Jobs in French.jpg

Jobs and professions in French: les métiers 

Image  HeungSoon -  Pixabay

In this lesson, you will learn basic French vocabulary related to jobs, the names of common professions in French like médecin, infirmier, or policier. You will also learn the essential phrases for asking the sensitive question what do you do for a living?

But before, let's learn some generic terms. When talking about jobs in French, we use the following terms : 

  • Un travail, un métier,  or un boulot (familiar) : they all mean a job in French

  • un métier, une profession : profession 

  • une carrière: a career

  • travailler : to work.

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1. How to ask about someone's profession in French?

Here are the common phrases or sentences you can use to ask someone about his profession in French. Remember that there are different ways of asking questions and you should use the appropriate form depending on the situation like in this :

  • Tu fais quoi dans la vie? (informal)

  • Qu'est ce que tu fais dans la vie? (informal)

  • Que fais -tu dans la vie? (formal)

  • Qu'est ce que tu fais comme métier?

  • Qu'est ce que tu fais comme travail?

  • Tu travailles dans quel domaine? 

The last question can be translated as in which field/sector are you working?

Note that I used the pronoun tu for most of the questions but you can also use the vous in a formal context or if you are referring to more than one person. If you want to know more about the use of tu and vous, check out this article.

2. How to tell your job title in French?

In French, the simple way to tell your occupation or job title is by using the verb être. Use the phrase "je suis +profession" which is translated in English as I am +Profession.

Example 

  • Je suis artiste. => I am an artist.

Note that you do not need to use the indefinite article un or une like you would normally do in English. Je suis artiste and ⛔not je suis un artiste.

However, if you want to give more details you can use the indefinite article.

Example 

  • Je suis une commerciale dynamique. => I am a dynamic sales person.

  • Je suis un médecin qui s'occupe des enfants. => I am a doctor who takes car of children.

Another way of telling what your job is can be by using the phrases below. Of course, you can replace the profession or the field of work with a customized one.

  • Je travaille comme infirmière. => I work as a nurse.

  • Je travaille dans le secteur médical. => I work in the medical sector.

  • J'exerce le métier de professeur. => Very difficult to translate this sentence to English. I would just say I am doing a teacher job.

Talk about jobs french-min.jpg

3. Common professions in French with their masculine and feminine form

You already know that in the French language, gender of nouns is very important. To find the feminine of a profession, you should generally add an "e" to the ending of the masculine form.

Example

  • Avocat, avocate => lawyer

  • Architecte => architect

  • Étudiant, étudiante => Student

  • Enseignant, enseignante => teacher

  • Ingénieur, ingénieure => engineer

  • Professeur, professeure=>teacher (note that professeur can be used for both masculine and feminine also). 

Professions ending with the letter "e"

Professions already ending with 'e" stay unchanged for their feminine.

Example  ]a

  • Artiste => artist

  • Comptable => accountant

  • Dentiste => dentist

  • Fleuriste => florist

  • Journaliste=> Journalist

  • Juge => judge

  • Libraire => Bookseller

  • peintre => Painter

  • Pilote => pilot

  • Secrétaire => secretary

  • Scientifique => scientistC

Some occupations have irregular endings of their feminine;  those ending with eur, teur, ien, ain, er,...

Professions ending with " teur"  become "trice" in the feminine

 

  • Acteur, actrice => actor, actress

  • Directeur, directrice => director

  • Instituteur, institutrice => teacher

Professions ending with " eur"  become "euse" in the feminine

  • Coiffeur, coiffeuse => barber, hair dresser

  • Serveur, serveuse => server

  • Vendeur, vendeuse => salesman, saleswoman

 

 

Professions ending with " er"  become "ère" in the feminine

 

  • boulanger, boulangère => baker

  • Caissier, caissère => cashier

  • Cuisinier,cuisinière => cook, chef

  • Infirmier, infirmière => nurse

  • Policier, policière => Police officer

 

Professions ending with " ien "  become " ienne " in the feminine

  • Informaticien, informaticienne => informatician

  • Mécanicien, mécanicienne => mechanic

  • Pharmacien, pharmacienne => pharmacist

Note that some professions are mostly used in the masculine form. Even if we can  say professeure for a female teacher, it is more common to see professeur without e for women.

For the  word pompier, it is prefered to say femme pompier, ou femme sapeur-pompier when refering to a female firefighter. Same as for facteur and factrice. Facteur (postman) would be preferred.

Note also that the list of occupations given above is not exhaustive.

4. Practice test on professions in French

Here is a little exercise for you to practice on the professions you've just learned. It's more a guessing game, with sentences giving you clues about the professions described.

Happy practicing!

More Practice

Exercise 1

Exercise 2

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