During my five years in France, I’ve had many different English teaching jobs: a language teaching assistant in public and private schools, a camp counselor, a “lectrice” at the university level, and most recently a full-time high school English professure contractuelle. In this post I’m going to share with you what a contractual teaching job entails, how I got the job, things I’ve learned this year, and other helpful tips for working in a French lycée.
Table of Contents:
- What is a professeur contractuel ?
- Why don’t you become a licensed teacher in France?
- Administrative Info
- What’s the Pay Scale?
- Things to be Aware of Before Applying:
- Why is there a Teacher Shortage?
What is a professeur contractuel ?
A contractuel.le is a teaching post in France for non-licensed(non-titulaire) individuals. These positions can be full-time or part-time. They are on a fixed-term contract (CDD) up to one year long and can be renewed up to 6 times. After 6 years the employer would have to offer a CDI (indeterminate contract), but this is not guaranteed.
Why don’t you become a licensed teacher in France?
This would be the ideal situation, but there were a few obstacles in my way when I considered this option.
How to Become a Licensed Teacher in France
To have a teaching license in France you must pass a concours – a type of national exam – to become a titulaire. In order to become a titulaire in the public sector you have to have French nationality or be from a European Union member state. If you are not from the EU, you can take the concours to be licensed to teach in the private sector.
There are masters programs to help train you for the exam and help prepare you to teach the one for English is called MEEF. However if you already have a master’s degree you do not have to complete this program to sign up for the concours. I highly suggest reading Anne’s blog about how she went through this process and became a teacher in France.
Why I’m Not a Titulaire in the Private Sector
When I learned about the concours I was in my second year as a lectrice and it was already too late to sign up for the exam in the spring, so I needed to find a job that didn’t require me to be a titulaire. I could have applied for a MEEF program, but I already had two Master’s degrees so I did not want to go back to school .
Interviews will most likely vary from school to school and académie to académie. I applied to a specific school and had a skype interview with the principal of the school and another staff member that lasted about 15 minutes. Most of the interview was in French, but they did ask me a few questions in English as well because I was applying to an English teaching job. My interview was in March/April and I heard back in the end of April.
I can’t write a blog post about working in France without mentioning la paperasse – paperwork!
Will They Sponsor My Visa?
My school did! I was already living in France when I applied for this job, so I’m not sure if that made it easier for my school to hire me. I do not know if any académies sponsor visas for foreigners who currently do not live in France. You can always ask the person interviewing you or you can ask the recruiter. I have heard of one other person getting their visa sponsored for this type of job though, so it can’t hurt to apply, and when in doubt, ask.
Signing Your Contract
The first year I got my contract by mail. It wasn’t ready until June and I signed it online. This year I had to go in person the rectorat to sign it.
Authorization de Travail
Since I am not French nor an EU citizen, I do not automatically have the right to work in France. I have to apply for a residency and work permit each year. The work permit is an authorization de travail and it’s the employer’s job to request it. They basically have to prove that no other French or European who applied was as qualified as you for the job.
However, since I am the one who has to gather all of the documents for my residency permit renewal appointment, I had to ask the rectorat to request this for me. This process is done online, so it should only take up to three weeks to process. I had to give the rectorat a copy of my passport, current residency permit, French CV, diplomas + translations, and a copy of my contract. The first year I got my authorization at the end of August since the request was made at the end of June and the recotrat is basically on holiday from July 14- End of August. Since I renewed my contract earlier this year, hopefully I will get my convocation before the end of August.
Applying for a Visa or a Carte de Séjour
What’s the Pay Scale?
Contractuel.les are paid based on their experience and qualifications, and how long you have been working in the French system (ancienneté). So if you have a Master’s degree, you would be paid more than just someone with a Bachelor’s degree. Here is an example pay scale for the Académie de Versailles, the largest school district in France.
Things to be Aware of Before Applying:
- This is a full time position where you are a full time teacher! Full time at the secondary level is 18 hours of classes per week (this does not include lesson planning, grading, and meetings). Full time for elementary positions are 24 hours per week. This is job is therefore more intensive than an assistant or lecteur position.
- Unlike most of your colleagues who have done the concours and have likely been through the French system themselves, there is a lot you will have to learn on the job. Certain abbreviations, the curriculum, the online system for putting grades in, sending emails, etc. Hopefully you will have friendly colleagues that can help answer your questions. Luckily, I did!
- This being said, if you are hired for this job, you probably have already had some experience teaching and maybe even as a language assistant in the French system
Why is there a Teacher Shortage?
You may have heard about a teacher shortage in France and an increase in hiring contractual teachers in académies like Versailles. Most of the shortages are for the subjects of German, Math, Physics/Chemistry, and the Humanities. After seeing what other teachers (another shoutout to Anne!) and news outlets had to say, here are a couple of reasons I found out for why this is happening:
- The Concours
- In some subjects there were fewer admissible candidates for the concours than there were available positions.
- Before 2011, you only needed a Bac + 3 (Bachelor’s Degree) to take the exam, but since then you need a Bac + 5 (2 Year Master’s Degree) to be eligible.
- The concours has also just been reformed.
- No Longer an Attractive Career
- Macron froze the pay scale for public sector jobs which means that they have lost buying power with inflation. However, Macron promised that with reelection he would revalue teacher’s pay in 2023.
- The starting salary is just a little bit higher than the national minimum wage, which is not lot of money considering you need a Master’s degree!
- Countless other reforms made without teacher input that were implemented quickly and not very efficiently.
- Macron also wants to privitize the public sector and hiring contractuels is cheaper than hiring fonctionaires.
- Many class sizes are overloaded throughout France.
- + More!
Since this post is already quite long, I’m going to write a Part 2 all about my experience, so those of you considering working in a French secondary school might have an idea of what it’s like.
À la prochaine,
P.S. This is my first time adding a Table of Contents – please let me know if it doesn’t work!