Working as a Translator for the United Nations

By Diana Cristina Anichitoaei
In Getting Started
May 29th, 2014

Working as a Translator for the United Nations

Working as a translator for an international organization is the dream of many passionate linguists. The United Nations is probably the most important organization of this type in the world. The importance of translation within an institution so prestigious like the UN goes far beyond the conference room. Important documents and declarations are often published by the media, quoted in statements and incorporated into legislative acts. Précis-writing and preparing summary records for different bodies is also one of the UN`s translation duties. This is a very exciting job, as it allows you to attend important meetings and assist at the decision-making process.

If working for the United Nations is your dream, there are a few things you must take into account. First of all, having excellent comprehension skills and being able to remain calm under pressure are two paramount qualities for those who aspire for this job. Before starting the job, the applicant is trained between 6 months and two years (depending on the position) at the UN Headquarters. After completing this relatively long period of training, you have the possibility to be transferred to the translation services of the other main duty stations: United Nations Office at Geneva, United Nations Office at Vienna and United Nations Office at Nairobi, or one of the regional commissions in Asia, Africa or Latin America. Perfect command of one relevant official language of the United Nations; this is considered the candidate’s main language. Arabic, French, Russian and Spanish translators must have excellent knowledge of at least two other official languages, as tested by the relevant United Nations competitive examination. English translators must also have excellent knowledge of at least two other official languages, as tested by the relevant United Nations competitive examination, one of which must be French. Chinese translators must have excellent knowledge of English; knowledge of an additional official language is desirable.

At the moment, the UN is searching for enthusiastic and motivated candidates for various language positions across the organization. They organise competitive examinations (LCE) to provide services in support of multilateral communications in Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Beirut, Geneva, Nairobi, New York, Santiago, and Vienna. The most wanted language specialists are those with great knowledge of the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Examinations are organized periodically according to the needs of the Organization. Successful candidates are expected to serve a minimum of five years in language posts before they can apply for another type of post with the United Nations. Reliable information about the application criteria can be found on the UN official website:

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About "" Has 7 Posts

I am a second year student in Languages and European Studies. I speak four languages: English, French, Spanish and Romanian. I am interested in Translation and European Politics. I love writing, particularly about environmental issues and policies.

2 Responses to “Working as a Translator for the United Nations”

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