What kinds of positions are available?
The complex nature of Mercy Ships projects and programs demand a wide range of skills. For a list of positions that are generally available and the minimum commitment for each, please see the chart below:
For a detailed list of what positions are currently available, please see our Opportunities Available lists.
How long can I serve?
Mercy Ships provides opportunities to serve either as a short-term (two weeks to two years) or long-term (minimum two years); however, preference is given to those who can serve 4 weeks or longer for most positions. Those wishing to serve for more than nine months must first successfully complete On Boarding Program (Foundations of Mercy Ships & Gateway).
Please note: A married person applying to serve without their spouse will only be accepted for a maximum of three (3) months.
What health or age restrictions apply?
We require all volunteers in good physical condition. All applicants are required to complete a medical history and physical evaluation. Some pre-existing medical conditions (for example: insulin dependent diabetes, heart conditions, pregnancy, immune suppressed conditions, etc) may disqualify service at some operating locations due to maritime regulations and availability of medical care. We require all volunteers to be at least 18 years old. There is no upper age limit for service.
Are physically impaired people able to volunteer with Mercy Ships?
Due to the limited confines of a Mercy Ship and compliance with ship safety standards, it is not possible for physically disabled persons to volunteer on a Mercy Ship.
How much does it cost to serve with Mercy Ships?
Volunteers pay for their transportation to and from the ship’s location as well as crew fees and all personal expenses. Crew fees vary depending on the length of commitment as well as what nation the volunteer comes from.
Can Mercy Ships help me raise funds?
We have developed fundraising materials to help you communicate and raise funds to support your time with us. Additionally, depending on the position, need and availability of funding, we sometimes provide financial assistance to ensure continuity in critical positions. If interested, please indicate on your application that you would like assistance in fundraising.
How far in advance should I apply to volunteer with Mercy Ships?
If possible, applications should be sent in for processing at least 3 to 6 months in advance. For some positions and for some time periods, additional time is required.
What references are required to apply?
When applying to serve with Mercy Ships, three references are required; one from your pastor or spiritual leader, one from a friend, and one from your employer.
Please note: If you are not able to provide an employer or pastor/spiritual leader reference, return the reference forms along with a note explaining why it is left blank. Submit a substitute reference from a person who has functioned in a supervisor/mentor or coach role for you.
Can I apply if I am not a Christian or currently not attending a church?
We regularly have non-Christians and/or those who are not currently a member of church apply to volunteer. Although the vast majority of our staff and volunteers are followers of Jesus, we will consider all applicants. At the discretion of the Managing Director, non-Christian volunteers may be accepted short-term, based on their skills and our needs.
However, all volunteers must have a lifestyle consistent with our Core Values and be willing to adhere to our Code of Conduct.
Can married couples with/without children serve onboard?
Housing for couples and families is very limited and is usually reserved for long-term crew and/or critical positions. A final decision on couples housing, may be delayed until 2 months prior to the time of service. Family housing is reserved for long-term crew where one spouse is filling a critical position.
Can single parent families volunteer to serve onboard?
The ship is very limited in the number of family cabins available and therefore they must be allocated to crew that can work full-time in a critical operational position on board. When we accept any family unit, we expect one of the parents to work full-time while the other parent’s main responsibility (due in a large part to safety issues) would be to take care/watch after their children when they are not in school. This would not work in the case of the single-parent family, as their time would have to be split between their parental and shipboard duties and therefore not allowing the crew member to work full-time.
Is proficiency in English required in Mercy Ships?
Yes. English proficiency is required for all positions in Mercy Ships, and fluency is required for some positions.
Is a foreign language required to serve in Mercy Ships?
No. However a working knowledge of French is very beneficial for several countries in which we serve.
If I serve on one of the ships, will I be working with the local people?
All of our volunteers work with the local people to some degree. Some (for example those who serve in the hospital) will likely have more direct contact, but there are opportunities throughout the week made available for crew to participate in during their time off from work. These include visits to prisons, orphanages & programs sites as well as working with the 100 or so local Day Workers.
What do crew do after work?
After work, crew often get together for fellowship and fun. This may include going out for dinner or dessert, playing board games in one of many lounges or on one of the decks, watching a video, or attending an informal Bible study/prayer meeting. Others use the time after work to e-mail friends, write home, practice music or get involved with the many Mercy Ministry opportunities conducted off the ship.
What does the ship’s schedule typically look like?
Typically, the Africa Mercy will be docked in a West African country for around 10 months out of the year involved in active field service. During the months of June-August, the ship undergoes maintenance and repairs. During these months, the Hospital is closed, though we do still staff non-medical positions.
Where can I get more information about volunteering with Mercy Ships?
To obtain more information about volunteering with Mercy Ships, we suggest you attend an Foundations of Mercy Ships (FMS) program at the International Operations Center (IOC) in Texas, which is offered 3-4 times per year.
In addition, we offer an Introduction to Mercy Ships-Europe program in Holland twice a year for our European applicants.
How do I apply?
Applications for service with Mercy Ships are accepted year-round. Processing usually takes 2-6 weeks.
Read through the Frequently Asked Questions.
Check the Opportunities Available.
Download an Application.
Complete the application.
Mail, fax or e-mail application to the Mercy Ships HR office in Texas (as directed).