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Human Rights Career Paths

A career in human rights is both rewarding and competitive. We have compiled a list of common human rights career paths for your consideration. You will find information about the scope of work for each human rights career, the required qualifications and the average salary of each job profile. Additionally, we have added online courses to each career path for you to dig deeper into a subject, explore your interests and get inspired. If you have finished reading on this page, consider exploring human rights scholarships, fellowships, masters, jobs and our magazine.

The human rights sector offers a variety of career paths that all have their unique challenges, requirements, strategies and tools to create change. Most career paths fall within the realms of campaigning and communication, research, education, advocacy, activism and law. 

Human Rights Lawyer
  • Description: Human Rights Lawyers advocate on behalf of victims of abuse, persecution, human rights violations. Human Rights Lawyers engage in a variety of different tasks from drafting legal documents, performing research on human rights cases, negotiating settlements and arguing human rights cases in court. They work at the local, national, and international level at NGOs, law firms, intergovernmental organizations, and for governments. Human Rights Lawyers need to be experts in international human rights law and they first need to complete all academic and practical requirements to practice law. Issues that Human Rights Lawyers work on include a variety of topics such as refugee rights, child rights, war crimes, discrimination law, gender equality and more.
  • Qualifications: Human Rights Lawyers need to obtain a law degree and pass any qualifying exams to practice law. Those interested in specific human rights issues should be experts in that topic. Human Rights Lawyers also need skills in investigation, rhetoric, interviewing, and advocacy.
  • Salary: In May 2015, the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median wage for Human Rights Lawyers was $115,820. Salaries vary depending on the location and for which organization a lawyer is practicing.
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Human Rights Campaigner
  • Description: Human Rights Campaigners are responsible for the development and delivery of human rights campaigns. They engage new audiences, mobilize supporters and raise awareness for human rights issues and on behalf of individuals and communities at risk of human rights violations. Campaigners develop the strategy for human rights campaigns and execute these strategies using a broad variety of tools, channels and platforms ranging from mobile messaging apps, social media, websites and print media to press releases. Human Rights Campaigners are often excelling at language and visual communication. They understand the impact words and images can have and use this knowledge to inform, mobilize and inspire. Campaigners are often trained in gender-sensitive language and rhetoric, writing and inclusive design, and they know meticulously what resonates with their audiences. Campaigners are often the voice of their organizations to the public or those who cannot speak up for themselves. Through effective campaigning organizations mobilize supporters for human rights issues and engage new audiences to take action for human rights. 
  • Qualifications: Human Rights Campaigners come from a variety of backgrounds. They often have master’s degrees in communication, human rights, community mobilization, marketing and other similar degrees that equip them with useful skills for campaigning.
  • Salary: Most Campaigner salaries range between $50,000 and $85,000, with some small organizations paying lower salaries.
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Human Rights Educator
  • Description: Human Rights Education is a powerful tool to change the world. As a human rights educator your goal is to empower and equip people with the knowledge and skills they need to claim and defend their rights. Educators need to have in-depth knowledge about pedagogy and education, be empathic and have a sensitivity for matters of diversity and inclusion. Human Rights Educators aim to create participatory learning environments where everyone feels safe to express themselves, learn and thrive. They design learning experiences, lesson plans, online courses and manuals, facilitate workshops and trainings or organize educational conferences and forums. Ultimately, human rights educators enable people to stand up for their rights and the rights of others, making this one of the most vital career paths in the human rights sector. Human Rights Education is the pathway to take action.
  • Qualifications: Human Rights Educators typically need to have an advanced degree in human rights, pedagogy and education. They should be experienced in learning design, developing educational materials and conducting in-person trainings. Interpersonal skills are necessary, in order to establish strong relationships and trust with the learners.
  • Salary: Salaries for Human Rights Educators vary based on job responsibilities and the type, location, and size of organization. Salaries range from $39,000 – $80,000.
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Human Rights Researcher
  • Description: Human Rights Researchers work to ensure that human rights work is based on well-established facts. They carry out human rights investigations, go on field trips to conduct interviews with victims of human rights violations and draft reports on their findings. Researchers need to be resilient, precise and have exquisite research skills. They ask the right questions, are mindful of issues such as re-traumatization when doing their interviews, and are persistent in their investigations to uncover and document human rights violations. They have in-depth knowledge about human rights laws and the context in a specific country or region and are often specialized in a particular topic or issue, where they have developed in depth-expertise over several years. Human Rights Researchers monitor news reports, conduct interviews, use satellite images or employ social media forensics and a variety of other sources to gather information. Whilst some human rights researchers are office based, others go on field trips and join human rights missions to gather evidence. In collaboration with others, human rights researchers draft reports on their findings that human rights entities use for reference. If you are precise, detail-oriented and aim to get to the very bottom of things, becoming a human rights researcher might be a good fit.
  • Qualifications: Human Rights Researchers come from a variety of backgrounds but they often have master’s degrees in human rights, human rights law,
  • Salary: Most Campaigner salaries range between $50,000 and $85,000, with some small organizations paying lower salaries.
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Human Rights Advocacy Officer
  • Description: Working in Advocacy means lobbying and influencing international bodies, governments, communities, corporations, organizations, human rights defenders, politicians and other decision-makers to tackle current human rights challenges. Human Rights Advocacy Officers monitor the human rights developments in a specific country or issue and contribute to the documentation of human rights violations. They liaise with human rights defenders and build capacity to advocate with local and international stakeholders. When Advocacy workers are successful, it can impact individuals or entire populations. Advocacy workers often put pressure on stakeholders to change harmful or discriminatory laws and policies. Professionals in this sector need to understand power dynamics and be effective communicators either face to face or in writing to achieve their goals. They often maintain networks of people that they can leverage when they have to. Being a good negotiator and generally “doing well with people” are invaluable assets. Advocacy workers have in-depth knowledge of the organizations they work with and they know which “buttons to press” to trigger certain actions and dynamics. If you enjoy convincing people with agreeable arguments and creating change by utilizing power-dynamics working in Advocacy could be a great fit. 
  • Qualifications: Human Rights Advocacy Officers frequently have master’s degree in human rights, human rights law, political science, social science and related fields.
  • Salary: The salary of advocacy officers ranges from $31,000 to $90,000.
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Human Rights Activism Coordinator
  • Description: Everyone can be an activist but organizations also hire professionals to function as activism coordinators or community organizers to engage in nonviolent protest and action. They rally supporters for demonstrations and organize public events to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. People working in activism are often inspiring speakers and know how to communicate with a diverse array of people effectively. They are well informed about the risks of protests during particular times and they always have a Plan B. Activism coordinators are knowledgeable in the many different forms of creative protest and work together with other activists to stand up against injustice. If you enjoy organizing, leading and executing public events that draw attention and disrupt, you should consider to work in Activism.
  • Qualifications: Human Rights Activism Coordinators come from a broad range of sectors but often have master’s degrees in human rights, social work, community mobilization, social sciences or a related field.
  • Salary: The salary of advocacy officers ranges from $31,000 to $60,000.
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Human Rights Web Content Manager
  • Description: The impact of human rights organizations often depends on their ability to reach their followers, engage new audiences and mobilize support through their online channels. Web content managers are excellent writers with solid knowledge in digital marketing and search engine optimization. They know how to engage people in the online space, craft captivating content that inspires people and prompts them to take action for human rights. Webcontent Managers have in-depth knowledge of Content Management Systems (CMS) and often have expertise in programming languages such as CSS and HTML. Accurate human rights terminology, gender-sensitive language and eloquent writing are qualities many web content managers should bring to the table. Web Content Managers will also be proficient in analyzing web traffic and developing recommendations for decision-makers about innovative content strategies. Although web content managers may not require in-depth knowledge about human rights law, they do require a solid understanding of human rights to communicate organizational demands and engage new audiences in an accurate and effective way. All larger human rights organizations employ web content managers.
  • Qualifications: Web content managers often have master’s degrees in communications, literature, social sciences, human rights, digital marketing and related fields that equip them with the skills to communicate human rights content effectively.
  • Salary: The salary of advocacy officers ranges from $31,000 to $60,000.
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Human Rights Assistant
  • Description: Typically an entry level position, human rights assistants provide support in a variety of vital sectors in campaigning, communications, research, advocacy, outreach and development or as personal assistants of directors and senior leadership officials. Their tasks include administrative work, coordinating and organizing events, processing and documenting information and materials. Assistant roles can be excellent entry level opportunities that provide insight into the inner workings of an organization and the dynamics in different levels of the organization.
  • Qualifications: Human Rights Assistants require a Bachelor’s degree in human rights, social sciences or a related field.
  • Salary: The salary of human rights assistants ranges from $18,000 to $38,000.
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Human Rights Program Officer
  • Description: Program officers’ roles generally vary from organization to organization, but their primary function is to provide support to ongoing human rights programs that are funded and/or implemented by their organization. They are generally required to have skills in program design, project management, monitoring and evaluation, budgeting, and more. They are often liaisons between the funding organization and the implementing organization and oversee the project throughout its course to ensure that the project stays on schedule and on budget. Human Rights Program Officer tasks may include to manage human rights portfolios, expand networks and nurture relationships with human rights stakeholders, develop strategies to support and spread a culture of human rights, research and produce reports on issues related to human rights, and manage a grant making portfolio.
  • Qualifications: Program Officer positions almost always require a master’s degree along with work experience in human rights or a related field. Work experience required varies depending on the organization and responsibilities, ranging from 2 to 10 years. Program Officers need to display initiative, leadership, and good communication within a team. They need to have skills in time management, meeting deadlines, and prioritizing and have a solid understanding of human rights. In general, Program Officers working on specific projects need to have expertise in the issue and region that they are working in.
  • Salary: Salaries range from $56,000 to $120,000.
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Human Rights Grant Writer
  • Description: Grant Writers are necessary for the operation of human rights organizations. They work to write proposals and secure funding to ensure that the organization’s programs and operations can continue. In addition to writing grant proposals and funding requests, Grant Writers must also gather necessary documentation and statistics to persuade funders to provide the financial support requested. They are responsible for researching various grants and funding opportunities that will fit within their organization’s mission and purpose. Their work is critical to making sure the organization continues to receive grants and funding to continue their work.
  • Qualifications: Grant Writers must have at least a bachelor’s degree, usually in writing, English, communications, or a related field. Many Grant Writers also obtain specific grant writing certification, showing they have been trained in that specific type of writing. They also need skills in persuasive writing; research, to find appropriate funding opportunities; and information organization, to be able to gather and document the data and stats funders are looking for.
  • Salary: Salaries for Grant Writers range from city to city and often depend on the size of the organization. Reports from various sources state that the average range is anywhere between $45,000 to $75,000.
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Human Rights Communications Officer
  • Description: Communications Officers develop and implement communcations strategies, work-plans, events and campaigns in support of the defence and protection of human rights in alignment with the values of their organization and communication priorities. Most deal with the media in various ways, through press releases, social media, media inquiries, campaigns.  Many Communications Officers write publications, such as newsletters, magazines, online articles, brochures, and more. They are often responsible for telling the stories of the people that are most impacted by the work the organization is doing. They communicate to the public about what the organization’s values are and what progress they have made towards securing and defending human rights. Additionally they might act as spokesperson for their organization, develop news-worthy messages and handle press events and interview requests. Communications Officers will often be responsible for the timely dissemination and amplification of an organizations messaging. Maintaining strong relationships with the media, embassies, and governments can be an essential aspect to ensure these entities have solid awareness of pressing human rights issues.
  • Qualifications: Most Communications Officer positions require a bachelor’s degree, and many require at least 2 years’ work experience. In general, organizations look for individuals with degrees in journalism, writing, communications, marketing, and public relations. They need to be able to write effectively, use social media and a variety of other platforms, and research and target the specific audience they are catering. Skills in interviewing, layout, and design would also be useful.
  • Salary: Salaries for Communications Officers vary depending on the location, expertise level, and organization. Typical starting salaries for entry-level positions are around $30,000, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). On average, the BLS and PRSA (public relations membership organization) reported average salaries of between $52,000 and $73,000.
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Human Rights Fundraising Specialist
  • Description: Fundraising Specialists are responsible for helping organizations raise money and solicit donations. They organize campaigns and events to raise funds, research prospective donors, and develop fundraising strategies for the organization to carry out. Fundraising Specialists maintain donor relations and databases to ensure donations continue. They also make sure that the donations and funds are meeting legal reporting standards. They also evaluate funding strategies and campaigns so that they can learn from successes and failures for future campaigns. Fundraising Specialists are essential to the operation of human rights organizations, making sure that they have the finances to continue operations.
  • Qualifications: Fundraising Specialists typically have a bachelor’s degree, often in business, communications, or marketing. Those with previous experience, even in volunteer capacity, are likely to get jobs. They must be able to analyze the target audience, plan events and campaigns, and manage funding.
  • Salary: Payscale reports that the average salary for a Fundraising Specialist is about $43,000 a year. This varies depending on experience and the size of the organization.
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Human Rights Policy Analyst
  • Description: Policy analysts evaluate and influence policies and policy changes. They typically focus on one specific area of policy such as refugee rights, child protection or gender equality and work in non-profits, think tanks, government agencies, and even media outlets. Policy analysts need strong research and writing skills to evaluate existing and proposed policies, conduct cost-benefit analyses, and report their findings and recommendations to policymakers and other key stakeholders. Policy analysts must understand current event trends, and the political climate to be able to make accurate elevations and relevant recommendations. They have solid knowledge of human rights mechanisms and human rights based approaches and understand current policies and practices in the fields of Human Rights. Policy analysts may provide technical inputs to regional and thematic programmes or carry out research on articles, books, case studies to generate useful data for developing and changing policies.
  • Qualifications: Policy analysts must have a college degree but degree qualifications vary with each position. They must be knowledgeable in policy and economics and skilled in writing. Many policy analyst positions require specific knowledge about a policy area or region.
  • Salary: In 2015, the average salary for policy analysts was $99,730. Salaries can range from $48,880 to $120,510.
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Human Rights M&E Officer
  • Description: Monitoring & Evaluation Officers are responsible for collecting data relating to human rights programs and projects, as well as reviewing the projects and analyzing the outcomes. They may do this by interviewing people in the communities directly impacted by the projects, and they develop a strategy and log frames for collecting data to report on the program and evaluate its effectiveness at the end. M&E Officers develop the plan, tools and systems for monitoring and evaluating a program or project and coordinate the process. They may also engage in capacity building, undertake monitoring visits, document lessons learnt, conduct needs assessments and liaise with other human rights organizations and entities.
  • Qualifications: For Monitoring & Evaluation Officer positions, at least a Bachelor’s degree is required. Depending on the level of the position, anywhere from one to five years’ work experience is typically required. M&E Officers must have qualitative and quantitative research skills. They must be able to collect, report on, and analyze data regarding the programs with which they work.
  • Salary: Salaries range depending on the level of the M&E Officer position (entry vs. senior level). According to Glassdoor.com, salaries for Monitoring & Evaluation Officers can range from about $64,000 to $117,000.
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Human Rights Statistician
  • Description: Statisticians hold diverse and important roles within human rights organizations. They provide data and analysis of a wide range of human rights issues. Their duties include developing databases and statistical indicators for research conducted by human rights organizations. They participate in research about issues and regions the organizations work with and programs they implement. They also provide statistical support to the various teams within the organization. Statistics help human rights organizations show a factual need for development and help them evaluate programs and projects. Human Rights statisticians need knowledge of standards and practices in the field of human rights and statistics by UN entities, national entities, civil society organizations and other stakeholders in relation to the measurement and implementation of international human rights standards. They need to be able to identify and assess sources for data to support analysis of human rights issues and trends and find uncover relevant patterns in their data collections.
  • Qualifications: Statistician jobs typically require a Master’s degree or higher. Strong skills in statistics, math, economics, and statistical programs/software are necessary. They should also have strong analysis and writing skills needed to interpret and report statistical information.
  • Salary: According to Glassdoor, Statisticians make an average of $76,000 a year, but this depends on the location and type of organization. Statisticians at governmental and international organizations can expect to make this or above this, depending on expertise level.
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Human Rights Administrative Officer
  • Description: Administrative Officers help manage the day-to-day operations of human rights organizations, including assisting with finances, human resources, and organizational aspects of the office. They may work to develop and monitor budgets, and they help with the recruitment and training of staff. Administrative Officers help with event scheduling and planning, management of office resources and space, and monitoring of payments to contractors and vendors, among other things. They are responsible to help communicate essential information to staff. They also help manage office files, including personnel files and financial reports. Administrative Officers are essential to the operation of human rights organizations through their work in finances, human resources, and office management.
  • Qualifications: Administrative Officer position requirements vary based on level of responsibility. Some positions require a Bachelor’s degree in finances, business, human resources, or a related field, or even a high school diploma and 2+ years of relevant work experience. Other positions require a Master’s degree. Most positions require 2-5 years of work experience in administrative or management work. Strong organizational and communication skills are necessary, as is experience in financial management.
  • Salary: Administrative Officer salaries range from the $30,000s to the $70,000s, with most averaging in the $50,000s. Salaries depend on size and location of the organization, as well as the level of responsibility in the job.
Human Rights Digital Content Officer
  • Description: Media & Digital Content Officers, especially in a globalized, digital work, play an important role for human rights organizations. They are responsible for creating and posting relevant information, events, and campaigns to the organization’s website, social media pages, blogs, etc. They create content for media statements and press releases to ensure that the organization’s mission and message are communicated clearly and effectively. Digital Content Officers keep up with popular internet trends and develop strategies for maximum engagement with their online audiences. They monitor stats and analyze social media trends and website traffic to find better ways to increase followers and create viral content. They advise and train program managers and department leaders in the best ways to engage online followers with information about ongoing programs and campaigns. Their goal is to increase social media and website engagement and find better ways to involve their target audiences through online content.
  • Qualifications: Many Media & Digital Content Officer positions require at least a Bachelor’s degree in marketing, social media, communications, journalism, or other related fields. Most positions require 2-5 years of work experience in social media strategy, digital marketing, or online communications. They must have excellent writing and communication skills and be knowledgeable about social media platforms, trends, and strategies. Networking is also a key skill, and graphic design skills are highly desired.
  • Salary: Salaries for Media & Digital Content Officers average in the $50,000s but can start in the $30,000s depending on responsibility level and the size and location of the organization.
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Human Rights Research Assistant
  • Description: Research Assistants are most likely to be found working at large human rights organizations, government agencies, and think tanks. Research Assistants work with various human rights issues but all carry out similar duties. In addition to gathering information and conducting literature reviews on human rights issues. Research Assistants also work to communicate that information to support research studies and results. They often prepare documents, reports, and memoranda on specific issues. In the field of human rights, Research Assistants conduct qualitative research in addition to quantitative research, using interviews, surveys, and expert opinions to support statistics and numbers. The information they gather and report on is used to support human rights work and show progress and results.
  • Qualifications: At least a bachelor’s degree is required for a Research Assistant position. Degrees in political science, international development, economics, international relations, and other similar fields are preferred. Skills in both qualitative and quantitative research are necessary for these jobs, including being able to use statistical software and analyze data. Strong verbal and writing skills are also required for these positions.
  • Salary: Salaries vary depending on location and type of employer, but the average salary is around $42,000, according to Payscale.
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Human Rights Interpreter/Translator
  • Description: Interpreters and translators are essential to the work of international human rights organizations. Interpreters provide the bridge for the organization to communicate effectively with the public and the communities. Similarly, translators make the documents, campaigns, and even social media posts for human rights organization accessible to audiences in other languages. Interpreters and translators focus on a variety of topics in their work, so knowing a wide variety of vocabulary is important. They also must keep up with current affairs in order to communicate information accurately and effectively. Translators must be able to help create cohesive and clear documents, which are often quoted in media and used for further action. Interpreters and translators provide an important and necessary bridge in communication for international human rights organizations.
  • Qualifications: For many organizations, a bachelor’s degree in a field related to interpretation is required. Interpreters and translators must have full command of the language and be able to adapt as languages develop, including speaking regional dialects. Most must go through rigorous training for official interpretation and translation. Interpreters typically need to be able to do simultaneous interpretation. Interpreters and translators must have an extensive vocabulary to be able to communicate about all possible topics.
  • Salary: Salaries for interpreters and translators vary greatly, depending on the organization, location, and capacity in which they are working. While some interpreters are hired as independent contractors, others are hired as direct employees. Glassdoor reports that UN interpreters and translators have starting salaries in the $30,000-$40,000 range and can work their way up to salaries in the $80,000s.
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Human Rights Policy Specialist
  • Description: Policy Specialists are primarily responsible for research, analysis, and reporting of relevant human rights policies. In addition to briefing organization leaders in important policy positions and topics, Policy Specialists also often represent the organization in task forces, for collaboratives, with academia, and in other working groups. They are responsible for knowing about the relevant issues, as well as the organization’s stance on those issues and they often review all contents developed by other employees before they are communicated to the public to ensure contents are accurate and in-line with organizations policies. They can also provide support for program implementation and analysis. Policy Specialists often create reports and other documentation on issues and policies related to programming and development strategies. In relation to policies, they research global, regional, and national trends and ensure that their organizations and key leaders are informed.
  • Qualifications: Most Policy Specialist positions require a Master’s degree in public policy, international development, international affairs, or a related field, although some only require a Bachelor’s degree with at least 2 years of work experience. Depending on the level of expertise, anywhere from 2 to 5 years of work experience is required. Policy Specialists must have strong research and analysis skills, as well as communication skills. Strong writing skills are a must.
  • Salary: Policy Specialist salaries typically range from the $40,000s to the $70,000s, depending on the expertise level and the organization size.
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Human Rights Legal Officer
  • Description: Legal Officers are responsible for providing memos, briefs, and other information related to human rights law. They provide support throughout hearings and other legal proceedings both within the organizations and on behalf of the organizations. Much of their responsibilities include researching local, national, and global human rights law and providing advice for specific cases and issues. They are also responsible for drafting and reviewing contracts, agreements, and settlements, as well as participating in negotiations and court proceedings. They support the work of senior legal officers and attorneys, helping to prepare reports and briefings to be used in cases. They can also provide representation and insight for task forces and committees within the organization, in order to provide a legal perspective. Legal Officers are particularly important for human rights organization, which work to uphold, promote, and implement human rights laws.
  • Qualifications: Legal Officer positions most commonly require an advanced degree in law and 2-5 years of work experience, depending on the level of responsibilities. They must have extensive knowledge of legal principles, concepts, and procedures, as well as skills in legal research and analysis. They must be able to create professional and appropriate legal documents and reports. Communication is also a key skill, especially the ability to write and speak clearly and effectively. Legal Officers typically work as part of a team, so teamwork and organization are also necessary skills.
  • Salary: Legal Officers typically get paid generously at human rights organizations, often with starting salaries in the $60,000s, according to Glassdoor. Salaries vary based on expertise level, organization size, and location, but they can be as high $105,000 for the lower mid-level positions (5 years’ experience).
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Human Rights Consultant
    • Description: Consultants for human rights organizations typically work on short term contracts to provide focused expertise in a specific area or topic. They generally work to provide training courses, seminars, documents, reports, etc. in a highly specialized area. They also provide analysis and work on result-oriented tasks to add information and insight for the organization to use in their programs and policies. Consultants can also be hired to work on a specific project or task, staying on until the completion of that task. Areas that consultants work on within human rights organizations vary from disability rights and indigenous rights to migration to gender-based violence, and they can also be hired to work on projects specific to different regions and countries. While these contracts are typically short-term, consultants are highly valued by human rights organizations for their ability to provide expertise and specialized experience and training.
    • Qualifications: Consultant position qualifications vary based on the actual contract, but most require a Master’s degree and 5 years’ work experience. Consultants must be able to show their expertise and skill in the project area, and they must also have strong communication skills. Adaptability and collaboration are also important qualities for consultants, given the nature of their contracted work.
    • Salary: Salaries vary greatly based on projects, since some projects are only a few months while others can be a few years. Some consultant positions require candidates to bid for their salary, creating a proposed budget for the project, including their own pay. Many consultant contracts pay hourly, daily, or monthly rates. These rates are based on the project type and experience level, with Glassdoor reporting that a yearly contract averages in the mid-$60,000s and monthly contracts range between $4000 to $9000 a month.
Nonprofit Accountant
      • Description: Accountants play an increasingly significant role for human rights organizations and for human rights within companies and corporations. Within non-profits and government organizations, accountants help balance the books and increase transparency. They record in detail where money is spent and how donations are used. Their work is crucial for organizations, keeping them financially stable, organized, and ethical. For nonprofits, accountants play a key role in ensuring that their organizations can continue to receive funding and ensuring that their finances are in order in case of audits. Within companies and corporations, accountants can ensure that human rights practices are being followed by ensuring that finances are ethical and as transparent as possible. Accountants are increasingly becoming responsible in assessing human rights risks within companies.
      • Qualifications: Accountants must have at least a Bachelor’s degree in accounting or business or a related field, and they are often required to have other certifications as well as knowledge of various accounting software and systems. They generally must have 2-5 years of work experience, depending on the expertise level required for the job. Skills in management and organization are also necessary.
      • Salary: Accountant salaries usually range from $50,000 to $80,000 depending on the position level and company or organization according to Indeed.com.
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Information Systems Officer
      • Description: Information Systems Officers are connected to everything technology-related within an organization. In addition to keeping information systems and databases updated, they also create new ones and provide technical support to teams and field offices in using the systems to track data. They help monitor the systems and maintain them, making sure that they are working properly and effectively. They research and develop new technology that can be used within the organization to enhance data-tracking and communication. They are also responsible for integrating these systems within each of the departments and/or offices. For organizations like the United Nations, this aspect of the job is extremely important to ensure that all of the offices and headquarters are using the compatible systems to track data and report information. They also often serve as the liaisons between technology companies and the organization. In a word that is continually advancing in technology, Information Systems Officers are an integral part of the work of human rights organizations.
      • Qualifications: Many Information Systems Officer positions require advanced degrees in computer science, information systems, mathematics, statistics, or other similar fields. Some may accept a Bachelor’s in those fields along with at least 2 additional years of work experience. Many positions require 3-5 years of work experience in the field, along with certifications in specific software or tech-related skills.
      • Salary: Information Systems Officers typically make good salaries, with an average around $70,000 and ranging up to about $120,000. These salaries vary based on location, experience level, and organization type.
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Human Resources Officer
      • Description: Human Resources Officers are vital to the operation of human rights organizations. In addition to helping with recruiting, hiring, and training, they also make sure that workplace ethics among employees and standards for employee benefits and treatment are upheld. Human Resources Officer positions vary in roles. Some specialize in a specific area such as recruitment or employee relations, while others work on multiple aspects of human resources. Much of this depends on the capacity and size of the organization itself. Human Resources Officers are also responsible for creating and implementing company policies. With recruiting and hiring, some may be required to travel, while others are stationed at the offices.
      • Qualifications: The level of experience and education for Human Resources Officer positions varies depending on the level of responsibility and the size/operation of the human rights organization. However, most require at least a Bachelor’s degree in business, human resources, or a related field. Entry level positions can require up to 2 years’ work experience. Human Resources Officers must be organized, detailed, professional, and able to handle high stress situations. They must also be able to communicate information clearly in writing and speech.
      • Salary: Entry level Human Resources Officer positions typically start in the $30,000s. The average salary for Human Resources Officers is about $66,000 according to PayScale, which varies based on level of responsibility, expertise, and the location and size of the organization.
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Political Affairs Officer
      • Description: The responsibilities of a Political Affairs Officer vary from general to country/region-specific. One of the main aspects of the position includes monitoring political trends in order to advise field officers in their work. Political Affairs Officers help with drafting various documents and briefs relating to ongoing political issues, which provide information and talking points for senior officials. Those working in a multi-office organization work together with each field office to provide comprehensive reports and analyses of political issues and situations. They also stay in contact with other human rights organizations in the region or country. Those who work on specific countries or regions must stay up-to-date with the political climate of their specialty area and help coordinate meetings with government officials for organizational representatives. Political Affairs Officers help human rights organizations keep a finger on the pulse of the political atmospheres within the regions and countries that they work.
      • Qualifications: Most Political Affairs Officer positions require at least a Master’s degree in political science, international relations, or a related field. Additionally, many of these positions require 2-5 years of work experience, depending on the level of responsibility and expertise. Political Affairs Officer must be able to work in a team and communicate clearly and effectively in writing and speech. Research skills are also necessary. They also must be highly knowledgeable about various political issues, including social, economic, ethnic, and racial topics. Many must be knowledgeable about a specific region or country, and some positions require fluency in English and another language.
      • Salary: Salaries for Political Affairs Officers average around $127,000 according to Glassdoor, with Associate positions typically coming in under $80,000. These salaries vary based on organization size and location.
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Outreach & Engagement Officer
      • Description: Outreach & Engagement Officer positions can look widely different depending on the human rights organization and the purpose of the job, but one thing all of them have in common is the engagement with community and the connection to people. These positions can focus on everything from civic engagement to employment for vulnerable groups to general awareness. Outreach & Engagement Officers develop strategies to engage with their target audiences and distribute information about the organizations’ programs and campaigns. In addition to working with the communities that the organization is working with directly, they also connect with service providers and other community organizations to gain a larger network of services and support for their work and for the clients/communities.
      • Qualifications: Positions for Outreach & Engagement Officers typically require a Bachelor’s degree, although some do require a graduate degree. Work experience qualifications very, but most positions require 2-5 years depending on the level of responsibility. Strong communication skills are a must, especially speaking and writing. They must be able to interact with people on personal and professional levels, and they should have knowledge of the communities they are working in. Multi-lingual skills are also valuable in this position.
      • Salary: Salaries for Outreach & Engagement Officer positions vary based on organization size and location, but most range between $29,000 and $60,000 for entry level positions, according to PayScale.
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Field Security Officer
      • Description: Field Security Officers are responsible for making sure that the organization and the operations of the organization are secure. They assess security threats and risks and report any incidents. Much of their work depends on the security situation within the countries they work, so part of their job is to stay up to date on the political situation, including the military. Field Security Officers also participate in the implementation of programs, conducting risk management and making sure that proper security measures are in place. They are also responsibility for ensuring the safety of the staff and personnel of the organization, keeping updated lists and creating plans for emergency situations for anything from fire evacuations to political unrest. They also work to brief and train staff in security issues and policies to ensure that everyone has appropriate knowledge for safety.
      • Qualifications: Most Field Security Officer positions require a Master’s degree or equivalent in security studies, military science, political science, conflict/disaster management, law or other related field of study. Up to 5 years of work experience can be required, but some positions just require some level of knowledge and experience in management and risk assessment. Effective communication skills are necessary, both written and verbal. Organization and planning skills are also a must. Many positions require fluency in English and another language.
      • Salary: A typical salary for a Field Security Officer is $50,000-$60,000 but this can vary based on level or responsibility and the size and location of the human rights organization.
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Finance Officer
      • Description: Finance Officers are involved in all of the management of donations, cash, and payments that happen within the organization. From payrolls to petty cash to financial reports, they ensure that the finances of human rights organizations are updated and held to high standards. They review purchase requests and cash flow for various projects and programs. They work together with program officers and project managers to make sure that their projects stay within budget and to review how finances are spent within the project budget. They review and manage the budget, predicting how much money will be needed for operations and making sure that finances stay on track for the organization. They also help form policies and guidelines for financial components of the organization. Finance Officers keep expense reports and guide organization leaders and managers on budget limits and donor needs.
      • Qualifications: Most Finance Officer positions require a Master’s degree in finance, business, accounting, or a related degree, along with 1-5 years of work experience depending on the level of expertise and the size of the organization. Certifications in accounting and other areas are not always required but offer an advantage. Finance Officers must be experts in financial management, accounting, budgeting, and statistics. They must have strong written communication skills for financial reports. Knowledge of specialized accounting and finance software is helpful.
      • Salary: Finance Officers usually make between $50,000 and $70,000 depending on the size of the organization and responsibility level.
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Corporate Social Responsibility Specialist
      • Description: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Specialists are responsible for helping companies adhere to labor, human rights, and environmental standards by developing strategies, building partnerships, and implementing programs to specifically target these areas. CSR Specialists must understand both company policies and social/environmental policies to help the company follow all standards, particularly related to labor/human rights and their environmental impact. They often develop programs to cut down on environmental impacts, provide social and infrastructural support to communities where their companies are located, and even ensure safety for workers within the company and factories. Much of their job can also involve marketing and public relations to communicate to the public what their company is doing to give back to the community and ensure that they are following ethical practices and human rights standards.
      • Qualifications: CSR Specialists must have at least a bachelor’s degree, although many positions require advanced degrees. Typically, they earn their degrees in business, marketing, public administration, human rights, or another related field. Anywhere from 2-7 years of work experience is typically required, and they usually must be experienced in both business and ethics/human rights. Any skills in marketing and communications are preferred, and skills in strategic planning, management, and programming are also useful.
      • Salary: Salaries for CSR Specialists vary based on seniority level. Those in less experienced positions typically make about $28,000 to $43,000 according to All About Careers, while senior specialists can make anywhere from $100,000 to over $200,000 according to Glassdoor.com.
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GIS Specialist
      • Description: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialists are responsible for collecting geographic information about human rights through specialized databases. They gather data and map it within geographic software systems in order to analyze and report on it. GIS Specialists use censuses, surveys, field observation, satellite imagery, and other existing maps as ways to gather information about the social and political systems they study. In addition to research and analysis, GIS Specialists also help standardize systems, develop and implement various techniques, and present on new techniques in workshops and other training courses. As part of their job, they also present their findings and research to relevant teams and leaders within the organization, contributing to program and policy development, monitoring, and evaluation.
      • Qualifications: Most GIS Specialist positions require a Master’s degree in geography, GIS, information technology, statistics, demography, or a related field, as well as up to 5 years of work experience. They must have expertise using GIS programs and have strong computer literacy skills. Research and communication skills are also necessary for these positions.
      • Salary: GIS Specialists make an average of about $52,000 depending on location, size of organization, and level of expertise.
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When thinking of human rights career paths, often Public Administration, International Development, Advocacy/Lobbying, Policy and other similar fields come into mind but there are many other avenues into a human rights career. The unique career paths described below offer professionals in fields like law, tech, business, marketing and journalism the chance to use their skills to promote and encourage human rights.


Human rights law is typically thought of in international terms, but it can be practiced at local levels as well. Lawyers in the field of human rights can work under a variety of issues—immigration, criminal justice, labor laws, international law, etc. At the international level, organizations like the UN, International Organization for Migration, Human Rights Watch, and International Criminal Court use human rights lawyers and/or other professionals familiar with law. At more national levels, even across multiple countries, human rights lawyers can work for entities like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa, and other national groups fighting for the rights of people in their countries. Even at the local level, lawyers interested in human rights can work with issues such as immigration, criminal justice, domestic violence, labor rights, and more. Lawyers in the human rights field work to enforce laws at the local, national, and international level that protect rights of people and advocate for additional protections to be put in place when gaps exist in current legislation. They can also use law to fight new legislation that may be harmful to basic human rights.


The tech field is becoming increasingly important in the human rights sector. Technology allows people to create powerful platforms to discuss human rights issues, spread awareness and information, expose and document human rights violations and protect themselves more effectively. Tech is also increasingly being used to promote the well-being of vulnerable populations in human rights issues—from increased use of the internet in finding human trafficking victims to apps created to prevent labor trafficking and/or assault. Tech professionals can work for a variety of companies that do everything from collecting and analyzing data to reporting and recording human rights abuses as they happen. Work places include websites like WITNESS and Citizentube that teach and empower people to live stream and record protests and human rights violations or even Ushahidi’s Crowdmap or HandheldHumanRights.org (no longer in use), which use human rights data to map and chart information on issues like rape, activism, access to internet and other types of infrastructure, etc. Even smart phone apps are increasingly being used to disperse news and information on human rights issues. App developers are working with organizations like Human Rights Watch, the Guardian Project, and even the UN. With increasing globalization and use of the internet, social media, and smart phones, tech professionals will continue to play an important role in human rights.


Human rights professionals are also gaining ground in the business field, especially due to increasing awareness about labor rights and labor equality. Human rights professionals can work in corporate-social responsibility jobs, ensuring that laborers have unions and livable wages. Organizations like Made in a Free World and Free2Work are consistently putting pressure on companies to adhere to human rights standards, and human rights professionals in the field of business are helping companies meet those standards. Human rights professionals can also work in areas of anti-corruption and environmental protection/standards within businesses and corporations. In addition to organizations trying to hold businesses to human rights standards—like the UN, Human Rights Watch, and others—other organizations exist solely to research issues of business and human rights and to mediate dialogue between the two sides. Business and human rights professionals can work for organizations like the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre or the Institute for Human Rights and Business to foster dialogue between different stakeholders. Even companies such as GAP, Inc. work to make sure that their workers are represented, their labor standards and practices are fair, and their factories are ethically established in a way that gives back to the communities they are in. Human rights professionals can impact the business field by working for private companies and organizations to uphold standards that protect vulnerable people and curb corruption.


Marketing professionals in the human rights field can work to create awareness, promote organizations, fundraise, and more. Especially with social media, marketing is an important strategy for human rights organizations to be able to get the word out about the work their doing and the issues they are fighting for or against. Marketers set the tone for ad and awareness campaigns. They understand the target audiences and can help organizations looking to get people involved tailor their ads, social media pages, and even websites to do just that. Marketers can understand the current attitudes, wants, and needs of society in order to better communicate messages of human rights organizations. They tell the story of the people who are impacted the most by human rights violations, stirring people to act. The need for people with marketing and advertising skills in human rights organizations is prevalent—every place from the UN to Human Rights Campaign to small, local level organizations can benefit and grow with a strong marketing team.


Journalism in human rights focuses on getting information and stories to the public and mobilizing people through spreading accurate information. Journalists focusing on human rights can create awareness around specific topics, report on human rights abuses, and use their writing/news platforms to foster conversation and push for change. Journalists can work for a variety of platforms ranging from writing columns in a newspaper to writing articles for an agency newsletter to writing in-depth investigative pieces for larger news corporations. Almost every major news platform has a human rights section—New York Times, CNN, Huffington Post, to name just a few. Most non-profit organizations offer newsletters to staff, donors, and others interested in their work to keep people updated on various programs, campaigns, and news. Social media also plays a huge role for journalists looking to get stories to the public and create awareness around human rights issues. While breaking into this specific area of journalism is not easy, it can be extremely rewarding for journalists who are passionate about human rights and want to use their skills to further the cause.