The educational system in France is very unique and very diverse, in that it offers every student an opportunity to improve themselves through education. While some students in France will opt to take the “higher learning” route after completing their secondary school studies, perhaps enrolling at a university, career-minded students who are anxious to delve right into their field can seek more rapid training and expertise by opting for enrollment at one of the many French career colleges and vocational schools instead. Below we will examine a few of these career-education opportunities in a bit more detail.
The secondary education in France is divided into two parts: collèges and lycées. The first of these is a 4-year program for students 11-15 years of age where they receive instruction in a wide array of subjects, including mathematics, science, technology, language and the humanities. Once students complete their collège experience they will enroll in the final component of France’s state-run secondary education program, the lycée.
The lycée in France is a type of high school, at which the majority of students will take subjects towards a diploma, called a baccalauréat. With this baccalauréat, students are free to apply for admission at both French and international universities. However, not every French secondary student will opt for the baccalauréat track, nor are they required to do so. In France, school is only compulsory until a child reaches 16 years of age, which means that after one year at the lycée they are free to pursue career and/or vocational opportunities instead (such as Brevet d'Études Professionnelles - BEP, Certificat d'Aptitude Professionnelle - CAP).
The French educational system, in response to the need for more vocational and technological training, gives post-secondary students the unique option to pursue studies and instruction that are focused solely on a particular career or vocation. These Brevet de Technicien Supérieur educational tracks, as they are called in France, are 2-year programs offered in 80 different career fields, imparting to students all the knowledge and training they will need to pursue that career once the program has concluded. Graduates are awarded a BTS postsecondary technical certificate, recognized throughout France as a sign of proficiency and course completion. Some of the careers/vocations for which students can earn a certificate include:
Another vocational education option offered in France is the Diplôme Universitaire de Technologie—a technical diploma awarded to students who complete a two-year program in technology. Taught at French-based universities of technology, the DUT program offers education and training in 24 technology-related careers, including computer programming, computer-assisted drafting, database management and more. Students who complete these programs are immediately qualified to work in any number of product and service-related industries. The DUT can also help graduates who decide to further their education and expertise gain admission into a university degree program. After students complete any one of these two-year career and vocational education programs, they have the option to enroll for a third year to obtain their professional license, called a License Professionnelle in France. These programs allow students to further their education and perfect their skills while earning a degree that is accepted nationally as proof of a student’s qualifications.