Assessment and recognition of credentials for the purpose of employment in Canada

Fact Sheet No 2

Most individuals who plan to come to Canada to settle permanently and who wish to enter the labour force will need to know the value of the education, training, and experience they have acquired outside Canada. This fact sheet answers the most frequently asked questions about the process so that it may help individuals learn more about how to obtain assessment and recognition of their qualifications. Individuals intending to continue their education in Canada can learn more about the process by consulting CICIC's Fact Sheet No. 1, Information for students educated abroad applying for admission to Canadian universities and colleges. Both fact sheets are available in French and may be obtained by contacting CICIC directly (address listed under question 13).

1. How can I get my qualifications obtained abroad recognized in Canada?

The procedures for evaluating and recognizing qualifications earned outside Canada will depend on whether you wish to enter an occupation or pursue further studies, whether your chosen occupation is regulated or non-regulated, and the province/territory in which you intend to settle. For the purpose of this document, occupations will refer to both professions and trades. As a general rule, if your chosen occupation is regulated, the recognition of qualifications will be determined by the appropriate provincial or territorial regulatory body, while for a non-regulated occupation, recognition is normally at the discretion of the employer.

2. What is the difference between a regulated and a non-regulated occupation?

A "regulated" occupation is one that is controlled by provincial and territorial (and sometimes federal) law and governed by a professional organization or regulatory body. The regulatory body governing the profession/trade has the authority to set entry requirements and standards of practice, to assess applicants' qualifications and credentials, to certify, register, or license qualified applicants, and to discipline members of the profession/trade. Requirements for entry, which may vary from one province to another, usually consist of such components as examinations, a specified period of supervised work experience, language competency, etc. If you want to work in a regulated occupation and use a regulated title, you MUST have a licence or certificate or be registered with the regulatory body for your occupation. Some occupations are regulated in certain provinces and territories and are not regulated in others.

About 20 per cent of Canadians work in regulated occupations such as veterinarian, electrician, plumber, physiotherapist, medical doctor, engineer, etc. The system of regulation is intended to protect the health and safety of Canadians by ensuring that professionals meet the required standards of practice and competence.

A "non-regulated" occupation is a profession/trade for which there is no legal requirement or restriction on practice with regard to licences, certificates, or registration. The vast majority of occupations in Canada fall into this category. For some non-regulated occupations, certification/registration with a professional body is available to applicants on a voluntary basis, whereas for other non-regulated occupations there is no certification/registration available at all.

In general, applicants for non-regulated occupations will have to demonstrate to their potential employers that they possess the experience and training required for the job. Even when an occupation is not regulated, employers can still require that an applicant for a job be registered, licensed, or certified with the relevant professional association.

3. If I want to work in a regulated occupation, what can I do to get my qualifications assessed and recognized?

Each regulated occupation sets its own requirements for assessment and recognition, usually through the provincial or territorial professional association or regulatory body. (In some cases, there are federal requirements for recognition.) In order to qualify for practice in Canada, you may be required to undergo professional and language examinations, submit to a review of your qualifications, and undertake a period of supervised work experience. You can find out more about the specific requirements for recognition of your qualifications in your profession/trade by doing the following:

  1. Contact the professional association governing your occupation in your own country to find out if there are any links with similar associations in Canada. Consult the publication entitled National Occupational Classification at the closest Canadian diplomatic mission to find out more about employment requirements for your occupation.
  2. Find out the name and address of the professional regulatory body governing your profession/trade in the province or territory where you intend to settle by enquiring with CICIC.
  3. Write to the regulatory body and ask about the specific requirements and costs for licensing, certification, or registration, as well as the recommended procedure for an assessment. The regulatory body will advise you concerning the required documentation and the fees for assessment.

You should be aware that the recognition process is different in each province and territory and for each profession/trade. It can be a costly and time-consuming process; so it is important that you obtain all the information you need to know about the process and specific requirements before undertaking an assessment.

4. If I want to work in a non-regulated occupation, what can I do to get my qualifications assessed and recognized?

For a non-regulated occupation, requirements for employment can vary from very specific to very general. You may be expected to demonstrate a certain level of skill and competence, to have completed a certain number of years of education, and even to have personal characteristics suitable for the job. Since these requirements are not regulated by provincial or territorial law, it is up to the employer to decide whether your qualifications earned outside Canada are equivalent to Canadian credentials required for the occupation. Because registration and certification may be available for certain non-regulated occupations, some employers will require, as a condition for employment, that applicants be registered or certified by the relevant professional association.

There is no single process in place for the assessment of qualifications for purposes of entry into non-regulated occupations. However, there are several ways an applicant can try to facilitate the process for a potential employer.

  • Get in touch with the association or organization relevant to your occupation in your home country and in Canada. Find out about the procedures recommended for an assessment of your qualifications. CICIC can direct you to the relevant organization in Canada, if one exists.
  • Contact employers in your area of work experience to find out what the general expectations are for employment in Canada. Consult the publication entitled National Occupational Classification. A copy is available at the nearest Canadian diplomatic mission. Verify if there is voluntary certification or registration available and what the requirements are for the province or territory where you intend to work. To determine if there is a provincial agency providing certification in your particular occupation, visit the relevant page listed on http://www.cicic.ca/403/occupational-profiles-for-selected-trades-and-professions.canada
  • If there are no provincial agencies, then contact one of the evaluation services listed below for an assessment of your credentials. Although these services offer expert advice on how qualifications obtained abroad compare with credentials obtained in a Canadian province or territory, the evaluation is advisory only and does not guarantee recognition of your qualifications for employment or certification purposes in Canada. However, it will assist employers, post-secondary institutions, and professional bodies in understanding your academic background. Please note that these agencies charge a fee for their services.

Academic Credential Assessment and Qualification Recognition Services

All agencies and organizations listed below adhere to the General Guiding Principles for Good Practice in the Assessment of Foreign Credentials and the Recommendation on Criteria and Procedures for the Assessment of Foreign Qualifications adopted under the 1997 Lisbon Recognition Convention.

Note that their assessments are not necessarily appropriate or applicable to all situations.

  • If you are planning to study in Canada, consult our Fact Sheet #1 "Information for students educated abroad applying for admission to Canadian universities and colleges" at http://www.cicic.ca/392/admission-to-universities-and-colleges.canada.
  • If you intend to work in a regulated occupation, you will first need to contact the pertinent regulatory body (see our occupational profiles at http://www.cicic.ca/403/occupational-profiles-for-selected-trades-and-professions.canada) for detailed instructions on the procedure to follow (Note: even if you are already licensed to practice a regulated occupation in Canada, employers may request that you provide them with a formal assessment of your academic credentials; if that is the case, please contact one of the services listed below).

If you are not sure how you should proceed, contact us. We will assist you.

The icon  identifies the provincial services that make up the Alliance of Credential Evaluation Services of Canada (ACESC). The Alliance developed a Quality Assurance Framework, under which its members operate.

Note that an asterisk (*) identifies the academic credential assessment services that have been designated by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) for immigration purposes under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). More information can be found below and/or on CIC's Web site.

Alberta
Alliance canadienne des services d'évaluation de diplômesInternational Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS)
Foreign Qualifications Recognition (FQR) Unit
Immigration Division
Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education
9th Floor, 108 Street Building
9942 - 108 Street
Edmonton, Alberta  T5K 2J5 Canada
Tel.: +1 780 427-2655
Toll-free in Alberta: 310-0000 ask for 427-2655
Fax: +1 780 422-9734
Web site: http://work.alberta.ca/iqas
 
British Columbia
Alliance canadienne des services d'évaluation de diplômesInternational Credential Evaluation Service (ICES)
3700, Willingdon Avenue
Burnaby, British Columbia  V5G 3H2 Canada
Tel.: +1 604 432-8800
Toll-Free within North America: +1-866-434-9197
Fax: +1 604 435-7033
Email: icesinfo@bcit.ca
Web site: http://www.bcit.ca/ices/
 
Ontario
*Alliance canadienne des services d'évaluation de diplômesComparative Education Service (CES)
School of Continuing Studies
University of Toronto
162 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario   M5S 2E9   Canada
Tel.: +1 416 978-2400
Fax: +1 416 978-7022
Email: ces.info@utoronto.ca
Web site: http://learn.utoronto.ca/ces
 
*Alliance canadienne des services d'évaluation de diplômesInternational Credential Assessment Service of Canada (ICAS)
Ontario AgriCentre
100 Stone Road West, Suite 102
Guelph, Ontario N1G 5L3   Canada
Tel: +1 519 763-7282
Toll-free: +1 800 321-6021
Fax: +1 519 763-6964
Email: info@icascanada.ca
Fees and Services
Web site: http://www.icascanada.ca/
 
*Alliance canadienne des services d'évaluation de diplômesWorld Education Services-Canada (WES) 
        2 Carlton Street, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario  M5B 1J3  Canada
Tel.: +1 416 972-0070
Fax: +1 416 972-9004
Toll-free: +1 866 343-0070 (from outside the 416 area code)
Email: inquiryca@wes.org
Web site: http://www.wes.org/ca/
 
Québec
Alliance canadienne des services d'évaluation de diplômesMinistère de l'Immigration, de la Diversité et de l'Inclusion (MIDI)
Direction du courrier, de l'encaissement et de l'évaluation comparative
285 Notre-Dame Ouest, 4e étage
Montréal (Québec) H2Y 1T8 Canada
Tel.: +1 514 864-9191
Elsewhere in Quebec (toll free): +1 877 864-9191
Contact Information: http://www.immigration-quebec.gouv.qc.ca/en/reach/
Web site: http://www.immigration-quebec.gouv.qc.ca/en/education/comparative-evaluation/index.html
 
Saskatchewan
Alliance canadienne des services d'évaluation de diplômesInternational Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS)
Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education
9th Floor, 108th Street Building
9942 - 108 Street
Edmonton,  Alberta  T5K 2J5   Canada
Tel.: +1 780 427-2655
Toll-free in Alberta: 310-0000 ask for 427-2655
Fax: +1 780 422-9734
Web site: http://work.alberta.ca/iqas
** The Government of Saskatchewan provides this service through an interprovincial agreement with the Government of Alberta.
 
Northwest Territories
Alliance canadienne des services d'évaluation de diplômesInternational Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS)
Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education
9th Floor, 108th Street Building
9942 - 108 Street
Edmonton,  Alberta  T5K 2J5   Canada
Tel.: +1 780 427-2655
Toll-free in Alberta: 310-0000 ask for 427-2655
Fax: +1 780 422-9734
Web site: http://work.alberta.ca/iqas
** The Government of the Northwest Territories provides this service through an interprovincial agreement with the Government of Alberta.
 
 
Other provinces and territories
For credential evaluation services in Manitoba**, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Yukon, or Nunavut, you may contact any of the services listed on this page.

**Note: The Academic Credentials Assessment Service (ACAS) of Manitoba was a member of the Alliance of Credential Evaluation Services of Canada (ACESC) from 2003 to September 2013. For more information, please visit Manitoba Labour and Immigration.
 

* Designation by Citizenship and Immigration Canada of organizations to provide “Educational Credential Assessments” (ECA) for immigration purposes under the FSWP was determined through a public call for service proposals. The three members of the Alliance of Credential Evaluation Services of Canada (Alliance) that submitted proposals to be designated by CIC to provide ECAs have been so designated. Other members of the Alliance may choose to work with CIC to be designated at a future time.

All six members that make up the Alliance adhere to the Pan-Canadian Quality Assurance Framework for the Assessment of International Academic Credentials, and their assessments are used by many employers, regulatory bodies, professional organizations, and post-secondary institutions. For more information on the Alliance, please visit the Web site.


Evaluation services have an appeal process in place for individuals who wish to challenge the assessment of their credential.

5. If I am applying for an immigration visa and need to know the value of my credentials, how can I get my credentials assessed prior to immigration?

Although regulatory bodies will provide information on what is required to practise a profession or a trade, most regulatory bodies are not set up to assess foreign credentials prior to your arrival in Canada. Assessments are conducted by examinations and interviews, which means that you MUST already be in Canada. With very few exceptions, it is virtually impossible to obtain an assessment of credentials that would lead to eventual licensure, certification, or registration in the relevant occupation before you immigrate to Canada. Some regulated professions offer an initial assessment prior to immigration. Information can be obtained concerning this service by communicating directly with the regulatory body.

When a pre-immigration assessment is not available because the regulatory body does not offer it, or because your occupation is non-regulated, you can consult one of the credentials evaluation services listed under question 4. Although an assessment by one of these services does not guarantee recognition of your credentials for purposes of employment, licensure/certification, immigration, or further studies in Canada, it does provide an expert comparison of your qualifications with credentials obtained in a Canadian province or territory.

You should be aware that even if you meet the occupational requirements for immigration and are admitted to Canada, this, in itself, does not constitute a guarantee of employment. Acceptance for employment is a decision that rests solely with the employer.

6. Where can I obtain a translation of my qualifications into English or French?

If documents need to be translated, the evaluation service or regulatory body will advise you as to the requirements for translation and authentification of official documents.

7. Is the university where I studied in my country recognized in Canada?

Recognition of universities is the responsibility of the educational authorities of the country in which such institutions are located. Canadian evaluation services consult specialized tools such as the World Higher Education Database and the World Directory of National Information Centre for Academic Recognition and Mobility to determine if an institution is recognized. Recognition does not automatically mean that a given credential is automatically recognized in Canada. Other factors, such as national or provincial/territorial legislation and other specific requirements are considered in the evaluation of credentials and the licensing of professionals.

8. What is a trade, and what is a Red Seal Trade?

A trade is an occupation generally regarded as requiring one to three years of post-secondary education at a community college or university, two to four years of apprenticeship training, two to three years of on-the-job training, or a combination of these requirements. Some trades are regulated which means that a licence/certificate is required to practise in such cases.

Some trades are referred to as Red Seal Trades. A Red Seal Trade is a trade for which all the provinces and territories have agreed on standards for entry into the occupation allowing for the portability of qualifications across Canada. Red Seal Trades are designated by the Interprovincial Standards Program under the authority of the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship, the body that is also responsible for setting standards in the designated trades. The Red Seal is a passport that allows the holder to work anywhere in Canada without having to write further examinations.

In some provinces, certification is voluntary, meaning that neither a formal certificate nor a formal apprenticeship is required to practise the trade. However, the Red Seal Certificate would indicate that the holder has reached a certain level of expertise, and it may be required by some employers as a condition of employment. For a list of designated Red Seal Trades and the addresses of the Provincial Apprenticeship Directors, please contact CICIC.

9. If I want an assessment of my credentials for my own information, how can I proceed?

The best way to get an assessment of your credentials for information purposes is to consult one of the credentials evaluation services listed under question 4 or, for licensing purposes, to contact the appropriate professional regulatory body.

Credential evaluation services offer expert advice about how your qualifications compare with credentials obtained in a Canadian province or territory; their evaluations are advisory only and do not guarantee recognition of your qualifications for immigration, further studies, employment, or licensure/certification purposes. However, this advice will assist employers, post-secondary institutions, and professional bodies in understanding your academic background. Please note that these agencies charge a fee for their services.

10. Where can I learn more about employment opportunities in Canada?

There is no central source of information about employment opportunities. Please note that CICIC does not have information about employment opportunities. Once in Canada, you can learn more about opportunities by contacting the relevant professional associations, reading the professional newsletters and bulletins, if available, and consulting the classified advertising section of the local newspapers. A number of community and settlement organizations also provide employment advice to newly arrived immigrants. In addition, many private employment agencies will help to place individuals. Some may charge a fee for this service.

Labour market information
JobsEtc: http://www.jobsetc.ca/
Working in Canada: http://www.workingincanada.gc.ca/
 
National Occupational Classification
http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/AboutNOC.aspx

11. If I want to pursue further education in Canada, how do I get an assessment of my credentials?

If you are thinking of studying in a Canadian college or university, contact the office of admissions of the institution in which you are interested and ask about the procedure required for an assessment of your credentials. The university or college has the sole authority to make decisions about recognition of credentials for purposes of admission. Individuals intending to continue their education in Canada can learn more about the process by consulting CICIC's Fact Sheet No. 1, Information for students educated abroad applying for admission to Canadian universities and colleges.

12. What other sources of information are available?

You can contact the nearest Canadian diplomatic mission in your country to find out about visa applications, immigration requirements, and other regulations. If you have access to the Internet, you can also visit the following Web sites for more information:

Immigration: general information and advice
to Canada : http://www.cic.gc.ca/
to Québec: http://www.immigration-quebec.gouv.qc.ca/en/index.asp
 
Post-secondary education in Canada
Directory of Universities, Colleges and Schools in Canada: http://www.cicic.ca/664/directory-of-universities-colleges-and-schools-in-canada.canada
 
Company, business, and industry information
Industry Canada
 
Reference Publications
Guide to Canadian terminology usage in the field of credential assessment and recognition
http://www.cicic.ca/410/guide-to-terminology-usage-in-the-field-of-credentials-recognition-in-canada.canada
 

13. What can CICIC do for me?

The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC) assists persons who want to know how to obtain an assessment of their educational, professional, and occupational credentials by referring them to the appropriate bodies. CICIC does not itself grant equivalencies or assess credentials, nor does it intervene on behalf of individuals or in appeals. While colleges, universities, and licensing bodies have the sole authority to recognize foreign programs and degrees, CICIC fosters the dissemination of information about recognition procedures, promotes good and consistent practice in credentials assessment, and serves as a link for Canadian academic and professional bodies to international organizations and to similar institutions around the world.

CICIC collects data about procedures for recognizing academic and occupational credentials in different Canadian jurisdictions. This information is stored in a regularly updated database covering more than 800 professional, educational, and community agencies.

You are welcome to contact CICIC regarding qualifications assessment and recognition procedures by e-mail, telephone, fax, or post. Be sure to state in your enquiry the purpose for which you are seeking information on assessment, your intended occupation, and the province or territory where you plan to work.

Further information about post-secondary education and about other relevant organizations in Canada can be obtained by visiting the CICIC Web site: http://www.cicdi.ca/2/home.canada

If you need further details, please do not hesitate to contact us again at the following address:

Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials
95 St. Clair Avenue West, Suite 1106
Toronto, Ontario M4V 1N6     Canada
Phone: +1-416-962-9725
Fax: +1-416-962-2800


The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC),
a unit of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC).

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