Career in Development Sector
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Career Opportunities in International Development

The rapid evolution of the global development sector means finding career opportunities has become more competitive than ever. Technological advancements and innovations have changed the employment landscape. The opportunities that are available have shifted, focusing on trends beyond the traditional master’s degree in international development.While still a popular degree choice to further an international development career, new avenues of employment now enable a diverse range of global employment opportunities.

Pursuing a master’s degree
The diversity in career opportunities in the realm of global development means individuals do not necessarily need to pursue a master’s degree in international development to excel in the sector.

While a master’s degree in international development is still highly valued, prospective global development workers may still look forward to better future hire prospects even if they have pursued or are pursuing other degrees. There are certain degree programs out there that rival the demand for an international development master’s degree.

Highly sought-after master’s degrees that enable individuals to further their global development career include, but are not limited to:

  • Law
  • Public Policy/Administration
  • Engineering
  • Education
  • Nutrition/Food Sciences
  • Economics

These master’s degree programs (among others) are valued within the international development sector. Obtaining a graduate degree enables prospective hires to acquire the necessary technical skills to further their international development career. So whether you’re looking to transition into the global development sector or just starting out, consider the many benefits available to you with a graduate school degree.

Emerging career opportunities
With no blueprint for a successful career in international development, those seeking employment opportunities may find that the technical skills and experience they’ve acquired outside of the development space will be highly sought-after. And whether you’re seeking additional training or education to further your development career, below are some international development career sectors with a high staffing demand.

Global Health
Career opportunities in global health can best be divided between the clinical and non-clinical sectors. Both health sectors examine issues of public and global health, working with agencies such as World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.
Clinical opportunities include addressing epidemiology and nutrition while non-clinical opportunities hold valuable positions examining policy development for healthcare management and infectious diseases.
Emerging employment opportunities include research, community outreach, health system administration and management, infectious disease management, program planning and evaluation, among many others.
Agencies and firms looking for career hires include WHO and UNICEF alongside non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local health agencies, and private and not-for-profit sectors.
Prospective hires looking into career opportunities in global health may benefit with a master’s degree while professionals with in-demand technical skills and experience will find many of their skills highly useful and marketable in the global health sphere.

Agriculture and Rural Development
Examining the changes occurring in rural society and international agricultural relations, those looking to enter this subsection of international development will find many exciting opportunities in research from chemical and biological processes, soils and plants, enhancing the production of meat, poultry, and dairy, and agricultural food safety and quality.
Many positions, including those for water and natural resource managers, agricultural ministry experts, ecotourism advisors, agricultural development officers, and agribusiness consultants are projected to grow according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
At a minimum, many roles will require a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. As most agriculture and rural development roles exist within emerging and developing countries, professionals and prospective hires alike will benefit from studying a second language.

Law, Human Rights and Governance
Currently unstable political landscapes and the ever-present threat of pressing environmental issues highlight the need for law professionals in international development.
Aspiring and professional lawyers should consider the opportunities present within the international development sector. Professionals with experience and legal training are highly sought after in the international development scene. Donors, international agencies, and private and non-profit organizations are employing lawyers to provide technical advice, improve governance, and assist in judicial matters in emerging and developing countries.
Outside of the legal position, prospective hires can find work as diplomats, policy officers in national government, legal advisors for NGOs or private firms, and as researchers in the field of international public law.

Energy, Environment and Natural Resources
The rise of environmental challenges due to the globalization of trade, and shifting political landscapes in emerging and developing nations mean prospective job growth in energy, environment and natural resources remains high.
In fact, those looking to enter the international development sector through the natural resources route can find diverse employment opportunities. Career opportunities range from science and technology collaboration to international capacity-building and trade or investment.
Environmental research, natural resource management, chemistry, geology, energy conservation and energy management are just some of the specialized fields that are emerging in the international development arena. Those aspiring to join the field of energy, environment and natural resources will find opportunities in a wide range of roles from technical to marketing to administrative and more.

Economics and Statistics
If addressing the various impacts of economics as they relate to economically disadvantaged nations interests you, then a career in economics or statistics may be in your future.
Economists remain in high demand, regardless of industry. In international development, economics offers highly specialized roles that address the issues of inequality, extreme poverty, fair trade and aid relief through the lens of development economicsThis includes career opportunities in international trade, statistics, microeconomics and econometrics.
With globalization shifting global economic and political trends, many agencies and firms seek out economists to forecast, analyze and predict trends in the international market. Many international economists working in international development often find roles with government agencies, consulting firms, research companies and multinational corporations.
Whether you’re starting out in the international development sector or considering a transition into global development, the above are the five emerging career opportunities to look out for. Their projected job growth looks to remain positive in the coming years, with many roles offering professionals and similarly aligned prospects alike the ability to make a long-term difference in the international development sector.

About The Author


Payal Bhatia

A passionate recruiter with more than 12 years in the executive search industry, Payal Bhatia is an international headhunter and business partner for RM & Associates in the MENA region specializing in the FMCG, retail, telecom and engineering sectors.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the benefits of pursuing a master's degree?
Master’s degree in international development is still highly valued which will do a lot in international development.

Which master's degree is included in Career Opportunities and International Development?
There are many, some of the following such as education, engineering, economics, public policy/administration helps in International Development.

How to benefit from Master's Degree in Global Health?
A master's degree can be beneficial when needed, and professionals with the technical skills and experience find many of the skills most useful in global health.

How is Economics and Statistics useful in the international development field?
In international development, economics provides highly specialized roles that address issues of inequality, extreme poverty, fair trade, and aid relief through the lens of development economics.

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