Want to get involved with a sector that has grown miles in recent years, often referred to as 'the third sector' (after the public and private)? Charity work attracts people that place values high and have interests in improving particular areas of society, without the feeling that making money is of the highest importance. Voluntary work is a good way to get experience in something you are interested in while helping others in some way.

There are a wide range of jobs available including within:

  • Fundraising
  • Policy and research
  • Human resources
  • Charity administration and management
  • Volunteer management and co-ordination
  • Human resources
  • Infrastructure roles
  • Marketing, communications and campaigning
  • Service delivery and evaluation

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ACEVO - the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations - provides advice and support for those working in the voluntary sector.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) is also a good source of information on this sector.

Third Sector has news, information and resources to help you start or develop your career in the voluntary sector as well as jobs.

Jobs and salaries

Find out why you should consider a career in the charity sector.

Browse through jobs within, and careers advice for, the charity and voluntary sector

As well as sector-specific jobs, non-profit organisations also look for graduates in many other areas, such as business management, marketing and public relations officers. As well as looking at the resources we link to here, go directly to the websites of non-profit organisations you are interested in working for.

Routes and Qualifications

There are many routes into this sector. Internships are often a good way to gain experience and get a foot in the door. 

Charities, such as Barnardos, offer internships. Barnardo’s volunteer internships offers a 13 week voluntary placement, which runs in one of their offices, children’s services or retail outlets across the UK. Internships are advertised on charity recruitment websites such as those listed above as well as by individual organisations.

Find out about training and qualifications for a professional career in fundraising. 

What’s it really like working in this sector? 

  • Take a look at our career videos for this sector.
  • Workplaces can vary from charity to charity with some jobs office bound while others are on site delivering services.
  • This is also true of working hours with some people working Monday-Friday 9-5 while others working mornings, evenings and weekends.
  • Working For A Charity promotes the voluntary sector as a positive career option for those seeking paid employment in the sector. They provide general information as well as info on training and work placements. You will find career profiles and useful resources

Funding and support

There is very little funding for training in this sector. However, many of the internships, which are the best way to learn (on the job), will offer expenses and are sometimes paid - allowing you to cover at least some costs while you gain experience and learn.

Take a look at this organisation which campaigns for fair, paid internships. Government also list employment rights in relation to interns.

If you have a specific role in mind, such as marketing or press work, you could train in this first before entering the third sector. In which case, you should check out the pages on student finance from gov.uk as well as contacting the funding or careers departments of the organisations you are considering training with.

Location, location, location  

Most national and international organisations have their headquarters in London and the South East and almost one-third of UK voluntary sector employees live in these areas. However voluntary organisations operate throughout the UK and there are indications that the growth of the voluntary sector has been higher outside London and the South East in recent years.

Due to the international concerns charities often have, there are also many opportunities to work abroad.

How many jobs are there in this sector?

The voluntary sector makes up an estimated 3% of the UK workforce, and there are almost 200,000 registered charities in the UK, so this is a sector with massive opportunities. You can also consider setting up your own organisation if you have seen a gap which you think you could also get funded.

Will a career in this sector suit me?

There is often fierce competition for paid charity work with significant work experience, postgraduate study or a combination of both necessary for most roles.

  • Charities expect candidates to be highly motivated and committed to the mission.
  • Interpersonal, planning and organisational skills are essential to many roles.

There are also specialist skills specific to this sector which include fundraising, volunteer management and campaigning.

  • Find out what employers look for in a fundraiserFor other tips on how to be a successful fundraiser, how2fundraise has been developed to help fundraisers become more successful.
  • Take a look at what employers want from a campaign manager.