There is a wide variety of development service placements, and they can vary enormously. Each placement has its own particular requirements. However, there are a few basic requirements that you should meet, if you want to be a professional development worker.  

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Qualifications and professional work experience

A university degree (or equivalent) is required for nearly all development service placements. In exceptional cases, it is sufficient to have completed training as a skilled worker. Professional work experience is essential, however, although the field of work may vary considerably. “Professional development worker” is not a recognised profession. And while knowledge and understanding of development issues is an advantage, it is not essential for many placements. Development workers with a wide variety of profiles are needed, as can be seen from the job adverts. In addition to expertise in a particular field, the possession of methodological, social, and intercultural skills is often especially important.

Nationality and foreign language skills

To undertake development service, you must be a citizen of the EU or Switzerland. Good English language skills are usually required. The local working language - and any additional (foreign) language skills which may be required - vary according to the country of deployment and the post to be taken up. Depending on the location, French or Spanish may be required, for example. Relevant information can be found in specific job adverts. Knowledge of German is not required.

Flexibility and adaptability

If you want to undertake development service, you should be willing to adapt to very different living and working conditions. Besides being open to other cultures and willing to learn, you also need to be relaxed about restrictions which may limit your means of communication, habits of consumption, and leisure opportunities. You also need to be able to put up with considerable frustration and to possess good social skills, great flexibility, and resilience in stressful situations.

Commitment and values

As a professional development worker, you should identify with the goals and values of development cooperation, i.e., solidarity, global justice, peace, and sustainability. Some development service placements are provided by church organisations. Depending on the project location, it may be important to belong to a Christian church and to identify with church-run development cooperation and the goals of a church development service agency.

Health requirements

Development service is undertaken abroad, where the climate is likely to be rather different from that in central Europe. Most postings therefore require the ability to cope with life in a tropical environment.