Working in France: Everything You Need to Know to Find a Job
Want to start working in France but don’t know where to start? Look no further. With this guide, we tell you everything you need to know about how to get a job in France, from the different types of jobs available, whether you need a work visa, jobs for English-speakers, and more.
Can I get a job in France?
That depends on your nationality. If you are from the European Union, European Economic Area or Switzerland, you are allowed to work in France as if you were a French resident. (The exception is if you are vying for a job in public administration, in which only those with French citizenship are allowed to apply.)
Students on a student resident permit are legally allowed to work for up to 19.5 hours a week. Students can also apply for internships that may turn into a full-time job later on. (You must be a student in order to apply. Internships in France do not take anyone else for these types of programs.)
If you are not a student or a resident of one of the above-mentioned places, you will need to apply for a work permit.
Getting a French work visa
Your employer will take care of your work permit for France, depending on the job and whether you are already in France. Employers need to apply for a permit two months before your arrival. The owner of a local bar looking for waitstaff will likely not apply for a work permit for you if you are only in France temporarily.
France has a working holiday agreement with Canada, Australia and New Zealand that allows residents of these countries (18 to 30 years old) to work for up to one year in France.
Americans, however, will need to have secured a job before being able to apply for a work permit. This means you will need to find an employer to sponsor you. The employer will also need to justify to the French government that they are sponsoring you because they could not find anyone else (French or European) to fill the specific position.
Double-check your French visa status (and your country’s consulate) for more information on whether you can work in France.
Types of jobs in France
France’s unemployment rate is due to a mismatch of jobs and skilled workers. This presents an opportunity for expats to come in with job experience. Some major French industries include aircraft, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, electronics, food processing and textiles.
Being one of the most visited countries in the world, tourism is a hotspot for potential jobs, especially in the summers and winters. Many bilingual or English-speaking jobs will become available, such as being a tour guide.
Minimum wage in FranceThe current minimum wage in France is €10.15 an hour. This went into effect in January 2020 and will remain in effect until December 31, 2020. France reevaluates its minimum wage yearly.
Where to look for work in France
There are lots of job opportunities in France if you know the right places to look.
Good old-fashioned bulletin boards are a good place to start. Check out the boards in your local cafés or closest church. The American Church in Paris, in particular, has been a jumping-off point for many an English expat in France looking for work.
If you want to expand your search online, start with Fusac Ads. Their employment board is full of opportunities for both English and French speakers, ranging from wait staff to admin assistants to creative directors.
Interested in working for a startup? Check out Welcome to the Jungle for lots of jobs in backend development, communications and marketing, sales, and more. They offer jobs in France and a variety of different cities around the world, including Paris.
Look for companies you know from back home. Multinational companies that have headquarters in France will often be looking for English or bilingual speakers to fill roles. These companies include the likes of BNP Paribas, Disney, McDonald’s, L’Oréal, Michelin and Orange.
If you’re currently a student in France, contact your school’s career counsellor for tips. They’ll likely know a couple of places that are always looking for work.
If you’re more social media savvy, follow a few of your favourite bars, cafés and stores on Instagram or Facebook. Sometimes they’ll post job openings on their Instagram story or newsfeed.
Job sites like Monster, Indeed and LinkedIn are another good place to start. Make sure you put in the correct keywords for what you’re looking for (i.e., content writer) in addition to your location.
If all else fails, reach out to companies directly to inquire about any positions. You never know -- there may be an employee turnover and you might be reaching out at exactly the right time.
Applying for jobs in France
You’ve found a job that you’re interested in, and now all you have to do is apply. Sounds pretty easy, right? Not so fast.
Before you click “submit” on that application, take a second look at your CV and cover letter. If you’re applying for a job in French, did you write your documents in French too? Do you know how a French cover letter differs from the ones you’re used to? The formatting you’re used to may be different from what French employers want.
Check out our article on how to write a French CV, for tips on how to make your CV and cover letter stand out in a good way, and not just because you’re a foreigner.
The application process
The job application process can be lengthy in France. There are typically at least two interview stages, the first starting with a phone call and the second being an in-person interview. Some companies have a four-step process, with the different levels including tests or interviews with the higher-ups. Don’t get discouraged!
Speaking French on the jobSome companies require you to take a language test before starting. French proficiency certificates (DELF and DALF) are given to you after such a test, providing proof of your language level (ranging from a basic A1 to a more advanced C1).
What if I want to become self-employed in France?
You must still have some sort of resident permit or long-stay visa allowing you to reside in France for longer than three months.
If you choose to be self-employed, you will need to apply for a micro-entrepreneur visa. It's free to apply and you can do so on the Auto-Entrepreneur website.
Depending on your business, you may need to register it at the Centre de Formalités des Entreprises (CFE) and fill out this form.
You will need proof of ID/passport and proof of professional insurance.
If you’re working in the trades business, you’ll need to register yourself with the Répertoire des Métiers (RM) and fill out an additional form. If your business is going to be selling goods, you’ll need to register with the Registre Spécial des Agents Commerciaux (RSAC).
If you’re registering as a hairdresser, vet, wine dealer, builder or accountant, you’ll need to register with the appropriate overarching organization.
After registering, you’ll receive a 9-digit SIREN number, which acts as proof that your business is officially recognized by the French government.
Those who are micro-entrepreneurs and working as freelance writers, for example, will receive a similar number called a SIRET, which should be included on every invoice you send to clients.
What social security benefits do I get as a self-employed person in France?
Every month or quarter (you decide the frequency when you sign up), you are required to pay a portion of your earnings into the French social security system. The amount is typically not more than 6% of what you’ve earned in the last month or quarter. This covers your basic healthcare costs, as well as pension and family allowances.
You will be entered into the social security system and receive a temporary social security number once you’ve registered yourself as a business/self-employed person.
You’ll receive further instructions in the mail asking you to further confirm your identity (with a copy of your birth certificate, passport, residence permit, bank account information, proof of residency in France) before receiving a permanent number in the mail. Once you have collected all these documents, you can send them back to your local CPAM (caisse primaire d'assurances maladie) office.
You will then be eligible to apply for a French health card (carte vitale) if you haven’t applied for health insurance already. You will receive a letter in the mail detailing this process.