How Much Do Missionary Nurses Make?

NurseJournal Staff
Updated June 13, 2022
Interested in work as a missionary nurse? Find out what missionary nurse salaries are like and what else to expect as a nurse in this specialty.
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Missionary nurses care for people in areas with a tremendous need for healthcare, including the poor and individuals in disaster areas. This work provides tremendous emotional rewards and fulfillment.

How much does a missionary nurse make? The answers range widely. This guide describes considerations for missionary nurse salaries and other information about missionary nurse pay. Keep reading for more on missionary nurse work and compensation.

Average Salary for Missionary Nurses

Missionary nurse salaries are probably the widest-ranging of all nurse salaries. Some missionary nurse pay is only enough to cover expenses, while others offer income to cover the cost of their placement. Missionary nurses in some settings earn comparable salaries to the majority of RNs.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not separate missionary nurse salaries from all other RN nurse salaries. Their overall data can provide some context for understanding missionary nurse pay.

Average Annual Salary
Source:BLS, May 2021

Average Hourly Wage
Source:BLS, May 2021

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The Highest-Paying States for Missionary Nurses

Most missionary nurse work occurs in the lowest-income parts of the United States or overseas areas affected by disasters. BLS salary data for all RNs indicates the areas where RNs receive the highest pay, offering insight into strong missionary nurse salary locations. This general figure applies only to missionary nurse pay based on market rates.

In California, the average RN annual salary is $124,000. Nurses in Hawaii make $106,530 on average, while individuals in Oregon make an average nursing pay of $98,630. RN salaries vary based on if the missionary organization provides housing and food, permanent vs. short-term employment status, and the local cost of living and expenses.

4 Ways to Increase Pay As a Missionary Nurse

Many missionary nurse positions are voluntary, though some cover costs for housing and food. For paid roles, short-term missionary nurse salaries are typically not negotiable.

However, there is more flexibility for long-term staff roles. You can improve your missionary nurse salary prospects by increasing your nursing credentials, earning more education, or developing experience in other relevant skills. These abilities include local languages, intercultural communications, fundraising, or nonprofit management and administration.

  1. 1

    Advance Your Education

    Additional education, certifications, and experience allow nurses to take on more responsibilities, which can lead to a higher missionary nurse salary. For example, as a nurse practitioner, you can act as a primary care provider. Nurse midwives are in high demand in areas with high maternal mortality rates.

  2. 2

    Learn Local Languages

    Fluency in local languages means you will need less support from translators, which saves on additional costs. However, you must be sure that you are entirely fluent and understand local idioms — miscommunications can have serious consequences.

  3. 3

    Develop Your Fundraising Skills

    Can you translate your experiences into stories that demonstrate the impact of the missionary organization’s work, communicate effectively with donors, and can combine facts and emotions in reports and presentations? If so, you may be able to negotiate for a higher missionary nurse salary by bringing in donor funds.

  4. 4

    Take on Administrative Roles

    Working in program administration and nursing can help increase your missionary nurse pay. If you have supply chain or logistics expertise, you can use this knowledge to decrease costs of program delivery or increase efficiency to negotiate for a pay increase.

Frequently Asked Questions About Missionary Nurse Salaries

question-mark-circleDo missionary nurses get paid well?

Many missionary nurses are either volunteers or paid just enough to cover expenses, resulting in the average missionary nurse salary as fairly low. However, if you work for a larger missionary organization or a well-funded company, your missionary nurse pay may be comparable to other RN jobs.

question-mark-circleCan you get paid to be a medical missionary?

Some medical missionary roles receive pay, while most are voluntary. Typically, long-term roles are paid, while short-term placements are not. Some short-term missionary nurses even pay for the opportunity, with their payments helping to cover program expenses.

question-mark-circleAre missionary nurses required to do volunteer work?

Nobody can legally be required to do volunteer work in addition to their paid work. However, most missionary nurses work voluntarily or receive stipends rather than full salaries. Even paid missionary nurse salaries are generally much lower than nurse salaries.

question-mark-circleWhat skills are important for missionary nursing?

The most important nursing skills will depend on the setting and your responsibilities. In general, you must have excellent cross-cultural communication skills, perseverance during difficult situations, the ability to complete your work with limited supplies and facilities, and acclimate yourself rapidly to different cultures. Nurses who can teach are especially important to help build local healthcare efforts.

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