Working in Canada
The United Nations human development report cites Canada as one of the best places to live in the world. Canada has two official languages, English and French. Canada is looking to increase immigration, in particular from skilled English and French speakers. Entrepreneurs are encouraged.
Service industries employ three out of four Canadians. Key industries include: Automotive industry, banking and finance, science and technology, nuclear energy, mining and natural resources, agriculture and retail.
Jobs in Canada fall into two categories regulated and unregulated. Most people work in the unregulated trades where the employer decides who to employ based on skills and education. However approximately 20% of trades require you to have a licence to practice, these differ from province to province but range from doctors to electricians. You may find that you will need qualifications gained outside Canada to be validated. For more information, visit the Government of Canada's Working in Canada website which has an excellent section on working in Canada for immigrants and temporary workers.
If you are not a Canadian citizen, you will need a visa in order to work or study in Canada. Criteria vary depending on the type of visa you require e.g. student visa or employment visa. Regulations which govern visa applications are complex and frequently change, so it is essential to keep up-to-date with the latest information from your local Canadian Government office.
There are ten provinces and three territories that make up Canada. They are: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, North West Territoties, Nova Scotia, Nuvanut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Yukon.
All areas will have a separate government website which you may want to visit to find out the latest about the area, immigration and employment information.
Vancouver is the largest city in British Columbia. Key industries in the province include forestry, mining, fishing and agriculture as well as new growing industries such as eco-tourism, agri-tourism, film and technology. Small businesses make up over ninety-eight percent of all businesses in British Columbia.
Toronto is Canada's largest city and is culturally diverse; nightlife is lively and varied with a thriving alternative scene. Bar, hotel and retail work are common, also look out for opportunities with large corporations. Ottawa is the capital city of Canada and is known for its IT industry.
French is the first language in much of Quebec and some French will be required for most jobs. The biggest city in Quebec is Montreal. Key industries in the province include aerospace, agriculture/food, IT, life sciences, light metals (aluminium production), multimedia, and telecommunications.
Internships and placements
There are many opportunities to undertake temporary work in Canada. The type of work available ranges from formalised work placements to seasonal agricultural work. Jobs can be arranged directly with the employer or through a company that specialises in arranging work experience programmes.
Organisations exist that can help you arrange an internship by providing advice and organising time consuming administrative details such as visa applications, accommodation, travel insurance etc. They usually charge a fee for these services, so make sure you are satisfied with the organisation and the type or work you will undertake before you make any payments.
If you are interested in doing a gap year it is worth looking at registered gap year organisations like BUNAC who can help you with visas. International Experience Canada (IEC) is an initiative from the Canadian Government which allows UK nationals to have a working holiday in Canada for 12 months with the possibility to extend this to 24 months. Eligibility information can be found on their website along with information for nationals of other countries.
Typical vacation work activities include, resort work, hotel and bar work, agricultural work, TEFL and care work. In big cities there will tend to be opportunities with large corporations and many shopping centres have their own recruitment websites. Jobs are advertised through specialist websites, at pre-season recruitment fairs and in the local Canadian press.
Employers will usually ask you to apply for jobs online or by sending a covering letter and CV or application form. In Canada, CVs are also known as resumes and are similar in style and content to British models. A cv or resume will generally be no longer than two pages.
You can find useful application information on the Prospects Canada guide and The University of Manitoba Careers and Employment Service site has Industry links, and downloadable documents to help you with your job search, resume and interview techniques. Check out other Canadian University Careers Service websites for tips on interview and application techniques, also information on internship, vacation and voluntary opportunities.
Study in Canada
If your programme includes a period studying abroad there may be existing exchange agreements with Canadian universities. Check with your School or the Study Abroad Unit for details.
Postgraduate or graduate study in Canada is available at two levels, masters and doctoral. Masters degrees are divided into academic and professional programmes and usually involve 1-2 years study. Doctoral degrees take from four to seven years to complete and unlike in the UK, PhD students will be required to complete course work and sit exams rather than solely focus on their research.
The language of study will vary depending on the university you choose. Canada has English language and French language institutions with some universities offering instruction in both official languages. You may be required to complete language tests to show your level in the relevant language and should check this with the admissions team at the institution you are applying to directly.
The cost of study will vary depending on the course you study, the university and location. Generally, postgraduate study in Canada is less expensive than study in the USA.
Entry requirements will differ between institutions and degree courses. Applications are made directly to the university you wish to study at and you should check what information they require as it may differ. You may be required to supply offical transcripts from all previous university study, letters of recommendation, a letter of motivation. Depending on the course and institution, you may have to complete a standardised test such as GRE or LSAT - information about admissions tests can be found in the study section on the USA page of our website.
Application deadlines will vary but generally, they should be made approximately a year before you intend to start the course.