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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello Everyone,

I've scoured the forum looking for an answer to a series of questions I have but I decided it was more appropriate to ask directly. I would appreciate any help.

I'm currently completing a masters degree in school psychology in Los Angeles, will be done June of 2010. I've looked into whether France recognizes the profession, it does but the criteria for granting employment to someone as a school psychologist differs from the American standard. I have a BA in Psychology, this is actually a requirement in France. And I'm in the process of completing a masters degree which is three years long, the last year is a full year internship practicing the profession under supervision. In France, after completing the BA in Psychology, an individual must work as a teacher for 3 years and then complete a certification program in psychologie scolaire with a short 160 hour internship. THe masters I'm completing, requires I do a 1200 Hour internship.
However, I've read that it is very possible to find employment with a masters degree provided that there is an opening and you are competent in the French language. There is a huge shortage of school psychologists in France. How likely is it that I can find a job as a school psychologist, assuming I am proficient in French?

My wife and I would like to move to Paris, permanently, in three years. By then, we will have 2 children, or so we hope.

I've read about the Compétences et Talents Card which allows you to live in France provided that you have something to offer the nation. I'm thinking that school psychology would qualify because it is a professional job that is only attainable after the completion of a masters program. The service I would provide is psycho-educational assistance to children with learning disabilities or behavioral problems in the school. Assuming I qualify for the card and besides being allowed to live in France, what other benefits does the card offer? Will I still be required to pay for private health insurance for 5 yrs before I can petition to become a citizen?

My wife may also qualify for the card because she is an artist, she has a masters in fine arts from a good university in Los Angeles (where we are from). In the United States, she is qualified to teach at a university or college. What are her options in France as far as employment goes?

If the card is not appropriate and we are offered employment in France, we can then apply the normal route with work visas which must be renewed along with paying for insurance on our own?

Lastly, assuming we can find employment and are allowed to live in the wonderful country that is France, is it possible for a family of four to live on a salary of 3500 Euros a month? I've read a psychologue scolaire starts earning 2000 Euros a month while a teacher can earn 1500 a month. Is this an adequate amount of salary for a small family? We would like to purchase a home in the outskirts of Paris, preferably Noisy le Grand or Champigny sur Marne, where homes are 350.000 with three bedrooms.

As far as getting private health insurance if we are obligated to, what is the average cost a month for insurance? Does it have to be american insurance coverage?

Any help on any of this would greatly be appreciated. I've been to France twice and each time the desire of living there is stronger. My wife and I visited last December and enjoyed it immensely.

Thank you,
Camilo

There is an article that states the normal route to accreditation can be circumvented if you are highly qualified and there is a need OR if you hold a higher level masters with an internship experience. I can provide the link if it helps. Also, to other pages I have found with general information on how to become a school psychologist in France.
 

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Hi Camilo, and welcome to the forum.

OK, the first thing you need to understand about France is that anything you see published about job qualifications or equivalencies or laws and procedures is really only a general guideline.

That applies double to anything involving the "service public" - which by definition includes the schools. It can be extremely difficult for a foreigner to break into employment in the public school system, especially someone from outside the EU. Not that it's impossible (nothing is impossible in France), but be prepared for a real battle royale.

You also need to know that the school administration is currently very centralized, and moves by the government to de-centralize the schools have been met with enormous resistance by the teachers and other school employees. What this means is that you get hired by the school system - and they tell you where you are going to work. You need long tenure and the "points" that go with that to be able to ask for a transfer to someplace desireable.

Now for the good news - if you are working in France, you are covered by the national social insurances system (which includes health care, retirement and family allocation) through a system of payroll withholdings and employer contributions. It's only if you come to France on a non-working visa that you have to find private insurance. (And frankly it can be very difficult to get a non-working visa if you're of working age anyhow.)

Your best bet is probably to make as many vacation visits to France as possible and use the time to start developing contacts and gathering information about what you're planning on doing. I suspect your chances will be better in the private schools but there's nothing to stop you asking around about opportunities in the public schools while you're here.

Living in France is very, very different from "just visiting." It helps immensely to have contacts here who can help you along as you plan your job hunt and move.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Camilo, and welcome to the forum.

OK, the first thing you need to understand about France is that anything you see published about job qualifications or equivalencies or laws and procedures is really only a general guideline.

That applies double to anything involving the "service public" - which by definition includes the schools. It can be extremely difficult for a foreigner to break into employment in the public school system, especially someone from outside the EU. Not that it's impossible (nothing is impossible in France), but be prepared for a real battle royale.

You also need to know that the school administration is currently very centralized, and moves by the government to de-centralize the schools have been met with enormous resistance by the teachers and other school employees. What this means is that you get hired by the school system - and they tell you where you are going to work. You need long tenure and the "points" that go with that to be able to ask for a transfer to someplace desireable.

Now for the good news - if you are working in France, you are covered by the national social insurances system (which includes health care, retirement and family allocation) through a system of payroll withholdings and employer contributions. It's only if you come to France on a non-working visa that you have to find private insurance. (And frankly it can be very difficult to get a non-working visa if you're of working age anyhow.)

Your best bet is probably to make as many vacation visits to France as possible and use the time to start developing contacts and gathering information about what you're planning on doing. I suspect your chances will be better in the private schools but there's nothing to stop you asking around about opportunities in the public schools while you're here.

Living in France is very, very different from "just visiting." It helps immensely to have contacts here who can help you along as you plan your job hunt and move.
Cheers,
Bev
Thanks for the welcome! I'll look into the private school option. Regardless of where I work, I do want to work within the capacity of my training and knowledge, helping kids is what I like to do. At least now I know I have a hard road ahead.

It's really hard to get a straight answer about cost of living. I asked at another forum and no one answered either. Generally speaking, to live comfortably, how much does a family with two kids need to earn? Like I stated, I would like to work outside of Paris and commute into the city to work, no small feat I know since finding work as a "foreigner" in the city is hard. My wife and I have discussed how the change will be drastic but we're prepared and ready to make the necessary sacrifices. I know others have read my question or glanced it over, how much do expats typically get to make upon arriving in a city like Paris? It depends on their type of employment I know. Any figures?

The good thing is we have family in Paris who could help us out, they own a pâtisserie close to the eiffel tower, but their line of work is very different from my intended profession.

As always, Thank you for your time.
 
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<< , but their line of work is very different from my intended profession. >>

There's an old english expression that goes 'Beggars can't be choosers.' Just how many 'actors' in LA drive taxis, wait at tables, etc?

You might find that you're glad of a steep learning curve in an alternative method of earning a crust.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
<< , but their line of work is very different from my intended profession. >>

There's an old english expression that goes 'Beggars can't be choosers.' Just how many 'actors' in LA drive taxis, wait at tables, etc?

You might find that you're glad of a steep learning curve in an alternative method of earning a crust.
I'm not sure what you mean. All I meant was that my family in Paris has a business and is more likely to do better financially than I could as a psychologist in the schools. I don't understand your last sentence about the learning curve.

Anyways, my question still stands: How much salary do you make as an expat living in France, or in Paris specifically? Please specify profession. Thank you!
 

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We get lots of "cost of living" questions here - and they are very difficult to answer. For example, I live about 40 km outside Paris with my husband. We have our own business, and to look at our tax return, we earn pathetically little between us. My salary from our business is only a little above the minimum wage here in France, and what my husband takes out of the business is less than that. (Minimum wage is, BTW, €1337,70 per month for someone on a 35 hour work week.)

But, the house we live in is paid off (and has been for a long time), and our business pays some of the usual expenses of the household - i.e. most of the costs of his car, our electric bill and most of our phone bills. We live reasonably well out here in "la grande campagne." We have a large garden and a packed freezer. DH insists on buying our meat from the local butcher, though it's more expensive than getting meat at the local grocery store.

Could you live in Noisy Le Grand on twice the minimum wage? I don't know. I'm pretty sure we couldn't if we were still paying off a mortgage or didn't have the business to absorb some of our other household costs.

Consider, too, that in France banks are prohibited from making you a mortgage where the payments will be more than about a third of your household income. Mortgage terms are normally much shorter than those in the US - figure 15 or maybe 20 years rather than the US standard of 30. Work back from there and you'll get an idea of how much house you can afford - but 350,000€ is alot of house on a teacher's salary in France.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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How likely is it that I can find a job as a school psychologist, assuming I am proficient in French?
I'm not sure I understand - do you mean that you are already "proficient' or 'competent' in French, or that you intend to be by the time you come to France?

Plus it strikes me 'proficiency' would not be enough. All the subtleties of communication that would be missed by being anything less than bilingual would surely be of vital importance in your field? Not to mention the different cultural psychologies involved.
 

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How likely is it that I can find a job as a school psychologist, assuming I am proficient in French?
Yes, what is proficient???? If my kids had psychological problems in a school in England and they presented us with a foriegner who was simply proficient in our language, I'd have an absolute fit!!!!

IMO you need to be better than proficient or fluent in written, spoken, "street slang", psychological, even french body language (I'm sure that will be different from American) and totally necessary in your potential line of work. My other concern is that when we were looking to move to France a few years ago, it became very plain that the French only employ the French! They look after their own, inspite of EU directives or what they say!!! Annoying but admirable

Just my thoughts

Jo xx
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
We get lots of "cost of living" questions here - and they are very difficult to answer. For example, I live about 40 km outside Paris with my husband. We have our own business, and to look at our tax return, we earn pathetically little between us. My salary from our business is only a little above the minimum wage here in France, and what my husband takes out of the business is less than that. (Minimum wage is, BTW, €1337,70 per month for someone on a 35 hour work week.)

But, the house we live in is paid off (and has been for a long time), and our business pays some of the usual expenses of the household - i.e. most of the costs of his car, our electric bill and most of our phone bills. We live reasonably well out here in "la grande campagne." We have a large garden and a packed freezer. DH insists on buying our meat from the local butcher, though it's more expensive than getting meat at the local grocery store.

Could you live in Noisy Le Grand on twice the minimum wage? I don't know. I'm pretty sure we couldn't if we were still paying off a mortgage or didn't have the business to absorb some of our other household costs.

Consider, too, that in France banks are prohibited from making you a mortgage where the payments will be more than about a third of your household income. Mortgage terms are normally much shorter than those in the US - figure 15 or maybe 20 years rather than the US standard of 30. Work back from there and you'll get an idea of how much house you can afford - but 350,000€ is alot of house on a teacher's salary in France.
Cheers,
Bev
Really appreciate your straightforward answer. If a teacher can't afford a home that costs 350,000E, that says a lot. Gives me a good idea of what to expect.

You're fortunate to have a home. That's no easy feat from what I can gather. Having a freezer full of meat is a good sign. ;)

I've done a fair amount of searches for homes in the area of Noisy le Grand, Champigny sur Marne and on the west like Saint Cloud where it is even more expensive. I again searched online and I saw a smaller 3 bedroom flat (not maison), that is about 250,000E and another for 195,000E in Noisy le Grand. There's quite a variety of choices. I'll need to find out how much a mortgage payment may be for a flat below the 200,000 range. 1/3 of your salary goes by quickly. Also, even though it makes it harder to purchase a home with bank regulated lending in France, it's certainly a much better model than the American model where banks lend huge amounts of money to anyone regardless of income .

As far as becoming hired in the field where I'm trained to work in the US, I figure I can give it a try to find employment in that field in France. If it doesn't work out immediately, find out what I need to do to get there and find an alternative means of income in the meantime.

Thanks again for the candid replies. I appreciate this forum's answers more than another forum I tried where no one answered much, openly.

(When I said proficient, I meant "fluent" or capable of handling the language in an academic setting. I am not at that point now. However, I speak, read, write English very fluently. I speak, read, write Spanish fluently. I speak, read, write German moderately fluently. I'm still working on French but I'm not worried about becoming fluent. That just takes time which I have.)
 

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Just another note, too, on your plans. You need to be thinking in terms of qualifying for a visa, which means you need to find a job with an employer who can sponsor you and your family in the visa process. This pretty much rules out the public sector altogether. And if you come over on a work visa, your spouse will not be able to work at all. at least not for the first few years.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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(When I said proficient, I meant "fluent" or capable of handling the language in an academic setting. I am not at that point now. However, I speak, read, write English very fluently. I speak, read, write Spanish fluently. I speak, read, write German moderately fluently. I'm still working on French but I'm not worried about becoming fluent. That just takes time which I have.)
Indeed it does take time - for some people, a lifetime! One doesn't even get close to reasonable fluency in French without total immersion for at least a year or two, and bilingualism with a consistently high level of cognitive proficiency - imo needed for the kind of work you have mentioned - is still a long way off.

I am a professionally qualified translator and interpreter, and have lived for many years in France where I speak French 99% of the time. I am probably as close to bilingualism as most get without being brought up by parents of two nationalities, or living in France as a child. Even with my level of fluency, I genuinely think that it would be very difficult indeed to do justice to such work in France, and more importantly, to the French children concerned. It's not a job I would consider in anything other than my mother tongue.
 

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I think you mentioned you have family in Paris, can they not employ you for a while so that you can get a taste for the language and a feel for what it could be like to live and work in France??


Jo xxx
 

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I think you mentioned you have family in Paris, can they not employ you for a while so that you can get a taste for the language and a feel for what it could be like to live and work in France??


Jo xxx
It's highly unlikely that a family business (I think he said they are bakers) can justify hiring a foreigner to the appropriate agencies - especially in the current economic climate. It's the big disadvantage of being from outside the EU.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Just another note, too, on your plans. You need to be thinking in terms of qualifying for a visa, which means you need to find a job with an employer who can sponsor you and your family in the visa process. This pretty much rules out the public sector altogether. And if you come over on a work visa, your spouse will not be able to work at all. at least not for the first few years.
Cheers,
Bev
I've known of American individuals who go to Berlin and find work in the public sector, as English teachers in the public schools, like afterschool lessons with children. They also had a masters in fine arts but had to teach English to get by. I might consider teaching English a temporary employment if it gets my family and I into France.

If both my wife and I find employment with a different employer, I'm assuming the work visa would not be an issue.

Doesn't seem like transitioning into French society is all that easy but it's not impossible.
 

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I've known of American individuals who go to Berlin and find work in the public sector, as English teachers in the public schools, like afterschool lessons with children. They also had a masters in fine arts but had to teach English to get by. I might consider teaching English a temporary employment if it gets my family and I into France.
As I recall, French schools usually use students from other countries as English language assistants.

Indeed, the relevant French government website Foreign Language Assistants in France - CIEP

says under "Requirements"
- Be aged between 20 and 30 years old;
- Be the holder of at least a two year higher education qualification;
- Be able to speak good French.
 

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I've known of American individuals who go to Berlin and find work in the public sector, as English teachers in the public schools, like afterschool lessons with children. They also had a masters in fine arts but had to teach English to get by. I might consider teaching English a temporary employment if it gets my family and I into France.

If both my wife and I find employment with a different employer, I'm assuming the work visa would not be an issue.

Doesn't seem like transitioning into French society is all that easy but it's not impossible.
Germany has a formal exchange program for teachers from the US. I have never heard of a similar program in France, though it's possible such a thing exists. But in Germany, I believe the exchange program is for a limited period of time (i.e. a year or two).

The German civil service and the French civil service are two very different animals.

If both you and your wife find employment with different employers, your residence permits will be limited by the term of your employment with your respective employers. If one of you should lose your job for any reason, their right to remain in France goes away. It's a risk you'll have to live with.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
As I recall, French schools usually use students from other countries as English language assistants.

Indeed, the relevant French government website Foreign Language Assistants in France - CIEP

says under "Requirements"
- Be aged between 20 and 30 years old;
- Be the holder of at least a two year higher education qualification;
- Be able to speak good French.
Wow, the pay is less than 1000E a month before deductions. Not enough for a family. It's nice that the work is only 12 hours a week though, plenty of free time. There have to be other options I'm sure.

"If both you and your wife find employment with different employers, your residence permits will be limited by the term of your employment with your respective employers. If one of you should lose your job for any reason, their right to remain in France goes away. It's a risk you'll have to live with.
Cheers,
Bev"

I thought if one person is employed under a work visa, that the spouse is also allowed to stay and work. Or is that only for the "competences et talents" card?
 
G

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As I recall, French schools usually use students from other countries as English language assistants.

Indeed, the relevant French government website Foreign Language Assistants in France - CIEP says under "Requirements"
- Be aged between 20 and 30 years old;
- Be the holder of at least a two year higher education qualification;
- Be able to speak good French.
Wow, the pay is less than 1000E a month before deductions. Not enough for a family. It's nice that the work is only 12 hours a week though, plenty of free time. There have to be other options I'm sure.
These positions are aimed at students in the middle of their studies, and principally those who are taking a degree where French studies are an integral part. Indeed back in the 70s there were even positions for 'temporary' English Language Assistants in France, open to school leavers taking a year off before starting their French studies at university - I did this aged just 18, and was paid the magnificent sum of 800 francs net per month for 8 hours work each week, plus 4 hours spent helping the kids with their "sporting and cultural activities" - ie playing table tennis and listening to music with them. Free accommodation, free food and unlimited wine with lunch and dinner. 4 day weekends. Great memories!

Not a position meant for mature students, or those with families, I imagine. It certainly wasn't back in the 70s.
 

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I thought if one person is employed under a work visa, that the spouse is also allowed to stay and work. Or is that only for the "competences et talents" card?
If you apply for a "dependent visa" for your spouse at the same time you apply for your work visa (suitably sponsored by your employer-to-be) the spouse can accompany you. But the spouse cannot work. You have to declare your spouse along with your original visa application if you want him or her to accompany you.

I don't know the precise status of the spouse on a competences et talents visa, but I'm betting the spouse doesn't get work privileges unless s/he is part of the "projet" proposed by the main applicant (and essentially gets his or her own competences et talents visa).

You may be confusing the status of the spouse of an EU national resident in France. The situation for us non-EU nationals is quite different.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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