The phrase “social justice” is part of society’s collective vocabulary, but what does it mean? It refers to principles of fairness and equality in housing, work, healthcare, education, and so on. Social justice is often discussed alongside human rights as both share characteristics like freedom from discrimination. If you want to work in social justice, what do you need to know? Here is our quick guide on social justice jobs, including what social justice professionals do, how to become a social justice professional, and what salary range you can expect.
Why are social justice jobs important?
Equality doesn’t happen by accident. It’s driven by people willing to put in the work. Social justice professionals focus on the systems and injustices that need transformation. Without these jobs, significant change would remain elusive and problems like racial injustice, gender inequality, poverty, and more would continue. Some improvements might emerge over time, but larger-scale societal change requires a larger-scale approach. Because social justice jobs focus on issues of fairness and opportunity, they’re necessary for true progress.
What do social justice professionals do?
Social justice professionals work in many fields, such as education, healthcare, law, public policy, and more. Wherever they work, social justice professionals focus on principles of social justice like equality, human rights, and fighting discrimination. Here are some specific job examples:
There are specialties within social work, but generally, a social worker identifies people who need assistance, assesses a client’s specific needs, and provides support and resources. They often work with children and families, but can also serve individuals in need of help.
Community health worker
Community health workers are frontline public health employees. They serve as a liaison between the community and health and social services. Work includes community education, counseling, advocacy, and outreach. Community health workers can also improve healthcare systems and make them more accessible to everyone.
College access counselor
These counselors – who can also be college advisors and college mentors – assist people with the college process and connect them to resources like scholarships and special programs. Because the college application process and financial aid world are so confusing, many students never get a chance. College access counselors help level the playing field and make the academic world more equitable.
Housing is a basic human right, but many lack the resources and support they need. Housing advocates and coordinators work with community members looking for temporary and permanent housing. They can also connect people to services that help with meals, healthcare, and other needs.
Where do social justice professionals work?
Social justice professionals work at schools, hospitals, government agencies, and nonprofits. For-profit corporations also hire professionals (or contract consultants) who specialize in social justice work like diversity and inclusion. For reference, here’s a list of organizations offering social justice jobs.
How do you become a social justice professional?
There are three parts to getting a social justice job: education, experience, and skills.
There are more master’s programs in social justice than bachelor’s degrees, but you can find social justice work with degrees in human rights, law, social work, sociology, and so on. If you plan on implementing social justice in a field like medicine, you’ll need the usual education to become a nurse, doctor, or other healthcare professional.
For many social justice organizations, experience is more important than your specific degree. Recruiters look for people with a track record of volunteer work and/or internships. This proves your passion for social justice and demonstrates real-world competency in areas like community organizing and leadership. Most nonprofits depend on volunteers, so it isn’t usually hard to find an opportunity. Even if your program doesn’t require internships to graduate, you should take advantage if you can. This type of experience increases your chances of getting a good entry-level job in social justice.
Most social justice jobs require similar skills. Community organizing, fundraising abilities, project management, and media literacy are often necessary. Social justice professionals should also demonstrate excellent communication and interpersonal skills, as well as research skills and expertise in their area of focus. For more personal qualities, social justice professionals need determination, adaptability, and emotional resilience. Social justice work is often frustrating, unpredictable, and emotionally draining. Professionals should know how to prevent and respond to stress and burnout.
How much do social justice professionals get paid?
Salaries vary depending on your specific field, location, and experience level. According to ZipRecruiter, jobs in the United States with a social justice tag ranged from $19,500 to $96,500. The average was around $51,000. Jobs in the justice system, social equity, and civil justice pay the most. The size of the organization you work at impacts your salary, too. Small nonprofits tend to pay less than large NGOs, government agencies, or intergovernmental organizations.