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Nonprofit Jobs: Work for a Cause while Building a Career

By James Collister on February 9th, 2009
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Career WomanMore than ten million people hold nonprofit jobs, according to Independent Sector, a Washington DC research organization for nonprofits. Habitat for Humanity, the American Heart Association, and over half of the nation’s hospitals fall into the nonprofit sector. But is it possible to land a fulfilling career that pays sufficiently in these organizations that make no profits and typically pay no federal taxes?

What is a Nonprofit Organization?

A nonprofit organization is one that fights for a cause, possibly health, education, or homelessness. Since a nonprofit organization earns no profits, it is not considered a business. Nonprofits are also not a part of government. They engage in a variety of activities, including research, problem-solving, lobbying, and funding. In order to sustain themselves, these organizations must offer nonprofit jobs. What Types of Jobs are Available at Nonprofit Organizations?

There are many nonprofit jobs available and several that are unique to the nonprofit sector. Professionals who obtain nonprofit organization jobs help to organize resources, create new ideas, and maintain a connection with the surrounding community. Types of nonprofit jobs include managers of volunteers, counselors, fundraisers, executive directors, nutritionists, lobbyists, medical personnel, and event coordinators.

How Much Money do Nonprofit Jobs Pay?

As expected, many nonprofit jobs pay less than similar occupations in for-profit organizations. However, there are some nonprofit organization jobs that actually pay salaries well above what the average worker earns. Besides salary, additional financial rewards are common, such as medical insurance, paid time off, and retirement plans. To compensate for a lower salary, some nonprofit jobs come with a more relaxed working environment, flexible schedules, and occasional telecommuting opportunities.

Intangible Benefits of Nonprofit Jobs

In addition to financial rewards, nonprofit jobs offer intangible benefits that may not be found in for-profit organizations. Many professionals who work in nonprofit jobs get to work for a meaningful cause that makes their careers exceptionally satisfying and fulfilling. Working with other professionals who share the same goals also creates a sense of camaraderie and provides a strong foundation for teamwork. Finally, working in nonprofit jobs often affords the opportunity to learn new skills and try new jobs because of the typically small volume of staff members.

What Type of Education is Required for Nonprofit Jobs?

Required education for nonprofit jobs depends on the specific occupation. Students interested in specializing in the nonprofit sector may choose to complete an advanced degree specifically designed to provide nonprofit management skills. Schools such as Capella University offer a Master of Science in Human Services in Management of Nonprofit Agencies. Capella also offers a PhD in Human Services in Management of Nonprofit Agencies. Advanced degrees can only serve to increase competitiveness in the nonprofit job search.

Professionals looking for a nonprofit job opportunity may visit the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy website for career and education information. Another good first step is to pursue volunteer opportunities in agencies of interest. Often a volunteer position will turn into a paid position and end the nonprofit job search.

Category: Business and Management,Careers and Employment


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