The profession of architect is a regulated one in Canada. Provincial and territorial regulatory bodies of architects set the standards for entry into the profession and issue licenses to those who meet the qualifications.
By law, you are not allowed to practice as an architect in Canada, or use the title “architect,” if you haven’t been licensed as a full member from the regulatory body in the province or territory where you intend to work. However, it is not necessary to be registered or licensed to work in an architectural firm if you are working under the direction of an architect.
The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) is the national association and the voice for architecture and its practice in Canada. It represents over 4000 architects.
To improve your chances of success to practice your profession in your future country, there are many steps that you can take before immigrating to Canada:
- Research and have a general overview of how your international qualifications may be viewed in Canada and have a general sense of the Canadian labour market and workplace culture.
- Contact the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) and the provincial or territorial regulatory body in the area where you intend to settle and work, and enquire about the specific procedure to follow and the potential costs and time required to obtain a permit. As well, ask about the steps in the licensing process that you can take prior to immigrating and afterwards.
- To practice the profession, you need to have advanced English or French (depending on your destination province) language competency. Even if you’re a good speaker of English or French, it’s helpful to improve your language skills and enroll in language classes while you are in your home country and continue them after moving to Canada. You can assess your language skills by taking an online self-assessment test on the Canadian Language Benchmarks website.
- The CACB requires specific educational documents such as your degrees and original transcripts to assess your education against Canadian standards. These documents have to be sent directly by your academic institution(s). It is much easier for you to gather and organize your official education, work and identity documents while still in your home country. When contacting them, inquire as well about any other documents you need to bring for employment purposes or to continue education and verify the translation of these documents. You might need to use a professional translation service in Canada.
- Understand how the profession of architect is practiced in Canada and familiarize yourself with the procedures, laws, and legislation that govern your profession in the province where you will settle.
- Know the name of your job in Canada and make a list of potential employers.
- Enquire about the procedure to get a driver’s license in Canada and apply for it right after you land, as it would be very useful when you get a job or even to get a job.
- Another helpful thing you can do is to attend a Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP) seminar which organizes “pre-departure orientation” and a Know Before You Go webinar to know more about life in Canada.