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Q: Are there many jobs in the non-profit sector?

A: Yes! BC’s non-profit sector is made up of approximately 29,000 organizations with 66,000 full-time and 48,000 part-time jobs – that’s bigger than BC’s fisheries and mining sectors combined! There are jobs available for experienced professionals as well as young people starting their careers. You’ll find full time, part time, contract and internship positions available throughout the sector.

Q: What kinds of jobs are there in the non-profit sector?

A: You’ll find just about every kind of job in this sector. Non-profits need people of every kind of skill, training, background and experience—sales, marketing, finance, IT, admin, healthcare, education, project management, communications and public relations, law and much more.

Q: How will I benefit from working in the non-profit sector?

A: You can “live your values.” Working in the non-profit sector means knowing the work you do is meaningful. Every day, you’ll see your efforts impact the community and the world in positive ways.

You’ll enjoy flexibility. Non-profit work tends to come with a fair amount of flexibility—flexible work schedules, job sharing and a good work-life balance.

You’ll learn and grow. Non-profit organizations can offer many opportunities for informal and formal learning, and a less hierarchical work structure means you can gain experience and responsibility fast.

Q: Is the non-profit sector looking for young workers?

A: The non-profit sector employs workers of every age, and a single organization may have up to five generations working together.  

The non-profit sector is actively seeking the fresh perspectives, energy and technical expertise younger generations bring to the workplace. Non-profits that serve the youth community can be especially interested in hiring youth. In exchange, young employees receive mentorship, and the wisdom and guidance of those with many years of work and life experience.

Q: Does the non-profit sector offer good job prospects for the future?

A: Just like the for-profit sector, the non-profit sector was affected by the recession, but today, it’s making a good recovery.

In fact, it’s becoming a “job-seeker’s market,” with a skills shortage predicted in the future as a wave of Baby Boomers retire. This trend offers great career-advancement opportunities for highly skilled and dedicated individuals at all position levels—and particularly in top leadership positions.

Q: What if all my work experience is in the private, for-profit sector?

A: The experience you gained in the for-profit sector and the skills you bring to the workplace could be very valuable to many non-profit organizations.

Positions in operations, marketing and communications, administration and financial management are common in both for-profit and non-profit organizations, and even when the job itself is not transferrable, some of the skills may be.

You can also look at acquiring additional skills through training, volunteering and other options to ease your transition to the non-profit sector.

Q: What’s the difference between a non-profit and a for-profit business?

A: A non-profit has a mission to contribute to the "greater good" of the community, society, or the world. Non-profits can (and do) earn profits just like for-profit businesses, but they’re different because:

  • Non-profits don’t pay taxes
  • Non-profits can only use funds for doing good

So while a for-profit business enriches the business owners and shareholders, a non-profit invests profits back into its mission to enrich the community, society or world.

Q: What are the people like in the non-profit sector?

A: People in the non-profit sector are diverse—different personalities, different backgrounds and different skill sets. In general, they are warm, friendly, caring, competent, kind, intelligent, educated, collaborative, curious, understanding and non-judgmental. What many of them share in common is a dedication to their work and a desire to know their work has meaning—for themselves and the people they serve.

Q: Can I talk to people working in non-profits to learn more?

A: Yes, informational interviews enable you to hear about the sector from someone who has first-hand experience:

  • If there’s a cause you’re interested in, contact non-profits that support that cause.
  • Contact the volunteer centre in your area to browse a list of non-profit organizations.
  • Check your LinkedIn and other social/professional networks to see whether there’s anyone you could reach out to, and send a polite request for an informational interview.
Q: What’s a good way to get started if I don’t have experience?

A: A great way to try out “working” in the non-profit sector is to volunteer for an organization first. “Strategic volunteering” involves finding a volunteer position that helps you move forward by:

  • Getting experience that relates to the job you want
  • Making sure this is the right career choice for you
  • Making useful connections in the non-profit sector
  • Hearing about new jobs ahead of the crowd
  • Adding new skills and experience to your resume

To get started, browse the database for your local volunteer centre to see what types of volunteer positions are available.

Q: What kind of training can I take to prepare for a non-profit career?

A: In BC, there are several colleges and universities that offer programs related to working in the sector. Additionally, volunteer centres across the province offer volunteer management and non-profit management training courses. Professional associations such as Administrators of Volunteer Resources British Columbia, Association of Fundraising Professionals, Canadian Public Relations Society, British Columbia Human Resources Management Association also offer training workshops and networking events for non-profit career-seekers. Find training resources in the Find your perfect fit toolkit.

Q: Do non-profit jobs pay as well as those in the for-profit sector?

A: Throughout the years, the non-profit sector has aimed to increase wage rates in order to attract and retain a skilled work force.

Non-profit organizations that are unionized generally offer a wage and benefit package that is comparable to the private sector. Non-profits that are government funded often have an industry wage grid that sets compensation at a fair market value. But it’s important to evaluate the whole package of rewards that a non-profit career offers—not just money, but a flexible work schedule, meaningful work, a positive workplace culture and more.

You can find a good salary and compensation study at Charity Village.

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