7 Steps to get a job in the United Nations

UN Salary Scale, Grades and Contracts


NOTE: This article is updated for the requirements of 2023.

We continue to publish our series of articles concerning UN recruitment.

UN Salary scale is a pretty difficult thing. A lot of international organizations (such as IOM - UN Migration ) linked their salaries with UN Salary Scale. It's calculated individually for every country and even for every city (Capital / non - capital).

UN Salary depends on: 1) Are you, international Staff or National staff. 2) Types of contract (Short term contract, fixed term contract (FTA), temporary appointment (TA) 3) Grade of Contract - level of contract.

There are 4 types of contracts. They are ranged from more attractive to less attractive (such contacts are terminated much easier).

a) Staff members holding a Permanent Appointment (PA);

b) Staff members holding a Continuing Appointment (CA);

c) Staff Members holding a Fixed Term Appointment (FTA);

d) Staff members holding a Temporary Appointment (TA).

TA Contracts from 3 months to more than 1 year. This mentioned in the job announcement. A temporary appointment shall be granted for a period of less than one year to meet seasonal or peak workloads and specific short-term requirements, having an expiration date specified in the letter of appointment. The appointment of a staff member who has served for the maximum period as described in paragraph (a) above may be renewed for up to one additional year

FTA - a fixed-term appointment may be granted for a period of one year or more, up to five years at a time, to persons recruited for service of a prescribed duration, including persons temporarily seconded by national Governments or institutions for service with the United Nations, having an expiration date specified in the letter of appointment. A fixed-term appointment may be renewed for any period up to five years at a time.

CA - A continuing appointment is an open-ended appointment. Staff members recruited in the Professional category upon successful completion of a competitive examination pursuant to staff rule 4.16 shall be granted a continuing appointment after two years on a fixed-term appointment, subject to satisfactory service.

As always local positions held by nationals according to service contract (SC also called in some UN agencies SB or NPSA in UNDP) and general service contracts (GS).

The middle management hold positions of National Officers (NO).

International staff held Professional Positions (P) like Specialist, Officers, Advisors, Expert and so on.

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Let's start with Local Positions.

All staff in the General Service and related categories shall be recruited in the country or within commuting distance of each office, irrespective of their nationality and of the length of time they may have been in the country.

National Professional Officers shall be of the nationality of the country where the office concerned is located.

Local positions may be held an only by national (local) staff.

As I've mentioned before, for local positions is used Grades - General Service (GS or G), Service Contract (WFP), Service Board Contract (SB - UNFPA), Personal Service Agreement (NPSA - UNDP) or National Officers (NO)

General Service contracts - entry positions starting from G-1, G-1 to G-7, G-7 (G - 7 has the highest salary in G, GS category).

After G-7, starting National Officers (NO) - they have 3 grades - NO-A, NO-B, NO-C, NO-D (NO-D has the highest salary)

Sometimes you may find SB grades (for example in UNFPA) Service contracts - SC (for example in WFP) NPSA personal service agreement ( for example in UNDP). Service Board / Service Contract. It is normally only for nationals. They consider as NON-STAFF contracts. Holders of such contacts are NOT appointed under the UN Staff Regulations and Rules. Holders are excluded inter alia from participation in the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund and After-Service Health Insurance, receive minimum leave and sick days. Further, holders shall not be entitled to any additional benefit, payment, subsidy, compensation or entitlement with some exceptions.

When should this be a staff position?

Staff contractual modalities must be used for functions that are of an inherent nature. They are also used for functions of a continuous nature.

When should this be a non-staff position?

If a function is neither of an inherent nature nor a continuous nature, or specifically linked to a project a non-staff position should normally be the default.

Examples of non-staff functions include Project Manager, Project Associate, Project Evaluation Specialist, Technical Adviser etc.

SB-2 is equivalent to G3 - G4 or SC-3 - SC-4
SB-3 is equivalent to G5 - G7 or SC-5 - SC-6
SB-4 is equivalent to NO-A - NO-B or SC-7 - SC-8

Global grades correspondence table

SB-1 equivalent to G1 equivalent to NPSA1 equivalent to SC-1

SB-1 equivalent to G2 equivalent to NPSA2 equivalent to SC-2

SB-2 equivalent to G3 equivalent to NPSA3 equivalent to SC-3

SB-2 equivalent to G4 equivalent to NPSA4 equivalent to SC-4

SB-3 equivalent to G5 equivalent to NPSA5 equivalent to SC-5

SB-3 equivalent to G6 equivalent to NPSA6 equivalent to SC-6

SB-4 equivalent to G7 equivalent to NPSA7 equivalent to SC-7


SB-4 equivalent to NOA equivalent to NPSA8 equivalent to SC-8

SB-5 equivalent to NOB equivalent to NPSA9 equivalent to SC-9

SB-6 equivalent to NOC equivalent to NPSA10 equivalent to SC-10

SB-6 equivalent to NOD equivalent to NPSA11 equivalent to SC-11

N/A equivalent to NOE equivalent to NPSA12 equivalent to SC-12

Professional vs. General Service vs Service Contract: Understanding the Functional Levels

The United Nations employs staff across a range of functional levels, with the two primary categories being Professional and General Service. These categories apply to both staff and non-staff contract modalities, including UN Volunteers (UNVs). Each category serves a distinct purpose and involves different levels of responsibility and qualifications.

General Service Level

The General Service level involves support work that is administrative, clerical, procedural, or operational in nature. This category includes positions that range from transactional or standardized functions to more complex and para-professional tasks that directly support professional staff members. General Service positions often require post-secondary education and technical or administrative training.

Examples of General Service level functions include:

  • Programme Assistant
  • Executive Assistant
  • HR Associate
  • Finance Clerk
  • Driver

Professional Level

The Professional level encompasses roles that demand managerial, conceptual, analytical, evaluative, scientific, and technical expertise. These positions typically require academic qualifications at the university level and, for some roles, additional professional qualifications.

Examples of Professional level functions include:

  • Finance Specialist
  • Project Manager
  • Procurement Specialist
  • Economist
  • Operations Manager
  • Programme Advisor

Understanding the distinctions between Professional and General Service levels is essential when pursuing a career within the United Nations system. Each category offers unique opportunities for growth and development, tailored to an individual's qualifications, skills, and experience.

Pay setting for individuals contracted will be determined on the basis of the following:

a) Level of the responsibility, which can be expressed in five broad bands or ranges:

o First range: SC1-2, representing work in the custodial, maintenance, security, driving, and messenger areas; this would be considered mechanical and physical operations;

o Second range: SC3-4, representing work of a more basic processing support nature covering clerical, secretarial, certain technical functions; this work requires appropriate educational background and relevant work experience;

o Third range: SC5-7 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;

o Fourth range: SC8-9 represents work of an analytical nature requiring basic conceptual comprehension; this work requires an appropriate educational background

and relevant work experience;

o Fifth range: SC10-11 represents work of a conceptual, analytical and advisory nature at the higher professional level related to development, humanitarian and emergency project work that require substantive innovation and may involve some functions that are supervisory in nature to oversee project activities. Qualifications at this level includes a postgraduate degree and relevant experience commensurate with the job.

The SC modality is a non-staff contractual modality which is used by UNDP country offices and regional centres outside of Headquarters only. Individuals hired under the SC modality are hired locally and must be nationals or otherwise legally authorised to work in the country.

Online Salary Calculator for local positions. (try to open this link by Internet Explorer).

📌 How to increase your chances to get a job? ▶️ 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗥𝗲𝗰𝗿𝘂𝗶𝘁𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗚𝘂𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗨𝗡 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗨𝗡𝗗𝗣.

International Positions (P-Staff).

Internationally recruited staff members (P - positions), may include: payment of travel expenses upon initial appointment and on separation for themselves and their spouses and dependent children; relocation shipment; home leave; education grant; and repatriation grant.

P-Staff is expected to take up jobs anywhere in the world.

International Staff middle management positions from P-1 to P-6 (the P-6 is the highest salary and the highest post)
Salary Calculator for international staff (try to open this link by Internet Explorer). So go the abovementioned links - chose, your grade, and contract type, and it's length and you will get the monthly salary.

Calculator for local staff positions.

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