13 Of The Best Paying UN Jobs (And What You Need To Apply)

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Many people join the United Nations because they want an exciting and prestigious career that contributes to resolving some of the biggest global issues. However, we all need to earn a salary. The UN is actually known for paying well and many people who work for the UN are attracted by the big salaries. So, what actually are the top earning positions in the UN? Well, here’s a few examples…

Field Manager

In the United Nations the role of the Field Manager is to oversee the implementation of aid projects at a designated field site. As the head of the base, Field Managers in the UN are often highly paid. UN Field Managers are responsible for all aspects of the base’s performance, often directly managing programme staff, as well as logistics, finance, security and HR personnel.

In most UN missions the Field Manager reports to an Operations Coordinator or Area Manager, usually based in the country’s capital.

Field Manager jobs in the UN are almost always FS – Field Service category jobs. They are also usually categorized at least as FS-6. This is another reason why the position of Field Manager is well paid within the United Nations.

How to Apply

If you are looking to earn a good salary with the UN, consider applying for Field Manager roles. As a managerial position you will likely be required to have several years’ experience in humanitarian and development work, almost certainly at field or country office level. A masters in humanitarian action or international development will also help your application.


A second type of UN job that is highly paid is Director level positions. Across the United Nations, Directors are responsible for large departments often dedicated to a particular function. For example, you will find in the UN positions such as Finance Director, HR Director and Programme Director. You will find Director jobs in UN agencies at HQ level, as well as country office level.

Directors in the United Nations earn some of the top salaries. This is because the role has significant responsibility, often involving overseeing large teams and significant budgets.

The UN has two job categories specifically dedicated to Director level roles. These are D-1 and D-2. Both are some of the best paid jobs in the United Nations.

How to Apply

In order to apply to be a Director with in the United Nations you will need often a decade or more of relevant experience. Many UN Directors have built their careers within the UN system. However, you may be able to transition into a UN Directorship if you have held a similar level position in another major organization.

Supply Chain Coordinator

Another highly paid job at the UN is a Supply Chain Coordinator. Logistics and supply chain management is vital to many UN projects. The United Nations needs to ensure that the goods it requires, such as humanitarian aid, arrive in the correct location when it is needed and in good condition. The complexity of achieving this in many of the challenging contexts the UN works in is why the job of Supply Chain Coordinator is highly paid.

The Supply Chain Coordinator within a United Nations mission oversees a team of supply chain staff. These can include logisticians, warehouse staff and procurement officers. Managing this large team is another reason why the position is one of the best paying in the UN.

Supply Chain Coordinator in the UN are often category P-5 positions. These are some UN job categories that earn the top salaries.

How to Apply

Applicants to become Supply Chain Coordinator with the United Nations will need a background in supply chain management. This should combine previous professional experience, either within the UN, NGO or private sector, as well as formal qualifications. Experience overseeing complex supply chains in challenging environments will make you a strong candidate.

Head of Security

One of the top paying jobs in a UN mission will be the Head of Security. The United Nations runs programmes in many volatile and dangerous contexts. In order to keep UN personnel safe and aid supplies secure, UN missions will have a security team. This is led by the Head of Security role who has overall responsibility for safety and security across the mission.

The Head of Security position in the UN will line manage the security manager roles and often report to the Country Lead. Due to the high level of responsibility the Head of Security often receives a significant salary.

Head of Security positions in most UN missions are likely to be categorised as P-5. These are some of the highest paid job categories in the United Nations.

How to Apply

You will need significant experience working in security management roles in order to get a job as Head of Security with the UN. You will need to have managed security in volatile contexts in order to get a job as Head of Security with a UN mission. A formal qualification in safety and security will also boost your application.

United Nations Online Courses

For those wanting to work for the United Nations we highly recommend the online course Global Diplomacy: The United Nations In The World. We think it’s one of the best overviews of the UN and it’s work and would be a great addition to the CV of anyone applying for a UN job. Click the link to enrol on the course.

If you want to know more about how to get a job with the UN then take the United Nations Jobs Guide online course. This course provides great details on the UN recruitment system, what the UN looks for in candidates and what you can do to make your UN application stand out. Follow the link to the course’s page for more information.

Another online course we recommend for those wanting to work in the United Nations is International Organizations Management. This course shows how large global organizations, including the UN, work. It also highlights many of the challenges these organizations face. Click the link to be taken to the course’s page.

Finance Manager

One of the best paying jobs in the United Nations is the role of Finance Manager. This position is responsible for overseeing the finance department of a UN mission. They often line manage a team of finance and accounting officers, and report to the Country Lead or director level staff. The job of the Finance Manager is to oversee the implementation, and compliance with, the UNs internal financial procedures.

Due to the high level of responsibility Finance Managers in the UN have, the position is often highly paid.

As a managerial role, Finance Manager positions in the UN are usually categorised around P-4 or P-5. These are senior positions within the UN’s job categorisation and mean the position has a good salary.

How to Apply

You likely need an education and professional background in finance or accounting to get a job as a Finance Manager with the United Nations. Previous experience coordinating finance teams, as well as a strong understanding of the financial processes and controls used in large international organizations, will also likely be required.

Technical Advisor

The United Nations recruits a wide range of Technical Advisors to provide guidance to their project teams. As Technical Advisors need to have significant knowledge and experience in their field, it is often a very well-paid job. The role of the Technical Advisor is to support UN project teams in programme implementation, alongside developing tools and guidance related to their technical area.

Across the UN, Technical Advisors work in areas such as health, shelter, humanitarian protection and water and sanitation. The level of knowledge needed to work as a Technical Advisor for the United Nations is a major reason why it is one of the best paid UN jobs.

Technical Advisor positions in the UN are usually categorized as P-4 or above. These are some of top paying UN job categories.

How to Apply

In order to become a Technical Advisor with the United Nations you will need to be formally qualified in your technical area. You will also need several years of professional experience before you apply. Experience gained working in the private or public sector may be beneficial here, but you will also likely need at least one highly related role – such as Technical Programme Manager or Technical Advisor for an NGO.

HR Coordinator

The United Nations employs tens of thousands of staff across 193 countries. The organization recruits many senior HR roles, such as the Human Resource Coordinator position, in order to manage it’s HR processes. As a senior level job responsible for a HR team, HR Coordinators are one of the top paying jobs in the United Nations.

The HR Coordinator has ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the UN’s internal human resources processes are adhered to, as well as ensuring that guidelines and polices are updated and shared. They also oversee recruitments, appraisals, and any disciplinaries.

Within the UN’s job category system, HR Coordinators are likely to be P-4 or P-5 level positions. These are some of the top earning job categories in the United Nations.

How to Apply

You will need to be a HR professional with some years of experience before applying to be a HR Coordinator with the UN. As a senior position with a high salary, UN recruiters will be looking to hire candidates that can demonstrate not only a technical understanding of HR, but also it’s implementation within the contexts the United Nations operates.

Legal Advisor

Another well paid job in the UN is that of Legal Advisor. The United Nations operates internationally, and has offices in almost every country in the world. This means it has many legal jurisdictions in which it must comply. The role of the Legal Advisor on a United Nations mission is to provide guidance on UN policies and help key staff receive advice on the UN’s legal affairs.

The high demands of the Legal Advisor position within the United Nations, combined with the extensive legal knowledge needed to perform in the role, means it is one of the best paid UN jobs.

There are many different job categories within the UN that the Legal Advisor role can sit, depending on the size of the UN mission and requirements of the role. However, regardless of its job categorisation, Legal Advisors are almost always highly paid by the United Nations.

How to Apply

If you want to apply to work as a Legal Advisor for the United Nations you will need to almost always be a trained lawyer. You will also probably need to be a member of the professional legal association within the country you are working. A strong understanding of the legal context the UN operates in, as well as how this affects the UN’s work, will also needed.

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Human Rights Officer

One of the most important areas the United Nations works on is human rights. A key UN role supporting this work is the Human Rights Officer. Usually stationed within a UN mission, the Human Rights Officer is responsible for monitoring and reporting on the human rights situation within a specific context, as well as working on UN projects to support human rights.

Although the position of Human Rights Officer is not a senior one within the UN, it is actually well paid. This is especially true compared to most human rights jobs outside of the United Nations.

Most Human Rights Officer jobs in the UN are categorized as P-3 or P-4. This is a relatively well-paid position within the UN.

How to Apply

To become a Human Rights Officer with the United Nations you will likely need a relevant degree. You will also need some previous experience working on human rights issues. Being able to demonstrate to UN recruiters your practical, as well as theoretical, understanding of human rights and their implementation will be vital to securing the role.

Programme Officer

A mid-level position within the UN that is actually highly paid is that of Programme Officer. Across the United Nations, Programme Officers oversee the day-to-day implementation of UN projects. The position of Programme Officer in the UN can either be technical or have a more generalist project management responsibility.

Programme Officers in the United Nations line-manage the project team and often report to senior field or mission level staff. As the role has significant responsibility for project implementation, it is often paid a good salary.

The job category of Programme Officers in many UN missions is around a P-3. These are well paid positions within the United Nations.

How to Apply

UN recruiters will be looking for qualified project managers with some years’ experience when hiring for Programme Officer roles. Doing a course such as PRINCE2 or PMD Pro will boost your application. However, practical experience in team management and budget monitoring will also be key.

Senior Evaluation Officer

The UN runs a huge range of projects on everything from famine relief to refugee assistance, and from human rights to infrastructure development. These projects need to be evaluated in order to ensure they are having their intended impacts. The UN also needs to learn lessons from the projects it implements to ensure it can run more effective and efficient interventions in the future. A key role overseeing all this is the Senior Evaluations Officer, which is also one of the top paying UN roles.

The Senior Evaluations Officer within the UN will often line-manage a team of evaluation officers and report to either a project manager or department head.

Within the UN job categorization system, senior officer roles, such as the Senior Evaluations Officer, are often put as P-3. These are very well-paid jobs within the Unite Nations.

How to Apply

You will need a background in project management, data science or project evaluation if you want to get a job as a Senior Evaluations Officer with the UN. A proven track-record in evaluating projects in similar contexts to where the UN operates will also add to your application.

Grants Manager

The UN receives many grants from funding organisations in order to do its work. The United Nations also acts as a donor in many contexts, providing funding to NGOs to implement many of its projects. One of the top paying jobs in the United Nations is the Grants Manager position.

Grant Managers in the UN are responsible for monitoring and reporting on grants, well as working with implementing partners to ensure grant compliance. They also review project proposals and join decisions on where UN funding should be allocated. The level of expertise and wide range of tasks undertaken by a UN Grants Manager is why the position has a good salary.

The job category of Grants Managers in the UN is usually P-3 or above. This means they are quite well paid.

How to Apply

If you want to work as a Grants Manager in the United Nations you will need some experience working in a similar role – probably either in the NGO sector or a donor organization. You will also require an understanding of grant cycle management and donor compliance regulations.

Chief of Section

One final highly paid job at the UN is that of Chief of Section. Within the UN system, Chief of Section roles oversee a large department, or groups of departments. Similar to the position of Director, the Chief of Section is responsible for ensuring the section under them delivers the outcomes the wider organisation needs.

Chief of Section positions within the United Nations are often based within UN missions. Many different UN agencies recruit Chief of Section roles covering a wide range of functions.

As a senior level job within the UN, Chief of Section positions are usually categorized as P-5 or above, or as D-1 or D-2 roles. These are some of the best paying job types in the United Nations.

How to Apply

In order to become a Chief of Section in the UN you will need significant senior management experience. You will also need to demonstrate that you have the capacity to lead large teams and coordinate whole departments to deliver results. A background in the function, such as finance, logistics or programmes, that the Chief of Section leads will also help you secure the job.

If you want to learn more about how to get a job with the United Nations, check out of the top UN online courses here.


Duncan is the founder of Humanitarian Careers. With over ten years experience in the aid industry across fifteen countries, Duncan set-up Humanitarian Careers to help people launch their own career in international aid.