French Vocabulary Professions and Trades: How to Discuss Professions, Jobs, and Work in French

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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

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

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.

French Vocabulary Printable Download

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