Working at the United Nations

Opportunities and challenges of working at the United Nations

Why work for the United Nations? And what challenges could you face? Find out more about this type of employer and the job opportunities.

Opportunities and challenges of working at the UN

A unique opportunity

The United Nations offers a broad range of employment opportunities for professionals with diverse backgrounds, aspirations and aptitudes. 

A career with the UN can offer a fulfilling environment that gives you satisfaction by contributing to peace and security, human rights, and sustainable human development. 


The UN allows you to work in different countries and get to know different cultures as part of a challenging, global and diverse work environment, with people from all over the world working towards the same goals. 

... with some challenges

Working conditions at the United Nations may present challenges. Examples are lengthy application processes, complex bureaucratic structures, and duty stations that for security reasons may not allow family accompaniment. 

Job security is also not a strong point of the UN as assignments are usually of limited duration and further employment is often subject to budgetary constraints and political decisions of member states. 

The UN requires its workforce to be flexible, geographically mobile, and available often at short notice throughout the entire career. 


Social Security can also become tricky to navigate in the longer run as you leave your national social security system to join the one of the UN (the two systems being separate from each other without interlinkages). 

Focus work areas

UN organisations and specialised agencies are mandated by member states and aim to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.  

This variety of fields offers exciting and challenging employment opportunities for qualified professionals with diverse backgrounds, skills and aspirations. 


These opportunities are offered in a variety of fields, including: 

  • management and administration (including finance, audit, human resources) 
  • economic, social and development 
  • political, peace and humanitarian (including human rights, elections) 
  • information and telecommunication technology 
  • law and governance 
  • partnership development 
  • public information and communication 
  • security and safety 
  • supply chain and transportation (including procurement, logistics, engineering) 
  • public health 
  • environment and climate change 

Types of positions

Staff positions

Learn about staff opportunities for qualified professionals, as well as employment conditions and further career development.


Build and use your professional network to find consultancy opportunities in an international financial institution. Consultancies are an excellent way to start a career in multilateral organisations.

Young Professional Programmes (YPP)

The United Nations regularly accept a number of qualified professionals into entry-level programmes to prepare them for a career at their institution. Get an overview of these programmes and their requirements.

UNV Specialist / Expert positions

Always wanted to know what fieldwork with the UN is like? This is your chance! As a UNV specialist, you will gain valuable field experience with a UN organisation in your area of expertise.

Talent programme "Swiss Junior Professional Officer at the UN"

The Swiss Government sponsors a number of Junior Professional Officer (JPO) positions each year to facilitate a career start with the UN for selected Swiss talents.

Talent programme "Swiss Youth at the United Nations"

Are you Swiss, under 29 years old and hold a Master's degree? Then this programme may be your start to a career in international cooperation!


Students or recent graduates can gain valuable work experience and networking opportunities through a paid internship.