Peace Corps workers are volunteers who travel across the globe to provide health education, youth development resources, environmentally-friendly agricultural education and other assistance to communities in need. They live directly in the communities they help during their assignments, which allows them to learn about the language and culture of their temporary homes. While volunteers receive only a small living allowance, a career in the Peace Corps could provide the perfect opportunity to satisfy your wanderlust and humanitarian instincts.
Age, Marital Status and Citizenship Requirements
Volunteers in the Peace Corps must be at least 18 and citizens of the United States. Married couples are allowed to volunteer together, and the Peace Corps makes an effort to keep spouses together; however, there is no guarantee your spouse will be assigned to the same location as you are. Peace Corps volunteers may not have any dependent children, so if you have your heart set on motherhood, it is best to hold off until your Peace Corps assignment has ended and you are ready to settle down.
The Peace Corps rarely accepts applicants who do not have at least a bachelor's degree -- in fact, 90 percent of the volunteer positions require one. There is no specific major required, but certain fields that are relevant to the work that the Peace Corps does may increase your chances. Applicants with a degree in engineering, agriculture, economics, forestry and education are highly sought after by Peace Corps recruiters, so consider pursing a degree in one of these fields. A degree in a non-related field won't necessarily disqualify you, but you will have to make up for your lack of specialized education with relevant work experience.
Work and Volunteer Experience
Since your work in the Peace Corps is on a volunteer basis with little pay, the Peace Corps prefers that you have prior experience in volunteering. For example, to work in the health extension of the Peace Corps you need three to six months of volunteer experience working in health education, primarily providing education in HIV/AIDS prevention, family planning and nutrition. Additionally, most positions require relevant full-time work experience, primarily in positions working in agriculture and education.
While knowing a foreign language isn't required by the Peace Corps, it is a highly desirable skill that can help you stand out when applying. Being flexible about where you are willing to be placed for your assignment is also essential, as the Peace Corps does not guarantee that you will be able to choose where you work.