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What kinds of language jobs are available at the UN?

The United Nations Secretariat recruits a variety of language staff, including translators, interpreters, editors, verbatim reporters, copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors, terminologists and reference assistants. These specialist fields cover the Organization’s six official languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish).

Why work with us?

UN language staff come from all over the globe and make up a uniquely diverse multilingual community. What unites them is the pursuit of excellence in their respective areas, the excitement of being at the forefront of international affairs and the desire to contribute to the realization of the purposes of the United Nations, as outlined in the Charter, by facilitating communication among Member States.

UN language staff also draw their motivation from continuous learning opportunities — in terms of languages, subject areas and technologies — as the agenda of the United Nations expands, and information and communication technologies increasingly support language professions.

Over time, language staff may change roles, units or duty stations.

How to become a UN language professional?

Language staff are recruited mainly through Language Competitive Examinations (LCEs), which are held on average once every two or three years in each language and occupational group (specialist field). The examination announcements are posted on the United Nations Careers portal a few months beforehand, together with information on eligibility requirements and how to apply.

The purpose of the examinations is to establish a roster of successful candidates from which to fill present and future vacancies for language positions at United Nations Headquarters in New York, its offices in Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna, and the regional commissions in Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Beirut, Geneva and Santiago.

The UN Secretariat is also interested in expanding its pool of qualified contractual translators and freelance interpreters. Requirements to serve as a contractual translator or freelance interpreter vary across duty stations and services. Tests may be performed on an as-needed basis by each section/service to assess applicants’ ability to consistently meet the UN standards. Many candidates rostered as a result of successfully passing the LCEs and former interns often start their careers at the UN by serving as contractual translators or freelance interpreters.

For more information: consult this website and the Language Competitive Examinations page of the United Nations Careers portal.