Working in the field: FAQ

MSF Doctor Luana Lima

Here you will find answers to the most common questions about working overseas

Here you will find answers to the most common questions about working in the field with MSF UAE. You can jump to the topic you are most interested in using the links below. 

  • Working for MSF
  • Medical students and volunteers
  • Application requirements and placements
  • Compensation, pay and benefits
  • Career development
  • Questions

Working for MSF

Working for MSF

MSF UAE can only accept applications for field positions from UAE residents who have a valid permit to work in the UAE. If you do not have this we cannot accept your application.

Please contact your nearest MSF office or one of the MSF Operational Centres in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Geneva or Paris in order to apply for a position, details can be found on here.

Our recruitment process, tests, interviews etc. take place in Dubai and applicants are expected to attend in person. MSF UAE does not cover travel costs at this stage.

It is assumed that successful candidates are based in the UAE and available to attend induction, training and briefing. MSF UAE can only finance travel arrangements for these events from addresses in the UAE.

Detailed information about the selection criteria and role descriptions can be found on our website:

We can only accept applications from people who meet our strict requirements and applications must be made online.

MSF recruits medical and non-medical staff to work in its projects. All of these people bring professional abilities, practical experience, as well as a commitment to and concern for the people they help.

Our projects are manned by national staff with minimal international presence. On average, for every expatriate posted to a specific project there are seven local workers. They provide everything from technical and administrative assistance to nursing and medical skills.

Follow the link for more information on who we need.

While the majority of our volunteers have a medical background, we also need skilled support staff such as: nutritionists, epidemiologists, lab technicians, mental health professionals, water and sanitation engineers, construction engineers, logisticians and HR and financial controller

Having a criminal record will not necessarily bar you from working with us. This will depend on the nature of the position and the circumstances and background of your offences.

MSF does not recruit dentists.

Please note that MSF does not currently recruit paramedics. We do not require staff with this profile because we do not run ambulance services in our projects in the field. When patient transfers take place, these are often done in MSF vehicles, and patients are accompanied by MSF nurses and/or medical doctors.

MSF sends out approximately 3,000 international volunteers per year and employs around 25,000 local staff. In addition, there are 11 MSF offices around the world providing operations and support functions.

Medical Students and Volunteers

Areas that are of particular interest to MSF are TB and HIV/AIDS specialists, obstetricians/gynaecologists and infectious disease specialists. Training in these areas is highly desirable.

It is also essential to have a minimum of three months travel or work experience in a developing country or countries. This can be formed of shorter placements or one longer period of travel.

We can only take on people who meet our strict criteria and do not provide gap year placements.

Application Requirements and Placements

As MSF receives a high number of applications, the greater your depth of experience and skill level the more likely it is that you will be accepted to the register.

Check the detailed information about the selection criteria and role descriptions on our Who We Need page.

It is not possible to honour specific country requests. MSF recruit applicants into a pool before matching them to a specific position. MSF expect candidates to be flexible about where they work so that we can meet the needs of the field. However, special skills, languages and restrictions are taken into consideration in each placement.

It is not an option to leave for the field as a couple or with a family during a first mission. It only becomes an option if the intervention context permits, and solely on coordination positions. It is a reality that the security conditions, the lack of professional opportunities outside MSF, the limited accommodation options and the lack of adapted educational and medical institutions all limit the possibilities for being with a family.

English is the official MSF language. However, fluency in another language will enhance your application and the possibility of placement.

The length of a first mission is between six and 12 months for all professions, except anaesthetists and surgeons who, due to the intensity of their work, are placed in projects from six weeks to three months.

The application process on average takes around four to six months.

You can apply as soon as you have definite dates of availability and normally around six months before you want to go.

Our organisation takes staff security highly seriously. For every mission, the risks are evaluated and rules are subsequently drawn up for all staff to follow (the contrary can lead to removal from the mission).

Working hours vary considerably depending on the project with, on average, one day off per week. Work can frequently be hectic and you may be required to put in longer hours. However, time is normally set aside for rest and relaxation.

There is no minimum or maximum age for participation in MSF projects, although there are other criteria that applicants must fulfil.

Compensation, Pay and Benefits

A volunteer is a person who makes an individual commitment within a humanitarian movement, accepts the risks of the missions he/she (hereafter referred to as he) undertakes, accepts a certain degree of professional insecurity and respects the organisation's charter. Volunteers receive an indemnity.

A volunteer signs a volunteer convention (corresponding to the length of his mission).

He/she cannot be a trainee: he must have at least two years' professional experience excluding internships: this is a mandatory requirement for leaving on mission.

After one year's mission (prior field experience with another NGO is counted at 50%), he/she becomes a salaried employee with an employment contract (corresponding to the mission's length). The employment contract or volunteer convention is signed between the volunteer/employee and the MSF section based in his/her country of residence.

Remuneration is defined according to country of residence.

Volunteers leaving in Europe or in a country where MSF has an office receive a non-taxable indemnity of 1113 €. This indemnity is of 1047 € for volunteers leaving in a country where no MSF section exists. Salaried employees receive a remuneration of between 1494 € and 3795 € depending on the position they hold and their experience.

Within this framework, each volunteer contributes towards a pension fund and benefits from health care coverage and insurance coverage in the event of invalidity/death or medical evacuation

It is not an option to leave for this field as a couple or with a family during a first mission. It only becomes an option if the intervention context permits, and solely on coordination positions. It is a reality that the security conditions, the lack of professional opportunities outside MSF, the limited accommodation options and the lack of adapted educational and medical institutions all limit the possibilities for being with a family.

MSF covers the following expenses:

  • Return economy air travel for the most direct and cost-effective route between the home country and the project. This may include a stopover for briefing and debriefing in the UAE.
  • Reimbursement for the cost of obtaining necessary visas (typically these are paid directly by MSF when organising your visa).
  • Vaccinations not available on the NHS
  • Accommodation and transportation during your contract (including briefings and debriefings).
  • Per Diem based on the cost of living in your project country.
  • All training costs if you are placed on one of our preparation courses.
  • Health insurance, including medical evacuations and repatriation, whilst on mission and for up to three months after return to home country.

While you are working with MSF you are entitled to 28 days paid holiday per year pro rata.

You will be required to complete a Health Declaration Form and if necessary undertake pre-departure health checks with a travel clinic that will clear you to go on mission. 

MSF will arrange and cover you for all health insurance while on mission. This will continue for up to three months once you return to the UAE. In the event of medical evacuations, repatriation is also covered.

MSF arranges insurance cover which care and, if necessary, repatriation for field staff.

Career Development

MSF strongly encourages people to continue working for the organisation beyond their first mission as their experience is of huge value to the effectiveness of our work. As such we offer various career opportunities to our field staff. You can broaden your professional experience by working on a variety of different aid programmes, and have access to learning and development.

There are many long-term career opportunities with MSF. Gaining more and varied MSF field experience makes you eligible for positions such as Logistical, Medical, or Project Coordinator, or Head of Mission.

There are also courses in areas such as project management, medical management, and logistics. If you are interested in a career with MSF you are encouraged to discuss your options with your Human Resource Officer at interview.


For questions about the medical pool not answered in our FAQs, including medical doctors, surgeons, anaesthetists, project coordinators, epidemiologists, HR coordinators, financial coordinators and Heads of Mission, email [email protected]

The application process 

The Application Process 

Here you will find a general guide to the application process for all overseas roles we recruit for in the UAE

Stories from the field

Stories from the Field 

Thinking about working overseas for MSF or keen to understand what it's like for our staff? Read firsthand accounts from MSF staff working in our projects around the world