UN Jobs

Competitive examinations for language jobs at the United Nations

The United Nations arranges competitive examinations for language positions (CELPs) to make rosters from which to fill language posts at numerous 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 incorporate a series of skills tests performed over a period of several months. Combined CELPs are usually held for translators, editors, and verbatim reporters. Prosperous nominees 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 carried out approximately every three years, based on the 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 the United Nations website (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.

If you need a guide for making an application at the UN, Please read this: What is the Application Process for UN jobs?

Language staff work mainly with the six authorized languages of the United Nations. These are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Applicants for language positions must have an excellent knowledge of one official language and an excellent understanding 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 differs 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 related examination announcement.

Yoy may like also: Ultimate Guide to the United Nation Young professionals programme

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