UX designer living in the United States but struggling to find work in or around my city. This, despite attending meetups, connecting with other professionals and honing my skills every day.

Vancouver seems like a nice place to live and I was curious what challenges a non-French-speaker would encounter in the interview process or on the job. How much will it hurt my hiring potential? Should I expect to struggle a bit?

For reference, I took three years of Spanish and am reasonably capable of day-to-day conversation with native speakers.

  • 3
    Yeah, Quebec actually has laws protecting the french language, so if you were searching for work there, it'd be a problem, but for vancouver I agree with @DavidK
    – Gnomejon
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 19:07
  • 1
    Absolutely correct. I work in the tech industry in Vancouver and have never encountered any language other than English either at work or in the city in general. In Quebec, French is essential but in the rest of Canada you will have no problem at all. Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 19:28
  • I've lived in BC Canada for over 16 years, you won't have a problem, especially in Vancouver. I don't know any French, and I've never met a Canadian who couldn't speak English. Because French is the second language here people tend to assume it's a widely-used language, but aside from Quebec French usually isn't spoken. Knowing French has never been brought up in any job interviews that my family or friends have had.
    – Keith M
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 23:21
  • 1
    If you're not finding work in the U.S., you're not gonna have much luck in Vancouver. This isn't even taking into account the living costs here.
    – Jack
    Commented Aug 21, 2016 at 9:22

3 Answers 3


Having lived in British Columbia for 5 years, I can assure you that you do not need to know French to work or live in BC. While you will find French on all the food labels and the road signs, you are not likely to hear any locals speaking French while in BC.

In Eastern Canada you will find a far greater number of French speakers. In Quebec in particular you will find an overwhelming preponderance of French speakers.

According to this wiki page on British Columbia demographics, less than 2% of people living in BC speak French as their primary language.

  • +1. I spent 3 weeks in Vancouver and the only person that could speak French was from Quebec.
    – Taladris
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 5:21

The primary region for french-speakers in Canada is Quebec, on the east coast. Vancouver is on the west coast. Not speaking French in Quebec would be a detriment, but for Vancouver you shouldn't have any issues.


Having worked for the past 7 years in western Canada and as Lumberjack and David mentioned French is not required generally to work in Western Canada. However, from time to time, I come across a job posting that says applicants need to know French or Even Spanish! On the other hand for in eastern Canada it is pretty popular and you might be required to know French for some specific jobs. And for jobs in Quebec, a lot of jobs specify that they require knowing both French and English and I have even seen postings entirely in French.

Having said that: Is knowing French required to start your job search in Canada (except QC)? NO But, as I said, you may come across an opportunity or a company that requires this.

Is knowing French required to start your job search in QC? Probably Yes!

  • Meh, job postings are nonsense though. The number of times I've read that you "need" ten years' experience with a five year old technology... Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 1:38

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