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To work as a physiotherapist in Canada, employers require a university degree in physiotherapy and a period of supervised practical training. You also require a licence or registration with a physiotherapist regulatory body in the province or territory where you plan to settle. Because physiotherapists belong to a regulated profession, you can only practice as a physiotherapist or physical therapist if you are licensed as a full member of a provincial or territorial regulatory body. These bodies are represented by the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (The Alliance).

This overview of the physiotherapy field in Canada will give you insights into employment requirements, credentials recognition, job search techniques, and more.

Before You Move to Canada

To help you take charge and continue your career in Canada, there are steps that you can take before you move. Careful research of job requirements will improve your chances of practicing physiotherapy in Canada:

  • Contact the provincial or territorial physiotherapist regulatory association (see Section 5) in the province where you plan to settle in Canada.
    • Find out what procedures you must follow, potential costs, and the time required to obtain a licence to practice in Canada.
    • Determine what steps in the licensing process you can take before and after you move.
  • Improve your language skills and enroll in language classes while you are in your home country and continue them after you move to Canada. You will need to prove your English or French (depending on your destination province) language competency or be tested.
  • Gather and organize your official education, work and identity documents while still in your home country. Check with your provincial or territorial regulatory body about what documents you need to bring. Verify if they need to be translated. You may need to use a professional translation service in Canada.
  • Understand how physiotherapy is practiced in Canada and become familiar with provincial laws that govern your profession where you will settle.
Learn all about how to find a job in Canada

1. Understanding Physiotherapy Job Requirements 

The National Occupational Classification (NOC) provides a standard definition of the physiotherapist’s role, main duties, job requirements, and example titles. You can use the five-digit NOC code 31202 to conduct basic research about the role in Canada.

The NOC also provides a list of example titles for physiotherapists. You can use these titles when searching for jobs in Canada.

The NOC 31202 provides a standard definition for the physiotherapist role in Canada and other basic information.

You can also conduct further research at the Canadian government Job Bank site. Here you will find key facts about working in the field, including information about wages, job prospects, required skills, and more.

2. Employment for Physiotherapy in Canada 

Because physiotherapy is a regulated profession in Canada, you will need to get certified by a regulatory authority in the province where you plan to settle. This will require credentials assessment to support your job search, apply for professional licensure, or apply for post-secondary education in Canada.

Credentials Recognition

The provincial or territorial regulatory body (see links in Section 5) can advise you about the documents you require, assessment fees, and the specific process to follow. It’s vital to contact the regulatory body in the province where you plan to settle before you arrive in Canada to learn what you require to work.

It’s also important to take your time and fully understand the licensure process and what the regulatory body will expect of you. Regardless of your education or experience, you need to have a licence to practice as a physiotherapist in Canada.

  • The Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators will assess your educational credentials and qualifications if you are immigrating to the Yukon Territory and all the provinces except Quebec.
  • You must successfully complete the Physiotherapy Competency Examination (PCE), which has a writing component (Qualifying Exam) and a Clinical Component (Physiotherapy National Exam). You can get information on the credentialing process, exam dates and resources for you to prepare for the exam on The Alliance’s website.
  • After you complete the PCE exam and the other provincial regulator requirements, you can apply for full licensure or registration as a physiotherapist.

Credentials Assessment Services

If you plan to enroll in a college or university program to upgrade your skills, contact the school that you plan to attend to find out what assessment agency you should use.

World Education Services (WES) – Ontario

International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS) – Alberta

The International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES) – British Columbia

To find more organizations and agencies providing credential evaluation, assessment and qualification recognition services click here.

Best Locations

The labour market conditions for 2019-2028 show a labour shortage at the national level. And, job opportunities for physiotherapists are expected to be good for the next few years. While there is a shortage of physiotherapists across all of Canada, the shortage is higher in smaller cities. Hospital and physiotherapy clinics often experience difficulty in finding qualified workers. And, your chances of finding employment may be better in these areas.

Using labour market research from the Government of Canada Job Bank, you can assess the health of the provincial and regional labour market. This can help you to identify provinces and cities where you may like to settle based on job opportunities over the next three years.

Once you identify provinces where the job prospects are good, you can also research cities within the province that have the same outlook. For example, in the Province of Alberta, job prospects remain good in cities like Calgary and Edmonton. And, to get a flavour of the city, you can further explore if it meets your personal, professional, and social needs. For example, here are some cities across Canada where the job bank shows a good outlook:

Calgary, Alberta

Edmonton, Alberta

Fredericton, New Brunswick

Hamilton, Ontario

London, Ontario

Ottawa, Ontario.

Major Employers

The job outlook for the physiotherapy profession in Canada is positive. Many jobs are expected to open over the next few years due to both newly created positions as well as a result of some older workers retiring.

Physiotherapists in Canada are normally employed at hospitals, health care centers, industry and sports organizations, and rehabilitation centres, but opportunities also exist for those wishing to set up private clinics.

You can visit Canada’s Best Diversity Employers website to check for hospitals or healthcare centres where you may be interested in working. This special designation recognizes Canada’s best employers for diversity, inclusion, and equity.

3. Upgrading Your Skills to Meet Physiotherapy Job Requirements 

In addition to accreditation, upgrading your skills through a bridging program or other courses is an important part of your journey to becoming a physiotherapist in Canada.

You can benefit from learning and professional growth opportunities that are offered through continuing education courses and seminars.

Skills Upgrading for Physiotherapists

In addition to having strong technical skills, it’s vital to have strong communication and professional skills (or soft skills). Demonstrating both technical skills and soft skills will help you to find the job that you desire, and succeed in the role. As a physiotherapist, you must be interested in helping people. You must also have excellent communication and creative problem-solving skills. You may need more training or skills upgrading, especially with regard to your soft skills.

Language Training

Physiotherapy requires strong communication skills, patience, adaptability, and the ability to give directives to patients. Having strong skills in one or both of Canada’s official languages, English or French, is important for your future in Canada. Whether you focus on learning or improving English or French will depend on which of the two languages most people speak in the area where you intend to live.

You may be eligible for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program. Otherwise, you can find other free or affordable classes in English as a Second Language (ESL) or French as a Second Language (FSL) classes through school boards or settlement agencies. There are even language courses to teach you professional terminology, such as job-specific language training and Occupation Specific Language Training (OSLT) in Ontario. And, if you already speak one of Canada’s two official languages at a high level, learning the other one is a good option, as it may offer you better job opportunities.

Education

Many immigrants take further education after coming to Canada. Some want to change careers or enhance their careers with a Ph.D. or MBA. Learn more about the benefits of higher education in Canada.

Bridging Programs

In Canada, you may be eligible to attend a bridging program to continue working in your physiotherapy career. Bridging programs help “bridge” your international experience and training with what Canadian employers require. Many colleges, universities and immigrant-serving agencies offer physiotherapy bridging programs or workshops. You may be eligible for one.

Here are some physiotherapy bridging programs for internationally educated professionals (IEPs) that you can explore to support your academic options.

Alberta

University of Alberta

Physical Therapy Bridging Certificate Program (PTBC)

This program supports internationally educated physical therapists (IEPTs), who already possess qualifications verified by the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators, to work toward licensing requirements to practice as a physiotherapist in Alberta.

Academic coursework designed supports the development of the additional knowledge, skills, and clinical reasoning required to meet Canadian entry-to-practice standards. Cultural and workplace orientation is provided to help integrate into the workplace.

British Columbia

University of British Columbia

Physio Refresh

The Physio Refresh program assists IEPs to prepare for, and successfully complete, the written and practical components of the Physiotherapy Competency Exams.

Ontario

Ontario Internationally Educated Physical Therapy Bridging Program

This program provides educational opportunities for physical therapists educated outside of Canada, who already possess specified qualifications. It helps IEPs, to develop the knowledge, skills, and clinical reasoning required to meet Canadian entry-to-practice standards. The program also provides cultural and workplace orientation to facilitate success in the workplace.

4. Job Search Techniques for Physiotherapy

The Canadian job market is competitive, so you need to prepare and understand the job search steps needed to gain employment.  

To work as a physiotherapist, you have to register with the province or territory where you intend to settle. And, you must look for jobs in the region where you will register. Therefore, take your time to research job requirements in that region and develop a plan for finding work.

There are many ways to search for physiotherapy jobs:

  • Broaden your search and include alternative careers.
  • Seek out a mentor in the physiotherapy field, who could share their valuable insight and probably introduce you to their professional network.
  • Join physiotherapy or healthcare job-finding or networking clubs through immigrant-serving agencies.
  • Attend physiotherapy or healthcare job fairs and regularly check the online job boards.
  • Check the job boards at physiotherapy colleges, associations, hospitals and other health institutions.

Immigrant Settlement Agencies

You may discover that finding a job in Canada is different than in your home country. Fortunately, most settlement agencies and other immigrant-serving organizations offer help to find jobs, update your resume, write cover letters, prepare for job interviews, and understand what Canadian employers value.

Click the link to find immigrant services in your area.

Networking for Physiotherapists

Networking is an essential activity that can help you to grow your connections and discover job leads. Your professional network can also offer you advice and information about working in physiotherapy in Canada. As many job vacancies are often “hidden”, for example, they are not widely advertised, your network can help you to discover these job openings. Your contacts can help connect you to practicing physiotherapists and others in your field so that you can expand your network.

Good places to network include conferences, associations, and schools. Networking is all about meeting people, building relationships, and sharing information.

LinkedIn is another place to network. It’s a great space to connect with former colleagues and employers, search for companies and jobs, and get introductions and recommendations. You can also invite other physiotherapists to join your network or join related professional groups.

But remember, that you have to allow time to cultivate and grow the ties you establish through networking. Nothing will happen overnight and you need to be patient.

Informational Interviews

While the job outlook looks good for physiotherapists, landing your first job in Canada requires effort and outreach.

Informational interviewing can help you to learn more about how physiotherapy is practiced in Canada, or issues that are affecting the field. And requesting to conduct an informational interview is a great way to learn more about the industry. Informational interviews are typically no longer than 30 minutes. Your goal is to gather information about the field, not to get a job. This will help you to gain insight into what skills and experience are required, or what skills you may need to develop. In addition to basic information about the physiotherapy field in Canada, you’ll learn from their first-hand experiences and impressions.

  • Make a list of the hospitals, physiotherapy clinics, public health agencies, and others, as desired, that operate in your area.
  • Use your resources including professional organizations, LinkedIn, and other networking tools to identify organization insiders, health unit coordinators, etc, that you may want to interview.
  • Create 15-20 or so open-ended questions that will yield full and useful information.

Resume Writing for Physiotherapists

As the Canadian job market is competitive, you need to stand out from other physical therapy applicants to continue your career in Canada. As a physiotherapist, you need a specific set of skills to be successful in your field. Your resume should emphasize your education and experience, and a chronological resume is the most effective format.

An effective physiotherapist resume must also highlight the following: Proficiencies, licenses and certifications, and achievements.

Here are some tips to help your resume stand out:

Objective:

Be specific about your area of expertise and the environment you’d like to work in, such as “To obtain a physiotherapist position at a private clinic that focuses on osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.”

Experience:

List your employment dates and highlight your most relevant skills, such as working with a certain population, or expertise with specialized techniques, injuries, or afflictions.

Keywords:

Use relevant physiotherapy keywords on your resume. The keywords are often used to scan the resume through applicant tracking systems and help your resume get discovered. database. You can use the keywords such as titles of the job, qualifications, professional affiliations, areas of expertise, patient assessment, geriatrics, muscle re-education and others. If you use acronyms, make sure to spell out the words so your resume can be scanned for those words.

Interview Techniques

With competition in the physiotherapy job market, it’s important to be professional. Your behaviour will indicate to the interviewer how you will perform should they offer you a job.

When you interview for a job, the hiring manager will ask questions about your education and experience, but they will also ask about how you work with patients. Because physical therapy requires strong communication skills, patience and adaptability, the employer wants to confirm your ability to connect with patients in a professional and caring manner.

Here are some tips to help you succeed in your interview:

Show Interest in Physiotherapy

As with other medical professions, an employer wants assurance that you’re passionate and committed to the rehabilitation process. Share with the interviewer how you became interested in physical therapy and the path you took to certification.

Get Your Sales Pitch Ready

During the job interview, your job is to persuade the interviewer that you are the best physiotherapist for the role. So, to do that, discuss your background, education, experience, achievements and why you’re the best candidate for the job.

Communication Style

Prepare to answer questions about your ability to communicate and interact with patients. Because physical therapy requires giving friendly, understandable directives to patients, hiring managers want to know that you communicate in a positive manner. This communication style is vital to gaining the trust and confidence of patients. Explain how you get patients to perform exercises willingly. Discuss ways that you praise and encourage patients’ rehabilitation efforts. A confident and affirming communication style can help you get the job.

Highlight Your Success

Discuss specific situations in which previous patients achieved positive results or a complete recovery because of your treatment. The interviewer might ask you to discuss a memorable experience with a patient, a time you effectively treated a difficult patient or a situation where you helped a patient overcome overwhelming odds. Even though some patients never recover completely, a hiring manager wants assurance that your skills, education and experience produce positive results.

5. Physiotherapy Associations in Canada

The associations listed below provide additional information about licensure and certification and offer a variety of professional development, education and networking opportunities.

National

Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA)

Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators  (The Alliance)

Provincial and Territorial Physiotherapy Regulatory Bodies

Alberta

Physiotherapy Alberta

British Columbia

College of Physical Therapists of British Columbia (CPTBC)

Manitoba

College of Physiotherapists of Manitoba (CPTMB)

New Brunswick

College of Physiotherapists of New Brunswick (CPNB)

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador College of Physiotherapists

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia College of Physiotherapists (NSCP)

Ontario

College of Physiotherapists of Ontario

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island College of Physiotherapists (PEICP)

Quebec

Ordre professionnel des physiothérapeutes du Québec (OPQ)

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan College of Physical Therapists (SCPT)

Yukon

Professional Licensing, Department of Community Services, Government of Yukon

Immigrant Networks

Professional immigrant networks are volunteer-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 their members to achieve their professional goals.

These networks offer networking events, mentoring, information sessions, professional development, and connections to employment opportunities.

Nova Scotia

isans: Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia: can provide help to newcomers to integrate economically and socially into the province of Nova Scotia.

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!