When you first begin learning a language, it’s important to cover the basics – and talking about your job is a great example. In this article, you’ll learn how to ask somebody what their job is, how to talk about yours, and some vocabulary for different professions in French. So, if you’re on the hunt for a new job or just visiting a French-speaking country, this is a great article to get you started. We also recommend checking out our article about the best cities to live and work in France for some inspiration!
- How to ask somebody about their profession in French
- How to describe your profession in French
- List of jobs in French
How to ask somebody about their profession in French
In any language, when you first meet somebody, it’s common to ask what they do. In French, there are lots of ways to ask this. Keep in mind: You should know when to use vous or tu depending on who you are speaking with. Here is a list of questions you can ask:
- Qu’est ce que vous faites / tu fais comme travail ? (What do you do for work?)
- Quel est votre / ton métier / profession ? (What’s your job?)
- Vous travaillez / tu travailles dans quel domaine ? (What sector do you work in?)
- Qu’est ce que vous faites / tu fais dans la vie ? (What do you do in life?)
As you can see, there are some common terms around work. For example, the word “profession” can be translated in different ways in French. You can say profession, métier or travail. The verb used to describe working is travailler (to work), although it’s also common to use the verb faire (to do), similar to English.
How to describe your profession in French
Now, this is where the fun begins! There are two important rules to be aware of when it comes to talking about jobs in French: First, you do not use the indefinite article when talking about your profession. Take a look at this example:
- In English we say “I am a doctor”. In French, it’s je suis médecin (no need to add “un”).
- Je suis serveur (I am a waiter).
It can take a bit of time to get used to this, but it actually makes things much easier! It’s important to note that if you decide to expand your sentence by adding an adjective or providing more information, you will then need to use the indefinite or definite article.
- Je suis un bon professeur (I’m a good teacher)
Second, some professions in French only exist in the masculine form. Here are some examples, so even if you’re a woman, you would use the masculine form.
- Un architecte – An architect
- Un médecin – A doctor
- Un pompier – A firefighter
Fortunately, there are many jobs in French that have a feminine form, such as acteur/actrice (actor), vendeur/vendeuse (salesperson) and pharmacien/pharmacienne (pharmacist). In recent years, gender-neutral language has been a hot topic in the country and has led to much debate, so more and more professions now have a feminine form, such as:
- Auteur / autrice (writer)
- Écrivain / écrivaine (writer)
- Professeur / professeure (teacher)
- Ingénieur / ingénieure (engineer)
List of jobs in French
We’ve put together a list of the most common types of professions in French with their masculine and feminine form so that the next time you’re chatting with a French-speaking person, you have the right vocabulary to discuss work. We’ve divided them into different categories.
- Homme d’affaires / femme d’affaires – Businessman/woman
- Commercial – Salesperson
- Manager – Manager
- Président-directeur général (PDG) – Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
- Electricien / électricienne – Electrician
- Charpentier / charpentière – Carpenter
- Maçon / maçonne – Builder
- Plombier – Plumber
- Acteur / actrice – Actor
- Chanteur / chanteuse – Singer
- Danseur / danseuse – Dancer
- Médecin – Doctor
- Infirmier / infirmière – Nurse
- Psychologue – Psychologist
- Opticien / opticienne – Optician
- Professeur / professeure | enseignant / enseignante – Teacher
- Étudiant / étudiante – Student
- Directeur / directrice d’école – Principal
- Assistant social / assistante sociale – Social worker
Food / Restaurants
- Serveur / serveuse – Waiter
- Chef – Chef
- Boulanger / boulangère – Baker
- Boucher / bouchère – Butcher
- Conducteur / conductrice de bus | chauffeur de bus – Bus driver
- Pilote – Pilot
- Steward / hôtesse de l’air – Flight attendant
- Chauffeur de taxi – Taxi driver
The next time you ask a French person what their job is, you can add their job title to this list!
All in a day’s work
So there we have it. There are many other professions in French but this list is a good place to start. Being able to talk about your job will help you along your language journey and who knows, maybe one day you’ll end up with a bilingual career!
Clara Avrillier is a writer, linguist and content manager living in the South of France. She loves getting out in nature, doing sport, reading and playing music. She also works with expats looking to move to France. Connect with her on LinkedIn.