Competitive examinations for language positions

The United Nations organizes competitive examinations for language positions (CELPs) to create rosters from which to fill language positions at multiple locations: Headquarters in New York, the United Nations Offices at Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna and the Regional Commissions in Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Beirut and Santiago.

There are competitive examinations for:

  • Copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors

  • Editors

  • Interpreters

  • Translators and translators/précis-writers

  • Verbatim reporters

CELPS are language- and function-specific examinations that comprise a series of skills tests conducted over a period of several months. Combined CELPs are usually held for translators, editors and verbatim reporters. Successful candidates in a combined exam are placed on the rosters for all the functions covered by the exam.

CELPs for each function and language combination (e.g. Spanish interpreters or Arabic translators, editors and verbatim reporters) are held approximately every three years, according to recruitment needs. The application process begins several months before the examination date, and the application period is just a few weeks. If you are interested in applying for a language position, check this site frequently (at least monthly) for announcements of CELPs in your language and professional specialization or create an account and set up notifications in Inspira where CELPs are advertised as job openings.

Competitive examinations for language positions for which applications are currently being accepted:

Forthcoming competitive examinations for language positions (application periods to be announced):

For details on how to apply, visit the Application process page. Candidates who have completed the application process and whose applications have been accepted will find information on the status of CELPs (e.g. whether results have been sent out) under Information for candidates.

Language staff work mostly with the six official languages of the United Nations. These are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Applicants for language positions must have a perfect command of one official language and excellent knowledge of at least one other. The one exception is the small German Translation Section at UN Headquarters in New York, which requires a perfect command of German.

The distribution of positions varies by profession and language: for example, all the verbatim reporting positions are in New York, not every location has positions for interpreters, and the translation positions in Santiago are only for translators who translate into Spanish or English. The locations where positions might be available for those who succeed in a CELP are stated in the corresponding examination announcement.

More information about language careers at the United Nations. Make sure you visit the pages in your target language as the information varies accordingly.

In addition, examinations for placement on the Secretariat’s global roster of language professionals eligible for contractual work or temporary appointments are arranged on an as-needed basis. These are not announced on this website but are advertised in Inspira.

Last updated on 4 October 2021
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