Employment grades

Grades determine the rate of basic pay associated with a specific level of work or range of difficulty, responsibility, and qualification requirements.

United Nations Common System

Most International Organizations follow the United Nations Common System professional grade structure. Please note that the years of experience referred to in the chart is years of relevant experience after the completion of an undergraduate degree, unless stated otherwise in the individual vacancy announcement. As these positions are very competitive it is recommended that you apply to positions for which you exceed the minimum years of experience.

Level Grade Required Experience
Entry P-1 0-2 years 1
Entry P-2 2+ years 2
Entry P-3 5+ years
Mid P-4 7+ years
Mid P-5 10+ years
Senior D-1 15+ years
Senior D-2 15+ years
1 Positions at the P-1 level are rarely advertised.
2 No experience is required if applying to P-2 positions that are part of the Young Professionals program.

Coordinated organizations (NATO, OECD, and others)

The A category is made up of seven levels, the entrance level being A1 and the most senior being A7. Most staff are at A3 and A4 levels. Levels A5 and above are considered management levels. Level A1 is considered transitory and generally only applied to trainees. Each Coordinated Organization has a separate but similar manner of determining the level of A grade posts. Some organizations apply a point factor system while others practice a "whole level" description method. Some organizations may offer positions with a range of grades, such as A2/A3.

Other international organizations

Please visit the employment pages of individual international organizations to learn more about unique professional grading systems if the organization of your choice is using a different system than those listed above. Please view our international organization contact information page for links to employment websites.


Salaries established by international organizations are typically competitive. Since countries generally do not tax their nationals’ income from international organizations, most international organizations (including UN agencies) set salaries on a "net-of-tax" basis. In addition, they provide other allowances that vary according to individual circumstances and the cost-of-living at the work location. The most important of these allowances is the "post adjustment," which serves to equalize purchasing power for international civil servants wherever they serve.

While salaries are usually quoted in dollars, they are paid in whole or part in the currency of the country where the individual serves. The take-home pay, therefore, can vary with changes in the dollar exchange rate.

To determine whether the salary and benefits package offered by an international organization is desirable, applicants should compare the international organization’s "net" salary plus post adjustment and any other offered allowances with their current "after-withholding" salary, allowances and benefits.

United Nations Common System

Pay in the professional and senior positions is made up of two main elements: 1) base salary and 2) post adjustment. UN salaries are based on those of the U.S. Civil Service plus an amount that will vary from 10-20%.

All U.S. citizens and permanent residents remain subject to federal income tax and also may be subject to U.S. state and local taxes. However, special tax provisions apply to Americans working overseas, for example, with international organizations. For authoritative information on federal taxes for these cases, see IRS Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad. For information on state or local taxes, please consult the tax authority’s guidance.

In general, employees who meet certain residency requirements, may exclude up to $112,000 (2022) of their international organization income from federal taxes. Also, some international organizations offer tax incentives to employees. Candidates are encouraged to consider tax ramifications of employment prior to accepting any offer from an international organization.

For U.S. government employees, pursuant to Public Law 103-296, FICA tax is required for all transferred employees even if they do not continue their CSRS Offset or FERS coverage during the transfer. While employed by an international organization, an employee’s FICA tax, retirement and insurance contributions are based on the amount of pay the employee would have received had he or she remained at the transferring agency. Whether or not the employee elects retirement coverage, the employee is no longer exempt from FICA tax during service with the international organization.


Please visit the International Civil Service Commission and Coordinated Organisations (CO) websites to learn more about the benefits offered by the majority of international organizations. If the international organization of interest is not a part of either group please visit our international organization contact information page for links to the employment pages of specific international organizations.