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Examinations for Translators

Candidates for translator posts must take the corresponding competitive examination in their main language, which is normally the language in which the candidates did their higher education studies. Please note that the information on this page is for English translators/précis-writers only. For information about the recruitment of translators who work into another official language, please switch to the version of this website in that language.

A first-level degree from a university or institution of equivalent status is a requirement for employment for all United Nations translators. Many, but not all, United Nations translators also have a degree from an accredited school of translation. The ability to translate into English from at least two of the other official languages (i.e. two of Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish) is essential.

The written examination for English translators/précis-writers usually consists of:

  1. A translation into English of a general text in one of the official languages of the United Nations (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish) (two hours). This paper is eliminatory. Only candidates who are successful in this paper will have their other papers marked.
  2. A translation into English of another general text in an official language other than the one chosen for the first paper (one and a half hours).
  3. A summary in English of the text of a statement delivered in an official language other than English (one and a half hours).
  4. A translation into English of a specialized text (economic, legal or possibly scientific/technical) in an official language other than English (one and a half hours).

Those who pass the written examination are convoked to a competency-based interview.

Please note that the content and format of the examination, as well as eligibility requirements and instructions on how to apply, may vary from one examination session to the next. Applicants should therefore check the corresponding examination notices carefully in order to be duly prepared.