Skip to Content

Study Abroad Office


A volunteer planting together with a local man in the Gambia. (Courtesy of the Peace Corp)

Training and Experience in a Specific Work Sector

The first Core Competency will help you leverage concrete knowledge and skills, which is central to on-the-ground international development work. You will then begin to build a professional specialty, which should serve your career well whether or not you become a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Work Sectors

For PC Prep, you need to complete at least 3 courses that align with a specific work sector. (They can, but do not need to, come from your academic major or minor). You also must accumulate a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer or work experience in that same sector, preferably in a teaching or outreach capacity.

There are six sectors in which Peace Corps Volunteers serve—detailed below. Choose one sector to focus on.

Note: Actual Peace Corps assignments are based on local needs, and thus may or may not align seamlessly with your qualifications. Flexibility is central to the Peace Corps experience!

#1 Education

Teach lessons that last a lifetime. Education is the Peace Corps' largest program area. Volunteers play an important role in creating links among schools, parents, and communities by working in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools as math, science, conversational English, and resource teachers or as early grade reading and literacy teacher trainers. Volunteers also develop libraries and technology resource centers.

If you choose Education, you must take three courses from one of the following areas:

  • Elementary, Secondary or Special Education

  • Early Childhood Education

  • English or Linguistics

  • TEFL/TESL

  • Foreign Language Education

  • Physical Education

  • Dance Education

  • Theater Education

  • Music Education

  • Art Education

  • Physical or Biological Science

  • Library & Information Science

  • Math/Computer Science

  • Engineering

You must also complete 50 hours of related field experience through activities such as:

  • Teaching in a classroom, with a community outreach organization, or in a formal tutoring capacity, in which the subject of the teaching may be English as a Foreign/Second Language, literacy, special education, drama, or a STEM subject

  • Observing, teaching, and/or tutoring language learners through an international school during a study abroad experience

  • Having experience with students learning English as a second language (e.g., a local school serving students who speak Spanish primarily)

  • Having experience with students learning another language through an immersion program (e.g., Chinese immersion school in Columbia)

  • Serving on the USC campus as a Conversation Partner, a participant in Buddies without Borders, or as a mentor for international students in the Global Navigator Program (Guide A Gamecock)

 

For additional information about the Education sector, visit the Peace Corps' website.

#2 Health

Serve on the front lines of global health. Volunteers work within their communities to promote important topics such as nutrition, maternal and child health, basic hygiene, and water sanitation. Volunteers also work in HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs to train youth as peer educators, develop appropriate education strategies, provide support to children orphaned by a pandemic, and create programs that provide emotional and financial support to families and communities affected by disease.

If you choose Health, you must take three courses from one of the following areas:

  • Nursing

  • Public Health

  • Health Education

  • Pre-med

  • Biology

  • Exercise Science

  • Environmental Engineering

  • Chemistry

 You must also complete 50 hours of related field experience through activities such as:

  • Volunteering or working in such areas as HIV/AIDS outreach, hospice, family planning counseling, emergency medical technician (EMT), CPR teaching/certification, maternal health

  • Having hands-on caregiving in a hospital, clinic, or lab technician settin, such as the Free Medical Clinic, Personal Touch Program, Samaritan Clinic, etc.

  • Counseling or teaching in health subjects

  • Working as a resident advisor in a dormitory, as a peer nutritionist, or as a sexually transmitted infections counselor

  • Having significant experience in mechanical repairs, construction, carpentry, masonry, plumbing, hydrology or set design

 

For additional information about the Health sector, visit the Peace Corps' website.

#3 Environment

Help forge a global movement to protect our planet. Volunteers lead grassroots efforts in their communities to protect the environment and strengthen understanding of environmental issues. They teach environmental awareness in elementary and secondary schools and to youth groups and community organizations, empowering communities to make their own decisions about how to protect and conserve the local environment. Volunteers also address environmental degradation by promoting sustainable use of natural resources.

If you choose Environment, you must take three courses from one of the following areas:

  • Environmental Science (or similar field)

  • Wildlife Biology

  • Natural Resources

  • Wildlife Management

  • Biology

  • Botany

  • Ecology

  • Geology

You must also complete 50 hours of related field experience through activities such as:

  • Educating the public on environmental or conservation issues, or working on environmental campaigns

  • Conducting biological surveys of plants or animals

  • Gardening, farming, nursery management, organic or low-input vegetable production, or landscaping

  • Providing technical assistance and training in natural resource management

 

For more information about the Environment sector, visit the Peace Corps' website.

#4 Agriculture

Lead grassroots efforts to fight hunger in a changing world. Volunteers work with small-scale farmers and families to increase food security and production and adapt to climate change while promoting environmental conservation practices. They introduce farmers to techniques that prevent soil erosion, reduce the use of harmful pesticides, and replenish the soil. They work alongside farmers on integrated projects that often combine vegetable gardening, livestock management, agroforestry, and nutrition education.

If you choose Agriculture, you must take three courses from one of the following areas:

  • Agronomy

  • Botany

  • Agricultural Economics

  • Business or economics

  • Biology

You must also complete 50 hours of related field experience through activities such as:

  • Working with a large-scale or family-run business involving vegetable gardening, farming, nursery work, tree planting or care, urban forestry, landscaping, livestock care and management, or fish cultivation and production

  • Teaching or tutoring the public in environmental or agricultural issues/activities

  • Working on the business management or marketing side of a commercial farm

For more information about the Agriculture sector, visit the Peace Corps' website.

#5 Youth in Development

Empower the next generation of changemakers. Volunteers work with youth in communities on projects that promote engagement and active citizenship, including gender awareness, employability, health and HIV/AIDS education, environmental awareness, sporting programs, and information technology.

If you choose Youth in Development, you must take three courses from one of the following areas:

  • Social Work

  • Counseling

  • Community Development

  • Developmental Psychology

  • Human Development

  • Family Studies

You must also complete 50 hours of related field experience through activities such as:

  • Teaching or counseling in at-risk youth programs

  • Planning, organizing, assessing community needs, counseling, and leadership, in areas such as education, youth development, health and HIV/AIDS, the environment, and/or business

For more information about the Youth in Development sector, visit the Peace Corps' website.

#6 Community Economic Development

Harness 21st-century tools to help communities lift themselves. Volunteers work with development banks, nongovernmental organizations, and municipalities to strengthen infrastructure and encourage economic opportunities in communities. They frequently teach in classroom settings and work with entrepreneurs and business owners to develop and market their products. Some Volunteers also teach basic computer skills and help communities take advantage of technologies such as e-commerce, distance learning, and more.

If you choose Community Economic Development, you must take three courses from one of the following areas:

  • Business

  • Public Administration

  • Accounting

  • Banking

  • Finance

  • Computer Science (or similar field)

  • Graphic Design

  • Mass Communications

  • International Business

You must also complete 50 hours of related field experience through activities such as:

  • Working with businesses, organizations, or cooperatives in accounting, finance, microfinance, management, project management, budgeting, or marketing

  • Starting and running your own business or other entrepreneurial activity

  • Training others in computer literacy, maintenance, and repair

  • Designing websites or conducting online marketing

  • Founding or leading a community- or school-based organization

For more information about the Community Economic Development sector, visit the Peace Corps' website.