The Council of Europe's Secretariat has a permanent staff of about 2100 drawn from the 47 member States, working in fields such as human rights, democracy, rule of law, media, legal co-operation, social and economic questions, health, education, culture and heritage, sport, youth, local and regional government, environment, administration, finance, IT, public information, translation and interpreting, etc.
Staff are divided into 4 categories (A, B, C, and L). Staff in the A category work in jobs as Administrative Officers ranging from beginning-of-career posts (A1/A2) up to posts of Director General (grade A7). They are supported and assisted by staff in the upper B grade category (B4 to B6) who engage in executive and supervisory duties, and by other B grade staff (B1 to B3) who carry out secretarial and clerical tasks. Staff in the L category ensure translation and interpretation services. Category C comprises staff carrying out technical, manual or other service duties.
All permanent staff are recruited by competitive examination only. Fixed-term positions are also regularly advertised and filled by a similar procedure.
Administrative Officers are usually recruited to beginning-of-career posts (grades A1 to A2) by general competitions open to those member States not yet adequately represented.
Specific competitions are organised with a view to filling specialised posts. Such competitions usually take place as and when vacancies arise and may be either open to nationals of all member States or restricted to one or several under-represented countries.
General competitions for secretarial assistants of English or French mother tongue level are organised at regular intervals. Other specific competitions may also be organised for secretarial assistants with mother tongue level of other European languages.