Featured Advice
What are your interests?

Investigative?

Investigative

The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.

Career Opportunities in the EU

Career Opportunities in the EU

What are the main occupations in this sector?

Given the sheer size and the wide range of functions required, there are many and varied occupations employed across the Institutions of the EU.

Video: Career opportunities with the European Institutions [Click on the links below to explore each role in detail in our Occupational Database]

EU Administrator

EU Assistant

EU Auditor 

EU Lawyer (AD)

EU Lawyer-linguist (AD7)

EU Policy Officer - Public Administration (AD)

EU Policy Officer  - External Relations (AD)

EU Translator

EU Conference Interpreter

EU Proof Reader/Language Editor

EU Communication Officer (AD)

EU Communication Assistant (AST)

EU Secretary/Administrative Assistant (AST, CAST)

EU Human Resources Assistant (AST, CAST)

EU ICT Staff

EU Financial Manager (AD, CAST)

EU Financial Management/ Accounting Assistant (AST, CAST)

EU Economist

EU Statistician

EU Parliamentary Assistant

MEP (Member of the European Parliament)

Seconded National Experts (SNE)

Employment Grades Explained

The occupations employed in the EU institutions fall into particular 'Grades'. These grades are outline below, followed by an outline on the main occupations employed in the sector.

Administration (AD 5 etc.)

A typical day for those employed as administrators would involve analysing and advising and the drafting of policies.

Translators and interpreters are also recruited as administrators.

  • An administrator career covers grades AD 5 to AD 16.
  • AD 5 is the entry level for University graduates.
  • Selection and recruitment may also be offered at AD 6 / AD 7 in more specialist roles. Several years' relevant experience will be required.
  • AD 9 / AD 12 is middle management level. Selection/recruitment at these grades requires previous management experience.

Assistants (Grade AST 1 etc.)

Assistants are generally employed in an executive and technical role and play
an important role in the internal management of the Institutions.

  • An assistant career covers grades AST 1 to AST 11.
  • New staff usually enters at grades AST 1 or AST 3.
  • AST 1 candidates must have completed secondary education and have previous relevant experience, or have a relevant vocational qualification.
  • AST 3 candidates should have completed secondary education, a relevant vocational qualification and/or several years' relevant experience.

Assistants-Secretaries (Grades AST/SC1 etc.)

Assistants-Secretaries are generally employed in an office management and administrative support role within the EU Institutions.

  • An assistant career covers grades AST/SC1 to AST/SC6.
  • New staff usually enter at grades AST/SC 1.
  • AST/SC1 candidates must have completed secondary education and have previous relevant experience, or have a relevant vocational qualification.
  • AST/SC2 for more experienced candidates (minimum 4 years).

 

What types of employment contracts are there?

Employment within the EU falls into three types of contracts:

  • Permanent contracts
  • Temporary contracts
  • Fixed-term contracts

Each of these is explained below.

PERMANENT JOBS IN THE EU

A permanent role in the EU is an option whether you have completed a Stage, or have a wealth of professional knowledge and experience. 

Permanent staff are selected through open competitions. These are not intended for specific posts, but to fill a reserve pool for recruitment needs.

The permanent officials form the EU Civil Service and are divided into different function groups:

Administrator (AD)

Assistants (AST)

Administrators are typically involved in drafting policies and monitoring the implementation of EU law, analysing and advising. In general, to apply for an administrator competition, you must have completed (at least) three years of university.

Assistants usually work in supporting roles and are crucial for the internal management of the institutions. In general, to apply for an assistant competition, you must have completed (at least) secondary school.


EPSO organises 'open competitions' to select permanent staff. Competitions measure candidates' skills through a series of tests and assessments, ensuring the very best people are selected. Each year there are competitions for administrators, linguists, interpreters, translators, secretaries and other staff categories.

Find out more here.

 Permanent Language Jobs in the EU

Like all permanent jobs in the EU, permanent language jobs require candidates to first pass the concours organised by EPSO (See: "How do you get a job in this sector?" below)

The competition stages for those who would like to work with languages in the EU Institutions are similar to those already outlined for assistants, administrators, etc., but with some variations depending on the language job profile that is being recruited.

It takes 5-9 months to complete the selection procedure starting from the date of publication of the competition notice.

Vacancies in all of the profiles outlined here are announced by a competition notice posted on the EPSO website, which gives full details of the job, the eligibility criteria and the selection procedure.

Visit the EPSO website for further information.

 Applicants for all linguist profiles are required to have:

  • A perfect command of your mother tongue/main language (language 1).
  • A thorough knowledge of English, French or German (language 2) and the ability to translate it.
  • A thorough knowledge of a second official language of the EU (language 3) and the ability to translate it (proof-readers are not required to have this third language).

NOTE FOR IRISH LANGUAGE SPEAKERS

Fluent Irish speakers have the possibility to opt for English as their second language and then another EU language as their third, possibly making the process a bit more accessible.

TEMPORARY JOBS IN THE EU

Temporary or contract agents cover a variety of tasks and expertise for periods ranging from a few weeks, often to several years. These contracts offer a perfect opportunity to get great work experience in a multilingual European environment.

The length of employment for someone recruited on a temporary contract can vary - at the Commission for example, it is for a maximum of 6 years (but you can always sit the concours while working for the EU on a temporary contract!).

Unlike permanent contracts, the selection and recruitment of the EU’s temporary agents is run by the individual EU Institutions and Agencies according to their staffing needs and applicants do not have sit EPSO exams.

Your salary, benefits, and working conditions as a temporary agent are essentially the same as those of permanent officials. This covers the range of family allowances including expatriation allowance and medical insurance. As a temporary agent you may also be entitled to a temporary unemployment allowance when your contract expires.

Opportunities for temporary contract work with the EU are listed on the various individual EU Institution websites, websites of the various Permanent Representations to the EU and the EPSO website here. For the latest updates on available contracts, keep a close eye on these sites.

You can also submit a spontaneous application by uploading your CV here

Temporary Contracts

Temporary contracts are offered for a variety of roles within the European Union. Temporary contracts, by their nature, are for a limited duration with a specific end date.

Recruitment of staff on temporary contracts is usually done by individual EU institutions/agencies.

People looking for temporary contracts in EU Institutions may be offered one of the following contracts:

Interim Staff

Such contracts can only be issued for up to a maximum of 6 months. Such employment is usually done through local recruitment agencies.

Interim Consultants

An EU institution may employ experts in particular areas to consult on certain issues relating to this field. Such consultants are usually employed through an individual tendering process.

Freelance Linguists

Freelance interpreters are temporary starr employed to work alongside permanent interpreters during meetings of the European Institutions. To become a freelance interpreter, one must pass an inter-institutional interpreting test.

Junior Professionals in Delegation (JPD)

Junior Professionals in Delegation is a Traineeship offered in EU Delegations to university post-graduates. The traineeships can last up to 18 months and gives the employee the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in the work of the EU Delegations.

EU Experts

Independent experts available to assist on specific tasks as needed.

Seconded National Experts

On occasion the EU will invite national and international civil servants and public sector staff to bring their experience to an EU institution for a temporary time period.

[See Seconded National Expert (SNE) in our Occupations Database for full details]

Note: Maintenance workers and canteen staff are recruited via external contracting companies.

FIXED TERM CONTRACT JOBS IN THE EU (CAST)

Contract staff (CAST) are employed for a fixed maximum period, often with a shorter initial contract of 6-12 months, depending on the type of job. In some EU bodies, it may be possible for the contract to be extended for an indefinite duration.

Contract staff (CAST) are generally recruited to do manual or administrative support–service tasks or to provide additional capacity in specialised fields where insufficient officials with the required skills are available. 

Contract staff positions are available for a wide range of jobs, requiring different levels of qualifications.

They are divided into four function groups:

  • Manual and administrative support-service tasks
  • Clerical or secretarial tasks, office management and other equivalent tasks
  • Executive tasks, drafting, accountancy and other equivalent technical tasks
  • Administrative, advisory, linguistic and equivalent technical tasks.

EU contract staff are pulled from a pool of candidates kept on a database organised by EPSO. Unlike with an open competition, there is no assessment stage for candidates undertaking fixed-term contracts and the number of candidates is not predefined.

The application procedure to get your name into the CAST database is made up of 2 stages.

For generalist profiles, the process begins with verbal, abstract and numerical tests and is followed by a competency test. For those applying for a specialist profile, such as nursing, engineering and scientific research, selection begins with a review of the candidates CV before the competency test. Successful candidates will be kept on EPSO’s database for three years.

For further information click here. 

What are the typical earnings of these occupations?

Salaries in EU jobs are very competitive. Below we provide a breakdown of the main details:

Salary

Monthly salaries in the European Commission range from around €2,300 per month for a newly recruited AST/SC 1 official to around €16,000 per month for a top level AD 16 official with over four years of seniority.

Each grade is broken up into five seniority steps with corresponding salary increases. Basic salaries are adjusted annually in line with inflation and purchasing power in the EU countries.

As the name may suggest, the basic monthly salary is just the starting point to remuneration associated with EU jobs as an employee may be entitled to additional allowances.

All payments are subject to relevant tax and charges.

Allowances

If your new job within the European Commission takes you outside your home country you are entitled to an allowance equivalent to 16% of your basic salary known as an expatriation allowance.

Additionally, further allowances may be granted depending on a person’s family status/situation.

Pensions

The age of retirement for EU officials is 66.

Pensions are calculated as a percentage of an employee’s final basic salary. Officials accumulate 1.8% pension rights every year and are entitled to a maximum pension of 70% of their final basic salary. 

It is possible to take early retirement with a reduced pension from the age of 58, or to work up until the age of 67 or, exceptionally, until the age of 70.

Whilst working, your contribution to the pension scheme will correspond to 10.3% of your basic salary.

Annual Leave

Commission officials are entitled to annual leave of 24 working days.

 

How do you get a job in this sector?

EU Jobs Ireland

EUJobs.ie is a government information service designed to help you in taking the first step to an EU career. The service aims to provide Irish citizens with essential information about the type of jobs and traineeships that are available in the EU and advice on how to set about securing them.

EUJobs.ie has a dedicated website, e-newsletter and social media presence, all of which are geared to keeping you up to date with the latest EU career opportunities. It also offers one-to-one advice on how to apply for specific EU positions and arranges training and information sessions in Dublin and in Brussels ahead of major EU recruitment competitions.

EPSO

The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) is the first port of call for anyone wanting to work for the EU.  Its website explains the selection process for permanent jobs and gives advice on preparing for competitions.

More steps to getting a job within the EU

Starting a career in the European Union can seem like a daunting task. The following entry points are the most common places to start.

Stage/Stagiaire

Stage/stagiaire is French for traineeship/trainee. In a Brussels context, you’ll often hear the French terms being used in place of the English.

A stage is an internship that lasts an average of between 3 and 6 months. Depending on the credentials of the stage in question, it’s an opportunity to gain valuable experience at the start of your career, and is often seen as a rite of passage to the world of work in Brussels.

Traineeships are a great entry point for a European career. They are open to graduates with a minimum of a bachelor level degree. Traineeships are available within all institutions.

For detailed information on Stage/Trainseeship and key dates click here.

The Concours (Open Competition)

All permanent staff for the EU Institutions are recruited through open competitions, commonly referred to as ‘concours’ in all languages. These competitions are organised by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) and offer job opportunities in all the EU Institutions.

The roles available are in different fields such as Communications, Translation, Interpretation, IT, Finance, etc.

Graduates can apply for so-called ‘Administrator’ profiles whereas non-graduates can apply for ‘Assistant’ profiles. The selection procedures for the respective profiles are published at different times of the year.

Guide to the Concours Application Process

To apply to the concours, you need be a graduate in any field, as long as you have an honours degree of at least three years in length, and speak two EU languages, one of which must be English, French or German.

While there is no formal language requirement needed, you should be able to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of your second language.

Starting Your Application

You will have one month to complete and validate your application via EPSO. All who have completed this application will be eligible to sit the computer-based tests in a nominated EPSO test centre.

These computer tests are split into four parts to the test: verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, abstract reasoning and situational judgement tests – These will be held in your second language.

The Next Step

If you are successful you will then be invited to attend an assessment centre where you will be tested in the following core competences:

  • Analysis and problem solving
  • Communicating
  • Delivering quality and results
  • Learning and development
  • Prioritising and organising
  • Resilience
  • Working with others
  • Leadership

The assessment centre will be entirely in your second language and is made up of four different elements:

  1. A comprehensive case study in the field for which you have registered – you will need to analyse this in-depth case study using all of the information, facts and figures provided and prepare a written report/recommendation on your findings.
  2. A group exercise – work together to come to a conclusion on all your positions.
  3. An oral presentation – assessors like to see presentations that are clear, concise and to the point. There is no way you remember all of the information they give you, so prioritise.
  4. A structured interview – never underestimate a smile.

 Video: A Day at the Assessment Centre 

Find out more about preparing for EU recruitment competitions here.

Success?

Should you be successful, you will be placed on the recruitment reserve list, at which point the various institutions have the chance to look at your details and invite you to interview for a specific post.

Applying for Language Jobs in the EU

During the competition stages, candidates will be tested on all three of their languages, as well as the core competencies required for all EU jobs. 

For all permanent language jobs, the verbal, abstract and numerical reasoning computer based test stage will be conducted in your second language, with interpreters also having to sit some of these tests in their third language. 

You will also have to sit additional ‘language tests’ for all three of your languages. 

These tests will vary depending on the linguist profile you are applying for - read more about these profiles in the 'Main Occupations' information area.

Like all the permanent jobs in the EU, permanent language jobs require candidates to first pass the concours organised by EPSO. 

The competition stages for those who would like to work with languages in the EU Institutions are similar to those already outlined for assistants, administrators, etc., but with some variations depending on the language job profile that is being recruited. 

NoteIt takes 5-9 months to complete the selection procedure starting from the date of publication of the competition notice.

Vacancies for all of the profiles outlined are announced by a competition notice posted on the EPSO website, which gives full details of the job, the eligibility criteria and the selection procedure.

Click image to view Green Book


Apart from the chance to work in any of the 27 Member States, the European Institutions are significant employers providing permanent, temporary and contract opportunities.

For detailed information on the EU career and internship openings and opportunities available to Irish jobseekers see:

'The Green Book- an Irish Intern's Guide to Living and Working in Brussels & Other European Cities' Volume 10.

Published by European Movement Ireland (EMI)