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Know how education evaluation and credential recognition can help your career in Canada

Education evaluation and credential recognition are vital concepts to understand. And knowing more about each process can help newcomers find a meaningful career in Canada. Labour shortages existed in Canada before the COVID-19 pandemic. And post-pandemic, shortages in some occupations will be even greater. This is good news if you plan to arrive or have recently arrived in Canada. However, it can still be a hard to find a job in your field if employers don’t know how your education or experience compare in Canada. So education evaluation and credential recognition can help you overcome this hurdle.

Linda Ryan is the National Program Manager with BCCA-Integrating Newcomers, a government-funded, Canada-wide, pre-arrival career coaching service for high skilled construction professionals immigrating to Canada (*BCCA-IN).

A career and certified performance coach, she and the BCCA-IN team specialise in helping newcomers plan for, and achieve, employment success, no matter what city or province they are moving to.

When it comes to looking for a career, Ryan sheds light on the importance of both education evaluation and credential recognition in Canada. With expertise on how best to navigate education evaluation and credential recognition, Prepare for Canada asked Ryan for her practical and best advice. 

Why Education Evaluation is Important in Canada

Prepare for Canada: Is it necessary for newcomers to get their out-of-country education evaluated?

Linda Ryan: Getting an education evaluation is a smart and strategic thing to do.

With an education evaluation, you reassure Canadian employers that your education has been independently verified. This proves that you received your education award from a school that Canada recognizes. This can apply to your out-of-country:

  • Certificate
  • Degree
  • Diploma
  • Masters, or
  • PhD.

An education evaluation also confirms that the course content and duration are equal to Canadian education. If you have completed this process, it’s important to list and confirm this on your resume. This makes it easier for Canadian employers to assess your education.

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Prepare for Canada: Can you tell us who else might request an education evaluation? 

Linda Ryan: In addition to Canadian employers, other organizations may insist on verifying education.

For example, while employers may want to know that your education is equal to similar areas of study in Canada, these organizations will insist on an education evaluation:

  • Federal and provincial regulatory bodies
  • Academic institutions.

Regulatory bodies are responsible for assessing and approving your status to work in a regulated profession in Canada. Often, education evaluation is one of many steps to complete this process. 

Academic institutions also assess out-of-country education for admission to higher education programs.

Prepare for Canada: What organizations provide education evaluation services?

Linda Ryan: There are several evaluation services such as:

Some organizations may request that you get your evaluation from a specific service provider. So it’s good to research what you require before you pay fees for this service.

The Importance of Credential Evaluation in Canada

Prepare for Canada: Is credential evaluation (also known as credential recognition) different from education evaluation?

Linda Ryan: Yes, there is a difference.

The credential evaluation process proves you have the status or credentials to safely work in a regulated profession. Typically, it allows you to use a professional title or designation. In Canada some examples of regulated professions apply to: 

  • Engineer
  • Architect
  • Accountant
  • Doctor
  • Dentist
  • Therapist
  • Nurse
  • HR Specialist
  • Lawyer
  • Technician/Technologist
  • Trades-related apprentice or Journeyperson,  etc.

Credential recognition can be federally mandated but provincially controlled. So to build your career in a regulated profession you have to show that you meet the education, experience and specialist professional development requirements. In addition, you have to understand the:

  • Canadian codes
  • Scopes of practice, and
  • Legal standards of the profession. 

Credential recognition will allow you to compete on the same level as other Canadian educated or experienced professionals applying for the same jobs.

Prepare for Canada: How much time does the credential evaluation process take?

Linda Ryan: As you can imagine the ‘challenge’ process takes time.

As well, sometimes the process will require you to prove your work experience via documented hours, demonstrated skills/competencies, and supervision. You may also be required to:

  • Present educational awards (via independent credential evaluation)
  • Take ‘bridging studies’ or additional Canadian courses, and
  • Sit (‘challenge’) exams.

Prepare for Canada: Is it necessary to get an education evaluation and a credentials evaluation?

Linda Ryan: This is a question that people often ask me. As a Career Coach for technical and construction professionals coming to Canada, here’s how I answer.

At a minimum, get your education evaluated. It’s a simple step and will reassure you that your ‘degree’ is equal to a ‘degree’ in Canada. It also shows employers that you’ve done some basic preparation and know how your education compares.

As a sign of commitment to your profession, I recommend you:

  1. Confirm if your profession is regulated, and if it is,

2. Research how to get your credentials recognized in the province or territory you’re moving to.

Remember, knowledge is power. You can make informed decisions about your career when you know the standards of the profession you’re interested in and the career you want to commit to in Canada.

After that, choice and control are yours as to whether you need or want to proceed with credential recognition. And remember, if you decide to pursue your professional designation (credential evaluation), list that it is ‘in progress’ on your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile. The process takes time. But, if you list that you have started the process, employers may include you on an interview shortlist, rather than exclude you.

Both education evaluation and credential recognition are important tools that can help your career in Canada. And knowing how they’re used can help you prepare for the Canadian job market.

Learn More about BCCA-IN

*The BCCA-Integrating Newcomers program is a free, pre-arrival, Canada-wide service, focused on helping high-skilled newcomers explore and build successful construction careers. Services include one-on-one career guidance, tailored resume, cover letter, LinkedIn advice, and an in-depth skills and education assessment to help newcomers focus on the best career, credentials and connections activities. The Integrating Newcomers team not only has multi-industry experience but are also immigrants who have built successful careers in Canada.