What is the Peace Corps?
The concept of a Peace Corps was first proposed by Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, Jr. in 1957.
The Peace Corps was officially established in 1961, by an executive order of President John F. Kennedy. The organization works to provide assistance to underdeveloped nations in improving their education, health, business, and agricultural systems.
Today, the Peace Corps has an annual budget of nearly $400 million and has had more than 200,000 volunteers since its formation.
Who Can Join the Peace Corps?
Nearly two thirds of Peace Corps volunteers are women and 93% are single.
Peace Corps requirements for new applicants are minimal, allowing any American citizen, 18 years or older, to apply. There are, however, a number of qualities, including education and experience, that recruiters look for in an ideal applicant.
Most assignments also require an applicant to hold a four-year degree. About 94% of current volunteers are college graduates.
What Does the Peace Corps Do?
Only about 2% of Peace Corps assignments require highly technical skills.
Peace Corps jobs include a wide variety of roles in the fields of teaching, engineering, health services, community development, agriculture, and environmental initiatives. Most assignments in the Peace Corps involve some degree of teaching.
The single most common assignment for a Peace Corps volunteer is teaching English as a second language.
Where Does the Peace Corps Go?
About half of Peace Corps assignments are in Africa.
The Peace Corps currently operates in 65 countries, and historically has worked in 139 countries around the world. Most host nations are in underdeveloped regions of the world; including Eastern Europe, South and Central America, Africa, and Asia.
About a quarter of volunteers are assigned to a tropical region, with a total of 7% of volunteers getting an island post in the Caribbean or Pacific. Volunteers can choose their preferred destinations when applying, but placements are ultimately determined by the applicant’s expertise and the needs of host countries.
Why Join the Peace Corps?
Several types of federal student loans can be deferred or canceled for Peace Corps volunteers.
Service in the Peace Corps is often considered to be even more rewarding for the volunteer than it is for the host country. Volunteers can receive special scholarships, college credits, and job opportunities for their service, including preferential treatment for positions in the federal government and other partner organizations.
In addition to the experiences gained from service in the Peace Corps, volunteers also receive a monthly allowance to cover living and housing expenses, full medical and dental coverage, 48 paid vacation days, and a onetime payment of $7,425 at the end of service.