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Frequently asked questions

Can I work with MSF for a short period of time or during the summer holidays?

Most of the positions in our projects are for more than six months. That’s why we require a minimum availability of 12 months to begin the selection process. Only in the case of specific profiles (surgeons, gynaecologists and anaesthetists) are short-term missions accepted.

Can I work with MSF before completing my studies or as part of my work placement?

One of the essential requirements for working with MSF in the field is to have completed the studies required for the position applied for. In addition, candidates must have at least two years of work experience in the area of work for which they are applying. MSF does not offer the possibility to do work placements in the field.

How long is the selection process? How much time can elapse before I am assigned a mission?

The selection process does not have a definite time period. It usually takes between three and six months, depending on the availability of positions in the field and the candidate's profile. It is a thorough process during which we seek the most suitable position for each selected profile and we provide the candidate with relevant information about the organisation.

We are continually selecting people to work in the field, although the assignment of a first mission is determined by the needs of the projects. Once candidates have completed the selection process, and if circumstances permit, they will then have to go through an induction/training period for several days before joining a project.

Can I choose the destination of my first mission?

MSF assigns the destination of first missions. You must remember that MSF seeks professionals committed to humanitarian medical aid, regardless of the context in which this takes place. Accordingly, flexibility and adaptability are essential skills for any MSF worker.

The organisation, as a responsible employer, provides expatriate workers with all the necessary information so they can give their informed consent to their departure to the field. It is essential that candidates are correctly informed during the selection process about the contexts of MSF activity and the mission conditions. However, if an expatriate has serious doubts about travelling to the destination of the mission assigned to them (eg because of a high perception of insecurity), they must notify the organisation so other possible options can be studied.

Can I work in my own country as an expatriate?

MSF workers with expatriate employment status are rarely able to work in their own country. The definition of ‘expatriate’ implies leaving one’s home country in order to work, in MSF’s case, in providing humanitarian and medical assistance in the international arena.

Can I take my family with me?

The living and working conditions of MSF staff are often incompatible with the presence of people not involved in the projects. It is rare for families to be present in the projects and it depends mainly on the security conditions. Each case is studied separately. However, a person who is going on their first mission with MSF can never be accompanied by their family.

On my first mission, can I travel with my partner or a person in my care?

Except for coordination positions, all other MSF expatriate staff cannot go to the field with a partner, at least during their first 12 months of work in the organisation. Once this period is completed, and in the case of couples where both are working for MSF, they may apply to go on a mission together.

Is professional collaboration with MSF paid or voluntary?

Salary conditions are not the main motivation of the people working for MSF, although the organisation understands that it should cover the basic needs. In this sense, there is a salary scale structured in three separate position categories: general, coordination and head of mission. Within each of these categories, there are up to 14 salary levels depending on the years of experience. During their first year, all staff will receive a gross starting salary of approximately €1,100 per month. After this period, previous and properly certified professional experience will be counted.

What career development opportunities does MSF offer?

Humanitarian assistance requires experienced professionals able to provide a high level of technical and personal skills. In this sense, MSF can offer development opportunities for professionals who are willing to commit to the organisation. We are committed to the career development of our employees through a system offering promotion opportunities, international-level technical training, financial assistance to access external training, the possibility of long-term contracts, and support schemes in the field.

Does MSF have a training policy?

We have a training policy for people who work continuously for the organisation and have a lasting commitment to MSF. In addition to the courses organised at national and international level, we also offer the possibility to receive financial support for other external training. The training of our staff is a priority.

Is my language level really important for working in the field?

It is very important to have a high level of English, French, Arabic or Portuguese.Knowledge of two (or more) of them is an asset. As an international organisation, our teams are made up of people from diverse backgrounds who adopt the language most spoken in the country where they are working as a common working language. At the same time, knowledge of several languages is an important asset when assigning a mission, and for your development within the organisation and in different contexts.

Is there an age limit for working in the field?

No, but the living and working conditions in the field must be taken into account. Most people working in the field with MSF for the first time are between 25 and 40 years old.