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UN Staff Members

The UN workforce is made up of different categories of staff. Each category also has different levels, which reflect increasing levels of responsibilities and requirements as staff members progress in a category through merit and qualifications. There are, however, restrictions on movement between the different categories.

The UN staff categories are:

  • Professional and higher categories
  • General Service and related categories
  • National Professional Officers
  • Field Service categories
  • Senior Appointments

The detailed description of each of the categories is provided below.

UN Staff Members – Professional and higher categories (P and D)

Professional staff, commonly called “P” staff, generally recruited to serve internationally for functions which require strong analytical and communication skills, substantive expertise and, often, managerial leadership ability. There is a variety of jobs within this category, ranging from programme specialists and operations experts to communications specialists, information systems professionals, and many others.

Directors category, normally referred to as “D”, represent the highest level on the career staffing structure of the UN. They manage a team, determine priorities and allocate resources for an entire office or unit.

Levels and Work Experience Requirements

Levels for Professional and higher categories and the corresponding work experience requirements are as follows:

Entry level professionals:

  • P-1 (mostly eliminated in the UN system) – all permanent positions are filled through the UN Young Professionals Programme which does not require any work experience
  • P-2 – all permanent positions are filled through the UN Young Professionals Programme which does not require any work experience, temporary positions require a minimum of 2 years of work experience
  • P-3 – require a minimum of 5 years of work experience

Mid-level professionals

  • P-4 – require a minimum of 7 years of work experience
  • P-5 – require a minimum of 10 years of work experience

Senior level professionals

  • P-6/D-1 require a minimum of  15 years of work experience
  • P-7/D-2 require over 15 years of work experience

Education Requirements

Candidates for P- and D-level positions are generally required to have an advanced university degree. However, it is frequently accepted that if you have a first-level university degree, combined with additional qualifying work experience, you meet the educational requirements.

Language Requirements

There are six official languages at the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Two of these, English and French, are the working languages. To work for the United Nations you need to have an excellent command of either English or French. Knowledge of an additional language is an asset but is not required for most jobs. Language requirements will always be indicated in the job description for a position.

Location/Nationality Requirements

Personnel in these categories are normally internationally recruited, meaning that they are hired to work at an office (duty station) outside of their home country. You can expect to serve at different duty stations around the world over the course of your career.

For headquarters and regional office posts, all nationalities are welcome to apply. For the UN Young Professionals Programme, you should be a national of one of the participating countries to apply. The list of countries is changed on an annual basis and is announced in May.

How to Apply

There are two options to get a job in the Professional category at the United Nations: you may participate in a recruitment program, or directly apply to the posted vacancies in Inspira.

Recruitment programs in the UN System are designed to attract talented, highly qualified professionals to start a career as an international civil servant. These hiring programs mostly do not require any prior work experience but have specific requirements on candidates’ age, education, and nationality. The most well known is the UN Young Professionals Programme (YPP), however, there are over two dozens of recruitment initiatives of this kind held by various UN Agencies.  To help you explore the variety of hiring opportunities and find the right one to apply, we have developed a job guide “21 Recruitment Programs to Get a Job in the United Nations”.

Get the Job Guide

If you are a young professional, your chances of getting a job through a UN recruitement program are higher than if you apply directly to the job openings in Inspira, as your opportunities are quite limited. Permanent vacancies for entry-level positions (P-1, P-2) are filled only with the successful candidates of the recruitment program. As an external candidate, you may only apply for temporary appointments for these positions, which are very few and are short-term in nature. Through temporary appointments the UN hires professionals for limited periods to perform staff functions for which there is no ongoing, long-term need, for example, to replace a staff member on extended leave or to work on a project.

Another possible alternative to land a job in a Professional category is to build your experience through UN Consultancies or even outside of the Organisation and apply for P-3 (or higher) positions when you have obtained the required number of years of work experience. However, you need to be aware that Staff Members working at the UN on a lower level position in the Professional category will also be applying and competing for these posts.

UN Staff Members – General Service and related categories (G, TC, S, PIA, LT)

General Service, or “G” staff roles include administrative, secretarial and clerical support as well as specialised positions such as printing, security and buildings maintenance. These positions are recruited locally and are crucial for the smooth operation of the organization as a whole. The higher the level of the job, the more complex the functions become.

Levels and Work Experience Requirements

Levels for General Service and related categories and the corresponding work experience requirements are as follows:

  • G1 – no work experience required
  • G2 – require a minimum of 2 years of work experience
  • G3 – require a minimum of 3 years of work experience
  • G4 – require a minimum of 4 years of work experience
  • G5 – require a minimum of 5 years of work experience
  • G6 – require a minimum of 6 years of work experience
  • G7 – require a minimum of 7 years of work experience

Education Requirements

Candidates are required to have a minimum a completed secondary (high school) education.

Language Requirements

Language requirements for G- staff depend on the job and the location of the office. Most jobs require fluency in one of the two working languages, English or French.

Location/Nationality Requirements

General Service personnel are recruited locally from the area in which an office/duty station is located. They can be of any nationality but should be legally permitted to work in the country where the office/duty station is located.

How to Apply

Candidates interested in building a career in the General Service category are invited to browse the vacancies in Inspira and apply for those which match your interests and qualifications.

UN Staff Members – National Professional Officers (NO)

National Professional Officers, commonly called “NO” staff roles are similar to Professional (P) roles, but they are locally recruited, meaning these staff are recruited to work at a duty station in their home country. Their functions must have a national context, i.e. functions that require national experience or knowledge of the national language, culture, institutions, and systems. Jobs for National Professional Officers can only be found in non-headquarters duty stations.

Levels and Work Experience Requirements

Levels for National Professional Officers category and the corresponding work experience requirements are as follows:

  • NOA – require a minimum of 1 to 2 years of work experience
  • NOB – require a minimum of 2 to 3 years of work experience
  • NOC – require a minimum of 5 years of work experience
  • NOD – require a minimum of 7 years of work experience
  • NOE – require over 7 years of work experience

Education Requirements

It is required that candidates have at least a first-level university degree to apply for the National Officer level positions.

Language Requirements

Language requirements for G- staff depend on the job and the location of the office. Most jobs require fluency in one of the two working languages, English or French.

Location/Nationality Requirements

Employees for National Professional Officers positions are locally recruited, meaning that the staff is recruited to work at a duty station in their home country. Jobs for this category can only be found in non-headquarters duty stations.

How to Apply

Job openings for National Professional Officer positions are normally advertised on the specific websites of the UN Agencies operating in your country.

UN Staff Members – Field Service categories (FS)

Field Service, or “FS” staff members provide administrative, technical, logistics and other support services to United Nations field missions.

Levels and Work Experience Requirements

Levels for FS category and the corresponding work experience requirements are as follows:

  • FS-4 – require a minimum of 6 years of work experience
  • FS-5 – require a minimum of 8 years of work experience
  • FS-6 – require a minimum of 10 years of work experience (for candidates who possess a first-level university degree, a minimum of 5 years of experience is required)
  • FS-7 – require a minimum of 12 years of work experience (for candidates who possess a first-level university degree, a minimum of 7 years of experience is required)

Education Requirements

Candidates are required to have a minimum a completed secondary (high school) education.

Language Requirements

Language requirements for G- staff depend on the job and the location of the office. Most jobs require fluency in one of the two working languages, English or French.

Location/Nationality Requirements

Staff in the Field Service category are recruited internationally to serve in field missions. You are expected to be highly mobile and to serve in different locations during your career.

How to Apply

Field Service category job openings are a posted in Inspira, candidates are welcome to submit an application for those vacancies which match your interests and qualifications.

UN Staff Members – Senior Appointments (SG, DSG, USG, ASG)

This category includes Secretary-General, Deputy Secretary-General, Under-Secretary-General (USG), Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) which are appointed by the responsible authorities.