Entry level jobs in Refugee and Immigrant Rights

Associate Resettlement Officer

Associate Resettlement Officers work under field offices for international and intergovernmental organizations to manage intake, policies, and operations for the resettlement process. They assist in the overall resettlement process of helping refugees fleeing their countries be placed into temporary shelter, connected to refugee camps and other services, and processed through third-party resettlement. These officers also help gather data to assess resettlement needs, trends, and demographics. They also ensure the integrity of resettlement operations by creating and implementing anti-fraud mechanisms and processes. They also help with monitoring and reviewing relevant programs and operations, assisting in making recommendations for policies and procedures. They are also involved in training others in the resettlement operations and processes.

Generally, Associate Resettlement Officers must have at least a Bachelor’s degree and 3 years of work experience in a relevant field, or a Master’s and 2 years of experience, or a PhD and 1 year of experience. Fluency in English and the country-specific language is almost always a requirement. Experience in program implementation, cross-cultural communication, data gathering and reporting, and program monitoring are helpful for carrying out this job’s functions. An understanding of refugees needs and relevant conflict situations for the country in which the job is located are also helpful for completing this job well.

Jobs like this can be found at UNHCR and other UN organizations involved with the refugee process, as well as international organizations such as IOM, Church World Service, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), and more. These organizations are involved with refugees from the time they flee their homes to the time they either return to their homes or are resettled in a third country.

Junior Professional Officer

Junior Professional Officers (JPOs) are young professionals who are interested in performing humanitarian work, especially with UNHCR. Positions for JPOs vary but are generally at the entry or early level for professionals in the UN. In particular, JPO positions typically look for young professionals who are experts in law, public administration, and social sciences. JPOs can be assigned to field offices or headquarters for UNHCR. They receive about 60 JPOs per year, sponsored by 15 different governments. They work in a variety of capacities with the refugee process, including as resettlement officers, protection officers, reporting officers, and more. They help with all aspects of UNHCR’s work, including implementing the refugee procedures, preventing fraud, gathering data, studying current trends, assessing refugee needs, and more.

JPOs are between the ages of 25 and 35 and have a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a relevant field of study; they must also have 2 to 4 years of work experience depending on their degree level. JPOs must have proficiency in English, and the UN recommends that they have working knowledge of one of the other UN languages. A basic understanding and interest in humanitarian issues, as well as the ability to work in hardship locations, is also preferred.

JPOs can work for a variety of UN organizations, including UNHCR. Those interested in working with refugees and migrants should look for opportunities in relevant organizations and positions that deal with these populations. JPOs have to be sponsored by their home country or obtain a sponsorship from the Netherlands under the Developing Countries Scheme.

Case Manager

Case managers work in local, community-based organizations to help refugees and migrants in a variety of ways. In the resettlement process, they help new arrivals find housing; connect them to food resources, medical services, and other basic needs; help them access transportation; and orient the culture and city in which they are resettled. Case managers are responsible for helping refugees and migrants adjust to life in a new country, access services they need to thrive, and learn skills that can help them build self-sufficiency. Case managers also work with refugees and migrants who have particular vulnerabilities such as those who are disabled, elderly, single parents, LGBTQ, victims of trafficking and domestic violence, homeless, and more.

Case manager qualifications vary based on the organization with a position available. Most require at least a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. Some positions do require a degree in social work. Candidates should be prepared to work in a multicultural, multilingual setting and to use interpretation throughout most of their work. Most of these positions prefer candidates who have a knowledge of relevant and available services in the community in which they work, as well as policies and systems in place that might be applicable to the lives of refugees and immigrants.

Case manager positions can be found in refugee resettlement agencies, as well as other community-based social service agencies. Those interested in this type of work should check local job postings for organizations within their city, county, or state to find available opportunities.

Program Officer

Program Officers help with the development and implementation of programs dealing with refugees and immigrants, typically at the national and international levels. The programs that these positions deal with vary from education to health to shelter to economic development and more.They must have strong communication skills, especially when working with partner agencies and other aspects of an organization’s work. They also must be able to gather and report relevant data and information to the correct reporting systems while performing their administrative and field duties. Program officers also help make recommendations for program changes and improvements, as well as monitor and review current programs in place to evaluate their effectiveness and ability to achieve the organization’s goals.

Qualification requirements for Program Officers vary with organizations, but most require at least a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field and 2 to 3 years of work experience. Management experience is helpful, as are skills in organization and data reporting. Candidates generally must have not only an interest but an understanding of issues relating to refugees and migrants. Those looking for opportunities in international organizations will likely need additional language skills to work in countries whose primary language is not English.

There are many organizations that offer Program Officer positions including UN organizations, international organizations such as the Norwegian Refugee Council, Church World Service, World Relief, International Rescue Committee, and national-level organizations like the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Refugee Council UK, and more.

Research Associate

Research Associates working with refugee and immigrant rights will research a variety of relevant areas such a social services, culture, education, conflict, labor and employment, health, and more. They will often develop questionnaires, conduct interviews and surveys, and collect data in a variety of other ways to be able to report on the topic they are researching. As Research Associates, much of the work will be supporting the principal researchers through data collection and data entry of findings. They may also be responsible for organization information, as well as performing administrative duties such as arranging travel, interviews, transportation methods, and more. They will also likely deal with managing interpretation and translation, as much of the research will be done with non-English speakers. They will also assist with the preparation and presentation of the research findings to relevant stakeholders within the organization, as well as to stakeholders outside of the organization.

Depending on the level of research being performed, qualifications vary for Research Associate positions. Many require a Bachelor’s degree with 2 to 3 years of work experience or a Master’s degree. Some positions are entry level positions for Doctoral students, requiring a relevant PhD degree but no work experience. Skills in qualitative and quantitative research are generally necessary for these jobs, as are experience with data entry systems. An understanding of issues related to refugees and immigrants is also important for those specifically researching these topic areas. Language requirements may be listed, depending on the location and nature of the position.

Research Associate positions can be found in a variety of organizations and levels. Many of these positions are at think tanks, research institutes, and academic institutions. International organizations and national-level organizations also often hire researchers to help them gather data for reports and to inform their program development.

Media/Communications Specialists

Media and Communications Specialists work with refugee and immigrant rights organizations to help them communicate their message, to act as liaisons with public media, and to help with marketing and digital content. They work to build and maintain relationships with newspapers and other news outlets, government offices, donors, and the general public using print material, events, social media, reports, and more. They are also responsible for internal communications, making sure that all employees are up to date on relevant policies and programs, as well as distributing information that is pertinent to the organization as a whole, including marketing strategies, branding, and messaging procedures. Communications officers often manage the website, blog, and social media pages to help engage with public with stories, statistics from the organization’s work, and awareness information about issues relevant to refugees and immigrants. Their work is essential for building partnerships, garnering support, and raising awareness.

Media and Communications Specialists typically require a Bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, public relations, or a related degree at minimum. Some positions may require 2 to 3 years of relevant work experience. Skills with Microsoft Word, website hosting platforms (WordPress, SquareSpace, etc), and social media platforms are usually necessary skills to perform these types of jobs. Some positions may require skills in media and government relations. Candidates who have an understanding of issues relating to refugees and immigrants are typically preferred since they have existing knowledge of the topics they will be encountering regularly.

These jobs are available at a variety of levels, although the positions may vary based on the size of the organization. UN and international organization jobs in media and communications will likely focus on one aspect of this type of career, while positions with community-based organizations may be required to cover all aspects of communications within the organization between one or two people only. Those interested in working with media and communications relating to refugees and immigrants can find positions ranging from non-governmental organizations and international organizations to government agencies.

Field Specialists

Within refugee and immigrant work, various types of field specialists are essential to helping them meet their needs, adjust to life in a new country, and more. Field specialists are specialists that focus on areas of life such as employment, education, and health. On the international level, these field specialists work to implement programs and policies directly related to their speciality area. This means that they help implement and run education programs for refugee youth, health clinics and programs for IDPs and refugees in camps, economic development programs for vulnerable migrants, and more. These professionals work both directly and indirectly with the populations, depending on the organization at which they work. Some positions are field positions, based in refugee camps or in communities with large populations of migrants. Other positions help implement relevant programs in a variety of locations, working in the field with on-the-ground partner agencies to help them address the needs of the migrants they work with. At a national and local level, employment specialists help refugees and immigrants obtain jobs in their local communities; health specialists work closely with migrants facing intensive medical needs; and education specialists develop programs that specifically target English language learners and migrant youth to help them better succeed. Field specialists work directly with these populations, helping them integrate into new environments, address specific needs that migrant communities often encounter, and gain more independence, especially in situations that can easily be in flux.

Requirements for field specialist positions vary, depending on whether they are locally based jobs or internationally based jobs. Local jobs typically require a Bachelor’s degree at minimum, while international positions typically require a Bachelor’s and 2 to 3 years of experience or a Master’s degree. They should have some level of expertise or experience in their particular specialty area; those working in health will likely be required to have a related degree, similarly to those in education and employment. For any working directly with clients, skills in communication and social service work will also be helpful. Some of these positions may require or prefer other language skills.

These positions can be found at the international, national, and local levels. Responsibilities will vary depending on the level and nature of the organization. Those interested in these types of positions can look at the UN and other relevant international organizations or at national and community-based organizations working with refugees and immigrants.


Interpreters are essential to organizations working with refugees and immigrants at all levels. Interpreters help professionals in the field communicate directly with these populations for case management, research, service provision, and more. They can also help translate documents so that the clients can understand information directly, especially policies and procedures for programs. Interpreters are particularly helpful with populations who are illiterate in their native language, since all paperwork and information has to be spoken and interpreted, rather than written and translated. Interpreters can also help case managers and field officers understand the populations better, especially if they come from the same or similar cultures and countries. In research work, interpreters are important to help researchers gather necessary information from refugee and immigrant populations who are essential to the information and data being gathered. WIthout interpreters, large amounts of these populations care non counted in the data and information, meaning that the organizations cannot gather accurate reports. Interpreters are an essential connection between migrant populations and the organizations that help them.

Interpreters do not necessarily need to have a degree, depending on the organization’s requirements, but these positions generally require some type of training and certification. Previous work experience is not necessarily required for interpreter positions, but candidates must be able to demonstrate proficiency in culturally appropriate and clear communication, as well as general knowledge of a wide range of topics that are generally addressed with migrant populations. Those working with researchers may be required to have more detailed knowledge of specific areas such as medical or legal.

Interpreters area needed at every area of work with refugees and immigrants. They can find jobs with international organizations, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, research institutes, and more.


Consultants are used at all levels of work with refugees and immigrants for help with special projects, program development and evaluation, marketing, and more. Consultancy can be a good way for young professionals to start their careers, as often consultant and contracted positions can often lead to full-time, regular positions within the organization. Consultants are called in for their expertise in particular areas, ranging from quality assurance to digital media to information management and more. Consultants use their knowledge and skills to support organizations with areas that they are not able to cover using regular staff time.

Consultant position qualifications vary depending on the actual position and the organization. Most tend to require a Master’s degree, especially in a specified area such as business, technology, research, marketing, and more. Consultants often have to develop their own budget and be able to manage projects independently while also working as part of a team. They must be able to learn and adapt quickly, since their training period and time with the organization may be limited.

Consultants are hired at many levels of organizations. International organizations such as UNHCR hire several consultants to help with their various programs and administrative activities. Smaller national and local organizations may also hire consultants to help with program development, marketing, and other specialized areas of the organization’s work. Consultants may also be able to find positions working with government agencies and departments that deal with refugees and immigrants.