This page will answer some of the questions you might have about working abroad with MSF.
Does MSF only recruit doctors and nurses?
No. The majority of our volunteers have a medical or nursing background but we also need skilled support staff. These include:
MSF does not recruit the following professionals as expatriate staff:
(MSF may very occasionally recruit any of the profiles mentioned above to work in one of the projects in India)
How long is a 'mission'?
Length of service remuneration which is to cover running costs in their mission and the job required. The usual length of a first mission is between 9 and 12 months. Medical doctors with an availability of only 6 months may be considered. Surgeons and anaesthesiologists deployed in acute crises may serve for a period of six weeks or more.
Can I take my partner/family along with me in the field?
No. All posts for first-time volunteers are unaccompanied. Living conditions in the field and security concerns make it impossible for family members to accompany volunteers. Also, most mission locations do not allow for friends or family members to visit volunteers. Accompanied posts may be offered to coordination staff, depending on field conditions and requirements.
My partner and I both want to work for MSF. Can we be posted together?
It is very rare to find two open positions for first mission volunteers in the same project at the same time. Couples may apply at the same time but they should realize that they will probably be working in different countries.
Can someone go on a field mission at his or her own expense as a general helper/assistant? Can someone who happens to be travelling in the area in which a mission is working stop off and visit or perhaps lend a hand for a week or two?
No, the professional teams we send to the field cannot accommodate observers, untrained helpers or others who lack the qualifications and experience to be full participants in the work of the mission. All volunteers working in field projects must go through the normal recruitment procedure.
Can I still apply if I have not worked in my profession for several years?
While there is no rigid limit, a candidate’s chances of selection decrease markedly if they have not worked in their profession within the last two or three years.
When can I apply for a coordinator position?
Coordination positions are usually filled by experienced MSF staff. Occasionally MSF does recruit Medical, Project and Logistic coordinators. Successful applicants for these positions will have extensive field experience, in a coordination role, with another NGO that carries out similar work to that of MSF, and has similar values. If you feel you have the experience and ability to work as part of a senior management team in the field please contact the HR department.
Do you have positions for trainees? Do you have positions for medical students doing an elective?
No, the conditions encountered on field missions demand the full attention of the teams. They do not have the time to supervise, monitor and assess trainees and students. National staff fills all auxiliary positions.
If I want to work with MSF in India, can I also apply here?
No, you cannot. Only candidates that want to work outside India can apply through this site. If you are interested in working for MSF in India, especially when you have a medical background, you can contact one of the addresses mentioned on the following page: MSF addresses in India.
Do volunteers receive any remuneration or other benefits?
Volunteers receive a monthly remuneration which is to cover running costs in their home country and for expenses upon return. Once a mission is confirmed, MSF will be responsible for all required travel, visa and relevant vaccination costs.
As well as the benefits mentioned above, MSF provides:
Volunteers are responsible for personal expenses such as the purchase of souvenirs and developing photos and for their own holiday arrangements during and after their contract.
What if I am injured or become ill?
All volunteers must be aware of the risks and dangers of serving with MSF in the field. They must understand that they have no claim against the organization for any injury or illness acquired while participating in any travel or activity conducted by, in support of, or under the auspices of MSF. However, MSF maintains insurance coverage on behalf of its volunteers that provide some direct benefits to injured or sick volunteers (including appropriate care and, if necessary, repatriation) or their beneficiaries.
How does MSF manage safety and security in the field?
MSF works in conflict areas and insecure environments but MSF maintains extensive risk-management procedures and security guidelines for every mission. Volunteers are briefed on the country security situation before going to the field, and upon arriving at the project site are given specific security protocols. Adherence to our field guidelines for personal and team conduct and safety is not negotiable.
Is there an age limit for going to the field with MSF?
MSF has no prescribed limit, physical condition is more important than age. As living conditions in the field can be basic, volunteers do need to have the physical and mental fitness to cope with the demanding conditions that may be encountered on a field mission. Some MSF sections have age limitations due to insurance rules
Can I decide where I want to be assigned?
No. MSF places staff on assignment based on the needs in the field. MSF asks all volunteers to be flexible and willing to serve where they are needed most. However, special skills and/or restrictions are taken into consideration in each placement. Once a position is offered, the final decision to accept a post is made by the volunteer.
Do I need to speak French to work with MSF?
No. MSF’s working language is English. Candidates must be able to speak and write in English fluently. Speaking other languages such as French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic can be of added benefit.
How long does the recruitment process take? How long before the date I am available to depart should I apply?
It is best to allow for as much time as possible before you are available go to the field. You should leave at least 2 months for recruitment; sometimes it will be longer and sometimes shorter. If your circumstances change after you have applied, you can change your availability date but it is better not to delay it too long after you have been recruited.
What is the Assessment Centre?
The recruitment office starts with investigating if the technical requirements of the candidate are sufficient to work for MSF overseas. For medical and para-medical profiles certificates will be thoroughly checked.
Most non-medical candidates have to undergo a technical or professional test.
If the technical requirements are met, the recruitment officer invites the candidate to take part in an Assessment Centre (AC). This is a method to find out (assess) if the candidate meets the minimum requirements for a number of MSF specific competencies.
During the AC the candidate will have a face-to-face interview and a group and individual exercise. The AC can take up to two days.
If you have further questions that are not addressed above please email us:
We are always looking for enthusiatic people who are willing to live and work in an international team, share their skills and dedicate their time to support our mission.