What are the Different Non-Profit Careers?

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  • Written By: Leah Bloom
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 07 December 2018
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Non-profit careers can generally be divided into three categories. The first involves executive and administrative functions such as human resources, finance and accounting or program management. The second includes service functions, such as counseling, providing health care and operating case management. People whose careers fall into the second category are often known as front-line staff or human service providers. The third category features support functions such as maintenance, food service, security and technological assistance.

Common executive staff positions at non-profit organizations include president or chief executive officer (CEO), chief operating officer (COO) and chief financial officer (CFO). Since these jobs typically confer responsibility for setting and meeting a charity's strategic, organizational and financial goals, these three positions tend to require extensive experience. Those with ambitious non-profit careers may work their way up to these jobs, or the positions may be filled by those with other forms of business experience.

A job in non-profit administration may serve as a stepping stone towards an executive-level role. Event planning, fundraising, marketing and volunteer coordination may all contribute to the success of a non-profit business. In fact, entire non-profit careers can be built on each of these functions. For example, one might begin his career as a prospect researcher seeking information on prospective donors. From there, he might be promoted to writing fundraising appeals or courting major donors and then given the task of coordinating all aspects of an organization's fundraising program.


Non-profit careers in human services can take even more forms. Counseling is one of the most common non-profit careers and may or may not require licensing or an advanced degree in an area such as social work. Non-profit organizations offer a wide range of types of counseling focusing on everything from mental health to substance abuse recovery to vocational rehabilitation. Case managers often work closely with counselors to help their clients access the various services they need. Likewise, general practitioners and specialists in almost every area of medicine can build careers in the non-profit sector.

Playing a support role at a non-profit organization can also add a layer of meaning to menial labor. Many non-profit organizations hire janitors, security guards and maintenance staff to keep their facilities running smoothly. Likewise, technical skills can be put to good use by keeping a charity's computers, printers and network up and running.

In many cases, getting a job in the non-profit sector does not require specialized education. Those interested in non-profit careers, however, may want to explore degree programs in non-profit management, public policy, organization development and other related fields. Many non-profit organizations value the business-like approach that these programs can teach.



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