Jobs in International Development

There are plenty of opportunities in international development for trained professionals and graduates. Healthcare workers, scientists and engineers are also in high demand. Advancement opportunities depend on your level of education and tenure.

Training and education

Most international development workers have a four year college degree or a graduate degree in international relations, peace studies, sociology or anthropology. Without a college degree, you can still pursue a career in international development, but you will have to pay to get your experience. Volunteer vacations and internships during the summer are the best choice if you have not decided on graduate school.

When an international development organization looks at the resume of a new hire they look at education, but they also look at how much international experience. The number one issue an organization will deal with is homesickness. Without a long term international excursion, longer than six weeks, the organization may not want to take a chance a person who not be able to adjust to the new culture and will want to go home, which is a waste of their time and money.

International aid workers are also expected to deal with the clients in their own language. You can pursue language training while still in school, or even find classes at a community college. Without any language skills, there are some organization that will take you, but you need to be a stellar professional in another area to compensate for not speaking a language other than English.

Job Options

Engineers will work on building projects, getting fresh water and irrigation to farmers and villages, and they will assist in setting up cellular networks or power grids. An agronomist will manage projects that resolves issues related to soil quality, to using native plants and crops, and they may work in tangent with a forester who is trying to solve soil depletion by growing native trees.

Healthcare workers will assist in public health projects, educating people about AIDS, nutrition, drug use and vaccinations. They will also diagnose and dispense medications, sometimes facing opposition or distrust from the local community.

A worker without professional training may find themselves working on business tasks, translation or manual labor, depending on their skills. When not in the field, you may work in fundraising or on public relations for the organization.

Typical Day

A typical day can include meetings, answering phone calls, touring development sites and writing reports. For healthcare workers, you will work at a clinic. As the person who dispenses money, medicine or knowledge, you may find yourself constantly in the spotlight as people ask for your time and attention. You will need patience, flexibility and a knowledge of people and their culture to get along and get your job done.

Advancement and Salary

Depending on the organization that you work for your salary can be quite modest. Professional may be able to earn $70,000. If your housing is paid for, you may be able to live quite well.