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Immigrating and Changing Careers – the Pluses and Minuses

By: Ronda Payne

Published On: November 6, 2018

Changing careers is a big step given the amount of education and experience many people have built up over the years. Another major life change – even bigger than changing occupations – is moving to a new country. Sometimes the move to Canada or another new homeland can be fraught with challenges and it’s one that can bring a career change along with it.

For most, career is an important element of life, but for various reasons, you may want to relocate to Canada or another country. This could be for lifestyle reasons, relationships, opportunities for children or better job prospects. Your career path is unique. If you want to continue it in Canada, you need to get to know a few things that will help you make the decision of whether to immigrate or not before taking the steps to submit your immigration application.

Regulated Jobs in Canada

One of the first things to be aware of is whether your job will be easily transferable or not. Many occupations are regulated – meaning you need a certain type of licence or certification from a designated body before you can perform the work. About 20% of jobs in Canada are regulated and this is done to ensure public safety around these occupations. Therefore, the majority of jobs in Canada are not regulated.

Regulated jobs include doctors, architects, nurses, accountants, plumbers, engineers, teachers, lawyers, dieticians, insurance brokers and others – the majority require several years of education and/or experience. Different regions in Canada (provinces and territories) have different lists of jobs that are regulated. The best thing to do, if you are curious about transferability of your career, is to visit and enter your job title. Remember, not all job titles from your region will be the same in the Canadian job market. You’ll need to determine what your job is called, then search the list to see if it is regulated in Canada.

If a job is regulated, it doesn’t mean you can’t become a regulated professional in Canada. However, it may require more education, training or experience in order to work in the same type of position. If your job is regulated, you’ll want to do research to determine what is required to continue in the same role in Canada. This search can result in three different options: you decide the education and training required is more than you want to do and you don’t want to go through with the immigration process; you decide the education and training required is more than you want to do but you’re willing to take on a different occupation and will immigrate to Canada; or you decide the education and training is something you are prepared to do and you will immigrate to Canada with that goal in mind.

Let’s focus on the second option: you aren’t willing to do the education and training required to bring your current career to Canada, but you want to continue with the immigration process.

Ensure You Have a Support System

If you still want to immigrate and are willing to change your career in order to be part of Canada, you’ll want a strong support system in place. It is essential to have people to talk to and rely on when going through something as massive as immigrating to a new country, but you’ll need it even more so if you’re going to change careers.

Fortunately, Canada is a very multi-cultural country with about one in five residents representing a visible minority. It’s a country of diversity both in its people – especially in urban centres – as well as in its climate and geography. The change to a new climate can also be a challenge for new immigrants! It’s important to know the weather can range dramatically from one season to the next depending upon what part of the country you’re in.

The benefit of a country with many immigrants is that you’ll easily find others who have gone, or are going through, a situation similar to yours. It’s important because you’ll need others to turn to, to help you acclimatize to your new country as well as to help you learn about employment in Canada, how to conduct a job search and other details to help you thrive in your new home. Outside of existing immigrants who have gone through the process, almost all urban centres have a number of organizations dedicated to helping new immigrants with their job search, finding a new home and other basic needs.

Additionally, prior to coming to Canada, you’ll want to look into the labour market to see what jobs are popular in different regions to help drive your career path. With many jobs in high-demand, chances are you’ll be able to find something of interest (be sure to check career counselling services and job search tools to get a good feel for the job description) and know that there is demand for it. Additionally, understanding the Canadian labour market will help you determine if you need a career coach to help you build your skills and education in the new field to benefit your desired career path.

Why Go Through a Career Change to Come to Canada

For many, the benefits of coming to Canada outweigh the downside of taking on a new career. For some, learning something new is exactly what they are looking for as they immigrate – it’s a completely fresh start. You’d also be surprised at how much of your past experience will apply to a completely different career field.

Another benefit of changing careers is that education in Canada is affordable (compared to most other countries), exceptional and abundant. With a number of universities, colleges and other post-secondary schools, the choices are endless in terms of what you can train for. If you want to keep your education to a minimum there are choices that can be made by searching for programs that run two years or less.

Canada also has a growing economy that may represent a better financial future for you by taking on a new occupation. You’ll enjoy the balanced work/life approach common among Canadians as well as the high demand for many jobs.

When to Not Change Your Career to Immigrate

Knowing if coming to Canada is right for you and your family (if you have to change careers) will take a lot of consideration and research. You’ll need to consider if the move will improve your family’s situation (financially, culturally, personally), whether you’re willing to take the time to seek out a new job and potentially train for it and whether you’re comfortable joining the Canadian workforce and ensuring your English is at a level where you will be confident communicating with others on the job.

It’s a big decision to come to Canada and if your career is regulated, you’ll have to consider whether you want to do the training and education required to stay in the field or branch out into something new.


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