Accounting job requirements in Canada for chartered professional accountants (CPA), and chartered accountants (CA) require a university degree. As well, you must complete a professional training program that is approved by a provincial Institute of Chartered Accountants. Some provinces will also require either two years or 30 months of on-the-job training and membership in a provincial Institute of Chartered Accountants upon completing the Uniform Evaluation Exam.
If you plan to offer public accounting services, such as auditing the financial statements of corporations, each province and territory has different requirements for licensure. Inquire about this when you contact the regulatory body in the province where you plan to settle.
Before You Move to Canada
There are steps that you can take before you move to Canada to improve your chances of continuing your accounting career when you arrive in Canada:
- Attend the Job Search Strategies and Techniques in Canada webinar to learn about Canada’s labour market.
- Contact the provincial or territorial accounting regulatory body in the province that you intend to settle. They can provide details about the licensing process and job requirements.
- Check with the regulatory body about other documents you need to bring and verify if the documents need to be translated. You may need to use a professional translation service in Canada.
- Gather and organize your official education, work and identity documents while still in your home country.
- Improve your language skills in English or French, and enroll in language classes while you are in your home country.
1. Understanding Accounting Job Requirements
Understanding accounting job requirements can help you to find work faster when you arrive in Canada. Newcomers to Canada often discover that they struggle to find work in their chosen profession after they arrive. This is also true for accountants who will have to get accounting qualifications recognized and gain Canadian work experience. Financial auditors and accountants belong to a regulated profession in Canada. And each province and territory regulates the profession. In Canada, the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) is a highly sought business and accounting designation.
Start Researching Accounting Job Requirements
The National Occupational Classification (NOC) code for financial auditors and accountants is NOC 11100. The NOC provides a standard definition of accounting jobs in Canada and is used by various groups, including job seekers. Before searching for an accounting job, it’s helpful to read the NOC description to ensure that you perform similar job duties in your home country. You can also find example job titles that accountants use in Canada. This will be helpful when you begin your job search.
2. Employment for Accounting in Canada
Job prospects for accountants can vary in Canada. Therefore, it’s vital to carefully research provincial and local job prospects and labour markets. This will allow you to match your skills and experience with the accounting job requirements across Canada. This knowledge may even inform the city that you choose to settle in Canada.
Credentials Recognition in Canada
Provincial and territorial accounting associations provide information about the steps you must take to practice accounting in Canada. However, in most cases, they cannot assess your credentials prior to your arrival in Canada. For this purpose, you need to contact the national association that governs your branch of the accounting profession. Either they themselves offer the assessment services or they can recommend evaluation services.
Credentials Assessment Services
If you are applying to a Canadian university you may need your academic credentials assessed. And in some cases, an employer may request your academic assessment. You can contact one of the following agencies:
To find more organizations and agencies that provide credential evaluation, assessment and qualification recognition services click here.
Best Locations for Accounting Jobs in Canada
Since every business needs accountants, most Canadian cities offer employment opportunities in the accounting sector. However, large cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary have a higher concentration of financial companies.
To view a list of accounting firms in Canada, click here.
You can also visit Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. The award recognizes Canada’s best employers for diversity and inclusion programs.
3. Job Search Techniques for Accounting Jobs
The Canadian job market is very competitive, so you need to prepare and understand the steps to follow to gain employment. As well, finding a job in Canada may be very different than in your home country.
Here are a few helpful ways that you can search for accounting jobs:
- Connect with settlement agencies to learn about job-finding or networking clubs specifically for accounting professionals.
- Attend Accounting related career fairs and information sessions and regularly check job boards.
- Seek out a mentor in the Accounting sector who can give you valuable advice and probably introduce you to their professional network.
- Have a strong and active presence on social media channels such as LinkedIn.
- Join Accounting groups on LinkedIn where you can contribute content, ask questions, build connections and also study how Accounting professionals are doing in Canada.
Finding a job in Canada may be different than in your home country and you may need to find jobs, update your resume, write cover letters, and prepare for interviews. Most settlement agencies provide free employment services to help you with your job search. Learn more about Services in Canada to Help Newcomers Settle.
Click the link to find immigrant services in your area.
Writing Your Accounting Resume
A strong resume can help you to stand out among other job applicants. These tips can help you to highlight your specific traits and abilities clearly and concisely. Importantly, you want to describe your career accomplishments and the results that you achieved.
- Include an Objective statement below your contact information. This statement clearly outlines your professional objectives, career goals, and specific areas of interest in the accounting field.
- Include a summary of your qualifications below your objective using between three and ten bullet points.
- List your work experience in reverse chronological order.
- Identify your achievements instead of listing job responsibilities. Employers want to hear about your achievements, and listing tasks will not make you stand out from other job seekers.
- Include titles that pertain to the accounting industry as well as titles that show your competencies in computers, tax programs, management, leadership, etc.
- List your professional experience at the top of your resume if you have extensive experience.
- List your education in reverse chronological order and include the school(s) you attended and location, graduation date, and any professional qualifications that you hold.
- Ask someone such as an employment counsellor or job developer to review your resume before you begin to apply for jobs.
Informational Interviews Can Help You Learn about Accounting Job Requirements in Canada
An information interview is a great way to learn about accounting job requirements in Canada. Typically, this is a 20 – 30 minute meeting that you schedule with an accountant to learn more about the profession in Canada.
You should not try to get a job during an informational interview but rather find out whether or not a particular position or industry might be a good fit for you, An informational interview with a contact from your network can be a great source of career information. For example, in addition to gathering industry information, you also benefit from hearing about your contact’s first-hand experience within the accounting profession and industry.
Networking is a key activity that can help you discover job leads, gather advice and information about a particular company or industry, and meet others so that you can expand your network.
Good places to network, build relationships, and share information include conferences, associations, and education events.
LinkedIn is another important networking tool. It is great to connect with former colleagues and employers, search for companies, and learn about accounting job requirements in Canada.
You can also network with people in the accounting sector and join related professional groups.
Interview Techniques for Accounting Jobs
Most interviews for accounting positions will follow a standard structure which includes: Introduction, Setting the Scene, Exploration, Selling and Closure. Naturally, questions will vary depending on the employer, the job level, your experience, and the company’s recruitment practice. However, here are some key areas that interviewers will assess:
In Canada, behavioural-based interviews are quite common. The interviewer(s) will ask questions to explore what actions or behaviours from past activities to discover how you would perform in the job that you are interviewing for. Your response to interview questions should clearly demonstrate the situation or task, the actions you took and what the result was.
Training and Qualifications to Meet Accounting Job Requirements:
Expect questions that explore your accounting training, plans to become a chartered professional accountant, qualifications, and understanding of the accounting practice in Canada.
This relates to key skills for accounting job requirements such as analytical skills, communication skills, and the ability to work to tight deadlines and deliver quality and accurate output.
Personality and Motivation:
These questions tend to explore how you plan to develop your finance skills and your overall career goals.
If you are applying for more senior Finance positions, expect questions that explore your ability to coach and lead an accounting team, and your ability to build relationships and generate income streams.
Sample Interview Questions:
When preparing for your interview, here are some sample questions that you can expect to answer for accounting jobs including Analysts and Auditors, Management, Financial and Project Accountants, etc.
- ‘What accounting software do you regularly use and what are the advantages and disadvantages?’
- ‘Describe a time when you had to work exceptionally hard to provide great service to a customer or client. What did you do and what was the outcome?’
- ‘Give me an example of the different approaches you have used when persuading your team, colleagues or manager to agree with your views.’
- ‘Talk me through an example of how you have used data to improve your team’s productivity.’
In addition to preparing for questions you might be asked during interviews, you should also prepare questions that you would like to ask. Researching the company will help you to learn about the company, showcase your interest, and help to craft smart questions.
Asking Smart Questions During Your Interview:
The interview is a good opportunity to find out how you can progress within the company, like moving from senior associate to managing director. Asking about career paths shows that you are forward-thinking, focused on your career and able to grow and develop within the firm.
Be sure to ask thoughtful questions and avoid questions where the answer can be found on the company’s website. For example, you may want to inquire about a recent regulatory change and how the organization expects to respond to the change.
Corporate culture is prized at many of the top accounting firms. The interview is a great opportunity to learn about the organizational culture. What is the best way to get a true sense of the company culture? Ask your interviewer why they work there and what keeps them there. Their answer will reveal what you can expect to experience if you join the company.
4. Accounting Associations in Canada
These associations can provide more information about licensure and certification, professional development, education and information about accounting job requirements.
Provincial/Territorial Regulatory Bodies
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
Professional immigrant networks are volunteer-run member-based associations or networks created by and for immigrant professionals that seek to:
- create a forum to contribute to and enrich their respective communities; and
- provide opportunities for members to find meaningful employment and achieve their professional goals.
These groups offer networking events, mentoring, information sessions, professional development opportunities, and connections to job opportunities.
AFCA is a non-profit organization based in Toronto. AFCA is affiliated with the National Council of Philippine American Canadian Accountants (NCPACA), an umbrella organization of Filipino accounting associations from 10 major cities in North America. Membership includes designated accountants and students with various accounting bodies in Canada, the United States and the Philippines who work in various accounting capacities.
CCAA provides a medium for its members to share views and experiences. Its members include professional accountants and students from all three of Canada’s accounting bodies (i.e. CA, CGA, and CMA). Other financial professionals who have joined CCAA include actuaries, bankers, and financial advisers.
The CCAA is a member of the Federation of Chinese Canadian Professionals (FCCP).
ICAI – Toronto Chapter is a not-for-profit organization in Toronto, Canada for the Alumni (i.e. Associate and Fellow members) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). The primary objective of the Toronto Chapter is to provide networking and professional development opportunities to its members.
SAAC works to enhance the knowledge of its members, and provide professional development activities, job opportunities, as well as social interaction for members.
For information, tools, free webinars, and more visit our Finding a Job in Canada resource page. Get the help you need to achieve your career goals in Canada!