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If you are interested in working for an NGO, it’s important to know that there are many different types of jobs across the NGO sector. NGOs need a range of different roles in order to support their work. Almost all types of skills and experiences are needed in by NGOs, and so we’ve given a quick breakdown of some of the different kinds of jobs that you can apply for if you want to work for an NGO.
NGO Project Managers are responsible for overseeing all aspects of a specific project. They usually manage the project team, control the budget, ensure the project is implemented in-line with the funding grant and write project reports. Project Managers in the NGO sector often line-manage Project Officers and admin staff. They are usually managed by Director level staff.
There are different types of Project Managers in the NGO sector, but they are either in a technical position or a generalist role. Technical Project Managers oversee projects focusing on areas such as healthcare, nutrition, education, livelihoods, shelter or water and sanitation. Generalist Project Managers focus on areas such as operations or programme implementation. Both types of roles are responsible for ensuring projects are delivered but require different skills and experience.
How to Apply
If you want to work for an NGO as a Project Manager you will need a university degree, usually to Masters level. A formal qualification in project management, such as PRINCE 2 or PMD Pro would also be beneficial. In most NGOs Project Managers are mid-level roles so previous experience in project management, either in the NGO, public or private sector is usually needed.
All NGO’s need to raise funds to support their work. Fundraisers are one of the main types of roles within NGOs. The job of the Fundraiser is to design methods for the NGO to reach supporters who will provide donations. This can include raising money from individuals, businesses or from institutional donors such as governments or the UN.
Most NGOs have fundraising teams. This means there are many different types of fundraising roles in the NGO sector. Campaigners, Supporter Engagement and Philanthropy Officers are some of the types of NGO fundraising roles. Smaller NGOs may only have one or two Fundraisers, large NGOs can have teams with dozens of different fundraising positions.
How to Apply
Fundraising is one of the most important jobs within an NGO. In order to work as an NGO Fundraiser, you will likely need some previous experience. For junior roles this may just be volunteering experience with charities, for more senior fundraising positions several years’ experience and a proven track record of securing funding will be key.
The job of Finance Officer is one of the most common types of jobs in the NGO sector. NGO’s need staff to effectively manage their financial systems and processes. The position of Finance Officer oversees the day-to-day finances of an NGO. Finance Officers can be attached to specific NGO projects, or work in the general finance department of an NGO.
Finance Officer positions are the mid-level finance role within an NGO. There are other types of finance roles, with more junior positions being Finance Assistants, and more senior often being Directors of Finance or CFOs. Other types of finance roles NGOs often recruit include Accounts, Treasurers, and Budget Officers.
How to Apply
If you want to apply to Finance Officer jobs with an NGO, you will likely need a degree in finance. As the job of Finance Officer is mid-level in the NGO sector, you will also need a few years of relevant experience as well, ideally working supporting NGO projects. If you are a recent graduate or have less experience, target more junior types of finance roles in the NGO sector, such as Finance Assistant.
Logistics is another key support function for NGO projects. NGO Logisticians must work to procure, move, and store the supplies NGOs need to do their work. Logistics staff in NGOs must also keep accurate records of their purchases and often manage the fleet vehicles NGO staff use.
There are many types of logistics roles in the NGO sector. Junior logistics positions include Logistics Assistant, Warehouse Assistant and Purchaser. Senior Logistics roles within NGOs include Logistics Coordinator and Supply Chain Manager.
How to Apply
In order to work in almost any type of NGO logistics job you will need a formal qualification in logistics or supply chain management. Previous experience in the private or public sector in a similar role may negate this. Mid-level logistics jobs, such as Logistics Officer, will require two or three years of relevant experience. If you’re more just beginning your career, target applications at junior types of logistics roles, focusing on Assistant level positions.
NGO Online Courses
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.
We also think the online course Introduction to NGO Management is a must for anyone wanting to work for an NGO. It goes over how NGOs operate and introduces students to the unique aspects of the NGO sector they will need to know in order to land a job. Follow the link for more information.
Another online course we highly recommend for those wanting to join the NGO sector is How To Design and Fund International Development NGO Projects. Anyone working for an NGO needs a basic understanding of how NGO projects are set-up, and how to input to funding proposals. This course is a must for those wanting to work for an NGO. Click the link to get more information on the course.
Many NGO’s work in dangerous environments. One type of NGO job is Security Expert. Their role is to ensure the safety and security of an NGO’s staff. They develop security plans, review the security context and brief staff on security challenges. They also test security procedures and recommend changes in how the NGO operates to ensure that people are kept safe.
There are many types of security roles within the NGO sector. These include Safety and Security Managers, Officer, and Assistants. Some NGOs combine security roles with other types of jobs, including security and liaison, and security and access positions. Security staff usually report to either the Logistics Coordinator or Head Of Mission in an NGO.
How to Apply
To get a security job with an NGO you need a background in security work. NGOs generally look for people with strong knowledge of their operating context for all types of security roles, as well as those with formal experience in safety and security. Private and public sector experience, as well as previous experience working with an NGO, can help you land a security job in the sector.
Communications is vital for an NGO – it allows them to promote their work, raise funds and also advocate for their cause. One type of communications job in the sector is Comms Officer. This is a mid-level communications role responsible for preparing comms materials, liaising with the media, and implementing the NGOs comms strategy.
As well as Communications Officers, many NGOs have Comms Directors, and large ones will have entire communications teams. There are different types of comms roles across the NGO industry, including Media Managers, Press Officers, and Social Media Experts.
How to Apply
If you want to become a Communications Officer in an NGO, or work in any other type of communications role, you should gain a formal qualification in communication management, ideally a degree. A proven track record in working in communications for other organisations will also be key.
Human Resource Officer
There are many types of jobs in human resources in NGOs. The job of the Human Resources Officer is to oversee the day-to-day running of an NGOs HR. This can include working to hire new staff, implementing HR guidelines, completing payroll, and assisting in disciplinary procedures. Some NGOs will have HR Assistant roles that support the HR department, and HR Coordinators that have oversight of human resources.
Some NGOs will combine human resources jobs with other similar functions. For example, you may see positions advertised for Finance and Hr Officer, or Hr-Admin Assistants. These types of combined roles are more often found in smaller NGOs, or at field base level in larger organisations.
How to Apply
If you want to work for an NGO in a human resource role, consider doing a degree in human resource management. Junior HR roles in the NGO sector can be got straight from college, but as NGO jobs are competitive, gaining some professional experience before applying will benefit your application.
Another type of NGO job is a Programme Advisor. The roles of the Programme Advisor is to provide technical assistance to an NGO’s project team. Programme Advisors can either work in technical areas, such as health, shelter, water and sanitation or livelihoods or in operations. They provide expert guidance to the teams implementing the NGO’s projects.
Programme Advisors in NGOs can work either in HQ or at country-level. When working in a country office, the Programme Advisor is usually based in the NGOs main office, often in the capital, and provides assistance to teams in the field. At HQ, the Programme Advisor will often provide guidance to many different country programmes.
How to Apply
In the NGO sector the Programme Advisor role in a senior level position. You need several years, often a decade or more, in the NGO industry to become a Programme Advisor. A deep understanding of NGO work, as well as how programmes are designed, funded, and implemented, is key to getting a job as a Programme Advisor in an NGO.
There are many types of NGO jobs that work directly in the field where NGO programmes are being ran. The job of the Field Coordinator in an NGO is to manage a field base. They directly line-manage the field team and are responsible for programme implementation, safety and security, finance, logistics, HR, and project monitoring.
NGO’s generally have a Field Coordinator for each field base. In large NGOs the Field Coordinator will report to an Area Manager, who overseas multiple field bases across a larger geographical area. On smaller NGO missions the Field Coordinator usually reports to the Head of Mission or Country Director.
How to Apply
Field Coordinator is a mid-level type of NGO job. This means you will need between three and five years in the NGO sector before applying. Strong skills in project implementation and team management are key, as is strong knowledge of NGO logistics, finance, and HR processes.
There are many types of Director roles within the NGO sector. Directors can oversee specific departments, such as finance, HR, logistics or programme operations. These kinds of Director roles are usually at HQ level. At country level, common director roles in NGOs include Country Director.
In most NGOs Directors are tasked with overseeing large areas of work. They often line-manage senior staff. Directors at HQ level usually report to the Chief Operations Officer. At country level, Directors either report to the Head of Mission or to the Desk Manager stationed at HQ.
How to Apply
You will need significant experience over many years to become a Director in an NGO. Postings across different countries, as well as overseeing different types of projects, is key to becoming a director. You need to demonstrate to an NGO that you have wide ranging experience combined with extensive understanding of NGO operations. You will also need to show that you have the competencies needed to take a senior leadership role in the organisation.
NGOs receive grants from different organisations to fund their work. One type of job in the NGO sector is Grants Manager. The main task of the Grants Manager is to ensure NGO projects are implemented in-line with the guidelines set-out by the funding organisation. Grant managers within the NGO industry can either work on one specific large grant, or across a portfolio of many grants.
The Grants Manager job includes liaising between project teams and funding organisations, as well as tracking grant deliverables and budgets. It also involves writing, compiling, and submitting grant reports. As well as Grant Managers, other types of grants jobs NGOs can recruit for include Grant Officers, Reporting Officer, and Proposal Writers.
How to Apply
To apply for jobs as a Grants Manager with an NGO you will need some experience in grants positions within the NGO sector. For more junior roles, including Grants Officer, you will need to demonstrate an understanding of the grant cycle, budget management, report writing and proposal development.
Another type of job many NGOs recruit for is Liaison Officer. NGO’s have to work closely with different government departments in order to implement their projects. The job of the Liaison Officer is to build relationships with local authorities, ensure that all required documents and approvals are received and advocate for the NGO with the government when needed.
In some NGOs, the Liaison Officer role in combined with other types of jobs. It is common to see Liaison and Access Officer positions – these put a greater enthesis on ensuring the NGO gets the approvals needed to work in the areas they need. Liaison roles can also be combined with security positions in many NGOs.
How to Apply
Those applying for Liaison Officer jobs in an NGO should have good connections with local authorities. They should also be able to demonstrate a strong track record of advocating for NGOs with governments and navigating complex bureaucratic processes.
A final type of NGO job is in advocacy. NGOs advocate for long-term and systemic change in the areas that they work. They lobby governments, decision-makers, and influential organisations to affect policy shifts, changes in business practices and to improve awareness of their cause. The job of the Advocacy Manager is to oversee an NGOs advocacy work.
Advocacy Managers must design strategies for their NGO’s advocacy efforts, as well as directly lead engagement with key people and organisations. As a mid-level role, Advocacy Mangers often line-manager a team of Advocacy Officers and Campaigners. They will report to Director level staff, often in the programmes or humanitarian departments.
How to Apply
In order to work as an Advocacy Manager for an NGO you will need several years’ experience in advocacy work. If getting an advocacy job in an NGO is your aim, consider starting by volunteering on NGO campaigns and getting involved in causes you are passionate about.
If you want more information on how to work for an NGO, explore our list of the top NGO online courses here.