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UNHCR Salary Scales

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is all about helping refugees rebuild their lives.

The humanitarian secretariat strives to ensure that people who are forced to flee their homes find refuge in another country or state.

It offers refugees shelter, clean water, household goods, sanitation, blankets, healthcare, and food.

If they choose to return home, the charity organization arranges transport for them and introduces income-generating projects to help them with resettlement.

A career at the UNHCR gives you a chance to make the world a better place.

Plus, you get to do that while smiling all the way to the bank every month.

Since the organization is international, most of its employees enjoy salary grades equal to those of their first-world country counterparts.

They attract very attractive salaries as per UN standards.

 In addition, they are entitled to amazing benefits including medical insurance, house allowance, hardship allowance (for those in challenging areas), and free travel expenses during work trips.

Here, we have compiled the salary scales at UNHCR.

UNHCR Job Categories And Their Salaries

 UNHCR is part of the larger United Nations global organization.

The UN headquarters, located in Nairobi (both in Westlands and Gigiri) has UNHCR offices as well as those of other humanitarian organizations under the UN flagship including UNICEF, UNEP, UNIDO, UN Women, UN-Habitat, UNOPS, WHO, UNDP, WFP, and more.

UN groups its staff into the following categories:

1. Professional  And Higher Categories ( P and D)

These serve at varied duty stations throughout their time with UNHCR and are often recruited internationally.

The positions require an advanced university degree or a first-level degree with qualified work experience.

The annual remuneration packages for this position are as follows:

  • Entry-level professionals (P1 – P2) – $37,000 – $80,000
  • Mid-career professionals (P4 – P5) – $67,000 – $106,000
  • Senior level professionals (D1 – D2) – $95,000 – $123,000.

Besides the base salary, UNHCR employees in this category enjoy a post-adjustment according to the cost of living in their specific duty stations.

The humanitarian organization uses a multiplier of 65.7% of the base salary.

Additionally, they enjoy other benefits such as rental subsidies, dependency allowances, travel, and shipping expenses, education grants for kids (under specific conditions), hazard pay, and hardship allowances where necessary.

2. General Services And Related Categories  (G, TC, S, PIA, LT)

These include secretarial, administrative, and clerical support individuals.

Security guys and those that maintain buildings or carry out printing work also fall under this category.

All of them are recruited locally and are paid by local standards.

Their salaries are reviewed from time to time as the local salary scales change.

The employees may be entitled to allowances such as family allowances and medical insurance plans sponsored by the UN.

3. National Professional Officers (NO)

National professional officers are also locally recruited to carry out professional-level duties within the UNHCR.

They require a first-level degree at minimum.

The jobs are found at non-headquartered stations only.

Like the category above, these are paid according to the local salary scales.

They are also eligible for family allowances if they have eligible children and dependent spouses.

4. Field Service (FS)

UNHCR staff under the Field Service category typically serves in field missions.

Throughout their careers, the staff is pretty much mobile – moving from one point to another on UN missions.

The positions call for a high school diploma or equivalent.

Some positions require a vocational or technical certificate.

Field service employees are further divided into the following categories.

Mid-level field service staff

  • FS-4 (6 years work experience at minimum) -$44,000 – $68,000 base salary
  • FS-5 (8 years work experience at minimum) – $44,000 – $68,000 base salary

Senior-level field service

  • FS-6 (10 years work experience) – $56,000 – $90,000 base salary
  • FS-7 (12 years work experience) – $56,000 – $90,000 base salary

Field service employees also get a post adjustment according to the exchange rate of the dollar and the cost of living in their duty stations.

The UNHCR uses a multiplier of 55.5% on the base salary for this category.

The staff is also entitled to the benefits of professional and higher categories above.

5. Senior Appointments (SG, DSG, USG, and ASG)

As the name goes, senior appointments are positions reserved for higher positions at the UNHCR.

These include:

  • Secretary-General (appointed by the General Assembly)
  • Deputy Secretary-General (appointed by the secretary general after consultation with member states)
  • Under-Secretary-General (a head of department appointed by the Secretary-General)
  • Assistant Secretary-General (appointed by the Secretary-General).

These positions attract very competitive salaries ($250,000 and above) per year.


If you are lucky to land a job at the UNHCR, there’s no denying the fact that you will enjoy an attractive wage.

What’s more, your base salary is exempt from income tax.

On top of it, you are entitled to a range of benefits that your peers will never get to enjoy.

If you are passionate about humanitarian projects, try your luck at the UNHCR and kill two birds with one stone!

You may also want to check: UNDP Salary Scale (in Kenya)

Kenyalogue Contributor


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