Welcome to the “How To… Find A Job In Canada” series!
Saying that last year wasn’t great economically speaking is an understatement. Pretty much all countries worldwide suffered from the global economic downturn and Canada was no exception. Yet, a lot of people are still considering moving to Canada, while others are already in the process and are probably worried about whether they will get a job at all.
There is no easy answer when it comes to employment. You know the story… a bit of patience, a bit of skills, a bit of luck.
I’m not a job counselor, and I’m not an expert. But I do know how it works in Canada and I’m hoping to pass along some informations that may not be obvious to everyone. A post will be published every Saturday… enjoy!
Today, we will cover the basis: who can work in Canada, and what you need to get ready for job-hunting.
Who can work in Canada?
In order to work legally in Canada, you must either:
- Be a Canadian citizen
- Be a permanent resident: you can study, work and live wherever you want, for as long as you want.
- Hold a temporary work visa: depending on your status, you may have restrictions regarding where you can work, and for whom. There are a variety of temporary work visas (such as the Working Holiday Visa, special category work permits etc.), some are easier to get than others. You may read the post Work Temporarily In Canada for more informations.
No matter what your status is, you first need to obtain a Social Insurance Number (SIN card) if you haven’t done so already. This is a 9-digits number you need to have to work in Canada. Note that temporary work permit holder’s SIN number will begin with the number “9” and will expire on the date indicated at the front of your card, based on your work visa length. Canadians’ and Permanent Resident’s SIN number doesn’t expire.
What you need to know beforehand
If you are a newcomer to Canada, no matter what your status is (new citizen, permanent resident or temporary worker), chances are that you were educated and trained abroad. In order to prepare for job-hunting, you should follow these few steps:
- Getting your credential recognized: this is very important, and unfortunately, it’s not free and can be tricky. Canadian employers are usually not familiar with foreign degrees, credentials or certifications. Assessing credential is a provincial responsibility and this is done by the five assessment organizations that currently exist in Canada: ACAS (for Manitoba), CEFAHQ (for Quebec), WES (for Ontario), ICES (for British Columbia) and IQAS (for Alberta, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories). Another list is also available here. Note that there is a fee for all assessment, depending on the organism and on what you need exactly.
- Having your documents translated: if your documents are not in English or French (Canada’s two official languages), you will need a translation. You can not translate the documents yourself, this has to be done through a professional organization.
- Having a language assessment: Canada has two official languages, French and English. In Quebec, chances are you will need to speak French at work given that it’s the province only official language. Elsewhere in Canada, people usually work in English. In a few places, such as the National Capital Region (Ottawa area), New Brunswick etc., speaking both French and English can be extremely useful. If you wish to work in a language that is not your mother tongue, you may want to be assessed. If you are a permanent resident, you may benefit from free language classes (in English or in French) through the LINK program (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada). Learn more about learning French or English here.
- Check if your occupation if regulated: in Canada, there are two kind of occupations: regulated (controlled by provincial law and governed by a professional organization or regulatory body) and non-regulated (no legal requirement or restriction on practice with regard to licences, certificates, or registration). About 20% of Canadians work in regulated occupations such as veterinarian, electrician, plumber, physiotherapist, medical doctor, engineer, etc. If you wish to work in a regulated profession, you must have a licence or certificate or be registered with the regulatory body for your occupation. Note that regulations vary from one province to another, so it really depends on where you settle. If your profession is regulated, be prepared to fight to have your credentials recognized. It’s not impossible but it is seen as challenging.
Learning about how to practice your profession in Canada
You may want to check two very useful websites to learn about how to practice your profession in Canada.
- The Working In Canada Tool: this great online tool, created by the Government of Canada, allow you to browse a huge variety of occupations. You will learn if there are regulated or non-regulated, the average salary per profession per region, the list of essential skills to have, the main duties to perform, relevant associations and unions etc.
- Information on access to occupations in Canada: this is a similar tool from the Canadian Information Center for International Credentials.
You may also want to read the FAQ about credential assessment and recognition in Canada.