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Excerpted from the France Career Guide

A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, NATO, the G-8, the G-20 and the European Union (EU), France is a world power, one of the world’s top economies and one of the most influential countries in Europe.

General Trends

France is the Eurozone’s second-largest economy, after Germany, and the fifth-largest in the world. Nevertheless, France’s fortunes depend, in large part, on the economic health of the EU.

Grandes écoles

The French are very proud of their grandes écoles, which comprise one of the oldest and best educational systems in the world. The French elite, including politicians, intellectuals and CEOs, were educated in the grandes écoles. These schools generally focus on a single subject area, such as engineering or business, are highly selective in their admissions and perpetuate their own cultures. Strong alumni networks exist all over France. Even in American or international corporations based in France, there may be a strong bias toward graduates from these top schools and a lack of knowledge or understanding of prestigious educational institutions outside of France.

Employment Outlook

The global economy has slowed, with developed countries experiencing little or no economic growth and developing countries growing less vigorously than projected. In France, reductions in exports and internal consumption have led to economic stagnation; the economy has not taken off as expected, and by mid-2014 there had been almost no GDP growth for the year. The Minister of Finance has projected 0.5 percent GDP growth for all of 2014; any growth through the end of the year likely will be negligible.

Areas of Job Promise

France’s deindustrialization has a silver lining — ‘green’ industries are on the rise, particularly wind power, although these industries are still trying to find their feet. Other promising green industries in France include recycling, methanization and solar power, although the latter sector has experienced a shake-up following the closures of Siemens and Bosch production sites in France. Green industries have created about 24,000 jobs in recent years, which is more than half of jobs lost in the declining automobile manufacturing sector.


The average gross monthly salary in France is 2,130 EUR, according to the latest available government figures.

The minimum wage (salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance, referred to as the SMIC) is currently 9.53 EUR per hour or 1,445.38 EUR monthly for a full-time employee (35 hours per week). The SMIC is recalculated on January 1, and again that year if the consumer price index increases by 2 percent over the previously established SMIC.

This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the complete France Guide.

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