Do you need to retrain to immigrate to Canada?

Do you need to retrain to immigrate to Canada?

Many workers are needed in Canada, but it is not enough to immigrate for employment. First, you need to understand what occupation you are applying for and whether you need a license.

Everyone has worked somewhere in their home country, studied some professions, and after relocation you want to do what you are an expert in. But it is not always real. Maybe your occupation is not in demand in Canada. Or perhaps it is in demand, but regulated and you need a local diploma or certificate to get a job.

Regulated and unregulated occupations

Let me tell most immigrants right away: about 80% of professions in Canada are not regulated and do not require any license, and it is up to employers to ask you about qualifications confirmation. Usually, you just need to have your diploma assessed in a special organization, such as the WES, and take references from your previous workplaces. All this is also needed for immigration.

The other 20% of professions are regulated, such as doctors, engineers, plumbers, and teachers. This creates a lot of difficulties, but I still think this system is correct and necessary, because Canada needs real specialists, and the level of education in other countries varies.

By the way, immigration consultants — in our company it is Ivanna, you all know her — are also licensed, and they need to confirm their qualifications 4 times a year.

Obtaining a license

So, if your occupation requires a license, and you want to continue working, be prepared to prove your knowledge and get a license, too. You may need:

  • educational documents;
  • credentials assessment I already mentioned;
  • documents on work experience and courses;
  • language test results, etc.

I cannot tell you the exact list, because it depends on the specific organization that certifies qualifications in your profession and the region you are immigrating to. Requirements also vary from province to province.

There is a special tool that helps you determine if a specialty is regulated in a particular province. There you can also find contacts of organizations issuing licenses.

But here is the tricky part, this site will ask you to enter your NOC. What is that? In Canada, every profession has a code. It is not that hard to determine, our website has a free tool where you can find your code by occupation name. Each NOC has a description, if it fits you then you have found the right code, if not, try to rephrase your occupation or look for synonyms and choose another code. We have an article about the NOC system in Canada.

Examples of occupations

Let me give you some examples. I'll start with cooks. This is an example of an unregulated occupation. You do not need to retrain to get a job. All you need is an education document showing that you studied for the profession or provide references from previous jobs.

And I will move on to the next profession, plumbers. This profession is regulated, but not everywhere, only in the provinces of Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan. In these provinces, plumbers need to register with a regulatory authority, such as Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

Next, I will tell you about truck drivers. It is a very popular profession in Canada, but even if you already have a license to drive a truck, in Canada, you have to take all the exams again, as well as pass a medical examination and training.

Training to be a truck driver is expensive. You will need between $3,000 and $5,000 CAD, depending on the province, license category and the type of vehicle you plan to drive. But as I said, truckers are in high demand in Canada, they are in second place in the top in-demand professions.

The next profession I will look at is a petroleum engineer. To work in Canada, you need to have at least a bachelor's degree, but you also need a license, and it is required in all provinces. For example, in Saskatchewan, licenses are issued by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists.

Next, I want to tell you about lawyers. Even exams and a license are not enough here, because all countries have different laws, and your knowledge in Canada is almost useless. To work as a lawyer in Canada, you must attend a Canadian university, it takes 3-4 years, and for a foreigner, it costs huge money. After graduation, you have to pass the exams and get a license to practice law, and only then you can work.

My advice: if you really want to be a lawyer in Canada, get a permanent residency first. You can do it through immigration programs, which do not require a job offer, or you can work in your home country for some time in another field that does not require a license, and then find a job in Canada in the same occupation. When you already have a permanent residency, you can study at university 2-3 times cheaper as a resident.


I will finish and give some more advice to those whose specialty in Canada requires a license. First, check how to get a license in each province, because somewhere it may be easier, and somewhere it may be more complicated. There may also be a simplified licensing agreement between provinces. That is when you have a license in one province and you can get a simplified license in another province. One heroine of our interview, Vika, talked about this. She got two Canadian licenses in different provinces, both remotely.

And a third option is to work in Canada in a related profession. For example, if you are a teacher, you can become a babysitter, or if you are a nurse or doctor, you can become a caregiver.

And if your profession does not require specific knowledge, for example, you are a programmer, sales manager or something else, then just look for a job.

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