Contract Types and Job Grades in the UN System

This post is an update to an older post on UN Contract Types that I did before the UN implemented the contractual reform so with the contractual reform almost completed it is time for an update. As usual, please note my disclaimer: I can’t speak for the UN and if you would like to know the details about a contract, please contact the organization you are interested in directly. Also, if there is something you feel is incorrect, please drop me a comment and I will update this post.

Contract Types
The contractual reform in the UN system cut back on many different contract types. But the UN still knows different contract types and the distinction between staff contracts and non-staff contracts still exists. So let’s start with the Staff Contracts:

Continuous Appointment (CA)
As far as I know Continuous Appointment (CA) contracts are not implemented in all UN organisations yet. The contract is running continuously.

Fixed Term Appointment (FTA)
The most common “regular” staff contract are the Fixed Term Appointments (FTA). These are the jobs that you will find in a lot of places in the system. The duration of Fixed Term Appointment (FTA) contracts is usually a year or two. Even though FTAs do not carry any expectation for renewal there is no limit and/or break in service in case the organization decides to extent an FTA.

Temporary Appointment (TA)
Temporary staff contracts for up to a year minus one day of duration are Temporary Appointment contracts. This contract type may be closest to what used to be  “Assignment for limited durations (ALD)” or “Temporary Fixed Term (TFT)” but is strictly limited in terms of duration (both ALDs and TFTs don’t exist any longer). Temporary Appointments carry a “break in service” blackout period to prevent a series of TA contracts.

Non-staff and Consultant Contracts
In the non-staff or consultant category things get complicated. First of all there is a very wide variety of contracts available. These contracts are typically called “Consultant Contract”, “Special Service Agreement (SSA)”, “Individual Contractor (IC)” or “Individual Contractor Agreement (ICA)”. The conditions for these contracts can be quite different from organization to organization. Also more and more organizations see these non-staff contracts not as HR contracts but administer these under the organizations procurement rules. Typically these contracts carry very few employee benefits. Consultant contracts are either time-bound or per deliverable and often short-term. Many organizations do have break in service rules to prevent continuous employment on non-staff contracts but all of the non-staff contracts carry benefits since allow for more flexibility than staff contracts.

Contract Levels
Within all these contracts different job grades (sometimes also called levels) exist. The International Civil Service Commission defined grades from ICS-1 to ICS-14 (let’s end at ICS-14 for simplicity reasons). And within these levels there are two big categories. The first is the General Services category up to ICS-7 and then the Professional category usually starting at ICS-8. General Services Jobs often times don’t require a Master’s degree whereas jobs in the Professional grades often require a Master’s degree (UPDATE: Also see comment below).
General Service jobs are national jobs which means that these jobs are usually reserved for nationals of the country the jobs are located in. Professional category jobs can be international and national. National jobs are often times called “National Officer” (NO). If you are on a national contract you can expect to stay in the country and you will not be required to move. If you are on an international contract you can be re-assigned to any other place in this world, a fact that is sometimes forgotten about and that can lead to conflict if an organization actually tries to re-assign internationals.

In terms of what job grade to apply to within your area of expertise I would strongly recommend reading the job vacancy very carefully. Please make sure that you satisfy all the requirements and assume that there are thorough checks. So if you are required to speak French for a job and you don’t speak French it’s not a good idea to apply. The same thing can be said for years of experience. If a job requires 7 years of experience, there is usually no way around that requirement. To give you an idea of what you should aspire to, let’s look at the example of International Professional jobs. These jobs are often following a logic where a P1 (ICS-8) does not require much of expertise experience (but these jobs practically don’t exist any longer), P2 (ICS-9) require 2 to 3 years of experience, P3 (ICS-10) 5 years, P4 (ICS-11) 7 years and so on. How years of experience are counted may vary, too. Some organizations say that you need to have the years of expertise after your master’s other organizations require relevant expertise which also can be before your master’s but needs to be relevant to your job.

For an overview over what the level and the contract type equivalents roughly are please check out the UN Job List Search page (scroll down). To estimate what your Salary could look like you can use the UNDP Salary Calculator.

UPDATE 30-Sep-17: Do you have any question on this? Discuss that in the FORUM

188 responses

  1. Hi there..

    I have noticed that especially UNOPS has posted some vacancies with the post-level IICA-1. I this in the same category as the Individual Contractor Agreement or?

    Thanks ..


  2. “… whereas jobs in the Professional grades require a Master’s degree.”

    This is not 100 % correct. E.g. this P2/ICS-9 which only requires a Bachelor degree: [PDF]

    I also know of P3 positions that requires a Master’s but where a Bachelor’s degree is accepted together with more relevant work experience.

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  4. good morning all,
    i would like to know more about internship program in UN. if you can help , i`ll be very glad.


  5. Very helpful and straight to the point in general ENGLISH from UN jargon- thank you!
    Will recommend to friends looking to work with the UN

  6. Hi Sebasitan, you are really doing a big favore for all of us who are interested to know more about UN jobs..
    i would like to know that to get a job in any Un organisation do they have certain age of people to selected for any job…if so what is the limited age to apply ,from which age till which age they accept people…


  7. What is the maximum age for appointment in the United Nations. Is it possible for retirees of AGE 62 – 65 TO FIND A JOB IN un

    • I’m not exactly sure about the cut-off age. I’m sure the ICSC would know more. But I know that only applies to staff contracts. If you go for a consultant contract you should be able to apply no matter what your age is. Good luck!

      • Dear Sebastian and Ibrahim,

        The retirement age for people already in the system is 62 and for new recruits it is 65. Usually for competitive jobs up to the D1 level the retirement age is 65. People older than that can get appointed but only for high-level political appointments like those at the Assistant Secretary-General and Under Secretary-General levels such as SRSGs and DSRSGs.

        Thanks for sending us UN job alerts, Sebastian!

        Best regards,


  8. Thanks for this very useful job listings and posts. Can anyone tell me what ‘job family’ (as per the UN application form) OIOS fall into? It is not clear from their job advert or the application form. Many thanks.

  9. I would like to know if the world bank and/or the world bank group (including the PFD) has similar benefits package as the un system …ie education grant, pension etc…

  10. Hi. There is a vacancy, coded VA/2011/LCO/BRA/003, a P-4 position. When it says Fixed Term it will usually really be over after the period or it could lead to a long career in the UN system? Thanks for your attention.

    • Hi Daniel,

      Fixed terms means without expectation of renewal. However, many many times (almost always?) if there are funds you are good to go after that contract period ends. Typically Fixed Term jobs are very good in terms of job security. So while they are not guaranteed you should have more than enough time to adjust if anything happens. – good luck!

  11. Can any one tell me what are the salary range of SB 3 under UNFPA project. This will be helpful if calculation comes from Asian region. I am from Bangladesh.

  12. what is the difference between p1 to p5 and other appointments in terms of contract, package, nature of work, qualification and experience.

  13. dear sir maam helo i am willy styns from belgium for a while i am recieving email from a certain mr a. m. westbank london saying he has an atm card for me worth 7.4 milion us dollar i told me the money comes from united nations can you please find out for me if this is a scam thanks in advance sincerely willy styns belgium

  14. I’m currently working with UN Agency on GS5 level since 2010, april and I hold a Bachelor Degree. As I need to grow in the UN system, have I chance to become an UN Staff on the International level as i started as GS because think I will not get required experience for desired post???

    • There is a chance, but it’s not easy: Check with your HR focal point to figure out the exact requirements you need for a IP job: Typically a Bachelor and some 10 years of relevant experience are sufficient. I also know of people who completed a Master’s while working in a GS post and then applied to an IP post. But it is not an easy ride and as a word of caution for people who read this here – I would not recommend it as an entry into the UN system.

  15. Hi, It will be convinent for us if the organisation show the criteria requirement for each post.Thank you,garab.

  16. Dear Sabastian,

    I see one more type of classification. Individual Contract Agreement (ICA) what is this equivalent to?

    best regards,

  17. Can you tell me how long it takes UNOPS recruitment team to respond once application is submitted. I applied for the job about a month ago I am wondering if there is still chance for me? or I have not been included in short listed candidates?

  18. Hi Sebastian,
    thank you very much for maintaining this website. I find it really useful. I have a question, though. Where do jobs classified as “L-” fit in? Today I saw a job classified as L-3. Is that similar to P-3?

  19. Hi.
    How much should be the remuneration (salary+benefits) of a contract IICA in Juba, Sudan?


  20. Hi Sebastian,

    first of all thanks for the precious information. I am a Master student in inetrnational relations and I havE already done two internships within the United Nations (at UNESCO and UN Women). However, now that i am searching a proper job within the UN (not an unpaid internship)I have some difficulties because as i can see the UN only employs people with at least 1/2 years of working experience. Do you have any hints to how to cover this “gap”? are there some special UN Programs for fresh graduates? Thanks so much

    • Look up the UN YPP programme. It’s the competitive examination for recent graduates. It’s opened geographically and according to staff needs so each year they are looking for different nationalities with different skills.

  21. Hi bloggers

    Just wondering if anyone knows what an ICA Level 6 local salary in Copenhagen amounts to and how it would be taxed!

    Many thanks.

  22. Hi,Sebastian.

    What is the different btw SC5 and GL5 is this the same while they Agencies pronounced differently?

    Blacky From Somalia

  23. The hints I found on this site is highly helpful and commendable. This is a great service to the entire world. I give kudos to your team.
    Please I found some interesting vacancies and wish to apply for them, kindly educate me on how to apply for the jobs.
    Thank you.

    • I find your website very innovative and helpful. God bless your team immensely for this.
      I am 58, a private legal practitioner with 27 years in general legal practice in Nigeria. I need a UN job that suits my age and qualifications. How do I go about this.

  24. Hi Seb,
    thank you for all your info.
    One question, does the UN consider part of the Ph.D. as years of experience?
    Many thanks in advance for your answer,

    • Hi there,

      tricky to say. I think some HR departments do, some don’t. I would try to have it count by making sure that you don’t just write “Ph. D.” but outline how the work you have been doing while working on your Ph. D. was a relevant experience for your professional development.

      Good luck!

  25. Hi,
    Thank you for this site.
    My question concerns the people with various disabilities.
    Do the UN bodies take people with disabilities to work with them?
    I am a Physically disabled lady and i have a degree in social sciences, i have been working since the year 1995.Do i still have a chance to work in the UN. I would love to work with UN. thank you.

    • Thanks Rose! As far as I know (and keep in mind I’m NOT speaking on behalf of the UN) the UN takes anyone who passes the tests / interviews (regardless of disability, gender, nationality, religion or age). So I would definitely encourage you to apply.

  26. I want to know if they hire qualified professional U.S. citizens? If so, how many has the ICC employed?

    • First, I’m NOT the UN so I can’t give you any authoritative answer on this question. Secondly, as far as I know the UN does not discriminate on gender, age, sex, race or nationality thus I would assume that qualified US citizens server in all UN bodies. I have no idea about the number of US citizens in the ICC. Maybe the State Department can help you with your request?

  27. Hi

    First of all, Thanks for all the information you post!

    I applied for a position in UN WOMEN some days ago and, now that they have done changes in their system, I can’t find how to go back to my profile…




    • Honestly, I don’t know. I would assume that all is good but if you want to be sure, just submit your application one more time. If you received a message indicating that your application has been received, all should be good.

  28. Hi,
    I appreciate the information on this site.
    I a new interest and wish to work with UN in Papua New Guinea. I search for vacancies. Where should I apply to for an opportunity?
    I have a teaching background and wish to be in training & development section.Now studying for MA in Training/development.


  29. Hi Sebastian,

    I am graduated in Commerce (B.Com) from India, presently working in Sudan. I have 7yrs 9 months experience in Administration in an Automobile company. I am interested in working with UN and NGO’s. my question is whether my experience from a commercial industry be considered in getting jobs in UN/ NGO’s?

    2) Is it necessary to write the UN tests?

    Kindly help.

    Warm Regards


    • Hi there,

      keep in mind I’m not speaking on behalf of the UN. But in my experience, what counts is RELEVANT experience. That relevancy could of course also come from the private sector (if you worked in a similar field). I would make sure that you explain in your application how your experience is relevant to what you apply for. Good luck!

  30. thank u for send job list,my dreams are will i ever work with in body.i hope yes 2012.

  31. Hi,
    when you repeat relevant what do you really mean, for relevance is relativity, I think it is away of keeeping people out. Just seen the site for the first time but thanks anyway.

    • Well, relevant means “relevant for the job you are doing”. Let me be drastic: If you want to work as a lawyer but only worked as economist, you clearly don’t have relevant experience. Also note that “relevant” does not mean “same”. So if you can explain how your experience is relevant to the job since it covers some of the experience (e.g. because you worked in a similar subject matter, you worked in a similar region geographically etc.) all should be fine.
      What I want to say is that just “years of experience” by themselves are not good enough. I don’t think it is done to keep anyone away but to make sure that the best and the most suitable candidates are working on the task. But then again, I’m not the UN so don’t take my word for it 🙂

  32. What is the difference between National Consultant and International Consultant? I see a position in Myanmar where the National will be supervised by the international C, but I have also seen positions that specify that they are only for n-country nationals, not for anyone qualified, so I don’t think that National C means only for nationals. Thanks for any clarification. -Gregory

    • To be honest, I don’t know the exact difference (keep in mind I’m not speaking on behalf of the UN). In my experience you would use a National Consultant, if national expertise is required. International Consultants often times imply travel and DSA which makes the contract more expensive. Also there are situations where very specialized knowledge requirements necessitate international expertise. If I were you and you match the requirements of the vacancy I would go for both kinds of consultancies.

      • Thanks, Sebastian. That is helpful and I had not thought about those possibilities. Your insight is much appreciated. Be well, Gregory

      • National staff are recruited locally and there is no expectation they will move to other posts in other parts of the organization. They are normally recruited to General Service rather than professional posts and therefore work on support services rather than project management.

  33. Dear Sebastian,
    how about Service Contract (SC)-9 in Jakarta, Indonesia? how much is the standard salary?
    Thank you

  34. Dear Sebastian,
    I have applied in UN peace keeping mission(p3 level) and passed written exam.I also take behavioral competency interview through telephone in May/2011.How long will it take to know the result?

  35. i have passed the wrtten test and done the telephonic interview on 27feb 2012 for P4 NewYork. i was told i was wihin the first 10. how long would it take to know the results.

    • Honestly, I don’t know. But if you had communication with them, I would do a nice and gentle follow up. If you came under the top applicants, there should be a feedback to you even if you are not successful. Good luck!

  36. Thanks for your response Sebastian. i had communication with them, wish you cd help me on the followup.there’s no feedback abt being unsuccessful,nor abt recruitment completed in Inspira.

  37. have been In UN ( Mission) for years, but I did not understand the criteria of choosing staff and upgrading staff in system, so with this confusion I would just like to ask you if you can give me short answer about this .coz things are not going true use to be.


  38. Dear Sebastian Rottmair
    You are doing great work, God Bless You
    Just a quick Q from you….
    How much time it takes to get a job if someone is roster for particular position in FS/P.

  39. In Inspira, my status for my job application went to “Recruitment Completed”, what does that mean?


    • Sorry, I don’t have that information. It depends on the country it is in (especially since it is a local ICA contract). If you know Service Contracts of other organisations, I would assume it is not that far off.

  40. Many of my colleges in the opinion that UN recruitment system needs to update and it seems that not everyone with good qualification can access UN job unless you know someone in the UN system.

    • There is not much I can say to that since I’m NOT the UN. However, keep in mind that the numbers look roughly as follows: The job list has more than 100k hits per days while there are typically not more than 1000 jobs advertised on the List. This means that getting a job is highly competitive. So make sure you apply to things only if you have the necessary qualifications and put a lot of care and attention into your application. But with these numbers even with that, there is obviously no guarantee for anything.

  41. I am interested in a job which has a classification of NOB in central america, what is the estimate salary for this category? Thank you.

    • Sorry, I don’t know the salary scale for NOBs – also they would be very different from country to country. Often times they are in between of what a similar private sector job and a P3 job would pay. Good luck!

  42. Thanks a lot Sebastian for the new additions. I am one of those who have benefited from your articles/advice. Immediately after University I was lucky to get a Special Service Agreement Contract (SSA) with [redacted] as Records Management Clerk for a very specific time period of four months after which my contract ended. I got other jobs elsewhere and was later contacted after 2 years by [REDACTED] for an assignment with [REDACTED] as Assistant IT Officer. I was interviewed and came out top candidate and now work with [REDACTED] as [REDACTED]. However after only four months I have been shortlisted for a Temporary Appointment as a [DIFFERENT CONTRACT]. Do you think its advisable for me to leave my postion and take up this Temporary Staff Appointment (TOR Document says 5 months duration). Thanks Again.

    • Hello 🙂 It is always hard to give advice in these areas: I would say both positions that you describe require further evolution since both are not supposed to be there “forever”. So it depends a bit on how much willing you are to take a risk. The big question is what will happen after the TA. TAs require a break in service after a year. However, if the job still needs to be done, there may be an opening to compete for once the TA is completed. If you know the job you obviously have an advantage but keep in mind that, since it will need to be an open competition, there is of course no guarantee for anything. Generally I would encourage you to follow where your interest and your skills take you and have contract types as secondary consideration (while keeping an eye out for these basic administrative necessities all along of course!)

      • Can you give more information about contract break requirements as of 2015? I know there is a supposed 3 month contract break if you move from consultancy to TA. and then from TA to TA there is at least one month break I think, but what about from TA to Fixed Term? Also are you allowed to end your TA contract if you receive an FT offer?

        • I think there are some local requirements that are slightly different from agency to agency (especially how much break in service you need from consultant to TA). The TA to TA seems to still be 1 month. I’m not aware of any TA to FTA break in service requirements.

  43. hi. this is a very useful resource sebastian; thanks!

    i have a query: in case one is over-qualified for a p4 position that one has applied for and is offered, is there a way to negotiate a level within the p4 scale so that your lengthy work experience (more than even 10 years) is recognised and given due weightage?

  44. Hi,

    Can anyone please guide, what do job levels in United Nations job profile means?

    I am completely new hearing the job level names like:
    {D-1, P-2, P-3, P-4, L-1,etc.}

    Please reply.


  45. Thank you so much,i ave apreciated your answers because they have made me understand so many things about un.continue with your goodwork

  46. Good day. My phone interview was cancelled because Unrwa could not find the information that the business school I did in France is accredited. It is by the french ministry of education. What conditions should be fullfiled? I have a master degree and was applying for a P4. Which organism should it be accredited to? Thank you for your help.

  47. Hi Sabastian,

    Can you please clarify my doubt. I applied for FS-5 post with DPKO in 2011. I did the computerbased test and was sucessful. About two months after I received an email congratulation on my success in the test and was assigned a roster number. The email indicated that I will be on the roster for two and will be contacted directly by hiring manager. One year has passed, but I have been contacted by any manager. You guidance on the next step is appreciated.


    • This sounds like “normal” roster experience. Unfortunately it can take a long time from getting onto the roster to being offered an opportunity. Good luck anyways!

  48. dear sebastian rottmair,
    i want to know when a candidate’s application is said to be not successful? I

  49. Hi Seb and all the rest,

    I noticed that there isn’t much info here on the Service Contracts (SC) and found out that most of the conditions set out are determined by the local market where the job is based. If anyone is interested to have a read, I found this document which may help. It will not tell you the salary scale numerically but gives you a rough idea if you know the local market. go crazy!

  50. I am unable to proceed apply for UNICEF jobs after seeing the title of the job. Always shows error

    please help following error appears every time an unable to proceed

    Job detail: “TA Education Specialist (BTS), P-3, Manila, Philippines, 364 days (surge)”
    when you click on apply for this job following error appears.
    Error when processing your request

    What has happened?

    The URL was not called due to an error.

    â—¾ The following error text was processed in the system EP1 : WebDynpro Exception: This Browser is not Supported
    â—¾ The error occurred on the application server uxersprd_EP1_00 and in the work process 0 .

  51. I’ve been applying for the UN job, but no positive answers has always been giving, the reply they always send to me, was under consideration.

    What does that phrase mean?

  52. Can you tell me what is the SB 4 grade and what would the salary be ? Thank you

  53. Hi,

    I’ve seen a job with a LICA-5 level… Is this similar to ICA-5 or not ? If not, is there a estimation or a scale for estimated of salaries and benefits ?

    Thanks !

  54. Is SB is the same salary scale as GS ?

    & I have two questions for Sebastian as well ,
    Why are some jobs defined SB and not GS??
    Is a 6 months SB Offer can be easily renewed or changed to a FTA, or it is a defiant 6 months only?

    • just in case somebody will find this helpful in future…
      I can only talk about UNDP:
      – GS is used for staff contracts (FTA, TA)
      – SB is used for Service Contracts (SC)

      In UNDP – SC can be extended in general. However, it cannot be converted to FTA.

      when it comes to grades:
      SB.2 is equivalent of GS.3-GS.4
      SB.3 is equivalent of GS.5-GS.7
      SB.4 is equivalent of NO.A-NO.B (P1-P2)

      I hope this helps

  55. What i like about careers with the united Nations is that they offer very atractive remuneration packeges,on the other hand what i hate about them is that they are toooo short!

  56. Hi

    I have found a position of LICA level and the page which determined to check for understanding the level and salary scale is exist, will you inform me about the post level and salry scale

    Best regarrds

  57. Hi
    I applied for the post of Individual contract for criminal Intelligence Garowe Somalia,,They have asked me about financial proposal something which I don’t know, can you please help me.

    • Essentially, they want to know how much money you would like to receive. The point is the following: they treat this as a procurement action and try to make you do a bid for the contract. I would go with something similar to the fixed-term equivalent salary as financial bid.

  58. Can I apply for Local ICA contract while I am not living in the duty station country. i.e American apply for L-ICA contract based in Copenhagen and also considering he is not a resident.

    • In the case of Copenhagen for sure. Generally I would read the job advert. If it says something about nationals, then it is not possible but if it is an HQ duty station and/or there is no restriction included in the vacancy, I would just apply.

  59. Hi Sebastian,

    I have a question on which I would like to have your thoughts.
    I have been offered a position of consultant at UNESCO (4 months) and a position of UNV for UNICEF (12 months with possible extension).

    I am a young professional with several internship experiences with UN agencies. In terms of career strategy, which position would you advise me to choose. I really like the position of UNV, it gives the opportunity of acquiring field experience and closely aligned with my work experience. But the position is located in an almost dangerous place and not well paid.
    On the other hand, UNESCO could be messy sometimes, but at least it is well paid and I have good working relationships with the Department where I will be working. However, I don’t know after the 4 months I will have an extension or secure a professional position, including outside UNESCO.

    Thank you for your insights,


  60. I have received an offer for an IICA contract for a position equivalent to P3/P4 (based on qualifications required, years of experience and expected responsibilities), but can’t get any real information from the agency country office on possible allowances. The template UNOPS contract and conditions annex sent, just state that the fee is “As full consideration for the services performed by the Individual Contractor” as the proposed fee is pretty derisory? Suspicion is that they (now) want to try and fit an international candidate into a national position. Any information and guidance on IICA assignment allowances?

  61. Dear Sebastian,
    This is not a job inquiry but since I don’t have an university degree it seems impossible to find a job with any international organization.
    I have been applying since several months, I do have some field and humanitarian experience but even though, I haven’t found any potion at all. Even when applying for small reception jobs or stores manager in ANY country…!!!
    Is there ever a chance to find a position, even a small one?
    Gabriela DEUSTUA Hochmuth.

  62. Hi Sebastian, thanks for the rich information you provide for those interested in the U.N. Service. I applied for a position with UN ESCAP and received an appointment letter signed by the former executive Secretary for a permanent employment for 6 years. After spending much money for medical tests which I do not regret they started asking for money for visa for US orientation training and housing scheme at Bankok. I suspected fowl play and stopped sending requested documents. Could I be right to stop? How can we be sure of the official application links? Thanks very much.

  63. Hi Sebastian,

    Regarding education / degree qualifications, I see the following language for education requirement in a recent job post for a P-3 / FTA International position: “Master or equivalent degree in Communications, Journalism, Media Arts, Web Design, Graphic Design, or Digital Marketing.” I do not have a masters degree, but I do have a Bachelors degree and 10 years of equivalent experience for this posting. Based on your understanding, and the language in the job post, do you think I should have a masters degree to be seriously considered for this job?

  64. Typically, in the Job positions for Professional and Higher Categories that I’m looking at, it’s mentioned that “This position is funded for an initial period of one year and may be subject to extension.” but not always. Sometimes the Job Openning doesn’t mention anything about the job duration. Does it means that the Job Opening is for a permanent position?

  65. Hello,

    I am a bit confused about the moving requirement of P-grade jobs. From what I’ve read, P-grade staff are obliged to change jobs fairly frequently. My question is: does it count as “moving” to take a new job in the same UN agency or another one in the same duty station, or would I have to actually change duty stations? Is there a maximum limit of time someone can work in the UN system at a given duty station? The purpose of my questions is that I wish to work in the UN system, at the P-level, but as I’m established in Geneva, I don’t want to be forced to move.

    Thanking you in advance for any advice,

    Warmest regards,

    “Confused” Sarah

    • P-Staff are expected to take up jobs anywhere in the world. However, in reality the requirements differ from place to place, organisation to organisation and job to job. So I fear there is not “just one” answer to this. I think it is safe to say that if you don’t want to leave Geneva, you should expect that you may need to leave the UN at some point in time (provided you get a job first).

  66. Sebastian,

    Is it possible to get a P4 or P5 position in your own country, or would that be considered so sensitive for nationals? How do I know I can’t apply for this specific job as a national when based in my own country?

    • Typically, international posts are for internationals. I know of US citizens having P4/P5 jobs in New York but these colleagues have typically served in many countries before they (by chance) ended up in their own country. I don’t know of any country directors who are nationals of the country they serve in.

  67. hi there,
    I was interviewed for a position at UNOPS and reference check was conducted. This was some 6 weeks before. Since then I have not heard from them. I mail them but they keep telling me we are done with the selection process.
    Do you think there is hope. Or maybe it is too long that I should not expect.

    • Hm, that doesn’t sound too good. There still may be hope if this is a very high paid job as this could go through internal approvals but overall I would say this doesn’t sound too good.

  68. I recently work as intern in one among UN agency; The office involvement makes me to grow and gain a lot of proffesional and international experience.
    This website is a very good platform for fresh graduates to explore the International job market am glad.
    Also I will share the link for other to have this nutritional access.


  69. Hi Sebastian,

    I’m hoping you can answer my question please?

    Could you tell me if the UN system would regard a PhD as work experience? There are some companies which do count this degree as such, but I cannot find any information related to the UN.

    Also, does the UN value NGO volunteering work?

    I am currently working for an IGO (CF level 4), and I have seen a P3 position which I would like to apply for that requires 4 years minimum experience.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



    • A PhD is normally looked at as work experience. Typically, the title itself is 2 or 3 years. I (and many others) value volunteering work a lot. The official policy on how volunteering is counted in terms of work experience, varies from organization to organization. If you believe you have the relevant experience, I would apply. How things are applied internally, is up to the organization you apply to. Good luck!

  70. Can you tell me what is the SB 4 grade in UNDP office in Africa and what would the salary be ? Thank you

  71. Hi…as somone who has worked as an international consultant I just want to raise your awareness to a hiring practice that is not supported by policy. If you are asked to complete a remuneration analysis form PRIOR to receiving an offer, I suggest that you politely decline and instead let them know what you are desiring based your experience and what the position is asking for in relation to the various reports / compensation tables available.

    Once you are in the system, as a consultant, HR will lock you into that pay grade even if you get subsequent contracts that have more responsibility etc.

    I found this out the hard way..just trying to prevent you from experiencing the same thing.


  72. Hi Sebastien,

    I am hoping you could answer the following, as I just can’t seem to find out this information, and can’t quite decrypt the UN contract terms…Thanks anyways for your work on this site, very useful!

    Here’s the question:

    Does the post-adjustment part of a UN salary get paid for TA posts or not? (a 364 days L4 position)

    As a follow-up question: in your experience, for a TA in a Regional Office for a post at that level of responsibility and technical expertise, provided the candidate does a satisfactory job of course, does that usually lead to other TAs in the same office, or a FT contract, or a placement in a country office of the same region? (Tough question I know…but just from your experience, what do you think)

    Thanks Sebastien.

    Kind regards,

  73. Hi Sebastian,

    I applied for a Po3 M&E officer role with IAEA, had an online interview test two months ago, however I have not had from any one yet, please can you advise on the possible timeline?


  74. How long does it take UNFPA to recruit a person in SB 3 in Nigeria? And do they send referee forms to only referees of the best candidate for the position?

  75. I am currently working for the a United Nations Economic Commission until the end of 2015. I have applied to the UNESCO YPP and am concerned that the consultant contract will not allow me sign a contract for the YPP if I am selected. This is because the consultant contract states that I cannot apply to a P-level position until at least 6 months after the contract end date. The YPP program has not indicated this is a problem, so far. Any thoughts? Thank you.

  76. Hello,
    i came across the advert for P3 position in New York as temporary vacancy yesterday.And the following was mentioned too.

    ”This temporary vacancy is for the period ending 31 March 2016.

    Subject to the funding source of the position, this temporary job opening may be limited to candidates based at the duty station.’

    Does it mean that only candidates from New York will be considered and candidates living in say Dubai will not be.

    Thanks for this forum

  77. Dear Sebastian,

    Could you please tell me if a G5 can apply for a NOA (National Officer Job – local) job if she/he meets the qualification for a job.

    Thank you.


  78. Hi, I sent this about a month ago and was wondering if you could help me out…

    I applied for a contract position that is a Contract level IICA-1 and a ICS-9 level. How do I find out the salary range? Neither code matches the spreadsheet (P, D etc… and level). I’m also wondering if there’s any compensation for the post being in Geneva, one of the most expensive cities in the world. There wasn’t any mention of a stipends. Do you know if there’s any compensation for these things?

    Now my applications states that I’m short listed weeks after my interview, not before my interview… Do you know what that means? Do you know how long UNOPS takes to make decisions? They stated in the interview that they wanted to bring someone on board the beginning of March.

    Thanks! Michelle

    • To my knowledge IICA-1 are typically in a similar range to P2 contracts. UNOPS will update the status of the recruitment process but it may sometimes be a bit further ahead of the process than the system indicates. I would gently follow-up if you are in doubt about the process timing.

  79. well ,i can say it was an interesting time scrolling and learning about the UN jobs and criteria. i believe that as soon as i commence applying it will be stress free

    • I would go for which job interests you more. I’m typically not in favour of being too strategic in which grade to go for. I find that more important than the grade is the supervisor, the team and the job content.

  80. Hi Sebastian,
    I Might explain the ICS-6, which is kind of contract? is a SC and how much is the monthly salary asiganción

  81. Hi Sebastian,
    Thank you for answering our questions. I have previously worked for the UN in a P3 position in Hungary. A vacancy has come up in my country which I qualify for, also a P3. If I apply, would I be considered or are those reserved only for internationals? Will my previous P3 experience help my application?

  82. Hello Sebastian! Thank you for this lovely elaborated post. I am currently applying for a UN Women post. For that I need to fill the Personal History Form where I have to fill the work experience area. My question is if I have not worked at any UN project, can I use their terms such as TA or FTA for my other job experiences? Or i just tick other in the contract type?

    Thank you so much


  83. Dear Sebastian,

    What will be the legal status if he or she is working with WHO for more than 15 years without a day contract break as a special service contract (SSA) holder?



  84. Can anyone tell me if ICS type of appointmen in the UN is a Fixed Term Appointmen/FTA/ or it is a temporary appointment?

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