Getting Reading For Job-Hunting (1/10)

Canadian Flag on Parliament Hill

Cana­dian Flag on Par­lia­ment Hill

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.


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Great series Zhu! One of our main con­cerns arriv­ing in Canada it’s to find your­self a job. I’ve been doing a lot of inter­views but still no job offers. It’s hard to get your first job in Canada!

  2. @bumanguesa — Thank you! I hope it’s be use­ful. To be hon­est, I’m also look­ing for a bet­ter posi­tion right now, and I know how stress­ful it is.

  3. Lots of guide­lines and tips. Nice arti­cle but I think that would not for me. I am not a Cana­dian cit­i­zen, sorry for me. But this post adds inspi­ra­tion to those cit­i­zens (Cana­dian) who are look­ing for a good job in your country///.…

  4. Hi Zhu!

    I’ve found your blog yes­ter­day, and I can not leave it and stop read­ing it since!;)

    I’ve already have my cre­den­tials from WES, cause I’ve lived for quite a while in USA. I am a psy­chol­o­gist from Argentina.
    Know­ing WES is a help­ful tool for Ontario res­i­dence, is a great advance. I thought it was worth it for almost the entire coun­try. I will start search­ing jobs in Ontario now.

    Thank you very much for your posts, and I promise, I will never “leave” you! jaja­jaja (come for the infor­ma­tion and walk away!). If you have a hint about psy­chol­o­gists in Ontario, I will appre­ci­ate it! (I’ve already make con­tact to The Zieglers, Car­los Rivas and many other blog­gers, who are really nice and helpful).

    I will need to deve­l­ope patience, though!
    I will con­tinue read­ing and posting.

    Regards from argentina!


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