Staff Categories P1 - P7.
Staff categories and requirements
NOTE: This article is updated for 2021 job requirements.
We started new series of articles about UN staff categories and requirements.
The United Nations workforce is made up of different categories of staff. Within each category, there are different levels, which reflect increasing levels of responsibilities and requirements. The information in this section will help you decide in which staff category, and at what level, you fit in. This will be useful when you start searching and applying for jobs.
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.
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 “rotation” i.e. they are assigned to serve in different countries every few years.
Field Service staff, commonly called “FS” 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 “JPO” 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.
1) 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.
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 UNDP’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
“License” + 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
“License” + 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
“License” + 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
“License” + Years of Experience - 8 years
Bachelors + Years of Experience - 9 years
- P-5 (ICS-12)
Masters or Higher + Years of Experience - 10 years
“License” + Years of Experience - 11 years
Bachelors + Years of Experience - 12 years
- P-6/D-1 (ICS-13)
Masters or Higher + Years of Experience - 15 years
“License” + 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
“License” + 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.
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.