Jobs in Interpretation & Translation at the UN

The United Nations holds many job opportunities in interpretation and translation.

The United Nations holds many job opportunities in interpretation and translation.

If you're a linguist interested in an exciting career that entails working with "the whole world," the United Nations might just be the place for you. The UN holds many possibilities for specialists in interpretation and translation, including positions in oral interpretation, document translation, reporting on proceedings and translated document review.


As a United Nations interpreter, you could play a crucial role in the exchange of dialogue between political figures who do not share a common tongue. Interpreters attend meetings of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, among others, translating speeches produced in one language into a second one. UN interpreters must be fluent in one official language of the UN (Arabic, Russian, Spanish, English, French, Chinese) and possess high oral comprehension in at least two other languages.


If your linguistic abilities are strongest in the area of written communications, translation offers another viable career path with the United Nations. UN translators translate documents into their native tongue, remaining as faithful to the original as possible. As a translator, you may also attend UN proceedings and prepare summary records to be distributed to participants. Translation candidates should be highly proficient in at least one to two languages other than their native tongue.

Verbatim Reporting

Are you equally adept in the areas of listening and writing? Consider becoming a United Nations Verbatim Reporter. This job combines transcription and translation skills in order to produce accurate reports of the dialogues that take place during meetings. As a Verbatim Reporter, your job would be to create official documentation of comments and conclusions made by meeting participants. In addition to possessing fluency in either English or French, a Verbatim Reporter must be proficient in at least two other official UN languages and demonstrate excellent editing and stylistic abilities.

Language Reference Assistant

The United Nations also employs Language Reference Assistants who serve as aides to translators. If your strengths include editing and time management, this could be the job for you. As a Language Reference Assistant, you would be tasked with verifying references, terminology and documentation included in a translation. You may also be asked to review documents for evidence of plagiarism. Candidates for this position must have excellent skills in English and two of the five other official languages of the UN.

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About the Author

Raechel Dumas is a doctoral candidate in Japanese at the University of Colorado. Her work has appeared in a number of scholarly publications, and at present she is endeavoring to connect with a broader audience of travel, foreign language, and global culture enthusiasts through her writing.

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