Careers with the United Nations


Many people dream of working at the UN one day and feel they will be able to make a difference in the world. The UN has a variety of networks and 9 distinct career paths. Each has its own area of focus and hierarchies. If a person tailors their interests and skills to one of these paths they can secure their education goals and enjoy a unique position at the UN with a rewarding career. 

Career Paths At the UN

Enjoying a UN career can be hard due to the high quality of applicants and the popularity of the organization. However, this creates a landscape for professionals to explore a variety of career options while they work there. 

There are plenty of options to pick from within every career path. Depending on the network's focus, there are different skills you will need. Of course, excellent communication skills and diplomatic acuity are vital for any department.

Economic, Social, and Development Network

At the UN's New York HQ, along with 5 regional economic commissions around the globe, there are jobs in the development, social and economic network. Employees are essential for preparing publications and reports, performing analyses to promote socio-economic development and organizing international conferences. 

This department also includes crime prevention, drug control and a variety of training seminars. Popular careers in the DEVNET umbrella include development coordination officer, economic affairs officer and program management officer. 

Information and Telecommunication Technology Network 

There are global missions that provide secure communication in a timely matter. Inside of the UN, this is a critical component. Department specialists are responsible for setting up strategic directions for the organization. They deliver technical support and formulate compliance and policy based on development and technology research.

Candidates interested in this department may work as an assistant or as an information systems officer in a certain communication area including integration or SAP development. 

Legal Network

The legal component of the UN offers guidance on national, private, public, international, administrative and procedural law. This network additionally encompasses treaty-related actions and publications and offers legal assistance to member states regarding treaty-related legal issues. It includes negotiations and represents the UN in judicial proceedings. 

Individuals working in the legal network generally function as legal officers. They may specialize in certain areas including appeals or trials. 

Management and Administration Network 

Professionals in the administration and management network focus on ethics, administrative support, financial and human resources, audits and internal investigations and analysis. This career stream delivers a chance to impact the strategic direction of the UN and includes decisions regarding budgets and procurement. 

Job titles include budget officer, finance officer, discipline and conduct officer and human resources assistance.

Internal Security and Safety

SAFETYNET coordinates personnel and security policies inside of the United Nations. This work includes the development, planning and delivery of programs to ensure that the office and employees remain safe. They are responsible for analyzing security information relevant to UN operations. They also perform risk and threat assessments. 

It is vital to note that if there are any crisis issues or emergencies, members of SAFETYNET will be called to respond. Therefore, one of the requirements for numerous SAFETYNET jobs is national or military police experience. This can include close protection officers, security investigators and security officers. 

Political, Peace and Humanitarian Network

People are often drawn to the UN for its role in humanitarian work and opportunities within the humanitarian, peace and political landscape. These options include counterterrorism, human rights, emergency relief jobs, disarmament, and peacekeeping. 

A great portion of this work occurs out in the field. However, professionals who can generate reports, conduct analysis and work together with international counterparts are vital components of the organization. 

Popular roles in this sector include humanitarian affairs officer, human rights officer and political affairs officer. 

Public Information and Conference Management Network 

INFONET includes a vast range of languages and media to generate a wider understanding of the UN's work throughout the world. They provide the public with essential organizational details. This network also manages regular UN sessions and delivers interpretation and translation services during these ongoing meetings. 

Some popular INFONET jobs include meetings services assistant, external relations officer and public information officer. 

Logistics, Transportation, and Supply Chain Network 

There are numerous offices around the globe. The UN has a special team that is dedicated to operations, infrastructure, logistical support and facilities. Jobs in this network consist of transportation and engineering work and technical and logistical specialists who organize supply deliveries to support field locations. 

Careers inside of LOGNET include environmental engineer, supply assistant and logistics officer. 

Science Network 

SCINET jobs focus on natural life sciences, anthropology and medical services. This includes a huge range of careers including veterinarians, nurses, experts in outer space and pharmacists. Professionals interested in these jobs need to have extensive experience in science within their chosen career path before they apply. 

How To Secure A Job In the UN 

There are many ways professionals interested in having a UN career can increase their chances of landing a full-time job. This includes professional programs, internships, and volunteer work. 

Internships are a great option for people who are not 100% sure this is the right career choice for them but who desire some real-world experience in the UN to find out. There are 2-to-6-month jobs available within each of the 9 networks of the UN. Most applicants require a doctoral or master's degree. 

UN internships are not paid; however, many organizations and universities provide financial support to ensure that these unpaid roles are accessible for everyone. 

The Junior Professional Officer (JPO) and Young Professionals programs, meanwhile, are best for those who are sure they want to spend their career at the UN. Junior Professional Officers work at both UN headquarters and field offices in a wide range of roles, including peacekeeping, inspection, human rights, disaster reduction, research, and more. 

The Young Professionals program, while similar, requires successful completion of an entrance exam that qualifies applicants for jobs in the Secretariat and includes professional development programs after joining. 

The Young Professionals Program requires successful completion of an entrance exam that qualifies applicants for jobs in the Secretariat. It includes a variety of professional development programs once the candidate has joined. 

With such a myriad of options and specialties available, it is a great career to option to consider.