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If you didn’t have to worry about working for a living, what would you want to do with your life? Many people say that they would spend their time helping others. Many more say that they would travel and see more of the world.

But what if you could combine these two things, and make them part of your working life? It sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it?

The following careers allow you to combine international travel with helping local communities. You just have to be willing to put the work in to acquire the necessary skills.

Careers That Allow You to Travel the World, While Also Giving Back

Hi Five for international volunteers.


Did you know that two billion people around the world lack access to basic medicines needed for day-to-day health care? Many more suffer for want of simple surgical procedures – for instance, by losing their sight because no one nearby has the skill to remove cataracts.

If you have a basic level of medical training, you can join one of the charities or other international organizations dedicated to changing this, or you can set aside the prospect of a comfortable US salary and take a job in a developing country where your skills are desperately needed. If you don’t have the skills that you need, you may want to consider training as something such as a family nurse practitioner (FNP).

Oncotarget is a journal that can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, helping you to stay up to date when you’re abroad. It covers not only cancer, as its title suggests, but also other disciplines. In really remote areas where you have few resources, Where There Is No Doctor is an invaluable resource.

Photo credit: Pan American Health Organization


Language skills are essential to most people who want to raise their station in life, and speaking English can be a big advantage for people in developing nations who want to get good jobs.

You could work as an au pair to improve your own communications skills and help individual children, or take a TEFL qualification so that you’re able to teach English to classes. Teachers are urgently needed in refugee camps.

If you speak the language of the country where you’re going, you could teach both children and adults to read and write, giving them a skill that will revolutionize their lives and can be passed through generations.

Alternatively, you could become a translator and help to secure economic or political deals that improve people’s prospects.

Teach English RF


For many people, the single most important step out of poverty is finding a secure place to live. That’s why many aid organizations focus their efforts on creating secure housing that helps communities to develop and gives families the stability that they need to move forward.

People with construction skills are also needed in areas affected by wars or natural disasters such as earthquakes and cyclones, where they can help to set up fresh accommodation that offers more security and long-term stability than tents, and helps people to start rebuilding their lives.

In zones like this, construction skills also help with rescue efforts and clean-up operations, establishing which buildings are still safe to use and how precarious structures can be made safe so as to prevent further injury.

Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID 

The Peace Corps

If you’re still uncertain about the career path that you want to take, volunteering with the Peace Corps could be a great way to find out.

A one or two-year volunteer stint with this internationally respected organization will enhance your skills in numerous areas and give you the chance to work out what you’re most drawn to while making a real positive difference to people’s lives.

Even if you decide, in the end, that you’d be more comfortable with a conventional job in the corporate world, it will look great on your resume and give you the grounding that you need to return to this kind of work at any time in your life.

It will also provide the opportunity for you to meet like-minded people and start building up a network of contacts so that in the future, you can share your expertise and perhaps devise new, better ways of helping those in need.

Don’t Waste Your Best Years

Many people wait until late in life to decide to start giving something back, or put off traveling until they reach an age and state of health where it’s more difficult to do. But why waste your best years?

Taking on a challenging career like this will make you a more confident, more rounded, and ultimately more fulfilled individual. It will enrich all your experiences in life because you’ll be able to see them from a much clearer perspective. You’ll know just how much you have to be grateful for.


Apple 13.3″ MacBook Air Laptop

SONY ICD PX333 Digital Voice Recorder

Moleskine Classic Notebook


Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



  1. I definitely see how learning – and teaching – English opens up so many doors. For both folks in developing nations and for travelers wanting to experience developing nations. A number of my friends in Thailand taught English for a bit to help folks and to extend their stay a bit. My wife actually taught English in Japan a while back; loved the experience, being in Hiroshima for nearly a year.

    There are ample ways to give back and see the world and you shared some gems in this regard Meg.


    • It really is such an incredible experience isn’t it! And mutually beneficial too, with all sides coming away with a greater understanding, whether that’s of English itself, or the traveler having improved their cultural understanding.

      Totally agree that there are so many different ways to give back and see the world at the same time. So glad you enjoyed the post Ryan, thanks for your comment :)

  2. Love?

    • Thanks Kip – glad you enjoyed the post :)

  3. HI Meg- As a RPCV and an aid worker I have a lot of jobs to add to your list: logisticians, public health professionals, educators (especially those with curriculum development, literacy project experience, etc.), agronomists and agriculture experts, natural resource management experts, engineers (water sanitation, construction, etc.), livelihoods specialists, gender specialists, project managers, grant writers, finance managers, Monitoring & Evaluation and data experts, etc. Usually aid organizations are looking for masters degree level education and 2 years of overseas work experience (which you can get from Peace Corps service). In general, they want architects or engineers for construction and educators that can develop curriculum and manage local staff who actually do the teaching. Careers that allow you to live overseas and give back are amazing!

    • Thanks for such detailed feedback! I’ll make a note so I can start updating the post :) Totally agree that the whole experience of being able to live and work overseas in a career which actually makes a positive impact is so amazing. Something exciting to wake up for every day! X

  4. I have many friends who used a smaller version- the Traveling Nurses- to visit the USA and earn a living. It’s a little harder to do that world wide, unless one works with an NGO, since licensure is a BIG issue.

    • Fabulous to hear that you have friends who’ve taken the opportunity to contribute via medicine throughout the USA Roy. Yes, licensure is one area that I don’t have a great deal of knowledge in, but would definitely recommend joining the ranks of NGO’s or legitimate organizations who would have experience in the red tape side of things.

  5. social workers are sent to different developing countries to help out.. they are also offered perks to travel to take a break from their everyday work in depressed areas.

    • A great addition to the post, thanks Grasya! I can’t believe I didn’t think about social workers – you’re absolutely right, their work is so vital in so many countries, especially in depressed areas. Thankyou for your input :)

  6. I’ve always been in love with the idea of volunteering on one of the Mercy ships which docks into poverty stricken nations and provides free lifesaving surgeries for people where medical care is nearly non-existent.

    I saw a documentary on it recently, and it truly changes peoples lives.

    • That’s an incredibly worthy career goal Arnold. I hope you have the opportunity :)

  7. Construction is a great one, though there are so many “build a home / school” projects out there that get high volumes of voluntourism – engineers on the other hand, or those with expertise in drilling wells can be vital to bringing clean water to regions in desperate need of it.

    • Totally agree that this can often be an overly saturated field – though the one thing with voluntourism to remember is that even if it does seem oversaturated, they’re not always skilled.

      But absolutely, contributing to clean drinking water in regions without access is an incredibly important role :)

  8. It’s great that this focuses on careers as opposed to volunteering. The whole concept of volunteer tourism seems to have exploded recently, but the one thing that most travelers who volunteer are lacking are professional skills.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s so great that so many young and able kids out there are keen to get out and contribute to something (though I would say many just use it as an excuse to travel and don’t put the proper thought into whether they’re contributing to something sustainable), but to actually make a difference you really do need to have a full comprehension of what you can offer, and honestly, if you’re not qualified to do the work in your own country, you probably shouldn’t be doing it abroad.

    So it’s nice to see an article like this from the perspective of a career break as opposed to volunteering for college kids.

    • So glad you enjoyed the post Rachael, and I couldn’t agree with you more :) We do need more professionally skilled men and women who are able to contribute in international fields.

  9. One to add to your list – counselors. They’re especially required in disaster regions, refugee camps, and war zones.

    • A great addition to the post, thank Renee!

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