United Nations Staff Categories

May 2018

UNFPA uses the personnel categories employed across the United Nations system. Within each category, there are different levels, which reflect increasing levels of responsibilities and requirements. The information in this section will help you decide which personnel category, and what level, you fit into. This will be useful when you start searching and applying for jobs.

Broadly speaking, there are three distinct staff categories for personnel at UNFPA, and in the UN system as a whole. Click on the categories below for more information:

Professional (P) and Director (D) staff
General Service (G) staff
National Professional  Officers (NO)

There are also other kinds of employment and opportunities at UNFPA and in the UN. These are not necessarily staff positions, but they are roles that support UNFPA's work around the world. Click below to learn more:

Temporary staff (also called Temporary Appointments)
Consultants
Interns
United Nations Volunteers
Junior Professional Officer
Service contract holders

Click here to learn about UNFPA’s language requirements.

Professional and Director-level staff

What are Professional (P) and Director (D) positions?

P and D positions require strong analytical and communication skills, substantial experience and, often, solid leadership ability. There are a variety of jobs within this categories, ranging from programme specialists and operations experts to communications specialists, information systems professionals, and many others. These positions are normally internationally recruited.

Directors represent the highest level on UNFPA’s career staffing structure. As a Director, you’re expected to manage a team, determine priorities and allocate resources for an entire office or unit.

What is UNFPA looking for in a candidate for a P or D position?

We are looking for someone who is first and foremost absolutely committed to UNFPA's mandate!

In addition to technical expertise, which varies by position, we want a strategic thinker who achieves results, an excellent communicator who is a full-time advocate for the organization, and a team player who embraces the tremendous diversity of our workforce.

What education and work experience do I need for P or D positions?

Generally, we require that you have an advanced university degree for P- and D-level positions.

These are the work experience requirements for each level:
P1 - No work experience required
P2 - Minimum of 2 years of work experience
P3 - Minimum of 5 years of work experience
P4 - Minimum of 7 years of work experience
P5 - Minimum of 10 years of work experience
D1 - Minimum of 15 years of work experience
D2 - More than 15 years of work experience

Why are personnel in the P and D categories considered international staff?

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. 

General Service staff

What are General Service (G) positions?

General Service roles include administrative, secretarial and clerical support as well as specialized positions such as building maintenance. These positions are crucial the smooth operation of the organization as a whole. The higher the level of the job, the more complex the functions become.

What is UNFPA looking for in a candidate for a G position?

Because General Service staff support the functioning of UNFPA, we are looking for candidates who achieve results in operational, procedural and technical capacities.

A commitment to making UNFPA successful is essential! We want someone who is analytical and can handle routine to complex tasks with dedication.

We also want an excellent teammate who embraces diversity and is eager to provide creative ideas for improving UNFPA processes.

What education and work experience do I need for General Service (G) category positions?

Completion of secondary (high school) education is a requirement.

These are the work experience requirements for each level:
G1 - No work experience required
G2 - Minimum of 2 years of work experience
G3 - Minimum of 3 years of work experience
G4 - Minimum of 4 years of work experience
G5 - Minimum of 5 years of work experience
G6 - Minimum of 6 years of work experience
G7 - Minimum of 7 years of work experience

Who is eligible to be considered for a G position?

General Service personnel are recruited locally from the area in which a 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.

National Professional Officers

What are National Professional Officer (NO) positions?

NO roles are similar to Professional (P) roles, but they are normally locally recruited, meaning these staff are recruited to work at a duty station in their home country.

NO positions usually 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.

What education and work experience do I need for National Professional Officer (NO) category positions?

Normally, it is required that you have an advanced university degree for the National Officer level positions.

These are the work experience requirements for each level:
NOA - No work experience required
NOB - Minimum of 2 years of work experience
NOC - Minimum of 5 years of work experience
NOD - Minimum of 7 years of work experience

Temporary staff

UNFPA hires temporary staff internationally and locally 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. Due to the short-term nature of the engagement, staff on temporary positions do not receive the full benefits package received by our regular staff. International temporary positions are normally advertised through e-Recruit. Local positions are often advertised locally. 

Individual consultants

People are occasionally retained by UNFPA as individual consultants to provide specialized non-staff related functions required by UNFPA on a short-term or intermittent basis to meet a particular requirement. Due to the widely varying needs met by these types of assignments, the means of sourcing individual consultants and the related terms and conditions will vary as appropriate. Some consultancies are posted at unfpa.org/jobs. Others are posted at the country level. Potential candidates may also apply to UNFPA's consultant roster. See more here.

Internship programme

The UNFPA Internship Programme offers a small group of outstanding students the opportunity to acquire direct exposure to UNFPA operations. It is designed to complement development oriented studies with practical experience in various aspects of UNFPA work. Applicants should have an interest in the field of development; ability to adapt to new environments and work with individuals from different cultural backgrounds. Interns work under the supervision of a staff member at UNFPA. The background of the interns is matched with the needs of the organization. See more here.

Qualifying for an Internship

Candidates for the internship programme are selected on a competitive basis. The profiles of the interns are matched with the needs of the organization. Applicants should be enrolled in a degree programme at an accredited university or in a similar educational programme. Applicants must have written and spoken proficiency in English; fluency in French, Spanish or Arabic is an asset.

Financial Aspects

Interns do not receive any remuneration from UNFPA. The costs associated with participation in the programme must be assumed either by the nominating institution (which may provide financial assistance to its students) or by the students themselves, who will have to meet living expenses as well as make their own arrangements for accommodation, travel and other requirements. In addition, applicants must have medical insurance for the duration of the internship. Proof of insurance will need to be submitted before the internship begins.

Application Procedure

Applicants interested in participating in UNFPA’s Internship Programme at Headquarters in New York should apply through e-Recruit. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. For information about internships outside headquarters, please contact the relevant UNFPA office.

United Nations Volunteer Programme

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme promotes volunteerism to support peace and development worldwide. The UNV programme partners with governments and with UN, non-profit and private sector organizations in order to support development programmes. The UNV programme identifies and engages professionals who can deliver services and fulfill a wide range of specialised tasks to work as United Nations Volunteers.

UNFPA is one of the UN partners which utilizes the services of United Nations Volunteers engaged by the UNV programme to help deliver its mandate.

For more information: If you are interested in learning more about the UNV programme please go UNV’s website (www.unv.org) to see what kind of opportunities are available and to find details on how to apply. 

Junior Professional Officer

UNFPA also participates in the Junior Professional Officer (JPO) programme. JPOs are sponsored by their government (or in some limited cases a JPO programme-participating government may sponsor a small number of developing country nationals).

The purpose of the JPO programme is to provide young people (normally under 32 years of age) who want to pursue a career in development assistance with professional experience within the United Nations system.

Click here for more information.

Service contract holders

UNFPA sometimes engages personnel in its field locations as non-staff service contract holders. Service contract holders are often not located in a UNFPA office but with an implementing partner. Service contracts are issued in increments from 6 months up to one year.

Service contract holders must be nationals of, or hold a work permit in, the country of employment. Typically, they work in support of the project activities of implementing partners, provide a government with additional personnel with technical or operational skills, or support functions that would normally be outsourced to a company (e.g., janitor, gardener). 

There are five types of service contracts:

SB1 - This represents work in the custodial, maintenance, security, driving and messenger areas; this is considered mechanical and physical operations.
SB2 - This represents work of a more basic processing, support nature, including clerical and secretarial work as well as certain technical functions; this work requires appropriate educational background and relevant work experience.
SB3 - This represents work of a specialized and comprehensive support nature, progressing to integrated execution at the higher level; this work requires appropriate educational background and relevant work experience.
SB4 - This represents work of an analytical nature, requiring basic conceptual comprehension; this work requires appropriate educational background and relevant work experience. 
SB5 - This represents work of a conceptual, analytical and advisory nature at the higher professional level, related to development, humanitarian and emergency project work that requires substantive innovation and may involve functions that are supervisory in nature to oversee project activities. Qualifications at this level include a postgraduate degree and relevant experience commensurate with the job. 

Service contracts are often advertised locally. For more information contact the UNFPA office in your area. 

Language requirements

What languages do I need to know to be considered for a job at UNFPA?

An excellent command of English is required to work at UNFPA. In rare cases, a working knowledge of English and fluency in the language of the duty station is sufficient. Language requirements will always be indicated in the job description for a position.

The official languages of the United Nations are: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Knowing languages in addition to the job description requirements is considered an asset.