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Getting started /Training for farming in France /Undertaking initial training in France
Undertaking initial training in France

Agricultural training includes a variety of course and training levels ranging from the 3rd year of secondary school all the way up to a doctorate. There are two main routes for taking initial training in France: The first is initial agricultural training. Here is an overview with links for further information.

General technical and professional agricultural training can be included in the 3rd year of secondary school. This will give you access to all diploma levels. Initial training can either be done in school or as an apprenticeship.

The school route

The second degree

The first cycle can be included either in the 3rd or 4th year of secondary school or during a Preparatory apprenticeship year (PAY). The General and technical second Year (GT) is a training course which takes place in certain institutions of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and covers education on “Ecology – Agronomy – Land – Citizenship”.

The Scientific series general baccalaureate (or Bac S) “Biology – ecology – agronomy” in the relevant institution of the Ministry of Agriculture provides further scientific studies. The technology baccalaureate of the Agronomy and livestock Science and Technology series (Stav) “Agronomy – food environment – land” is a level IV diploma providing further advanced short-courses and preparatory classes for the Advanced Colleges (CPGE). In European sections of the Stav Series of the technology baccalaureate, a part of the programme including one or more non-linguistic disciplines will be taught in a foreign language.

The Professional agricultural aptitude certificate (Capa), a level V diploma, mainly deal with professional insertion but they also provide further professional studies or allow you to prepare for a Certificate of Specialisation (CS).

The Professional agricultural studies certificate (Bepa) is a level V diploma and is an intermediate certificate awarded during the professional baccalaureate course. Training lasts 2 years, students may be directed there from the 4th year of secondary school, a CAPA or a professional aptitude certificate course (CAP). A Bepa mainly covers professional insertion.

The professional baccalaureate can be taken in three years after the 4th year of secondary school. At the end of the second professional cycle the student can, under certain conditions, include a first cycle of the general or technical baccalaureate series. When a student takes the first professional cycle they can access one of the professional baccalaureate specialisations in the professional field (other pathways are also possible).

Holders of level V professional diplomas in a speciality related to their diploma may be admitted into the first professional cycle, as well as, by way of derogation, students who have taken a second GT Class or a first Year or final Year of the preparatory cycle for the general baccalaureate or technical baccalaureate. Once having obtained the professional baccalaureate, students can continue their studies with the Advanced agricultural technician certificate (BTSA) and the CS, for example.

The professional baccalaureate can also be obtained through 4 year courses.

Advanced education

Short advanced education courses include the BTSA, CPGE, BCPST (Biology, chemistry, physics and land sciences) and TB (Technology and biology), CPGE post-BTSA-BTS-DUT (University technology diploma) and the undergraduate year.

The BTSA, a level III diploma (bac+2), is broken down into options and specialities. The BTSA qualification can be followed by further studies (professional degree, in a CPGE post BTSA – BTS - DUT or in the university system in the third year of a general degree: degree, masters, doctorate).

The 2-year post-baccalaureate CPGE of the BCPST path (accessible to holders of an S baccalaureate) and the TB path (accessible to holders of a technical baccalaureate, prepare students for admission test A for the advanced public colleges of further agricultural and veterinary education (Esav).

The 1-year post BTSA - BTS - DUT CPGE prepares students for admission test C to the advanced public colleges and provides access to private engineering colleges attached to the Ministry of Agriculture and to certain engineering schools attached to the Ministry of Advanced Education and Research through the admission procedures pertaining to each college.

The undergraduate course creates a pathway between short advanced education course and advanced university education. It provides access to degree courses.

Long course advanced education is basically divided in 3 main groups.

• Engineering college courses lead to an engineering diploma within 3 or 5 years depending on the admissions process used. These colleges train general engineers, agricultural technical engineers and specialised engineers.

• Veterinary colleges train vets.

• The national advanced landscaping college of Versailles awards a government-backed landscaping diploma (DPLG) at the end of a 4-year post-CPGE course or an exam organised during bac+2.

Some of these establishments also teach management and advanced management techniques for the Ministry of Agriculture.

Several advanced educational institutions participate in professional degree education (LP) and also offer other courses: a masters (5 years), a doctorate (8 years) and specialised masters degrees (MS).

There are also other pathways between long and short course advanced education which allow certain students coming from the BTS and IUT to continue to baccalaureate + 5 and to access the engineering diploma course.

Useful links

• The list of diplomas, qualifications and certificates conferring Professional agricultural skills when attached to the Personal Professionalization Plan (PPP) for candidates born on or after the 1st of January 1971 (article in Appendix I); The list of diplomas, qualifications and certificates with a level at least equal to the professional agricultural study certificate (Bepa) and the Professional agricultural certificate (BPA) conferring Professional agricultural skills for candidates born before 1971 (article in Appendix II) at (in French).

• For more information on school route diplomas go to, the French agricultural education website (in French).

• For an annual overview of agricultural education in France go to, the website for French agricultural education professionals (in French).


Apprenticeships are aimed at young people between 16 and 26 who wish to acquire a professional qualification and a nationally-recognised diploma. Derogations can be agreed in some cases.

Young people wishing to undertake an apprenticeship must take steps to find an apprenticeship master. They must sign an apprenticeship contract with an employer who will enrol him at an apprenticeship training centre (CFA). The apprentice will be trained in two different places: the company and the ATC.

The apprentice must work during normal working hours and all training will be included in these working hours. They will not have school holidays but will have paid holidays like other employees. The time spent at the ATC and the company will vary depending on the diploma being taken.

The employer will pay the apprentice a salary which must be between 25 and 78% of the minimum wage (Smic) depending on their age and the length of the contract.

Useful links

• For more information on apprenticeships go to the Ministry in charge of Agriculture's website (in French).

Last updated on December, 2012. Report a problem with this page.


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