If you like the idea of working in France, spend some time finding out about the job market and the different opportunities on offer – such as work experience and graduate positions – before packing your bags and booking your flight
If you like the sound of ‘work hard, play hard’ and you want to test the waters of a job market overseas then there’s no better place to do so than France. As one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations you’ll certainly have plenty to see and do in your free time.
Job market in France
France has a strong tourism industry – it’s actually the most visited country in the world, with over 75 million tourists heading there each year. If you are interested in working in the tourism industry, jobs are available all year round.
Working in a mountain resort is a popular option for those seeking seasonal employment, but contracts are almost always temporary.
Each winter, thousands of jobs become available in hotels, restaurants and bars. There’s also a great demand for qualified sports instructors in both the summer and winter seasons. For more guidance on temporary jobs in the mountains, go to Seasonworkers Ski jobs in France.
The French agriculture and industrial sectors are always looking for new recruits to fill a wide range of jobs, many of which are seasonal. The French government is alert to ecological concerns and, as a result, many eco jobs are being created. Jobs involving the environment, or ‘green jobs’ as they are often known, look set to be the future of this sector.
Healthcare professionals are in high demand due to an increasing need for medical treatment. One factor causing this increased demand is a rise in life expectancy.
France is also influential in the production of aircraft, cars and pharmaceuticals.
Search for jobs in France at:
- Emplois Verts (in French);
- L’Etudiant (in French);
- EURES Job Search (in English);
- Pole Emploi (in French).
Work experience and internships in France
Work experience is seen as vital in France, with most French university courses containing some form of internship, known as ‘stage’.
Multinational company L’Oréal offers international internships to graduates who are fluent in French. Positions exist within research, finance and marketing to name just a few areas and internships last from three months to one year. To find out more, see the L’Oreal Global Opportunity Programme.
For those interested in teaching English in France, schemes are available for graduates who hold a minimum of AS level in French or equivalent. You don’t need to be fluent in French, as it’s important to create an English-speaking atmosphere in the classroom. For more information, read i-to-i – Teach English in France.
You can apply to work as an English language assistant through the British Council – Language Assistants in France.
Internships and summer work placements for students can also be arranged by:
- AIESEC UK – for students and recent graduates;
- IAESTE UK – for science, engineering and applied arts students.
Volunteering in France
Voluntary work is well worth considering if you can afford to work unpaid in order to gain experience. Not only will it put your language skills to the test and help you to understand French culture, it will provide you with an opportunity to make valuable contacts and look fantastic on your CV.
The European Commission (EC) funds a scheme called The European Voluntary Service (EVS), which is aimed at people aged 17 to 30 wishing to volunteer abroad. It offers young people the chance to volunteer for up to 12 months in a number of European and non-European countries.
Opportunities vary from placements concerned with sport and culture to others focused on social care and the environment. For successful applicants, accommodation, travel, food and insurance are all covered by a European grant and you even receive a personal allowance each month.
Make sure you thoroughly research all volunteering opportunities and always check the terms and conditions before committing yourself to a scheme.
The key to gaining employment in France is the language and this cannot be stressed enough. For almost all jobs, it’s essential that you have a good understanding of French (both spoken and written).
There are lots of French language courses in the UK and many good websites exist to help you learn a language or improve your skills. To test and then sharpen your skills, visit BBC Languages – French.
French visas and immigration
According to the EC, European Union (EU) citizens have the right to:
- move to another EU country to work without a work permit;
- enjoy equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax advantages;
- stay in the country even after employment has finished.
For more information and to check what conditions and restrictions apply, see:
- European Commission – Free Movement EU Nationals
- Europa – Work-Related Rights
- Europa – Workers and Pensioners
EU nationals may also be entitled to have certain types of health and social security coverage transferred to the country in which they go to seek work. For country-specific information on social security entitlements, see European Commission – Your Rights Country by Country.
Depending on your occupation, your qualifications may be recognised in some countries. To find out more, visit Europa – Qualifications for Employment.