French Jobs (Professions) Vocabulary

This page explores French jobs and professions vocabulary. There are two words for profession in French: ‘un métier’ and ‘une profession’. Whenever possible we have listed out the masculine and feminine forms of the job. There is only a masculine form for many professions.

How to ask somebody their profession in French

To ask somebody their profession, say, ‘Quel est votre méter?‘ or ‘Quelle est votre profession‘.

When answering this question, treat the profession like an adjective. For example, to say I’m a dentist, say: ‘Je suis dentiste’.

Do not use the indefinite article un or une. Use the indefinite article if you want to quality the sentence with an adjective. For example, ‘Je suis un bon dentist‘ (I’m a good dentist).

Arts & Entertainment

In French there are two words for actor: un acteur/une actrice, as well as un comedien and une comédienne.

These words can be used synonymously. The word comedian (as in stand-up) in English translates to un(e) humoriste or un(e) comique in French.

The word for photographer can also cause some confusion. The actual person is ‘un(e) photographe’, which is almost the same as the actual picture or photograph in English!

  • Actor acteur / actrice
  • Architect architecte / architecte
  • Comedian comédien / comédienne
  • Composer compositeur / compositrice
  • Dancer danseur / danseuse
  • Designer, draughtsman dessinateur / dessinatrice
  • Film producer producteur / productrice
  • Painter, artist peintre / peintre
  • Photographer photographe / photographe
  • Playwright dramaturge / dramaturge
  • Singer chanteur / chanteuse
  • TV anchor présentateur / présentatrice

Business & Offices

There are many words describing manager, director and higher-ups in general. One word not included in the list below is ‘un(e) responsable’.

While this looks like the English adjective responsible, it translates to head, supervisor and manager in French.

The words for personal assistant are ‘un(e) assistant(e) de direction and ‘secrétaire de direction’. The word ‘direction’ here means management.

  • Businessman un homme d’affaires
  • Businesswoman une femme d’affaires
  • Accountant comptable / comptable
  • Receptionist réceptionniste / réceptionniste
  • Salesperson vendeur / vendeuse
  • Secretary secrétaire / secrétaire
  • Staff member employé / employée
  • Stockbroker agent de change / agente de change
  • Manager directeur / directrice
  • Manager gérant / gérante
  • Merchant marchand / marchande
  • Trainee stagiaire / stagiaire

Construction & Trades

Knowing the vocabulary for jobs in the trades is very important if you live in France and need to find a repairman.

According to Wordreference.com, the word for handyman is ‘un homme à tout faire’, which translates to a man who does everything.

Another word for handyman is ‘bricoleur’, which comes from the verb ‘bricoler’. Bricoler means to tinker.

  • Appliance repair man dépanneur
  • Carpenter charpentier / charpentière
  • Electrician électricien / électricienne
  • Engineer ingénieur / ingénieure
  • Handyman homme à tout faire
  • Mason maçon
  • Mechanic mécanicien / mécanicienne
  • Painter peintre en bâtiment
  • Plumber plombier

Education & Publications

There are many words for teacher and this can cause confusion. At the elementary school level, the word for teacher is ‘un instituteur, une institutrice.

Another word that is used at the elementary school level is ‘un maître, une maîtresse’. At the junior high school and high school level the word is ‘un(e) enseignant(e)’.

The word ‘un professeur’ can be used for both high school and university level teachers and professors. The slang word for ‘un professeur’ (only exists in the masculine form) is ‘un(e) prof’.

  • Editor rédacteur / rédactrice
  • Illustrator illustrateur / illustratrice
  • Interpreter interprète / interprète
  • Journalist, reporter journaliste / journaliste
  • Novelist romancie / romancière
  • Student étudiant / étudiante
  • Teacher professeur, instituteur, enseignant / professeur, institutrice, enseignante
  • Writer écrivain(e) / auteur

Food & Restaurants

In modern language the word for waiter is ‘un serveur’. Many people like to use the word ‘un garçon’, but this term has become quite dated.

The word for waitress is simply ‘une serveuse’. In the restaurant setting the French differentiate between somebody who just physically prepares food and a grand master of high-level cooking.

A lower-level cook is ‘un cuisinier (une cuisinière)’ and a higher-level chef is ‘un/une’ chef.

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  • Baker boulanger / boulangère
  • Butcher boucher / bouchère
  • Brewer brasseur / brasseuse
  • Chef chef / chef
  • Cook cuisinier / cuisinière
  • Farmer agriculteur / agricultrice
  • Pastry chef pâtissier / pâtissière
  • Pork butcher charcutier / charcutière
  • Waiter, waitress serveur / serveuse

Government & Town Services

In politics, it is seen as impolite to refer to a politician as ‘un(e) politique’. It is more polite to say, ‘un homme politique’ or ‘une femme politique’.

It is noteworthy that the word for soldier only exists in the masculine form: ‘un soldat’. There is no feminine form.

  • Civil servant fonctionnaire / fonctionnaire
  • Diplomat diplomate / diplomate
  • Fireman pompier
  • Judge juge
  • Police officer policier, agent de police policière
  • Politician homme / femme politique
  • Prosecutor procureur
  • Soldier soldat
  • Mail carrier facteur / factrice

Homes & Real Estate

There are several words for maid with varying levels of politeness. A maid in a house is ‘une femme de ménage’ and a maid in a hotel is ‘femme de chambre’.

A maid in a house can also be called ‘une domestique’. The term, ‘une bonne’ also means housemaid but is outdated and most likely considered impolite.

  • Gardener jardinier / jardinière
  • Maid femme de chambre
  • Real-estate agent agent immobilier / agente immobilier

Medical

In French, the words ‘un docteur’ and ‘un médecin’ can be used interchangeably for doctor. Interestingly, there is no feminine for for either of these terms.

For the words ‘psychiatre’ and ‘psychologue’ below, both the -p and -s must be pronounced French, just as the -s and -t must be pronounced in the English word ‘stop’.

  • Dentist dentiste
  • Doctor médecin / médecin
  • Nurse infirmier / infirmière
  • Optician opticien / opticienne
  • Pharmacist pharmacien / pharmacienne
  • Nutritionist nutritionniste
  • Psychiatrist psychiatre
  • Psychologist psychologue
  • Veterinarian vétérinaire

Retail

In French the word for sales clerk (un vendeur, une vendeuse) can also translate to sales man or saleswoman. Note that the two terms for bagger listed below only are used in Canada and not in France.

  • Bagger ensacheur, ensacheuse, aide de caisse
  • Cashier cassier / cassière
  • Sales clerk vendeur / venduse
  • Stock boy magasinier

Religion

Maybe the French language will one day become more advanced and more open, but for now the following terms for religious leaders only exist in the masculine forms.

  • Bishop evêque
  • Monk moine
  • Nun religieuse, sœur
  • Reverend révérend
  • Priest prêtre
  • Rabbi rabbin

Science & Exploration

Almost all science-related words are the same in English and French. Hence, almost all of the terms below are the same in both languages. The word or scientist is ‘un(e) scientifique’.

  • Astronaut astronaute
  • Chemist chimiste
  • Computer engineer informaticien / informaticienne
  • Information specialist documentaliste
  • Physicist physicien / physicienne
  • Researcher chercheur, chercheuse
  • Scientist scientifique

Services

The French word hairdresser is ‘un coiffeur’ or ‘une coiffeuse’. The word ‘coffeur’ can also mean barber. In French, ‘un barbier’ is somebody who only trims beards. An, ‘ouvrier’ is a general term for a manual laborer or somebody who works with their hands.

  • Beautician esthéticienne
  • Hairdresser coiffeur / coiffeuse
  • House cleaner homme de ménage / femme de ménage
  • Janitor gardien / gardienne
  • Laborer, worker ouvrier / /ouvrière
  • Lawyer avocat / avocate
  • Surveyor géomètre-expert

Sports

  • Coach entraîneur
  • Lifeguard maître-nageur, surveillant de baignade / surveillante de baignade
  • Physical therapist kinésithérapeute
  • Professional athlete athlète professionnel / athlète professionnelle
  • Referee arbitre

Transportation

  • Bus driver conducteur d’autobus / conductrice d’autobus
  • Engineer (train) conducteur, conductrice
  • Flight attendant steward / hôtesse de l’air
  • Pilot pilote
  • Taxi driver chauffeur de taxi

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