More information is available below depending on your interest.
Required Skills for Translators
Recruitment of Translators
Recruitment of permanent translators is exclusively by means of competitive examinations. These are held at irregular intervals and can be sat in United Nations duty stations or, subject to demand, in other major cities. For information on the dates of examinations, see the web site of the United Nations Office of Human Resources Management in English or in French. Successful candidates are usually offered a two-year probationary contract during which they are given appropriate training. Subject to satisfactory performance during the probationary period, they then receive indefinite contracts. Permanent translators belong to the Professional ("P") category of United Nations staff and, as such, have opportunities to serve for several years at a time or for shorter periods in a number of duty stations (there are currently translation units in New York, Geneva, Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Beirut, Nairobi, Santiago de Chile and Vienna) and to participate in peacekeeping missions, etc. Professionals can serve at a variety of grades; the base salary for each grade is the same worldwide, with local supplements being paid to ensure purchasing-power parity between duty stations. At UNOG, translators' grades range from P-2 to P-5: P-2s and P-3s work under revisers, P-4s work mostly unrevised or revise others and P-5s are senior revisers or section chiefs.
Freelance translators are recruited through informal tests that generally last half a day and can be arranged at short notice. Usually, candidates sit their test at the duty station for which they hope to work most. Freelance salary scales and conditions of service are set by agreement with the International Association of Conference Translators (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). Like permanent translators, freelancers can work at a variety of levels from junior translator to senior reviser. Freelancers who are capable of working unrevised may be offered piecework to be done at home, but most freelance contracts are for in-house work over periods ranging from a few weeks to several months. Depending on the distance from their professional domicile to their principal duty station, freelancers who work in-house are classified as "locals" or "non-locals", the chief difference being that non-locals receive travel and subsistence allowances in addition to their base salary. For budgetary reasons, the United Nations prefers to hire locals whenever possible.
Working for the UNOG Languages Service thus offers plenty of scope for generalist and specialized translators and for learning a great deal about why the world is the way it is and what is being done to improve it. The Service is always happy to hear from people who have the requisite qualifications and are interested in translating for the United Nations. For further information, visit: UN Language
or UN Careers.
How Do Interpreters Work at the United Nations?