Vail Centre: Are you suited for a nonprofit sector career? (column) |

Vail Centre: Are you suited for a nonprofit sector career? (column)

Ross Iverson
Vail Centre

Surprisingly, the nonprofit sector is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States. According to recent reports published by PNP Staffing Group, the nonprofit sector has grown by 20 percent in the past 10 years, far outpacing for-profit industries, which have grown 2 percent to 3 percent in the past decade.

If you’ve ever wanted to make a move from the corporate world to working for a nonprofit, then now is the perfect time to consider that change. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers at nonprofit establishments earn roughly $5 more per hour on average than employees at for-profit businesses. When you factor in health insurance benefits and retirement plans, nonprofit workers bring home more than $7 more per hour than their for-profit counterparts.

For those seriously thinking about switching, here are five strong indicators that a career in the nonprofit sector is right for you:

1. You understand the differences between the corporate world and the nonprofit sector: While many nonprofits pay well, someone in a high-earning corporate position may have to lower their salary expectations when looking for a position at a nonprofit. Many people who choose to work for a nonprofit often decide that the non-monetary benefits outweigh the lower salary they receive, such as making a difference in the world. However, people who worked in the corporate world may find themselves annoyed with all of the bureaucracy and red tape that comes with running a nonprofit.

2. You’re looking to diversify and take on new challenges: Many nonprofits need a bigger staff but lack the funding to hire a large number of team members. As a result, those working at a nonprofit must wear many different hats, which can be a chance to learn new skills and become an expert in multiple areas. Employees at nonprofits are often able to rapidly advance up the ladder by taking on leadership and management roles, even after only a few years in the nonprofit sector.

3. You feel passionate about making a difference: Knowing that the effort you put in every day makes an impact is one of the main reasons people choose to work at a nonprofit. In addition to passion, these organizations are often looking for people with “soft skills,” as in those who demonstrate a self-starter attitude, can make a long-term commitment and display genuine authenticity in their work lives.

4. You have the business skills many nonprofits need right now: Many of the skills you acquire when working at a for-profit company are easily transferable to the nonprofit sector. These organizations are always looking for candidates with leadership and management skills, experience working in operations and a strong knowledge of technology and social media. The fast-paced environment of a startup can mirror the challenges and obstacles that nonprofits also face.

5. You enjoy working in a creative and learning-focused environment: Organizations are often working with limited budgets and big dreams to accomplish, which gives team members the ability to get creative and come up with innovative strategies to fulfill their mission.

Ross Iverson is the CEO of the Vail Centre and can be reached at The Vail Centre’s mission is to elevate careers, organizations and communities through education. Learn more at

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