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Learn French: How to Talk about Professions, Jobs, and Work

written by: R. H. • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 3/2/2012

Would you like to learn how to discuss professions, jobs, and work in French? This article will introduce you to many French words and phrases about jobs and work. Also, you can download and print a vocabulary list of French job and work vocabulary listed in this article.

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    French Words for Various Professions and Jobs

    The following is a list of the French names for various professions. You will notice that while some of the professions have two names (one masculine, one feminine), others have only one form (generally masculine). When the noun referring to a profession is masculine, it is appropriate to use the masculine noun to refer to a woman who has that profession. For example, a woman can be "un professeur" just as well as a man.

    • un acteur, une actrice – actor, actress
    • un agriculteur agriculturist (such as a fermier or a vigneron)
    • un artisan craftsman, skilled tradesman
    • un/une artiste artist
    • un avocat, une avocate lawyer
    • un boulanger, une boulangère baker
    • un boucher butcher
    • un charpentier carpenter
    • un caissier, une caissière cashier
    • un chef cook
    • un commerçant, une commerçante retailer
    • un/une dentiste dentist
    • un écrivain writer
    • un étudiant, une étudiante student
    • un électricien electrician
    • un employé, une employée employee
    • un/une fonctionnaire government official
    • une femme de chambre maid
    • un fermier farmer
    • un fleuriste florist
    • un gérant manager
    • un infirmier, une infirmière nurse
    • un ingénieur engineer
    • un mécanicien mechanic
    • un médecin doctor
    • un ouvrier, une ouvrière worker (especially, in a factory)
    • un peintre painter
    • un pharmacies, une pharmacienne pharmacist
    • un plombier plumber
    • un policier police officer
    • un pompier fireman
    • un receptionist, un(e) réceptionniste receptionist
    • un/une secrétaire secretary
    • un professeur teacher
    • un serveur, une serveuse waiter, waitress
    • un vigneron vinedresser, wine maker
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    More French Words and Phrases for Jobs, Work, and Professions

    Here are some other words and phrases you may want to use in a discussion related to your profession or work:

    • un apprenti, une apprentice apprentice
    • un chômeur, une chômeuse – unemployed person
    • les congés – vacation (specifically work vacation—student vacations are called les vacances)
    • démissionner de to resign from
    • être en chômage – to be unemployed
    • être en grêve – to be on strike
    • des heurs supplémentaires – overtime
    • un intérimaire a temporary (replacement)
    • licencier to lay off, to fire
    • les petites annonces the classifieds (classified announcements, job listings)
    • prendre sa retraite to retire
    • la retraite retirement
    • un stage professional training, work experience
    • un stage en enterprise – internship (work placement)
    • un stage pratique period of work experience
    • une usine – factory
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    Some Helpful French Sentences for Jobs and Work

    Here are some French sentences about jobs and work. Take note that, when you are telling someone your profession, there is no need to insert an article (definite or indefinite) before the name of your profession. Simply say, "Je suis..." and then name your profession. Be sure to check ahead of time whether your profession has only one form or whether there are separate masculine and feminine forms.

    Another important cultural note that should not be overlooked is that the French do not discuss profession immediately at the first meeting with someone (unless, of course, it is a business meeting). Before asking someone in France what they do for a living, be sure you get to know them well as a person. Otherwise, your question may seem surface-level and may suggest that you do not really care about this individual as a person.

    • Je travaille à plein-temps. – I work full-time.
    • Je travaille à mi-temps. – I work part-time.
    • Je suis professeur. – I’m a professor.
    • Je suis étudiant/étudiante. – I’m a student.
    • Je suis à la retraite. I’m retired.
    • Je vien de démissionner. – I just resigned.
    • On peut faire la grêve. – We can have a strike.
    • Quand je suis à lúniversité, je peux faire des stages dans une enterprise. – While I’m at college (or university), I can do an internship at a business.
    • Si mon chef nest pas content de mon travail, il peut me licencier. – If my boss isn’t content with my work, he can fire me.
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    French Vocabulary Printable Download

    For a printable list of the vocabulary from this article, please download French Vocabulary Download: Jobs, Work & Professions.