Disclosure: Human Rights Careers may be compensated by course providers.

5 Exciting Careers in Social Justice and Human Rights

The world can be an unfair, dangerous place for many people. For those who want to help, a career in social justice or human rights is a powerful way to address injustices. Social justice focuses on improving a society and community through fairness of opportunities, wealth, and privilege, while human rights refers to what every human being is entitled to. For a society to be considered “just,” everyone’s human rights need to be respected, so the two concepts are related. There’s overlap between social justice and human rights careers, but some differences. Here are five careers that work towards equality for all:

Public policy

A society’s laws represent what is considered right and wrong. If the laws are unjust and discriminate against certain populations, the laws need to be changed for there to be social justice. Getting involved in the public policy field allows a person to have a direct impact. This might mean becoming a legislator who can actually write laws, or becoming an advocate who works to persuade the powers that be. There are countless think tanks around the country that influence both the public and politicians, so working for one of these orgs is another way to get involved in public policy. To be in this career, a person needs a deep understanding of the legislative process and laws that are on the books, and be able to communicate very effectively.

Human rights law

When human rights are violated, it’s often up to lawyers to see that justice is done. Human rights lawyers can work on individual cases or be part of large teams investigating and responding to mass violations of human rights. A lawyer will need to be an expert in the specific field they’re in, and possess great communication skills, whether it’s writing or speaking. The work can be very challenging, with long hours, so human rights lawyers should also prepare for the emotional and physical strain of the job.

Social services

A big part of social justice is improving the lives of individuals and families. When every person is treated well and their lives get better, a community gets stronger and healthier. Social services encompasses a wide range of work, so social workers can be found everywhere from hospitals to prisons to schools to non-profits. Their ultimate goal is to communicate with people in need and improve their situation. This might mean providing resources for employment, housing, or medical care, communicating on a person’s behalf to other organizations, and more.

Human rights research

Research is an essential part of human rights. If no one knows what exactly is going on, it’s hard to know how to respond. Data drives a lot of policies and decisions, and someone has to do collect that data from documents, witnesses, journalists, politicians, and more. Human rights researchers can be found at non-profits, colleges, government departments, and more. They also have to be able to analyze the information they find and present goals or policy recommendations. Written communication is an essential skill, since research is usually presented through reports, articles, and press releases.


Technological advances are making a huge difference in the world with both social justice and human rights. Whether it’s using technology to make voting easier or streamlining a patient’s access to their healthcare information, the field is bursting with potential. Activism has changed significantly thanks to social media and news about social injustices or violated human rights spread much faster, mobilizing concerned people around the world. Programmers, filmmakers, and other IT professionals can see their work make a real difference in people’s lives when they join (or start) tech organizations with a human rights or social justice focus.

About the author


Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.