The United Nations organizes competitive examinations to recruit language professionals (editors, interpreters, translators, verbatim reporters and copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors) to fill posts in its language services. These are referred to as language competitive examinations or LCEs. Links to information about the different careers for language professionals at the United Nations are provided in the box to the left. LCEs are scheduled according to the needs of the Organization and are both career- and language-specific. The application process begins several months before the examination date, and the application period is only a few weeks. Those interested in applying should therefore check this website frequently (at least monthly) for announcements of LCEs in their language and professional specialization.
LCEs for which applications are currently being accepted
LCEs are open to all who meet the eligibility and qualification requirements (including language combinations) specified in each examination announcement. The six official languages of the United Nations are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish, and language professionals require a perfect command of one of these languages and excellent knowledge of at least one other. The one exception is the small German translation section in New York, which requires perfect command of German. For details on how to apply, visit the Application process page. Information on the content of LCEs, including past papers and sample examinations, as well as tips for preparation, can be found on the UN Language Careers portal (make sure you visit the pages in your target language as the information varies accordingly). Candidates who have completed the application process and whose applications have been accepted will find information on test centres and the status of LCEs (e.g. whether results have been sent out) under Information for candidates.
LCEs generally have two parts: part 1 consists of career-specific skills tests and part 2 of an interview and additional skills tests. Candidates who pass both parts are placed on the corresponding recruitment roster (e.g. Chinese translators, Russian verbatim reporters) and are then recruited as and when vacant posts need to be filled. Language staff work at United Nations Headquarters in New York, at the United Nations Offices at Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna, and at the Regional Commissions located in Santiago, Bangkok, Beirut and Addis Ababa. The United Nations is a global organization; it encourages mobility within and across these locations. Note however that posts for each career or language combination are not necessarily available at every location.
Successful candidates may also be offered temporary or contractual work according to the needs of the Organization.