Working abroad with MSF

In general, there are no limitations of citizenships regarding your application with MSF! Your citizenship only becomes relevant at a later stage, when we need to get entry visas for the mission countries.

MSF Austria recruits in the following countries: Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Slovakia or Slovenia.

All persons with a residency in one of the abovementioned countries can apply with MSF Austria. Persons with a residency in a different country than the ones mentioned can find out here where they can apply.

Please note: The Assessment Centre takes place at the MSF Austria offices in Vienna. The assessment center may take up to two days and we cannot cover any expenses related to this trip.

All persons with a residency in the following countries can apply with MSF Austria: Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Slovakia or Slovenia.

Persons with a residency in a different country than the ones mentioned can find out here where they can apply.

Should this question apply to you, we like to discuss this on an individual basis. It is highly important to avoid any conflicts of interest and to make sure that the above mentioned requirements for working with us are met.

Unfortunately, no. On rare occasions, professional photographers may visit one of our projects; for direct inquiries, please contact our Public Information Department.

Unfortunately, no. MSF does not offer any vacancies for medical training. Quite contrary, you will be involved in the further training of local staff during field missions, depending on the type of work and your professional skills. As a medical specialist, you may even be the only expert on the spot. In many regions in which we operate, local doctors are used to covering several medical fields at the same time and will highly appreciate your expertise.

In addition, entry visa and work permits are required in most of the countries in which field missions are organized and the local administration is obliged to produce diploma certificates, such as a diploma in a special medical field.

The standards in terms of living conditions and medical care in the countries we work in can hardly be compared to the ones most applicants are used to. Related consequences (e.g. lack of accessibility) are difficult to manage in a number of projects. Sending people on field missions with special needs may therefore be difficult or impossible (lack of mobility may pose a safety risk). MSF therefore likes to reserve the right to discuss this on an individual basis.

The standards in terms of living conditions and medical care in the countries we work in can hardly be compared to the ones most applicants are used to. In addition, the climate and related consequences (e.g. storage of medication at certain temperatures) is difficult to manage in a number of projects. A chronic disease may therefore be incompatible with the living conditions prevalent on our missions. MSF therefore likes to reserve the right to discuss this on an individual basis.

Unfortunately, no.

Unfortunately, no.

Unfortunately, no.

Yes, vacancies keep coming up which we advertise here.

No, there is neither a minimum nor a maximum age limit to be able to leave on missions. It is important that you meet the requirements and feel fit enough to work in the field. Please consider both climate and living conditions. The only restriction is the age limit for work permits that a number of countries have issued.

Unfortunately, no. We do not have training opportunities for staff going on field missions. On the contrary, you will be involved in further training of local staff during field missions, depending on the type of work and your professional skills and qualifications.

In addition, entry visa and work permits are required in most of the countries in which field missions are organized and the local administration is obliged to produce diploma certificates to certify completed professional training.

If your permanent residency is outside our rercuitment area, you can find out where to apply here!

Unfortunately, no. However, we do appreciate your interest in topics with regard to humanitarian aid and will try to support your scientific work by answering specific questions about one of our projects or recommending any relevant literature. Please contact our office directly: [email protected]

In general, it is possible to take on an assignment with MSF during parental leave or a sabbatical. Below, you will find a short description of the process involved.

Information on unpaid leave/sabbatical
In the context of unpaid leave (known as parental leave under labour law), both work and remuneration cease for a certain period of time. The employment relationship is not terminated, though, but all rights and obligations arising therefrom are suspended for the duration of the leave. For unpaid leave of up to one month, the employee's compulsory insurance will remain in force. In the case of unpaid leave of more than one month, the employee must ensure that social security contributions are paid by means of self-insurance. In this case, contributions must be paid in full by the employee (i.e., both the employee's and the employer's contribution), and registration for compulsory insurance must be made one day prior to the starting date of the leave period.

Information on sabbaticals
In a sabbatical model, and in contrast to parental leave, only the work performance is suspended, while the entitlement to remuneration continues. There is no legal basis for sabbaticals, and while there are sometimes provisions in collective agreements, arranging a sabbatical ultimately rests within the responsibility of employer and employee. It is common to use savings models to collect time credits by working overtime and extra hours without payment, with the subsequent consumption of the time off entitlement at a stretch; or remuneration reductions for a certain period, combined with partial remuneration during the sabbatical (e.g., three years of 100% work performance with 75% of the salary, and 75% of the salary payment with 0% work performance in the fourth year). Reasons for taking a career break vary greatly. Due to the continuous entitlement to remuneration, compulsory insurance of the employee remains in force.

At present, the following professionals are needed in our field missions:

  • Doctors specialized in general medicine, internal medicine, paediatrics, gynaecology and obstetrics, emergency care, surgery (general and trauma), anaesthesia, psychiatry, public health and epidemiology. (NO vacancies are presently available for field missions in the following areas: ENT, dermatology, urology, ophthalmology, stomatology, neurology.)
  • There are RARE VACANCIES for radiologists.
  • Plastic surgeons.
  • Epidemiologists
  • Qualified nursing staff with a general diploma, paediatric and theatre nurses, anaesthesia nurses (male and female). Depending on your work experience and particular project demands (e.g. intensive care, psychiatric care, dialysis), further trainings will be regarded as additional qualifications. There is a high demand for male and female nurses with management skills and qualifications!
  • Midwives
  • Biomedical analysts
  • Pharmacists
  • Psychologists and psychotherapists
  • Specialists for technical areas and logistics with knowledge in electrics, mechanics and civil engineering, as well as specialists for water and hygiene, as well as logistics.
  • Specialists for finance and human resources

Here you find more information on which professional groups were are currently looking for.

More information in German

More information in English (international):

…or take part in one of our events

Career possibilites

Yes. Upon returning from their first field work, we encourage staff members to consider further missions and offer a whole range of training opportunities to this end. You may also gain experience by accepting different positions during your stay abroad. Here are some examples and opportunities.

If you wish to pursue a career at MSF or plan to be sent on several missions, we have a number of further training opportunities for you, including professional training in the medical field as well as team management trainings, language courses etc.

More Information

Should you require further information about working with MSF, please contact us via e-mail: [email protected]

MSF does not tolerate harassment, discrimination or even abuse of staff members. We strive to prevent and avoid misconduct, both during missions and in the offices. 

We place particular emphasis on the protection of victims and whistleblowers. Our goal is to create an environment where complaints can be filed without having to worry about safety, job security or confidentiality of the concerns voiced. This requires sustained attention, dedicated mechanisms and contact persons. Specific guidelines, briefings, project visits, trainings and many more measures are in place, with the process being adapted on an ongoing basis.
Despite all our efforts, misconduct unfortunately cannot be ruled out completely, but every case is one case too many! In 2019, more than 65 000 people worked for MSF. Globally, 322 complaints of abuse, harassment or inappropriate behaviour were filed through our grievance mechanisms in the same year. As a result, a total of 57 staff members were terminated for some form of abuse or inappropriate behaviour (2019).

MSF is transparent and open on this issue, and has published these figures in the hope to increase the willingness of staff to report incidents. Breaking down barriers in this area is of utmost importance for us so that no staff member is prevented from reporting misconduct. We promote a work environment free from harassment, exploitation, and abuse.

Learn more about our policies for a work environment that is free from harassment, exploitation and abuse.

Prerequisites for applying at MSF & going on mission

Please come and see us at one of the information evening that we organize on a regular basis or attend one of our online webinars. Please see our website for exact dates and further details. You will learn about tasks in the field and we will be happy to answer your questions. In addition, there are further platforms you can visit to picture everyday life and challenges during field missions like our blog site, facebook page or youtube channel.

Professional experience that is relevant for applying at MSF should have been gained and/or practiced no longer than two years ago.

At MSF, you will not be able to apply for a particular country or project. Mission staff is matched to a project according to needs. Qualifications (professional field of work, languages, restrictions) also play a major role. We expect our mission staff to be extremely flexible so that we can account for individual project needs.

In general, it is not possible to be accompanied by your partner if you are leaving on missionfor the first time. Both living conditions and security issues will not allow for somebody to join you. Even if you and your partner apply at the same time, being sent on a mission together will not be possible since staff is matched to projects according to particular needs only. Should you pursue a career with MSF, there are a couple of vacancies for coordination positions where your family will be able to join you.

Arriving at one of our projects in a crisis-stricken region is a shock for many. Apart from having to cope with professional challenges, communicating in a foreign language and a foreign environment is a major personal challenge. Oftentimes, contacts with friends and family at home are very restricted. Prior experiences in a foreign language and a foreign country are therefore extremely helpful to start your mission with a positive approach!

In your application form, you may list private and professional stays in foreign countries. Each of these experiences that has led you abroad as a back packer, exchange student, volunteer, civil servant, congress participant etc. will be relevant for your application at MSF.

Travel and work experience in Asia, Africa and Latin America are of particular importance for working with us, as they reflect encounters with people from different cultures, perhaps living under simple conditions etc.

As described above, as an MSF expat you will be involved in the further training of local staff, depending on the type of work and your professional skills and qualifications. Your expertise will be particularly appreciated in complex situations or when quick decisions are needed. It is therefore a must that you have had the opportunity to put your theoretical knowledge into practice. A minimum of two years’ work experience is required in the professional field you wish to apply for.

For general practitioners, the period of residency will count as relevant work experience, as will the period of special training for medical specialists. General practitioners may therefore be dispatched upon completing their residency, medical specialists after their specialist examination.

We expect applicants for field missions to commit to minimum total period of 12 months. If you were sent on your first mission for six months, we expect you to go on a (or several) further missions at a later date.

The following requirements need to be fullfilled if you want to join our team:

  • Completed professional training; completed residency or completed specialist training for doctors.
  • At least two years’ work experience in a relevant area (does not apply to doctors with completed residency or completed specialist training)
  • Experience abroad
  • Foreign language skills
  • At least 6 months‘ availability for the first mission and willingness to be sent on further missions
  • For general doctors and nurses: training in tropical medicine
  • Identification with MSF principles
  • Flexibility
  • Enjoying team work
  • Enjoying / being experienced in team leadership
  • Interest in and respect for different cultures
  • Mental stress resistance
  • Organization and improvisation skills

See more details or look up information for particular professional groups.

Any additional foreign language skills are helpful. Apart from English and French, Arabic is highly beneficial. For particular projects, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish are important.

The minimum level for English and French is B1, however, we recommend language training to reach a B2 level in at least one of these languages prior to submitting your application. Have a look at the international description of language levels and assess your own language skills here.

There are numerous online self-assessments that we highly recommend. One example for French is: www.languagelevel.com/french.

Depending on your qualifications and current project needs, positive completion of the assessment centre may result in a rather prompt dispatch, but it may also take up to several months. It is therefore advisable to file your application three to six months before you will actually be available to be sent on a mission.

Please note that when it comes to humanitarian aid, vacancies are difficult to plan ahead. It may therefore sometimes take a while until a suitable vacancy comes up; your flexibility is often put to the test during the preparation phase prior to your mission. 

For your first mission, you should be available for a period of six to nine months. Exceptions are made for medical specialists, namely surgeons, anaesthetists, gynaecologists, obstetricians and theatre nurses: the period of their first mission may start from three months onwards, periods of subsequent missions do vary to a large extent.

During emergency missions, you may be accommodated in a large tent that is shared with several expats. We always strive to provide a minimum level of privacy our expats whenever possible. In regular projects and as a rule, you will be provided with a private room or tukul (one room little hut). Kitchen, bath room and common rooms are mostly shared with fellow expats. Catering and household work (including doing the laundry) are generally carried out by domestic workers.

Although we acknowledge that risks cannot be ruled out completely, we do whatever we can to manage and minimize possible hazards by applying strict safety protocols. Safety of MSF staff is of utmost importance.

All information on how to apply can be found here

Here is a list of courses for tropical medicine.

On average, 180 candidates apply for field missions each year, 40% of which are being invited to our assessment centre. An average of 74% of these applicants are being recruited which means that approximately 25% of all applicants will eventually be included in our hr pool for field missions.

Salary and insurance

Yes. You are entitled to take leave in accordance with legal requirements. Many projects have regulations for holiday periods in terms of time and duration. During a nine-month mission, for example, a one-week holiday ought to be taken every three months. Details should be arranged with superiors directly in the field.

If you are a legal resident in Austria, you will receive a work contract in compliance with national legal regulations which also includes social security coverage (Vienna Regional Health Insurance Scheme - WGKK). In addition (and this also includes everyone who does not have a residence in Austria), MSF will arrange for you to be covered by an international health insurance scheme, which will bear any costs that are not covered by the Vienna Regional Health Insurance. Insurance coverage remains valid until three months after you have completed your MSF mission.

Medical care will be provided directly in the field or in the nearest hospital (selected for mission staff). Any treatment costs will be borne by the health insurance. If necessary for medical reasons, you will be repatriated to a European hospital or your place of residence. Again, such measure is also covered by the insurance.

Any costs incurred by visa, required vaccinations, insurance, transportation and accommodation will be borne by MSF. Meals and daily consumer goods, as well as eating out occasionally, are generally covered by the daily allowances (per diem). No further costs will be incurred; you will solely be in charge of holiday arrangements.

Yes. If you are a legal resident in Austria, you will receive a work contract in compliance with national legal regulations that also cover social security. If you are not a legal resident, the Operational Centre in charge will issue a work contract and you will be responsible for taking care of social security coverage in your home country. In both cases, you will be covered by an international health insurance scheme which remains valid for another three months after you have completed your mission.

The minimum starting salary is at 1047,25 € gross/month in the first 12 months of your service on missions. After that period, your prior work experience and the position you will hold during a mission will be accounted for.