What you need to know
to work in France
Many foreign architects wish to practice in France, with the uncertainty of the market conditions and corresponding requirements. We, therefore, chose to answer the frequent questions from architects willing to practice in France : Is your foreign diploma valid in France? Are there any equivalences? And what are the steps to follow?
French professional regulations. As in many regulated professions, working in France requires a State-recognised diploma. The architect’s position is not exempt from this rule. It is subject to various regulations, whether regarding diploma recognition or required standards.
Automatic recognition for the EU. According to the directive 2005/36/CE, diplomas issued by the EU Member States benefit from automatic recognition of professional qualifications. The same applies to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway, as well as to more distant countries such as Lebanon, Armenia, Serbia and Quebec (Canada). The provisions of section 8 of this directive provide detailed information on the profession and training of architects.
Limits on the recognition of diplomas. The ministerial decree of April 14, 2021, regarding foreign architect’s diploma recognition, clarifies the existing equivalences. Thus, if you have a Lebanese architect’s diploma, your diploma is recognised for 5 years, allowing you to practice as a salaried architect on French territory but also to follow the master-builder training at ENSA, ESA and INSA. This accreditation will allow you to register with the national order of architects and to work as a self-employed architect.
Steps to follow. You can ask the Enic-Naric Center to obtain a certificate of comparability recognising your foreign diploma. You can also apply to the Ministry of Culture via the Ordre des Architectes for your professional qualification recognition. In some cases, it may be necessary to go back to the academic level to work as an architect in a French office.
Language requirements. It is essential to master the French language to work in France. As an architect, it is even more important to know how to write presentations to your internal contacts, your colleagues, and external contacts, your clients. Few French agencies work in an English-speaking environment, so it is particularly important to check your mastery of the French language when writing your application.
Compliance with standards and regulations. When arriving in France, demonstrating years of experience abroad is difficult. Indeed, agency directors are somewhat reluctant to take on mirific projects carried abroad since they do not provide the knowledge and mastery of French standards and regulations that are particularly numerous. As well as the administrative part related to the project and the process’s organisation with the different phases. You will not be able to be perfectly autonomous when you take up your position.
Some final tips. We advise you to accept a first lower position in the agency hierarchy to get your first experience in France. Once in the agency, you will be able to prove your value and your know-how. It will then be easier for you to access positions corresponding to your years of experience. Moreover, consider applying to agencies where your profile is an added value, such as agencies located in France and in your country of origin.
* Source : étude du Conseil des Architectes d’Europe