanitarian aid worker.
Water and Sanitation
Access to clean water is an urgent need for people affected by disaster and conflict. If you want to become an international aid worker you can study water and sanitation. International NGOs need people qualified in water and sanitation engineering to help design and construct much needed water sources. To become an international aid worker, you can study water and sanitation to work with well-known NGOs ensuring people get the water they need.
Humanitarian organisations often work in dangerous and insecure environments. If you want to become an international aid worker consider studying global security or security management. This will give you the knowledge and skills needed to be a humanitarian and ensure that aid is delivered safely and securely to the people in need. Studying global security to become a humanitarian aid worker means you can work for NGOs across the world ensuring safety and security.
Social Work and Child Protection
Many people affected by war and disaster are especially vulnerable. Many humanitarian organisations work to protect women, children, older people or people living with disabilities who are affected by crises. To become an international aid worker you can study social work and learn the skills needed to provide humanitarian protection to specific groups who needed additional help in a humanitarian emergency.
Millions of children around the world are affected by humanitarian crises that disrupt their education. To become an international aid worker, you can study education and work with NGOs providing schooling to children affected by disasters. You can also study education to get a job with humanitarian organisations working in low income countries teaching children living in poverty. Studying education is a good way to become an international humanitarian worker.
Food Security and Nutrition
You can study food security or nutrition to become an international aid worker. Many people in humanitarian emergency need food aid delivered and millions of people living in poverty require feeding. Studying food security or nutrition to become a humanitarian gives you the skills needed to design and manage programmes to tackle hunger around the world. Studying food security or nutrition can be a good path to becoming an international humanitarian aid worker.
If you want to learn more about how to become a humanitarian aid worker, explore our list of the top humanitarian aid online courses here.