Uptake of modern languages has declined in recent years, which means graduates of foreign language degrees are now in demand across all sectors. The career opportunities for someone with a degree in French are therefore wide-reaching and plentiful.
As well as the chance to enter the business sector or charitable organisations in any of the 31 official French-speaking countries across the world (which include France, Canada, Madagascar, Belgium, Switzerland, Cameroon, Haiti and Monaco), a French degree can prepare you for a number of specialist linguistic careers. D’accord? Regarde…
What to do with a French degree
One of the most difficult French degree jobs to get into is the role of interpreter. It’s highly competitive due to the speed, precision and interpersonal skills required. Interpreters are frequently used in international business meetings, public services such as hospitals and schools, criminal and legal contexts, and government communications. There is therefore no room for error when translating from the source language to the target language: the success of a trade deal, surgical procedure or international relationship may depend on it.
If the idea of translating between French and English appeals to you, but without the intense pressure of on-the-spot translation for spoken language, then written translation could be the career for you.
Taking news reports, technical documents, business memos, textbooks, marketing materials, poetry and novels, you rewrite them in the target language, retaining as much of the original tone and meaning as possible. This would suit someone with exceptional language skills - possibly with a French Masters degree or some experience living abroad.
What can you do with a French degree?
A French degree is an excellent foundation to become a modern foreign languages teacher. If you earn a postgraduate teaching qualification such as a PGCE, you’ll be able to teach French in secondary schools, sixth form colleges, or primary schools as a specialist languages teacher.
For more flexibility in your working hours and location, you could become a French tutor, or if you’d like the chance to travel the world, you could teach English as a Foreign Language (EFL). You can do a TEFL qualification online or at many colleges, and your understanding of language acquisition and grammar will be a massive asset in this job.
J. K. Rowling author of the Harry Potter series studied a Bachelor’s in French and Classical Studies at the University of Exeter.
If you have an interest in international affairs, or perhaps a history and French degree, you could become a diplomat. Alternatively, you could work in development and international aid, using your degree in French to communicate with colleagues and members of the public to provide charitable support in places of need.
You could even become a detective, entering the police force and using your linguistic talents to work on cases where French is involved. And those are just the beginning. French degree jobs can take you all over the world, communicating in French to work in journalism, sales, marketing, PR, logistics, business, banking, finance, accountancy, law, media, tourism, charity, diplomacy and security.
French is a global language that will benefit you when travelling the globe and open up many international employment opportunities, even if you only have a French degree online.
Speaking another language is not only rewarding but impressive and with the native country only being a hop, skip and a jump away over the English Channel, why not study French? Even if it’s part of an online French degree.
Many students also study French as part of a joint honours degree to create something like a History and French degree or a Law with French degree or an Economics and French degree and even combine the language with another language, like a French and Spanish degree.
What A Levels do I need?
Unsurprisingly, universities expect students to have completed French at A-level to gain admission onto a university degree in French. Universities’ grades expectations vary from BBC to AAA; this degree subject may also have university admission interviews. You can search French degree courses here.
Each institution has different university course entry requirements for potential candidates; therefore, students are advised to check with their chosen universities and desired courses to ensure they establish what is needed to get onto the course.
What are my study options?
A university degree in French language is not three years in length like other standard degrees; they tend to be at least four years full-time as the majority of them include a compulsory year studying abroad in a French-speaking country. Studying in France allows students, to explore a different part of the world, experiencing different cultures and lifestyles.
If students wish to study a French degree, part-time, there are courses available over five or six years. However, part-time courses don’t always necessarily include a year abroad and can prove ideal for those who want to study and stay in the UK.
There are options to study French on its own as a degree or as a combined joint degree such as a Bachelor degree in French, which can cover modern languages and cultures, economics with French, combined honours, modern European languages and History (specialised in French as the single language).
A French degree is an excellent foundation to become a modern foreign languages teacher.
What should I expect from studying French?
A French degree is ideal for individuals who had a fascination with languages, or in particular the French language and wish to pursue a degree that incorporates this interest with the country’s cultures.
Students will delve into France’s culture, history and society, and if they study abroad in a different French-speaking country, may learn about that country too. The opportunity to live and study abroad is hard to miss when studying for a degree.
No matter what, there will be no doubt someone else who can speak the language better than you, or who is completely fluent in the language – don’t let it get you down.
How will I be assessed?
The most common forms of assessment will be written coursework, written and oral examinations and most likely a final year dissertation.
Students will be expected to progress with the language as well as their general studies throughout the course; therefore, individuals should ensure they put the study time in to achieve the best results.
What skills will I learn from studying French?
Not to overstate the obvious, but candidates will gain or better their language skills in French, as well as general communication skills through the study of a modern foreign language. Social skills will be gained through the preparation and time spent abroad connecting and meeting other people from different cultures and backgrounds.
Students who attend university gain some skills which are transferable in life and employment, from time-management and organisation to social skills through working with others in group work projects and presentations.
Why study French?
The time spent abroad is appealing to most who are interested in studying abroad and learning another language, from enrolling at a French university or gaining work experience abroad, this aspect of the course is attractive. Candidates will gain insights into the diverse aspects of life when studying in France, and will also improve their oral and written communication skills.
Departments of French across the country university system provide studies in a range of subjects, including, Visual Culture, Literature, Cultural History, Linguistics and Translation.
The language is spoken by sixty-five million people in fifty different countries around the world; therefore, the language skills you acquire through the degree will be in good use after graduating. Language degrees are respected by employers, and language graduates are sought-after and open up a number of important jobs with a French degree.
What happens after I graduate?
This subject area lends itself to further postgraduate study, and many French graduates continue to study Masters in French or related topics, such as Translation Studies. Students may even decide to study a PhD and enter the world of academia.
Alternatively, individuals may desire to study a PGCE and become a French teacher or work internationally for businesses and organisations such as the foreign office or the United Nations.Translation is also a popular career direction for graduations, with the option of completing this step through working freelance or an agency.
Will it help me get a job?
Unless graduates establish a direct career path regarding their French studies, such as translation, teaching or academic, other graduate positions, outside of this range will be almost impossible to find.
One of the most difficult French degree jobs to get into is the role of interpreter.
There are options out there for language graduates, but if candidates do not continue to study afterwards, or have a direct goal in mind, they may find seeking employment difficult afterwards.
What types of jobs can I get from studying French?
Graduates from Modern Language Studies embark on an array of rewarding careers including; Teaching, Translators, Researchers, Interpreters, as well as Publishing, Law, Banking and Business.
What can I study after French?
Individuals who wish to continue their education after graduating may be interested in exploring a Ma in Translation Studies, Culture and Difference, or Medieval and Early Modern Studies.
Famous French studies alumni
J. K. Rowling author of the Harry Potter series studied a Bachelor’s in French and Classical Studies at the University of Exeter. Also, actors Bradley Cooper and Johnny Depp both carry French-speaking skills, and Orlando Bloom grew up learning French as a second language as his parents owned a language school in Kent, England during his childhood.