Charting your educational path. An important first step in achieving career success in Canada
Published August 3, 2021.
The benefits of going back to school and questions to consider before enrolling
Immigrating to Canada in hopes of pursuing your career ambitions is a big deal, so it can be devastating to realize Canada does not recognize the certification you brought from your home country. So, what should you do? Go back to school for Canadian credentials in your profession? Study a complementary, or entirely new, field?
Before you invest in an educational program, a critical step you can take to secure your future is research. Start by asking yourself these big picture questions:
- How old are you? How long is the educational program you’re interested in? Is it worth your while going back to school to retrain in your current profession?
- Is your profession in Canada licensed? Will you also have to take qualifying examinations or secure a residency to work in your field?
- What types of educational options are available from reputable learning institutions? If you don’t want to do another bachelor’s or graduate degree, perhaps some short-term, impactful industry-specific training programs will get you on the path to career success in Canada.
- What is the cost of training in your current or new field in Canada? Do you have the money to pay for it? If not, are you eligible for a loan in Canada?
- What is the long-term payoff for you? Will your salary at the end of retraining meet your expectations?
- What will your job prospects in Canada be after completing your studies? Is there a demand for your profession? Even with a coveted Canadian credential, what if your dream city is full of professionals in your field? Would you relocate to another city or province in Canada?
- Ask yourself, where will this training leave you in one year? In five years? In 10? Does this field have good prospects for advancement? Good extended health and medical benefits? Pension plans? Really dive into the profession of your choice and ensure it meets all your life goals.
Albeit a bumpy journey, for Fahad, a business analyst from Pakistan, going back to school in Canada was worthwhile. He landed in Edmonton, Alberta, in 2008, ahead of his wife. “But as the recession took a grip in 2009, I couldn’t find work, not even in the malls,” says Fahad. Frustrated, he returned home, where he finished the two semesters he had left in an MBA program.
Upon returning to Canada in 2011 — this time with his wife and MBA — he looked for more learning opportunities. Following a two-week job-hunting course, he took a five-week workplace communication course. He then signed up for a Business Analyst Certificate program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, which he paid with an affordable loan from Windmill Microlending.
Benefits of a Canadian education credential
Getting the Business Analyst Certificate “was an excellent opportunity to gain Canadian education and to network with people in that industry,” he says. The course also contributed to the professional development units Fahad required for obtaining his Certified Business Analyst Professional (CBAP) designation. Fahad’s educational journey led to a business analyst position with the City of Edmonton. Read more about Fahad’s journey here.
As Fahad mentions, there are many advantages of going to school in Canada, not just the final certification. Networking with other students and teachers can be a game-changer in helping you gain valuable intel about your new country, including learning soft skills and communication skills, which will help you in your life and career.
“For a skilled immigrant, adding a professional qualification from a reputable Canadian institution can be very helpful when they are looking for a break in the profession,” says Art Noordeh, director, Internationally Educated Professionals Bridging Program, York University in Toronto. “This is because Canadian credentials can increase employers’ confidence when hiring, giving them further reassurance that the candidate has the language and communication skills to study in Canada. It also means the candidate has knowledge of their professional field of practice in Canada and that a Canadian educational institution assessed their foreign qualifications.” Noordeh adds that a skilled immigrant can also “highlight this education on their resumé and add on their LinkedIn profile a locally recognizable educational institution brand and network.”
But, before jumping in, remember to weigh all your options.
Research is critical to determining the next steps. A Windmill Microlending client success coach can help you find answers to your educational questions, look at a variety of factors that influence employment and the credibility of schools and programs offered to internationally educated immigrants.”