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Q: I am a doctor in my home country and I would like to know what the standards are in Canada before I move. I have a lot of friends who are professionals in various fields and they ended up driving taxis or working in factories after moving to Canada. What steps can I take to avoid ending up in the same situation myself?

A: Before you leave your country, it is crucial to find out as much as you can about the Canadian standards required to practise your profession. Many professionals and skilled trades’ people encounter difficulty obtaining recognition of their training in Canada. The process for securing a licence or certificate to practise any of the “regulated” occupations varies from province to province and from job to job. Among the many regulated professions are nursing, engineering, teaching, electrical work and plumbing.

Contact the professional or trade association governing your occupation in your country to determine if it has any affiliation with a similar association in Canada. You might also want to check with the Canadian consul or consulate in your country to obtain information about your occupation and possible licensing requirements, certification or registration as well as the procedure for obtaining an assessment.

Most Canadian diplomatic offices have a publication entitled National Occupational Classification that might help. Be forewarned that it may take you months if not years to obtain the additional training and pass the exams required to obtain a licence or certificate to practise in Canada.

If you are in a “non-regulated” occupation, on the other hand, you don’t need a licence to practise it although there may be an association or professional body related to your profession that offers voluntary membership, training and support services.

The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC) can help you obtain the credentials and accreditation you need to find work in your occupational field. The CICIC does not assess anyone’s qualifications or grant certification, but does provide guidance from its vast library of contacts in education, the professions and skilled labour.

For more information, see:

Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials:

Working in Canada tool: