5 Steps to get a job in the United Nations

Staff Categories P1 - P7.

Staff categories and requirements

NOTE: This article is updated for 2024 job requirements.

We started new series of articles about UN staff categories and requirements.

Understanding Staff Categories P1 - P7 in UN Agencies: A Comprehensive Guide

The United Nations (UN) is a complex organization with a diverse workforce spanning across various countries and cultures, dedicated to promoting peace, security, and cooperation worldwide. A critical aspect of its operational success lies in its structured staff categorization, particularly the professional levels ranging from P1 to P7. This article aims to demystify these categories, providing a clear understanding of each and highlighting the qualifications, responsibilities, and career progression within the UN system.

Introduction to UN Staff Categories

The UN employs a broad range of professionals categorized into different levels based on their responsibilities, qualifications, and experience. These categories ensure a global standard across the organization, facilitating a systematic approach to recruitment, placement, and career development. The Professional (P) category is of particular interest, encompassing roles from P1 to P5, contrary to the common misconception of levels up to P7. Let's dive into each of these categories.

These are the different categories of staff at the United Nations:

  • Professional and higher categories (P and D)
  • General Service and related categories (G, TC, S, PIA, LT)
  • National Professional Officers (NO)
  • Field Service (FS)
  • Senior Appointments (SG, DSG, USG, and ASG). At the United Nations, you progress in a category through merit and qualifications. There are, however, restrictions on movement between the different categories.

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International staff International Professional Officers, commonly called "P" staff, are generally recruited to serve abroad for functions that require a high level of functional and managerial skills and involve a supervisory responsibility. P staff is subject to โ€œrotationโ€ i.e. they are assigned to serve in different countries every few years.

Field Service staff, commonly called โ€œFSโ€ staff, referring to the assignment of General Service staff outside their duty station for a limited period of up to two years. Recruitment may take place in the FS category for specialized functions.

Junior Professional Officers, commonly called โ€œJPOโ€ staff, are young professionals appointed to posts funded by donor governments. JPOs are recruited on a Fixed-term Appointment for a period of one year which may be renewed up to a maximum period determined by the donor government (normally two or three years).

National staff National Professional Officers, commonly called "NPO" staff, are recruited at the national level to perform managerial and/or professional functions requiring national knowledge and experience. General Service Staff, commonly called "G" staff, who make up the majority of UNHCR staff, are designated as support staff and are recruited locally. While International Professional staff (P), as well as General Service staff serving at Headquarters in Geneva, are administered by the HR Staff Services/Division of Human Resources Management, the administration of national staff falls under the delegated authority of UNHCR Representatives in the Field.

Professional and higher categories (P and D)

Staff members in the Professional and higher categories (P and D) are normally internationally recruited and are expected to serve at different duty stations throughout their career with the Organization. Openings for professional jobs can be found at all duty stations across the global United Nations Secretariat.

  1. P-1: Entry-level positions requiring a minimum of two years of professional experience. These are typically for young professionals.
  2. P-2: Positions requiring at least three years of professional experience. They are also considered junior or early-career roles.
  3. P-3: Mid-career positions requiring a minimum of five years of professional experience.
  4. P-4: Senior positions that require a minimum of seven years of professional experience. These roles often involve significant responsibility and leadership.
  5. P-5: More senior roles, requiring a minimum of ten years of professional experience. These positions usually involve managing teams or significant projects.
  6. D-1: Director level positions that require extensive professional experience and leadership capabilities. These are senior management roles responsible for overseeing departments or significant areas of work.
  7. D-2: The highest level of director positions, requiring extensive experience in leadership and management. These roles involve directing large departments or critical areas within the UN system.

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What education do I need?

The e-Recruit online submission and/or Personal History form (P.11) signed by the applicant (including electronic signature) is the official document by which HR practitioners will establish the academic qualifications and determine the number of years of relevant working experience for the purposes of selection and recruitment and for the determination of the step and grade of the selected candidate.

Normally, it is required that you have an advanced university degree for professional and director-level positions. It is, however, frequently accepted that if you have a first-level university degree, combined with qualifying work experience, you meet the educational requirements.

Positions in certain job families, including military, civilian police, medical, conference services may have different standards for the minimum educational requirements, which are accordingly reflected in their respective job openings. Positions from job families that require specialized studies, e.g. Medical Doctors, require an advanced university degree, which cannot be substituted by a combination of a first-level university degree and experience. Positions in some other areas, mainly language positions, might require only a first-level university degree for the minimum educational requirements.

What work experience do I need?

Your work experience should be relevant to the job for which you are applying; each job may also have specific requirements, which are specified in the opening. For mid-career and senior-level positions, progressively responsible work experience is required. As you acquire more relevant work experience you can progressively apply for higher positions.

Combined with academic qualifications are the number of years of relevant work experience required for the grade level of the post. Relevant work experience and minimum academic qualifications form the basis for UNDPโ€™s standard of a professional workforce.

The minimum academic standard for all recruitments and selections to Professional and higher level category posts (IP, and National Officer (NO) is normally a completed, advanced university degree (Masters or equivalent, and also inclusive of professional certifications (CPA etc.) and military/police rank equivalents).

Level of Appointment

- P-1/NO-A (ICS-8) (Very rare position)

Masters or Higher + Years of Experience - 0 years

โ€œLicenseโ€ + Years of Experience - 1 year

Bachelors + Years of Experience - 2 years

- P-2/NO-B (ICS-9)

Masters or Higher + Years of Experience - 2 years

โ€œLicenseโ€ + Years of Experience - 3 years

Bachelors + Years of Experience - 4 years

- P-3/NO-C (ICS-10)

Masters or Higher + Years of Experience - 5 years

โ€œLicenseโ€ + Years of Experience - 6 years

Bachelors + Years of Experience - 7 years

- P-4/NO-D (ICS-11)

Masters or Higher + Years of Experience - 7 years

โ€œLicenseโ€ + Years of Experience - 8 years

Bachelors + Years of Experience - 9 years

- P-5 (ICS-12)

Masters or Higher + Years of Experience - 10 years

โ€œLicenseโ€ + Years of Experience - 11 years

Bachelors + Years of Experience - 12 years

- P-6/D-1 (ICS-13)

๐Ÿ“š ๐——๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—›๐—ผ๐˜„ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—š๐—ฒ๐˜ ๐—ฎ ๐—๐—ผ๐—ฏ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—จ๐—ก ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐Ÿฎ๐Ÿฌ๐Ÿฎ๐Ÿฏ! ๐ŸŒ๐Ÿค ๐—ฅ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ฟ ๐—ก๐—˜๐—ช ๐—ฅ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ฟ๐˜‚๐—ถ๐˜๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—š๐˜‚๐—ถ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—จ๐—ก ๐Ÿฎ๐Ÿฌ๐Ÿฎ๐Ÿฏ ๐˜„๐—ถ๐˜๐—ต ๐˜๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜ ๐˜€๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—จ๐—ก๐—›๐—–๐—ฅ, ๐—ช๐—™๐—ฃ, ๐—จ๐—ก๐—œ๐—–๐—˜๐—™, ๐—จ๐—ก๐——๐—ฆ๐—ฆ, ๐—จ๐—ก๐—™๐—ฃ๐—”, ๐—œ๐—ข๐—  ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ผ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€! ๐ŸŒ

โš ๏ธ ๐‚๐ก๐š๐ง๐ ๐ž ๐˜๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐‹๐ข๐Ÿ๐ž ๐๐จ๐ฐ: ๐๐จ๐ฐ๐ž๐ซ๐Ÿ๐ฎ๐ฅ ๐“๐ž๐œ๐ก๐ง๐ข๐ช๐ฎ๐ž๐ฌ ๐ก๐จ๐ฐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ ๐ž๐ญ ๐š ๐ฃ๐จ๐› ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐”๐ง๐ข๐ญ๐ž๐ ๐๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง๐ฌ ๐๐Ž๐–!

Masters or Higher + Years of Experience - 15 years

โ€œLicenseโ€ + Years of Experience - 16 years

Bachelors + Years of Experience - 17 years

- P-7/D-2 (ICS-14)

Masters or Higher + Years of Experience - 15+ years

โ€œLicenseโ€ + Years of Experience - 15+ years

Bachelors + Years of Experience - 15+ years

What if I recently graduated from university and have no relevant work experience?

If you recently graduated from university and you have limited or no work experience, you may qualify to take the young professionals programme recruitment examination(YPP).

What are the 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.

If there are additional language requirements, as may be the case for some language positions, they are specified in the respective job openings.

What kind of jobs are there in the Professional and higher categories?

There is a wide range of jobs in the eight job networks: management and operations support; economic and social development; political, peace and security; information systems and communication technology; legal; public information and external relations; conference management; and safety and security. You can learn more about the different jobs in the section on job networks.

What is the nature of the work in the Professional and higher categories?

Work in the Professional category generally demands a high degree of analytical and communication skills, substantive expertise and/or managerial leadership ability.

Typically, these positions require judgment in analyzing and evaluating problems as well as in decision-making involving discretionary choices between alternative courses of action. They also require the understanding of an organized body of theoretical knowledge at a level equivalent to that represented by a university degree. While this knowledge is customarily and characteristically acquired through formal education, it may, in some fields of learning or specialized disciplines, be acquired through other training, self-study, or practical experience.

Generals service staff categories (GS) G1-G7.

The General Service (GS) category in the United Nations system encompasses positions that provide administrative, secretarial, technical, and support services. Unlike the Professional (P) and Director (D) categories, which require an advanced university degree and are international in recruitment, the GS positions are usually recruited locally and do not mandate a university degree, though specific qualifications can vary depending on the role's requirements.

GS staff perform a wide range of functions that support the daily operations of the United Nations. These roles are essential for the smooth functioning of the organization and include tasks in administration, finance, human resources, information technology, logistics, communication, and many other areas.

The GS category is subdivided into different levels, typically ranging from G-1 to G-7, with each level corresponding to increased responsibilities, required experience, and qualifications:

  • G-1: Entry-level positions requiring minimal work experience.
  • G-2 to G-3: Positions requiring a few years of work experience in administrative or support functions.
  • G-4 to G-5: Roles needing an intermediate level of experience, often involving more specialized tasks.
  • G-6 to G-7: Senior roles within the GS category, requiring extensive experience and capable of performing complex tasks with a high degree of independence.

Salaries for GS staff are typically determined based on the local labor market in the duty station and are intended to be competitive with what is available in the location's job market. In addition to their salary, GS staff may receive benefits such as health insurance, pension plans, and, depending on their duty station, allowances for housing and education for their children.

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The recruitment for GS positions is primarily local, meaning that candidates are usually residents of the country where the job is located. This approach helps the UN benefit from local expertise and knowledge, contributing to the organization's global presence and operational effectiveness.

What do the jobs at the senior professional level entail?

Directors (D-1 and D-2 levels) represent the highest level on the career staffing structure of the Organization. As a Director you manage a programme of the Organization. You are also expected to provide leadership in formulating and implementing the substantive work programme of an office, determine priorities, and allocate resources for the completion of outputs and their timely delivery.

Senior professionals hired for positions at the P-6 and P-7 level typically work as senior advisers or experts, bringing several years of analytical and research experience to the United Nations.


The Professional categories in UN agencies represent a structured pathway for career development within the organization. Understanding these categories helps aspiring candidates and current employees navigate their career options within the UN system. With its commitment to global peace, security, and development, the UN continues to be an attractive employer for professionals around the world looking to make a difference.


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