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Nursing jobs are among the most in-demand jobs in Canada due to a labour shortage. And the labour shortage conditions of recent years are expected to persist. So if you’re interested in a career as a registered nurse (RN), find out what you require to work in Canada! Because if you were trained as a nurse and have nursing experience, you may have many of the requirements. Here you’ll learn about the process to apply for nursing jobs in Canada.

RNs play a vital role in Canada’s health care system. And the need for RNs is increasing due to COVID-19 as it created an urgent need for RNs. As well, the demand for RNs in Canada stems from:

  • Canada’s ageing population that will require more health services, and.
  • Vacancies as nurses retire from the workforce.

As a result, more nursing jobs are available. Because of these factors, internationally educated nurses (IENs) will play a vital role in filling the nursing job gap. In addition to nursing jobs in hospitals, there are many other settings for RNs such as:

  • Clinics
  • Community agencies
  • Businesses
  • Rehabilitation centres
  • Private homes, and 
  • Nursing homes.

Nursing Job Prospects for RNs in Canada

Before COVID-19, job prospects were rated as fair to good for RNs in all provinces and territories in Canada. This is according to Canada’s Job Bank resource.

For Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses, over the period 2019-2028, new job openings (arising from expansion demand and replacement demand) are expected to total 191,100, while 154,600 new job seekers (arising from school leavers, immigration and mobility) are expected to be available to fill them.

Canadian Occupational Projections system

Clearly, COVID-19 has widened the gap between the current supply of nurses and the future needs across Canada. Because of this, IENs can expect a strong job market.

Researching the Nursing Profession in Canada

As for any occupation, it’s vital that you carefully research the job market for nursing jobs before you arrive in Canada. This will ensure that you:

  • Know what’s required (i.e. provincial license)
  • Follow the process to apply
  • Get the support that you need.

Because nursing is a regulated profession in Canada, you need to have a certificate (or licence) to work as an RN. And the licensing process can be lengthy and costly. So, it’s wise to prepare for this before you arrive in Canada. This can save you time, money, and energy!

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Salary for Nursing Jobs in Canada

Again, conducting research can help you to understand what you can expect to earn for nursing jobs in Canada. Using the Canada Job Bank site, you can learn the average wages for RNs in each province in Canada.

National Occupational Classification (NOC) Code: 3012

You can learn more about what you require to work as a registered nurse in Canada by using the NOC code 3012. Learn more about how to use the NOC to understand labour needs in Canada. This is helpful information. However, when you research wages, it’s equally important to consider the cost of living in the city where you think you want to live. While average wages may be higher in some cities, cost of living could also be higher. To get a sense of the cost of rental housing, check out Rentals for Newcomers for up-to-date housing costs in many cities in Canada.

An Overview of the Application Process for IENs

Importantly, you must first apply to the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) and submit documents that will allow you to register as a nurse in Canada. The NNAS is a national online application service developed by nursing regulatory bodies in Canada.

Important: Applying to the NNAS is an essential first step because you can only work in Canada if you have a NNAS account.  Once you set up your NNAS account, submit all relevant documents, and complete your file. The NNAS will evaluate your file and provide you with access to an Advisory Report.  

Canadian Occupational Projection sYstem

The role of NNAS is to: 

  • Receive and store documents that IENs submit
  • Verify that documents are real
  • Ensure credentials meet Canadian standards
  • Confirm that they have all application documents
  • Send an Advisory Report to the provincial nursing regulatory bodies.

The Advisory Report will allow you to apply to any province and nursing group, for example:  

  • Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
  • Registered Psychiatric Nurse (RPN).

The NNAS will provide you with a helpful step-by-step applicant handbook to guide you through the process.

NNAS 6 Step Application Process

  1. Create your online account to start your application

2. Submit two forms of acceptable identification (passport, driver’s licence, government-issued id) directly to NNAS. Your ID must be copies of original documents and you must:  

  • Sign and date all copies
  • Have a notary stamp your ID to confirm that they have seen the original documents
  • Provide translated documents by a certified translator in either English or French.

3. Submit your Nursing Education form for each post-secondary school you attended outside of Canada. Each school must complete the form and send it directly to NNAS.

4. Submit your Nursing Registration form. You must:

  • Print, sign, date and send the form to all nursing licensing authorities where you were licensed outside of canada.

The licensing authority must send the form directly to NNAS.

5. Submit your Nursing Practice/Employment form. You must:

  • Print, sign, date and the form to all employers that you have worked for in the past five years. 

Employes must send the form directly to NNAS.

6. Submit your Language Testing results. You must: 

  • prove to the NNAS that you can communicate effectively in English or French
  • complete language testing if your first language is not English or French.

English or French Language Testing for Nursing Jobs

If you require a language test in either English or French, the following are approved testing agencies:

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

Canadian English Language Benchmark Assessment for Nurses (CELBAN)

Test d’évaluation de français (TEF)

These agencies evaluate your listening, writing, reading, and speaking skills. All Canadian nursing regulators will require proof of your language ability.

You may not have to complete language testing if your first language is either English or French. However, you will have to prove that English or French is the main language where you live and work. As well, you will have to show that you: 

  • Received your nursing education program instruction in English or French
  • Practiced nursing within the last two years where English or French was the main language used.

After You Receive Your NNAS Advisory Report

When you receive your NNAS Advisory Report, you can apply to the nursing regulators in the province where you expect to live.   

Apply to Provincial and Territorial Nursing Regulators

It is up to the provincial or territorial regulators to assess your nursing competency. To do this, you will have to go through an assessment process and: 

  • Complete required exams
  • Show knowledge of laws, regulations, standards and guidelines set by the provincial nursing regulators.

If you’re an IEN, click on the links below to find details about this process.

Registered nurse studying for exams

Provincial and Territorial Regulators:

British Columbia College of Nurses & Midwives

College & Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta

Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association

College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba

College of Nurses of Ontario

Ordre des infirmiѐres et infirmiers du Québec 

Nurses Association of New Brunswick

Nova Scotia

College of Registered Nurses of Prince Edward Island

College of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador

Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut

Yukon Registered Nurses Association

With a high demand for RNs in Canada and a good outlook for nursing jobs in the future, now is the time to check out your options. With international experience, passion, and talent, nursing in Canada can be within reach!

Interested in learning more about working in Canada? Check out our Finding a Job in Canada resource page. We can help you achieve your career goals in Canada.