What you need to know about careers in international development

Career opportunities in international development are incredibly diverse. It is a broad field that can take you in many different directions.

As the magnitude of career possibilities in this field can be overwhelming, it is helpful to begin thinking about the type of work you will most enjoy and focus your academic career on preparing for that sector. You will find information regarding general career pathways below. 

Career Paths

International agencies and work in the field

  • Non-governmental organizations
  • United Nations organizations
  • Multilateral and bi-lateral agencies
  • Foreign service
  • English as a second language instructors/research and travel

Community Organizing

  • Grassroots non-governmental organizations
  • Social and environmental justice campaign
  • Local political reform and organizing

The Private Sector

  • Sustainable development in cooperatives
  • Community-supported agriculture
  • Micro-enterprises
  • Big corporations
  • Journalism


  • Art, culture and music
  • Media and filmmaking
  • Think-tanks
  • Entrepreneurship

Sample Employers

Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs)

United States Government

Development Consulting Firms

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

Foundations, Policy Institutes



Online Resources

  • IADB Listings – Inter-American Development Bank lists 1,500 volunteer organizations in Latin American, containing contact information and description of work.
  • ASPA – The American Society for Public Administration lists public administration jobs and internships in the public, non-profit and private sectors searchable by state.
  • Avue Central – A federal employment service used to apply for federal jobs and internships.
  • AWID -The Association for Women’s Rights in Development is an international organization committed to achieving gender equality, sustainable development and women’s human rights. The website features job listings around the world in these fields.
  • Directory of Development Orgs – Online directory of development organizations which contains over 47,500 listings by country and is a reference for development practitioners, researchers, donor employees, and policymakers.
  • www.DevelopmentAid.org is a membership organization that brings together information for developmental professionals, NGOs, consultancy firms and donors. Organizations can post jobs, view profiles of jobseekers and freelance consultants as well as organizational profiles.
  • Development Net – A gateway to job listings in international development, environment, information technology for development, relief and reconstruction, and consultancy assignments.
  • Devex – A social enterprise bringing efficiency to international development through recruiting and business information services. Members find jobs, projects, news, and professional connections, on devex.com.
  • FPA – The Foreign Policy Association provides job and internship listings on its website and in a weekly email newsletter from industries such as development, health, environment, education, humanitarian relief and more.
  • Idealist – A project of Action without Borders and contains job and internship listings in economic development, social services, human rights, environment and more. Users can search for jobs by country, state and city.
  • InterAction – An alliance of international development and humanitarian nongovernmental organizations.
  • Jobted.com – identifies international development jobs and internships in all sectors of the market around the world.
  • The Microfinance Gateway – Source of information and global jobs and internships in microfinance
  • www.nonprofitjobs.org – Run by the Community Career Center, an on-line gathering place for non-profit employers and management personnel; the site allows users to search for non-profit jobs and internships regionally in the US and internationally.
  • OneWorld – OneWorld International Foundation offers job and internship listings at non- profit and international organizations dedicated to harnessing the democratic potential of the Internet to promote human rights and sustainable development.
  • Philanthropy Jobs – Lists US based non-profit jobs in fields such as economic development, education, healthcare and social services.
  • US Department of State – Website for the US Department of State lists the categories of State department employees and how to apply for these positions.
  • USAID – Features a list of vacancies and internships at the organization.