Things To Consider Before Applying

The following resources can help you determine if you would be a good fit for an in-community position with the Canadian Red Cross.

  1. Are you ready to be an International Aid Worker?
  2. Stories from the Field
  3. Benefits
  4. Application Process

Are you ready to be an International Aid Worker?

Working in a foreign country during situations of crisis or emergency requires a very unique skillset. International Aid Workers often find themselves working with limited supervision in unfamiliar situations. They also need to respect and adapt to different cultures and work styles. The following questions may not be true for every delegate mission but are meant as a guide to help in assessing your readiness to work and live as a delegate.


Friends and Family

Being an international aid worker means you will be away from friends and family for extended periods, possibly with very little contact.

Questions to consider:

  • Can I put my personal life in Canada on hold to work overseas?
  • Am I prepared to have little or no contact with loved ones for extended durations?
  • Would my family, significant other, and/or close friends support my decision? What are their concerns and how would their reaction impact my decision?
  • Is my personal motivation for working overseas healthy? Am I trying to escape from issues and problems that may be better dealt with by staying in Canada?

Health and Wellness

The environments in which aid workers work are often demanding and can be stressful.

Questions to consider:

  • Do I have excellent mental and physical health to withstand the rigours of a highly stressful environment and possibly poor living conditions?
  • Do I practice self-discipline in eating, exercise, and sleep?
  • Is my ability to cope with stress strong? Do I use healthy means such as physical exercise or confiding in colleagues?
  • Do I have optimism, healthy self-esteem, and solid sense of self?
  • Am I resilient and flexible in most situations?

Living Situation

Living situations vary depending on the mission – you might find yourself in isolated accommodations or living in close quarters with a number of other people. In addition, you may be without the comforts to which you are accustomed. Security restrictions may limit where you can go, what you can do and when you can do it.

Questions to consider:

  • Am I comfortable living in isolated surroundings with very limited contact with others of a similar cultural background? Can I live in shared accommodation in close quarters with others?  
  • How comfortable am I in situations where I may not be able to readily access the internet or contact my friends and families overseas?  
  • How do I feel about living/working in areas of insecurity where my life may be in danger?  
  • Am I willing to follow strict security rules and regulations?  
  • Can I adapt my daily routines to situations where my movement is tightly restricted? 


Consider the professional impact of a mission. In particular, aid workers on the emergency roster will be required to depart on short notice.

Questions to consider:

  • Can I put my professional life in Canada 'on hold' on short notice? Am I willing to look for new work upon return or to be unemployed for periods of time while not on mission?
  • Would my employer support my decision? Are my colleagues willing to make adjustments to their workload to accommodate my absence?
  • Does my employer understand that I will need time to re-adjust upon my return, and that my perspectives on our work may shift?
  • If self-employed, am I willing and able to risk losing business clients due to my absence or are there other contingency plans I must put into place?

Work Context

Our aid workers work alongside our National Society partners and must respect and adapt to different cultures and work styles. They face unfamiliar situations, ambiguous information and may be working without direct or readily available supervision. They may be required to work long hours for days or weeks at a time, especially in emergency situations.

Questions to Consider:

  • Do I have the required professional qualifications and work experience?
  • Do I thrive when working in a multi-cultural environment and accept the challenge of adapting to different cultures and work styles? Can I work/live with people whose heritage, values, beliefs etc. are different from my own?
  • Do I set realistic goals? Can I handle failure as well as success? Can I stay focused on the tasks at hand when faced with many other unmet and compelling needs?
  • Am I self motivated and able to work independently and make sound decisions without consultation, even in unfamiliar or ambiguous situations?
  • Do I work well in a team, respect the role every member plays and operate cooperatively?
  • Do I have the ability to work long hours on a continual basis, if required?
  • Am I able to adapt quickly to fast-paced, changing environments?

Working for the Red Cross

All aid workers must understand and commit to the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross/Crescent Movement and recognize that while on assignment they are a representative of the Red Cross 24-hours a day and adhere to these principles at all time. This sometimes means putting personal, religious or political beliefs aside.

Questions to Consider:

  • Do I have an understanding of the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, particularly neutrality and impartiality, and of their practical application?
  • Do I have personal, religious, or political beliefs that might conflict with these principles?
  • Can I put my personal beliefs aside and assume the Fundamental Principles as my own at all times while on mission?

Stories from the field

These stories, told from the perspective of Canadian Red Cross aid workers, are intended to help you understand what it’s like to work in the field.

The Red Cross has international aid workers and emergency response experts in locations around the world. The work and context differs greatly, however, the Canadian Red Cross is unified by our mission to improve the lives of people in need and our commitment to the Fundamental Principles of Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality.

Often the Red Cross works in harsh environments without many of the comforts, support networks or basic infrastructure to which Canadians are accustomed. Security and safety restrictions may limit where aid workers can go, what they can do and when. The challenges that aid workers encounter are often new and complex. Being an aid worker requires dedication and sacrifice. However, aid workers are also able to have fun, build life-long friendships and witness the positive impact of their effort.



Overseas missions can be lengthy and challenging. While every contract is different, our in-community workers are entitled to a competitive pay and benefits package that prioritizes their physical and mental wellbeing.

Depending on the type of contract, delegates may be entitled to the following:

  • Competitive pay and benefits package
  • Paid leave: depending on the contract type you may be eligible for paid vacation, paid statutory holidays, rest and relaxation leave in situations where conditions are particularly difficult, and return to Canada visits for extended missions
  • Monthly or per diem allowance while in the field
  • Accommodation in the field
  • Medical/insurance coverage
  • Access to the Canadian Red Cross Employee Assistance Program
  • Pre-deployment training programs
  • Re-imbursement of relevant expenses (e.g. vaccinations, visa’s, travel costs)
  • Opportunities to learn and grow

Please note: This information is provided to give a general overview of the international aid worker compensation and benefits. The employment contract is the definitive source of any legal and administrative interpretation.


Application Process

Find out what’s involved in applying for and being selected as a Red Cross in-community worker. Applying for an in-community position is a multi-step process.

Self Assessment

Red Cross workers find their experiences in the field to be rewarding and life changing. However, they also face challenging contexts and environments to which they may not be accustomed. This personal reflection exercise is intended to help you to identify if you are ready for an overseas mission.

In addition, carefully consider whether you meet the minimum requirements for the position as identified in the job posting.

Search for Job Openings

You can search for job openings here. You will find postings for international development missions, our rapid responder roster as well as generic postings to build our roster in specific areas. Only apply to those positions where you can clearly demonstrate you meet the required qualifications, experience and skills.

Create your Applicant Profile

Through our online application system you will create an extended online resume. This is your opportunity to tell your story and demonstrate you are the best candidate for the job. Once you have created your profile, using your login and password you can return anytime to update your information and apply for positions.


Selected candidates will be contacted by a member of the Red Cross team for a competency-based assessment, which may include a combination of telephone, Skype and/or in person interviews, written exercises and presentations. The purpose of the assessment process is for us to learn more about your relevant experience, qualifications and personal attributes. It is also an opportunity for you to ask questions and further assess whether the position is a good fit for you personally.

Conditional Offer, Background Check and References

Candidates selected following the assessment will be notified they are the successful candidate. Their appointment is subject to: satisfactory reference checks; verification of professional qualifications; verification of permission to work in Canada; satisfactory criminal records, drivers abstract and background checks; and, satisfactory completion of mission preparation training, medical assessment and documentation.

Mission Preparation & Training

Review and submission of documentation
In preparation for a mission with the Red Cross, you will need to review and confirm your understanding of and commitment to various Red Cross policies, including our Code of Conduct. Additional information, such as personal contact information and insurance forms will need to be provided.

Medical assessment
Due to the physical and psychological demands of overseas assignments, all applicants being considered for an overseas mission must complete a mandatory medical screening process prior to a confirmed offer.   

Red Cross specific training
In preparation for mission, aid workers are required to complete several training courses, depending on the type of mission they have applied for. The time spent in training is unpaid, but expenses (travel, accommodation, meals and course fees) are covered by the Red Cross.

At minimum all aid workers are required to complete:

  • World of Red Cross (WORC): WORC is a general orientation program that provides an introduction to the main elements of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. This course is available online and open to the general public. Learn more here.

  • International Mobilization and Preparation for ACTion (IMPACT): IMPACT is a seven day residential course designed to prepare future Red Cross aid workers by taking an in-depth look at the roles of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies, and National Societies in times of disaster and conflict as well as reviewing practical subjects such as dealing with stress, security, and cross cultural awareness.

  • Emergency Response Unit (ERU) field training (ERU workers only):  Following the training noted above, emergency response workers who will be part of the ERU Roster are also required to complete field training. The training is based on a simulated disaster scenario, where delegates are put into situations they may encounter in the field. By the end of the training delegates will have set up the field hospital and met a range of “characters” including patients to treat, individuals looking for work, community leaders, and of course the local Red Cross partners. 

Additional training may be required depending on the position.


Pre-Deployment Briefing
Immediately prior to departing on a mission you will receive a briefing, typically at our offices in Ottawa, to equip you with information specific to your mission. This will include meetings with your manager, various program staff, the Security Advisor, the Travel Health Team and Human Resources.

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