Career Guide: pursuing a career as a community development worker

Community development workers facilitate collective solutions to problems, needs and other issues that exist within a community. If you are looking to pursue a career in community development, you will do well to understand the types of community development work available and roles that pertain to a community development worker.

Types of community development work

Community development work can be classified in to two broad categories: Specialised community development work and generic development work.

Specialised community development work focuses on particular concerns within a community, such as drug abuse, public health or public transport. This type of community work may also focus on the specific needs of a target group within the community, such as the unemployed, homeless or ethnic minorities.

On the other hand, generic community development workers focus on identifying problems, needs and other issues that need addressing within a community, such as rural-urban migration. Your role as a generic community worker will be to identify general community issues and work to improve the overall quality of life in the community.

Duties of community development workers

The duties of a community development worker in either of the two categories of community work typically involves tasks such as:

  • Researching, formulating and managing on-going plans and strategies designed to address issues within the community, such as housing, employment, recreation, health and welfare
  • Raising awareness on community programs and services available that can address issues affecting the community, and
  • Collaborating with different government and non-governmental bodies to deal with community issues, as well as evaluating the policies, programs and services the different bodies offer.

Skills and qualifications

To succeed as a community development worker, you will need some skills and qualifications. Among the skills you need are excellent communication skills and interpersonal skills. You must also have solid grounding and awareness of the community you work in and be willing and able to manage and resolve conflicts within the community. In other words, you must be willing to get involved, understand and fully accept the community you work in.

A degree in social work, social science, psychology or other related discipline is often necessary, as is experience in community welfare or health. If you are motivated enough and posses these skills and qualifications, your prospects of starting a rewarding career in community development are good. Besides the obvious self-gratification of helping communities develop, the monetary compensation of the job is also quite good.

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