8 ways to start a career in the UN. Tips from the director of the UN information center in Vienna.

«You will apply many times and you will be knocked back many times. You need to have determination and passion».

Martin Nesirky — Director, The United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna

There are 8 variants of getting into the UN system (8 categories):

  • Regular Staff
  • Temporary staff
  • Young Professionals Program
  • Language Competitive Examination
  • UN Volunteers
  • Interns
  • Associate Experts
  • Consultants

Regular Staff

It is 41 thousand people working all over the world — from New York to Seoul:

  • Professionals and directors (P & D categories)
  • Administrative Officers (G, General Service)
  • Local Officers (National Officers)
  • Employees “in the field” (Field Service)
  • Senior positions (SG, DSG, USG)

Any of the permanent posts assumes that you have several years of experience behind you, in many cases several diplomas and knowledge of several languages. In some cases, the requirements are less — for example, for local and administrative employees, but even these positions it is not so easy to get.

Read more details on official website.

Temporary staff

Temporary vacancies in the UN are for those who are thinking about career change, are not ready to sign a permanent contract and are not yet sure that they would like to build a career in the UN. Temporary contracts are limited to a year and are designed to attract already experienced candidates.

Read more details on official website.

Young Professionals Program

This scheme of recruitment of young employees in the UN implies the passage of a long selection process, according to which you can be offered a P-1 or P-2 position (initial professional positions). This is one of the most direct ways to start a career in an organization, but there are a lot of restrictions.

Important — only citizens of countries that are poorly represented in the UN can participate in it. In addition, every year the number of professional areas in which the competition is held is reduced.

Read more details on official website.

Language Competitive Examination

Program for translators and editors. In order to become an interpreter at the UN, you need to know perfectly 3 of the 6 official languages of the UN — Russian, English, French, Spanish, Chinese or Arabic, and have the opportunity to work with the German language. The selection process consists of three stages: an application, a written and an oral test. If you become a finalist, you get into the roster, where you can then apply for P-1 and P-2 positions in the UN around the world.

Read more details on official website


In the UN there are two programs for volunteers: UN Volunteers (from 25 years) and UN Youth Volunteers (from 18 to 29 years). For the first you need to have a diploma, 2 years of experience and speak English, French or Spanish. For the youth program, the requirements depend on specific vacancies, but, as a rule, experience and diploma are not required. There is an opportunity to become a volunteer in your country, for example, if you are from Kazakhstan. Volunteers, unlike trainees, receive a monthly payment, which is enough for daily expenses, accommodation and transport.

Read more details on official website.


The opportunity to try yourself in any field of activity in UN offices around the world, including at the headquarters in New York. Two huge BUT: the program is not paid and employment right after the internship is prohibited by the rules of the organization. However, if you have the financial means — it’s a great way to make extremely useful acquaintances and get to know the work of the UN from the inside.

Associate Experts

The program of joining the UN system is for those who have a master’s degree or above, 2 years of work experience and knowledge of English or French. This program is sponsored by the UN member countries.

Read more details on official website.


To fulfill specific, temporary tasks, the UN can hire consultants who work on individual contracts. Requirements for candidates are very different, but, as a rule, these are positions for professionals with work experience.

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December 2023