6 Best Traditional and Emerging Jobs in Nonprofit Organizations

Woman CEO standing in group of executives.



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It’s easy to overlook the nonprofit sector while you’re on the job hunt, especially if your degree is in something “corporate.”

There are many great positions and plenty of opportunities for advancement within the nonprofit sector. Nonprofit jobs run the gamut from those in education and the arts to health and environmental services.

Nonprofit organizations are just as varied as the for-profit or corporate environment and often have more flexibility for new grads, as well as upward mobility for go-getters. When you’re on the hunt for a job in the nonprofit sector, you’re highly likely to find something that suits you: small mom-and-pop style organizations, volunteer-run nonprofits, major hospitals, or even universities.

You can find employment opportunities that trend toward the traditional (think Chief Financial Officer) or the trendy (Chief Culture Officer), and virtually anywhere in between.

Here are some of the best nonprofit jobs to add to your search, including the more “traditional” and ones that you might consider surprising for a nonprofit.

Traditional Nonprofit Jobs to Include in Your Search

Chief Executive Officer

The CEO or Executive Director is the leader of leaders in a nonprofit. The CEO oversees other executives, the integration of all departments, and the success of the whole team. They are also responsible for the overall health and direction of an organization.

A nonprofit’s CEO will need to be passionate about the organization’s mission and its ultimate success. A dose of diplomatic ability will be equally important as the CEO works with his board of directors and numerous stakeholders.

The CEO engages the community and other organizations or partners to promote its programs, services, and objectives. Moreover, he or she takes the lead in fundraising in cooperation with the board of directors and the development director.

Average salary: According to PayScale, nonprofit CEOs can earn between $54,000 and $204,000 annually—with a median annual salary of $104,000 reported in 2018.

Education requirements: Most CEOs have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, often in areas like business administration or management.

Chief Financial Officer

A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is responsible for, well, the financials. Overseeing cash flow, tax compliance, investments, and the organization’s bottom line, a CFO makes sure the financial side of an organization is in order.

CFOs also maintain financial record keeping, provide regular reporting, and manage an organization's financial risk, including identifying potential weaknesses and creating formal plans for the future. The CFO in a nonprofit environment also provides accountability to the public, funding organizations, and donors.

Average salary: PayScale reports a range of $70,000 to $252,000 annually for CFOs, though pay may be lower for the same job at a nonprofit.

Education requirements: The most common degree that CFOs hold is a Master of Business Administration (MBA), but bachelor’s degrees in business administration, accounting, or other financial fields are also typical.

Director of Development

Think of the Director of Development as the chief fundraiser. A Director of Development establishes a strategic fundraising plan, oversees grant proposals, and connects with funding sources of all kinds.

The Director of Development also ensures that the organization has plenty of revenue streams to fund its operations. They often take on a public affairs role as they develop networks and encourage connections, both with the community at large and with potential donors. This role typically works very closely with the CFO, the CEO and the board of directors to safeguard financial stability.

Average salary: PayScale indicates a range of $39,000 to $99,000 in annual salary for nonprofit Directors of Development.

Education requirements: Many development directors have a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in business administration, public affairs, or organizational management.

While these three jobs are some of the most common in the nonprofit hiring world, there are also a few newer positions that may be just what you’re looking for.

Trends in Nonprofit Jobs to Keep Your Eye On

According to Fast Company, “Culture, especially in small organizations where the staff is regularly connecting with community members, can make or break a nonprofit, just as it can a corporation.”

Chief Culture Officer

Many nonprofit organizations value their culture enough to create a position to promote employee engagement and productivity, maintain core cultural values, and bring a sense of vitality to the office environment.

Chief Culture Officers motivate employees through recognition of contributions and inspiring an innovative atmosphere. Culture officers aren’t just a makeover of the human resources department. They are something entirely new and different.

Average salary: While consistent numbers are hard to come by for this innovative job, salaries can range from about $20,000 a year to six figures as a top executive. The average pay for Chief Culture Officers is $76,000 according to ZipRecruiter.

Education requirements: Most executive positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, and this position is no different. Degrees in communication or human resources may also be ideal.

Chief Data Scientist

According to a 2012 article in the Harvard Business Review, data science is the sexiest job of the 21st century.

It’s hard to beat that kind of tagline, but what does a data scientist even do?

With the massive amounts of data collected online, many organizations have more information than they can handle. As "Fast Company" explains, “… data holds the potential for incredible learning and knowledge.”

Data scientists organize a nonprofit’s information, analyzes outcomes, patterns, or trends, and helps incorporate that information into decision-making.

Average salary: PayScale puts the range of senior data scientist pay between $93,000 and $160,000 per year, but you may see lower numbers in the nonprofit sector.

Education requirements: You’ll need advanced information technology training, as well as better than average analytical and business insight.

Chief UX Designer

As more and more of our daily transactions and interactions take place on-screen, the experience we have as users becomes more relevant to an organization’s success.

User experience (or UX) is so valuable that many organizations have created positions on their executive teams for someone to focus on positive user experience.

If you don’t think user experience is relevant to nonprofits, try using the donation forms on several nonprofit websites, or find your way to the information supporters might need. For a nonprofit, a good user experience can translate directly into financial support.

Average salary: PayScale indicates a range between $48,000 and $110,000 per year for all user experience design positions, while a User Experience Director can make more than $130,000 a year.

Education requirements: You’ll need to have at least a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a field like software engineering, computer science, or web development.

Final Notes

Keep in mind that these job titles can change. If they appeal to you, look for job descriptions that include the overarching themes mentioned. Not every nonprofit uses the same terms for each job listed here.

If you want to pursue executive management or leadership job, think outside the for-profit business sector. There are many excellent career paths in the nonprofit world