Building your engineering career in Canada: Tips to succeed in the Canadian licensing process
Published September 1, 2022.
Estimated reading time: 3.5 minutesIn summary:
- Career opportunities for internationally-trained engineers are increasing due to significant labour shortages.
- There is a tremendous opportunity for foreign-trained engineers to advance their career and increase their income.
- To successfully advance through the Canadian licensing process, immigrant and refugee engineers must promptly and thoroughly complete all steps required by the provincial regulator where they wish to live and work.
With labour shortages resulting from the growth in aerospace, public infrastructure and clean energy projects, internationally-trained engineers are in-demand. This means immigrant and refugee engineers' skills, knowledge and experiences are extremely valuable to Canadian employers. This is good news for newcomers. Engineer salaries in Canada range from $100,000 to $160,000 per year or more.
According to Windmill Microlending’s Trending Jobs Report, numerous engineering disciplines have great potential for significant income growth and career advancement in Canada. This includes:
- Aerospace engineer
- Mechanical engineer
- Electrical engineer
- Civil engineer
- Chemical engineer
To become a licensed engineer in Canada, you must complete either one of the licensing processes of Canada’s provincial or territorial engineering regulators. Internationally-trained engineers not licensed by a regulatory body can work in Canada, but their career opportunities are limited. They need to be supervised by a licenced engineer (professional engineer or P. Eng.) who takes professional responsibility for their work. In some cases, Canadian organizations may ask you to register as an engineer-in-training or to be eligible for licensure by an engineering regulator.
If you are an internationally-educated engineer looking to learn more about the steps needed to become licensed to work in Canada, visit Windmill’s Educational Pathways for Skilled Newcomers.
As part of the Canadian engineer licensing process, you’ll need to complete:
- An academic assessment
- A work experience assessment
- A language competency assessment
- A character assessment
- A professional practice examination
Windmill connected with Enayat Aminzadah, International Qualifications Officer, at the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA), which regulates the practices of engineering and geoscience in the province. APEGA is the only engineering and geoscience regulator in Canada to have a full-time international qualifications officer providing newcomers with guidance and support on its application process and engineer licensing requirements.
Aminzadah offers a few recommendations for advancing through the engineer licensure process.
Licensing Tip #1: Get your academic credentials evaluated
Most engineering regulators in Canada will evaluate your academic documents —degrees or transcripts to decide if you need to complete any additional courses or take any examinations. In some provinces or territories, your institution must send these documents to either the regulator or a credential assessment agency. For example, In Alberta, foreign-trained engineers must obtain a Course-by-Course International Credential Advantage Package of their academic records from World Education Services (WES Canada).
Licensing Tip #2: Highlight your work experience as an engineer
All regulatory bodies across Canada have a work experience requirement for internationally-trained engineers to earn their licence. They require proof that you have completed a minimum of four years of engineering work experience and at least one year of experience in a Canadian work environment. In some cases, a competency-based assessment (CBA) is used for professional engineer applications. The CBA enables you to demonstrate how you qualify for an engineer licence by using specific examples from your international work history to show that you meet the key competencies.
Licensing Tip #3: Complete your licensing application package fully and promptly to maximize efficiency
Reviews for licensing applications for internationally-trained engineers can take at least six months in some provinces. You can reduce delays by submitting all necessary documents specified by the regulator in the province where you wish to live and work, as soon as possible, and check in with the regulator, regularly to ensure you haven’t missed any communications from them.
Licensing Tip #4: Learn about and complete the language, character, professionalism and ethics requirements of being an engineer in Canada
These steps differ from province-to-province. You will need to complete the Professional Practice Examination (PPE), testing your knowledge of ethics and Canadian law related to engineering. If your provincial regulator says you meet the standards of a licensed engineer, they will contact you to finalize the process, paving the way for you to become an engineer in Canada.
An affordable Windmill microloan of, up to $15,000, can help you pay for the costs of re-certification, bridge programs, qualifying exams, exam preparation courses and the licensure process in Canada. Find out if you’re eligible by taking our two-minute loan eligibility quiz.
Here are some websites and helpful resources to empower you toward achieving Canadian engineering career success.
- World Education Services Canada (WES Canada)
- Tips and resources for international engineering graduates
- Overview of the engineer licensing process
- Information for internationally-trained engineers
- In-demand skills for engineers in Canada
- Frequently-asked questions about engineering in Canada
- Full list of engineering regulatory bodies for every province and territory in Canada.