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What does a Community Development Worker do?

Jessica Ellis
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A community development worker is a professional who seeks to improve a community through the creation, management, and operation of community assistance and outreach programs. There are many different job categories for a person in this position; the tasks of the job vary based on the region, type of organization, and available programs. Working in community development is a possible career path for anyone who wants to use communication skills and an organized mind to help benefit local people.

The educational background of a community development worker may vary. Some have bachelor's degrees in social work, business, political science, or communications. In some cases, development workers may have a master's degree or PhD in a related field. Community development workers may also have specialty licenses that allow them to provide unique services to an organization, such as lawyers, doctors, and accountants. Jobs with higher salaries and more responsibilities may require greater education, but some less-educated development workers may rise to high positions through talent and tenacity alone.

The day-to-day tasks of a community development worker will depend largely on where he or she is employed. Community service organizations may be governmental, non-profit, religious, or even based out of educational institutions. Different organizations offer very different services, with everything from low-cost meals for disabled and elderly citizens to free legal advice for people facing eviction. The goal that most community development organizations have in common is to make noticeable changes that benefit all citizens, but the means to achieving that goal can be very unique to each organization.

Some tasks that a community development worker might have include working directly with clients of the organizations, writing grant proposals and working on fund raising, compiling and analyzing research on community issues so as to create targeted programs, and hiring or managing volunteers. Development workers may also need to liaise with other organizations and local governments, so that resources can be pooled and applied in the most effective way possible. The multitude of possible job opportunities means that the field is wide open to those with a passion for helping the local community.

People who go into the field of community development often have a passion for social justice, politics, and helping others. Skills that may be useful in this field include the ability to work in teams, excellent communication, strong leadership qualities, and belief in the organization's mission. Armed with these skills, a community development worker can be a powerful force for change in their work.

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Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for Practical Adult Insights. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By anon329066 — On Apr 07, 2013

I am what’s known as community learning champion -- a volunteer. By promoting the value of learning to others, either with friends, neighbours, relatives, or work mates, meeting people at schools, local shops or in youth groups or clubs. Champions speak from personal experience and act role models for learning.

I worked as a community support worker in England, Great Yarmouth for a year before becoming redundant due to the government cuts to the public sector. In my job I had coordinated fundraising activities for charities such as YMCA Norfolk and facilitated the active participation of the community for voluntary Norfolk which included: self-management of time, organising meetings and report writing.

In field work, I was commuting around the local town preforming outreach work and leasing with local charities and assisting and helping with the understanding of funding applications for relevant organizations. I set up computer clubs for the elderly to learn how to send emails and talk via Skype. This job was the best and most rewarding job I have ever undertaken and I desperately wish to continue.

I do try to maintain my help and support within the community, but as I have to try find paid employment to support myself I have very little time to do so. Some of the training I undertook was: developed voluntary projects; commissions tendering and procurement; business plans proposals; managing challenging behavior; charity finance and budgeting; safeguarding vulnerable adults and children with The Red Cross;

drugs and alcohol awareness.

Key important skills required from effective community support are the abilities to build capacity that allows the community to share knowledge and resources effectively, organising meetings, events and activities within the local community. To communicate positively while Understanding of the issues, concerns and interests of others without being patronising and to engage with target groups.

Excellent written and oral communication skills including report writing. I also have commitment and enthusiasm, good leadership, motivational and organisational skills and the capability of working both on your own initiative and as part of a team, sincerity, patience and the ability to earn the trust of others with excellent listening skills and confidence in talking to people both in groups and on a one-to-one basis are also necessary

Good luck to anyone else who wishes to pursue a career in this field. Believe me, it is a very rewarding job and makes a big difference. I personally will never give up on my involvement within this sector I just only wish I could do more. Thanks for reading. --Tom

By allenJo — On Dec 12, 2011

@Mammmood - While in general I agree with your sentiment, I think it should be understood that people who get community development jobs have not necessarily decided to forego money as a goal in life.

I say this because I know that some community development jobs pay very well, again depending on the organization you’re working with. If you’re working for the local government as a community project specialist for example I think you will make quite a decent salary.

However, you will be doing it to help other people, which is the real difference.

By Mammmood — On Dec 12, 2011

@hamje32 - That’s great. I respect anyone who decides to go into community development work, whether as an outreach of a church or any other nonprofit organization.

Personally I believe that such individuals have made the decision that money is not the end goal in life, but rather making the world a better place to live.

It’s not often you find people who are willing to use their skills for such philanthropic purposes. But I do agree with you, if we can help the poor communities get educated and get back into the workforce with needed skills, then there will be less need for crime of any kind.

By hamje32 — On Dec 11, 2011

Our church sponsors an outreach called the “Dream Center.” It’s a large building in the heart of downtown, where many poor people are.

The Dream Center offers free food, medical counseling, job placement assistance, toys for the kids, and just about any outreach you can imagine. It’s funded by the church and also private donors who believe in its mission.

The greatest testament to its success is that in the time that the Dream Center has been established, violent crime in the area has gone down dramatically – and we’re talking gang violence here.

I think the reality is that if they find a place that offers them hope and help for their future, there is no reason in joining a gang.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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