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Complete list of all Staff Contracts and Grades at the United Nations

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by Henrik Rydén
COO and Co-founder of Impactpool

I have worked many years as an HR professional at the UN and I thought I knew all the different grade types at the UN, but still, it happens that I encounter new ones. The most recent grades I learned about were grades that the UNRWA uses for their local staff. 

The UN-grade jungle is complex and even within the system, very few UN HR professionals know what all different grades correspond to (both staff and non-staff grades), as a test (to you who already work at the UN) do you know what an IPSA-8 or a PIA, a TC, or a UG, or an NPP stands for? 

New grade structures are also released and a few years back UNDP added IPSA and NPSA, two consultancy grade structures inspired by the grade structure used by UNOPS.

In fact, given the breadth of all the Impactpool's UN clients, we have a better and more accurate overview of the UN-grade structure, than the UN Secretariat itself. Our algorithm is trained on 145 different UN grades, where the purpose is to match candidates to jobs they are eligible for in terms of years of experience and education.

In this article, we take a look at different Staff contract types and grades at the United Nations. It covers all staff contracts relevant for you to get your career started.

My advice to a candidate that wants to work for the UN is to define if it matters what type of contract she joins, does it need to be an international staff contract or is she fine with a local consultancy contract (in the UN referred as to non-staff)? 

Non-staff is a term that the UN uses for contracts that don't fall under the staff category, it includes for example consultancies, volunteers, and internships. Non-staff contracts are generally less competative, however, the compensation is lower and career progression opportunities are limited. As a complement to this article, I recommend you to also read our article about non-staff contracts.

After reading this, you will better understand how to know what career contracts to apply for at the UN and it will help you strategize your career progression and job search.

In this article, we walk you through:

  • Grades only applicable to Headquarters in New York and Geneva
  • Senior Appointments
  • Different seniority grade-level for staff
  • Career contracts and other types of contracts
  • Permanent Appointments/ Continuous Appointments/ Fixed Term Appointments
  • Temporary Appointment
  • General Services
  • National Professional Officers
  • Professional and higher categories
  • Field Service

Explore all the different paths to begin your career in the UN. Photo by the blowup at Unsplash  

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