International Career Opportunities With a Master’s Degree in Nursing

NurseJournal Staff
Updated March 26, 2024
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Do you want to travel and use your MSN degree by nursing abroad? Learn about international nurse practitioner jobs and what to expect.
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In the United States, most graduates with master of science in nursing (MSN) degrees become nurse practitioners (NP) or other advanced practice specialties, or they focus on another track like nurse educators. Internationally, not all countries use the same titles, but an MSN still qualifies you for international nurse practitioner jobs or other graduate-level employment.

You can work in many countries in a number of different roles, such as for volunteer organizations, government agencies, or directly for hospitals and health systems. This page describes some of these opportunities for nursing abroad and what to expect.

What You Need to Work in Nursing Internationally

Once you have your MSN and board certification as a nurse practitioner or other advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), you can apply for nursing jobs. Certification for other MSN specialties like educator or informatics is recommended. At a minimum, as an NP or APRN, you will need documentation of your RN license and board certification, as well as a passport.

Whether you apply directly to employers or find work through agencies that provide placement for international nurse practitioner jobs or other MSN-level employment, you may need to send your official transcripts. Just like applying for any other job, you will need to fill out an application, provide references, and participate in an interview. Depending on the location, you may need to show fluency in local languages.

Be sure to research the countries where you want to work. Find out if you’ll like living and working there and can meet all the immigration requirements, including vaccinations.

Government employers have a variety of jobs nursing abroad, but many require being able to get security clearance.

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International Job Opportunities for MSN Graduates

Nursing abroad is a wonderful opportunity to see the world, expand your horizons, and encounter different cultures. These are some of the most popular international nurse practitioner jobs and jobs for other master’s-level roles.

  1. 1

    International Locum Tenens

    As an international locum tenens, you will work in temporary positions, filling the roles of other nurses and nurse practitioners. This kind of nursing abroad job is best if you want to see as many different places or roles as possible. Assignments vary in length from short per diem RN placements to weeks or even months.

    minusSalary Potential: Salaries vary based on the country you’re assigned and what kinds of expenses are covered (such as housing, airfare, or other costs). Typical locum tenens salaries are around 25% higher than a permanent staff salary, sometimes considerably higher.

  2. 2

    Nursing Professor or Educator

    One of the most exciting international nursing job opportunities is teaching. Teaching gives you a more predictable schedule, so you can plan side trips or simply enjoy your leisure time without being on call. You’ll need teaching experience and at least an MSN. Some schools or organizations require a doctorate.

    minusSalary Potential: Salaries vary widely based on the country, demand, and cost of living. In Switzerland, for example, the typical salary is 179,000 CHF (equivalent to about $190,000). In Mexico, the typical salary is 551,000 pesos, or around $27,000.

  3. 3

    Military Nurse

    The United States military is another option for nursing abroad. Military nurses enter with officer rank and need to qualify for minimum security clearance. The military offers great sign-on bonuses and a regular schedule of raises. However, you will not have full control over your placement.

    minusSalary Potential: For an NP, army nurse practitioners typically make $126,590 annually as of April 2022, according to Glassdoor.

  4. 4

    Private Foundation or Nonprofit Nurse

    International foundations and nonprofits offer many opportunities for nursing abroad, usually in developing countries that typically do not have a full healthcare infrastructure. Responsibilities vary based on the organization and location, but they often include formal or informal teaching to help build local capacity.

    minusSalary Potential: Typically, salaries are far lower than other nursing abroad jobs. Some organizations only use volunteers.

  5. 5

    Foreign Service Medical Provider

    The U.S. Department of State is another government employer offering international nurse practitioner jobs and MSN careers around the globe, providing nursing care to Department of State staff. Depending on the setting, you may not have access to full healthcare facilities, and you must be eligible for top-secret clearance.

    minusSalary Potential: According to the U.S. Department of State, a medical provider can make between $100,960-$143,170 as of April 2022.

  6. 6

    Corporate Nursing Jobs

    International medical device or pharmaceutical companies have openings for nursing abroad, either providing care for patients in clinical studies or jobs like health informatics. These jobs tend to have predictable schedules and office hours.

    minusSalary Potential: For an NP, salaries are typically comparable to the U.S. equivalent nurse practitioner salary, a median annual of $111,680.

  7. 7

    U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps

    The Commissioned Corps employs healthcare professionals in nearly every clinical or public health capacity, including international nurse practitioner jobs. Depending on demand, it may not have openings for nursing abroad at any given time.

    minusSalary Potential: For NPs, your salary will depend on your rank equivalent, but it is designed to be equivalent to a civilian nurse practitioner’s salary, a median annual of $111,680. NP salaries at the Corps may include signing bonuses of $30,000.

  8. 8

    Overseas Locations of U.S. Hospitals

    Many major U.S. hospitals, such as the Cleveland Clinic, Harvard, and Mayo Clinic, offer jobs nursing abroad in their international facilities. The advantages of nursing abroad for a domestic hospital include building a professional nursing network that you can use back in the United States and less culture shock.

    minusSalary Potential: As an NP, depending on the location, you can earn around the same as a domestic nurse practitioner’s salary, a median annual of $111,680.

This is just an overview of some typical international nurse practitioner jobs or other master’s-level nursing jobs. There are many more opportunities for nursing abroad at nonprofits, the government, or local hospitals or health systems. There may also be overseas opportunities with insurance companies, technology companies, or research organizations.

What to Expect When Working in Nursing Abroad

Nursing abroad is exciting, an excellent opportunity to get paid to see the world. However, travel is stressful, even while it’s exhilarating, and living out of a suitcase can be exhausting. Even in a nearby country, such as Canada or Mexico, or in one where English is the native language, you can expect varying levels of culture shock.

Make sure to give yourself time to adjust and learn as much as you can about the local culture before you go.

International travel nursing can mean working in a state-of-the-art facility in a glamorous cosmopolitan world capital. It can also mean working with minimal supplies and resources in remote locations.

Nurse practitioners, for example, may also find that there is a different scope of practice, and they may be expected to function outside of (or broader than) the scope allowed in the United States. Talk to other nurses who have worked in the same location to understand the potential limits you might face and how they found solutions.

Nursing Jobs Abroad FAQ

question-mark-circleCan I work internationally as a nurse practitioner?

Yes, many employers offer international nurse practitioner jobs, including the government, nonprofits, international corporations, and local healthcare providers. Different countries and employers have different requirements and might use different terminology, but most recognize United States board certifications.

question-mark-circleWhat countries accept US nurse practitioners?

Virtually every country will accept U.S. nurse practitioners. For most government or nonprofit nursing abroad jobs, or if you are working for a domestic hospital’s overseas branch, you will apply just as though you were applying for a domestic job. For other jobs, the employer or a placement agency provides information on how to apply.

question-mark-circleHow can a nurse work internationally?

Nurse practitioners can work internationally by working for a domestic employer that hires for nursing abroad (such as the government or nonprofits based in the United States). NPs can also find work through an international agency or applying directly for an international nurse practitioner job.

question-mark-circleHow much do travel nurse practitioners make?

Travel nurse practitioners who work as locum tenens or on a per diem basis typically earn a premium over standard salaries. Salaries for domestic employers or in industrialized nations are typically equivalent to the U.S. median annual of $111,680.

Salaries for nonprofits or for jobs in developing countries are generally lower, and some nonprofits only recruit volunteers.

Related Resources

Page last reviewed April 6, 2022

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