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Career Paths

Considering a Career in Human Rights? Discover Your Options

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

What is a career in human rights? Rewarding careers in human rights

Guide Overview

An introduction to a career in human rights

Engaging in a profession that protects the inalienable rights of people can be rewarding. There are many different human rights career paths you can choose. Learning about them can help you to identify the profession that best suits your strengths and personality. Read on to learn about a career in human rights.

What is a career in human rights? 

A career in human rights involves a professional trajectory of protecting the core rights of people and the pursuit of social justice. Each person is entitled to several essential rights, which are identified as human rights. Many of these prerogatives are enshrined in the constitutions and laws of developed countries. Social justice relates to the protection of these rights by nations or groups of interlinked nations. Various professionals, such as teachers, professors, legislators, politicians, judges, lawyers, law clerks, and reporters are tasked with contributing directly or indirectly to the protection of human rights. There are several advantages you can gain by learning about human rights career paths, such as:

  • The careers have positive outlooks. In the developed world, protecting human rights is a key social and governmental concern. As this is likely to continue in the future, there will be plenty of jobs to choose from when you get the qualifications you need for the human rights career of your choice. For example, there is an estimated 12% increase in job growth between 2019 and 2029 for community and social service occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • You can contribute to society. By learning about these jobs, you can start the process toward making an important contribution to your community.
  • You gain an opportunity to help others. By pursuing a career in human rights, you can enable changes or developments that protect the lives of many individuals in various parts of the developed world. Consequently, you can make a positive difference in the lives of people by learning about and pursuing these jobs.

Rewarding careers in human rights

Careers in this industry can involve jobs, such as a human rights advocate, or specializations in traditional occupations, such as that of a lawyer specializing in social justice. Some options include: 


Average base pay: $122,899 per year

A lawyer specializing in human rights advocates for people whose rights have been threatened or violated. These professionals work at local, national, and international levels. Job settings can include private law firms, government organizations, and international organizations. You need a law degree and an additional professional credential to get this job. 

Research assistant

Average base pay: $37,958 per year

A research assistant in the human rights field gathers data to support the advocacy work conducted by think tanks, governments, and independent human rights organizations. These professionals review secondary research on particular human rights issues, conduct primary research, and develop reports on their findings. Research and communication skills are essential for this occupation. To be hired for this job, you will need a bachelor’s degree in political science or a related field.

Grant writer

Average base pay: $49,660 per year

A grant writer collaborates with organizations, such as nonprofits, and helps them to receive necessary funding for human rights initiatives. Job duties involve researching companies and projects, drafting funding proposals, and submitting proposals to donors and donor organizations. You need a bachelor’s degree and excellent communication skills for this job. 

Program officer

Average base pay: $67,965 per year

A human rights program officer assesses, makes reports, and develops solutions for human rights issues in various parts of the world. These professionals work collaboratively in team settings in line with employer values, promote compliance to donor regulations, research policy developments and human rights violations, and prepare a portfolio of grants. For this job, you usually need a bachelor’s degree in a job-specific discipline and work experience in a front-line occupation. 

Public relations specialist

Average base pay: $49,738 per year

A public relations specialist in human rights represents their employer during interactions with the media, public, and relevant institutions. Job duties involve maintaining the corporate brand, drafting speeches, and monitoring public opinion that relates to employer activities. You need a bachelor’s degree in public relations or a similar field for this job. 


Average base pay: $51,166 per year

A legislator in human rights contributes to developing and enacting laws that protect the rights of people and uphold social justice. For this job, you usually need a master’s degree in law or business. Additionally, having leadership experience in a managerial position in a private company or prior government service experience can improve your chances of being elected. 


Average base pay: $40,189 per year

A fundraiser in the human rights industry implements campaigns to raise money and other types of support for their employer. Job settings include educational institutions, political parties, or social service organizations. You’re likely to need a bachelor’s degree for this job in communications or public relations. 

Fundraising manager

Average base pay: $36,014 per year

A fundraising manager in the human rights arena works for nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Job duties involve coordinating and overseeing the activities necessary to raise funds to support employer operations. For this job, you usually need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and industry experience. 

Public relations manager

Average base pay: $74,273 per year

A public relations manager in the human rights field maintains or improves the brand image of their employer by handling the development of PR materials and overseeing the implementation of brand building activities. You need job-specific experience and a minimum of a bachelor’s degree for this job. 

Human rights advocate

Average base pay: $48,965 per year

As a human rights advocate, you will work to promote the equitable treatment of a specific population. These professionals work in various industries, such as health care and the government. While duties vary based on employer values and characteristics, this job usually involves working with governmental agencies to provide the public with access to services, training community members, and developing educational resources for target populations. An ideal candidate for a human rights advocate job has a master’s degree in political science or a related field.

Social worker

Average base pay: $52,973 per year

A social worker focuses on vulnerable population segments, such as children or people with disabilities, and coordinates with government organizations and other professionals to get them the essential services they need. The provision of these services delivers social justice. You need a bachelor’s degree in social work for this occupation. 

Social and community service manager

Average base pay: $60,989 per year

A social and community service manager supports a community by coordinating and implementing programs that protect essential rights, assessing the efficacy of programs, and making any necessary changes. Job duties include identifying the need for programs that promote human rights. These professionals target a particular community, such as older people, and tailor communications to match its characteristics. To get this job, you usually need a bachelor’s degree and job-specific expertise.  

Human rights educator

Average base pay: $47,723 per year

A human rights educator teaches students, academics, and members of the public about human rights through conferences and training events. Among advocate jobs, the specialization requires a bachelor’s degree in human rights. 

Policy specialist

Average base pay: $79,266 per year

A policy specialist advises employers about government policies and communicates the policy positions of organizations to external entities, such as the media. For this job, you will need a master’s degree in public policy or a similar field. Alternatively, you can get this job with a bachelor’s degree and relevant work experience. 

Outreach officer

Average base pay: $47,538 per year

An outreach officer in human rights promotes an organization’s programs by developing strategies for communicating them to target communities, engaging communities, educating people, and connecting with other service providers in the human rights arena. Usually, you need a bachelor’s degree and relevant experience to get this job. 


A donor in human rights is an individual or an organization that donates funds to support the activities of nonprofits, charities, and other philanthropic organizations. There is no educational requirement to become a donor, but having an academic or professional background in human rights is likely to improve the efficacy of your contribution. 

You can enjoy a rewarding career in human rights and make a valuable societal contribution. Use this article during the initial stage of your search for an occupation in this field. Keep searching human rights career paths until you find one that fits your unique values, personality, and skill set.  

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