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Careers for humanities graduates in the social sector

As the world is becoming increasingly materialistic, another trend is distinctly evident: many young people want to do something for society. Social work can fetch you rich dividends in terms of attractive perks, foreign tours and a high profile social status although this is not the prime reason for most to be attracted to this sector. Humanities graduates with sound knowledge of society, its problems and difficulties have an edge over others in this sector.


There are opportunities in health care, community policing, adoption, environmental protection and culture. Apart from that, activities in NGOs have become so professional that they require specialized employees for their administration including MBAs, media experts, accountants and researchers. A casual search on Google may lead you to diverse requirements in NGOs. For example Concern India Foundation, an Indian NGO, had advertised the following job vacancies:

Branch Manager – Applicants should have 5 years experience in Sales /Marketing in any Service Industry/Corporate House/NGO.

Head- Resources – Applicant must have above 3 years of experience in raising funds for a Charitable Organization and preferably any other sort of Sales/Marketing experience in a Service Industry/ Corporate House.

Manager- Projects – Applicants should have MSW Degree 5 years of experience in the Social Sector.

Other vacancies include, Communication Officer - Media in Bangkok for FORUM-ASIA, Project Consultant in South Africa for Public Services International, and Grants Manager in New York for Doctors of the World.

International funding agencies, notably from Canada, Sweden, Holland, Norway and many other countries, have their offices in India and require professionals for their offices.

Working in an NGO or a funding agency may in fact be quite lucrative. High profile urban NGOs own prime property and buildings matching the best in the corporate sector. International NGOs like UNICEF, UNDP, Greenpeace, Action Aid, Red Cross, Save the Children, WHO, ICIMOD and UNHCR are famous around the world employing high profile professionals. There are additional perquisites in the form of trips abroad financed by the UN and other international agencies.


There are no basic qualifications to get into the social sector. However, a Master in Social Welfare (MSW) degree, rural management or any masters' degree in social sciences will help. The well known institutes for these studies are Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, the Xavier Institute of Social Science, Ranchi, and the Institute of Rural Management, Anand. Degrees in environment and forestry management are also offered by other institutes. Apart from this, diplomas can be obtained in specific areas like those for the hearing impaired, physically handicapped and old age. Some organizations train volunteers themselves.

Options Abroad

In the West, voluntary work has a different meaning and organizations like Greenpeace have made major impact on public policy. In India, that kind of activism is still a dream. So, another option for the social worker could be to go abroad. The academic qualification for professional social service in the US is the Baccalaureate degree in Social Work (BSW). There are more than 380 accredited BSW programmes available in the U.S. The Master of Social Welfare is a two-year programme. Further, one can do Doctor in Social Work (DSW) or Ph.D. in Social Work.


On an average a social worker draws about Rs 8000 to 10000at the start of his career. However your salary depends on the size of the organization. In a smaller organizations you could start at a salary of Rs 5000to Rs 6000 per month. In U.S the salary level for an MSW is around $30,000 annually. On an average social workers working in the government can draw about $44,000 per year.

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