French is one of the world’s most important languages. If you know French or plan to learn it, you’ll open lots of amazing career doors. Here are just some of the possible ways you can put your knowledge of French to good use.
Actor / Voice Over Artist
The French theater and cinema are well known all over the world. French films win many prestigious awards. If you’ve always wanted to be an actor, knowledge of French may be part of the process. French film directors are looking for people who can speak lines convincingly.
The same is true of voice-over artists. These are the people who provide narration for the action on the screen. A voice-over artist may show the audience what is happening during a silent scene or offer the voice for a cartoon character.
Salaries and requirements for this industry vary widely. If you are interested, you can contact an agency that specializes in French-language films and theater productions. A background in film is helpful but not required. Filmmaking takes place all over the world. The typical actor or voice-over artist is paid by the day or per part.
Diplomats serve in varied capacities in countries all over the globe. A diplomat represents one country to another. As a member of the diplomatic service, you may be called on to engage in activities such as organizing receptions for new arrivals in your community and contacting local authorities about the advantages of working with American businesses.
If you want to join the foreign service, you’ll be required to pass the foreign service exam. This is a hard exam with a low pass rate. Applicants may be required to demonstrate their knowledge of French in order to qualify for a posting in a French speaking country.
Salaries for diplomats range from $30,000 at the low end to six figures or more for senior staffers.
English as a Second Language Teacher
ESL teachers are high demand all over the world. They work in classroom settings, for private individuals or helping companies train their employees. As an ESL teacher, you’ll work with pupils who want to master all kinds of English skills including reading and speaking.
ESL teachers who know French are very much welcomed in places where French is the native language but English may be needed for business or further schooling. When you speak French, this facilitates communication with you and your pupils. If you want to enter this field, you’ll be required to show you have mastered French and English via a college degree or additional certification.
Freelance ESL teachers can expect about $25 an hour while full-time staffers can expect to earn about $40,000 a year depending on location and job title.
Flight attendants tend to the needs of passengers as they board a flight and once there. A flight attendant may be required to speak French in order to help French speaking passengers in French speaking countries. They demonstrate safety procedures, offer drinks and food and supervise children who are flying alone.
Flight attendant jobs can be found all over the world. The most in demand flight jobs are found in major cities like Paris and Nice.
The typical flight attendant earns about $45,000 a year. If you want to enter this field, you will have to apply to individual airlines and complete the required training before you’re allowed on board.
People who want to learn French look to French teachers for help. French teachers teach at all levels from kindergarten to college and beyond. French teachers are typically asked to complete a bachelor’s degree and then get state certification.
They work all over the world including in French-speaking countries as well as where French is taught as a second language. The starting salary for a French teacher is about $25,000. Those with a master’s degree and years of experience can expect to earn considerably more.
Hotel Owner / Manager
People are always looking for a place to stay when they travel. A well-run hotel is ideal. If you are managing a hotel in a French-speaking nation, you’ll need to speak fluent French. Jobs in this industry can be found all over the world.
A hotel owner or manager is expected to have a background in hospitality and ideally at least several years of experience. The typical hotel manager or owner earns about $50,000 a year.
You can also open your own AirBnB and allow French travelers to stay there to earn extra income. You’ll need to be fluent in French to speak with your guests and make sure everything goes smoothly.
Interpreters work in real time to translate French into another language. An interpreter must be able to immediately translate what one party says into words the second party can immediately understand. The goal is to ensure communication between the two is done effectively so that both parties are pleased with the outcome.
French interpreters work in a wide variety of settings. An interpreter may work in a hospital, a courthouse, or a school on a full-time basis. The interpreter may also work on an as-needed basis in case someone needs them to translate French for a Francophone client.
In order to get a job as an interpreter, the candidate will typically be required to demonstrate their mastery of at least two languages. This varies by setting. For example, if you want to be a court interpreter, you’ll need to take a formal, state-administered exam.
Some specialties pay more than others. A hospital staff interpreter can expect to make $60k a year while a court interpreter might earn about $45,000.
Non Governmental Organizations
Commonly known as NGOs, these are organizations that serve a given purpose in many parts of the world. For example, an NGO may work closely with residents of an area facing problems with tuberculosis or trying to combat the effects of an ongoing conflict on the local population. Staffers at an NGO work on varied issues.
A staffer may give lessons in hygiene, work with new mothers to help with the effects of childbirth, or help a local businessman find ways to use their capital more efficiently.
French-led NGOs operate all over the world. The International Federation of Human Rights operates out of Paris. This is a good place to apply if you are looking for a job in the field and speak fluent French.
They ask applicants to demonstrate their ability to speak, read and write French. Salaries for members of NGOs are typically on the low side as it is considered a form of charity work. As such, you may only work for room, board, and a small stipend, especially if you are assigned to work in a low technology area.
Senior staffers are expected to have advanced credentials such as a master’s degree but they earn more.
While the international language of the air is English, French pilots are required to be fluent in French in order to communicate with other staffers. Pilots work all over the world. They bring passengers from one area to the next as well as respond to issues such as turbulence in the skies.
All potential pilots must take flying lessons and then get certified by the country where they earn their license. A job as a pilot can be quite lucrative with salaries that may top out at over a $100,000 per year.
Proofreaders examine texts in great detail to make sure they are correct. If you know written French, you can apply for jobs examining material for publication before it goes to press or gets published on the internet. Millions of French speakers want to read grammatically correct, enticing copies in French. As a proofreader, you can ensure they have an easy time scanning material and enjoying it.
A French proofreader can expect to find employment opportunities in any French-speaking nation. Proofreaders are in particular demand in larger communities served by French media. For example, a proofreader might find more work in Paris. Freelancers typically earn about $25 an hour while staff jobs can range up to $55k annually.
Sommelier / Chef
Much of the language of food preparation and fine cuisine is French. French forms the foundation of so many modern food techniques. If you are going to make your home in the world of foodservice, you may be called on to demonstrate that you can speak French.
Food preparation jobs are incredibly diverse. That makes it easy to find the kind of job you really want. For example, you might want to open up a restaurant of your own that serves high-end cuisine.
In that case, you might be called on to interact with suppliers who only speak French. A potential applicant chef may also want to further their understanding of fine dining. In that case, a stint working in the world of a great French restaurant can burnish their resume and add to their career prospects.
Applicants are expected to demonstrate their familiarity with French techniques and their mastery of the basic language in order to attain work.
Sommeliers work in the care and choosing of wine. They buy wine from varie, interact with wine vendors and with chefs to pair wine with food on menus. The qualifications to enter this field vary depending on the country and community.
In general, the applicant will be asked to complete a course demonstrating their mastery of the basics of wine growing as well as how each vintage differs. A sommelier may work in lots of places including a vineyard, restaurant, cooking school, or for a private company. Skilled sommeliers can expect to command a salary well into the six figures.
Think tanks are organizations that seek to influence public opinion in some way. A think tank may have a conservative slant or policies that tilt to the left. Think tanks operate all over the world.
Staffers who are fluent in French are highly welcome. Their duties may include communicating with local French speakers, writing articles for French media and creating press releases to announce upcoming events. Jobs at a think tank can be a great way to engage in a person’s strongest beliefs and see they are carried out.
Think tanks are typically funded in many ways including local donations as well as projects by a foundation. As such, salaries at a think tank are comparable to other forms of government and office work. A typical think tank staffer can expect to earn upwards of $40,000 or more per year.
Tour guides provide tours for people who are interested in a new place. A tour guide might specialize in a specific kind of tour such as a night tour or may offer a general overview of a given area. Tour guides who can speak French are ideal in places that get a lot of French-speaking tourism such as Paris and the Côte d’Azur.
A tour guide may be required to complete a licensing exam. Tour guides also answer questions about the area. They can earn money by providing guided tours to a large group of people or work with a single person. Salaries vary depending on the location. A tour guide owner can expect to earn upwards of $40,000 per year.
Translators translate French into other languages. The typical translator specializes in two languages. The first is their native language. The second is their personal special second language. If you want to be an interpreter, you will need to demonstrate fluency in French and another language.
Many translators have at least a bachelor’s degree. You can opt for a degree in one field and then for a specialized program in the field of translation. The purpose of a translator is to translate written conversation between two languages so that it can be understood by both parties.
French translators work for many varied international companies. A French translator might work for a government agency or with exchange students helping them master English or French. People can work in France or in Francophone countries.
The typical starting freelance salary is roughly $20 an hour. Salaried employees can expect to earn $50,000 depending on their area of expertise and employer.
Writer / Author
Just like everyone else, native French speakers hunger for good stories. Skilled French writers who can take ordinary prose to the next level are in high demand. If you love to read and write, a career as a writer can be just right for you. Writers can choose varied media including fiction and non-fiction.
Writers who write in French can work in a wide variety of settings and places. A writer might work in an office or at home doing freelance work. The salary for a writer fluent in French is highly variable. A writer can expect to be paid per piece or may be paid royalties that can expand into the high five figures.