Regulated & Unregulated Occupations: Why You Need To Plan For Contingencies


Migrating to a foreign country is not as simple as hopping on the next airplane and gliding smoothly to live happily ever after!

Forget the ‘sweet’ stories you hear all the time. Many uncertainties lie ahead, and unpleasant surprises often arise unexpectedly. However, it’s your responsibility to at least minimize the effects of any challenge you might encounter.

Simply put, …if you don’t plan for contingencies, you’re setting yourself up for failure from the get-go!

Regulated Occupations (Professions and Trades)

In Canada, many occupations are regulated by the Provincial or Territorial governments. This is necessary to protect the health and safety of the public and to ensure that practitioners meet the required standards of competence.

Most of the regulated occupations can be found in the following fields:

  • Engineering
  • Health Care
  • Law and Legal Services
  • Financial Services
  • Construction

Go here to see whether your occupation is regulated

Therefore, if you plan to work in a regulated occupation and/or use a regulated title, you must be authorized to do so, by obtaining the relevant licence and/or certificate from the regulatory body for your occupation in the Province or Territory where you plan to work. The requirements vary from one Province or Territory to another.

It is a criminal offence to practice or use a title in a regulated profession without the required licence, even if you have the relevant education and/or training.

For example, it is not enough to have a university degree in Law, and it’s irrelevant whether you were the Attorney General or Chief Justice of your home country.

If you want to practice law when you arrive in Canada (or to even publicly identify as a lawyer), you must obtain the license to do so! The same applies to all regulated occupations in Canada.

As an additional example, even if you were the Plumber-in-Chief or President of the Plumbers Association in your home country, …you cannot practice plumbing in Canada without first obtaining the relevant certification from the plumbing regulatory body in the Province or Territory you plan to work.

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Non-regulated Occupations

Unlike the regulated occupations discussed above, you do not need a licence, certificate, or registration, if you plan to work in a non-regulated occupation in Canada. For such non-regulated occupations, any registration with the associated professional body or association is only voluntary.

Your Next Steps…

As part of your immigration application for permanent residence, you must show proof of sufficient funds, if you do not have a confirmed job offer from a Canadian employer. 

See Proof of Funds Requirement for Permanent Residence

Assuming that you don’t get a job offer before you relocate to Canada, you must be able to sustain yourself and your accompanying dependants until you get a job. 

But even if you own a bank and you successfully to relocate to Canada with it, your funds can quickly run out before you realize it, particularly if you do not have a job or a means to generate income!

In order not to receive unpleasant surprises when you arrive in Canada, it’s absolutely important to be proactive. The following are action steps you need to take RIGHT NOW, if you haven’t taken them already.

Step-1: If you plan to work in a regulated profession when you arrive in Canada, it’s a smart idea to immediately begin the licencing process as required by the relevant professional body or agency in the specific Province or Territory that you plan to practice your occupation.

Note that this process takes quite a long time, as you may be required to undertake some exams, depending on your previous education. Therefore, the sooner you begin the process, the faster you can go through the process, though it’s unlikely that you will receive the licence outside Canada. Most professions require that you have some work experience inside Canada (commonly referred to as ‘Canadian Experience‘) before you will be issued a full licence to practice.

However, it’s imperative to begin the process right away by acquainting yourself with all the information and requirements you need. Contact or simply visit the website of the relevant professional body or agency in the specific Province or Territory that you plan to practice your occupation.

Go here to access the professional body for your occupation

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Step-2: While you’re actively pursuing professional licensure, as advised in Step-1 above, it is highly recommended that you acquire or improve your competencies in a profession that is not regulated in Canada. This will ensure that you can find a job as soon as possible after you arrive in Canada while you complete the licensing requirements to get a job in your main occupation. This point cannot be overemphasized; so do NOT take it lightly!

However, to ensure that you do not completely disconnect from your primary occupation, as you may be required to have the minimum work experience to obtain a licence for your main profession, you are strongly advised to acquire competencies in related professions or trades, as illustrated in the following Case Study.

Case Study

In India, David is a Computer Software Engineer, a profession that is regulated in all Canadian Provinces and Territories. David is planning to relocate to Canada soon, and specifically intends to live and work in the Province of Manitoba.

Although David is currently in the Express Entry pool, awaiting an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence, he can immediately begin the process required to obtain the licence to practice as a professional engineer (P.Eng) in the Province of Manitoba, simply by visiting the website of Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba (EGM) to see the specific the requirements. Depending on the quality of David’s prior education, he might be required to take some exams.

In the interim, David can acquire or improve his skills and competencies in another profession related to Computer Software Engineering, such as software programming or software development, for example. As at the time of writing this post, Software Programmers and Software Developers do not require a licence to practice in Canada, but Computer Software Engineers must obtain a licence to practice.

When David arrives in Canada, he might be able to get a job quickly as a Software Programmer or Developer since he does not need a licence to practice. While on the job, he can gain the minimum experience required to complete the licencing process for his primary profession as a Computer Software Engineer.

It is usually challenging to receive job offers from Canadian employers if you are not inside Canada and legally authorized to work. However, it makes sense to begin your job search and contact potential employers as soon as you receive approval for permanent residence, even if you have not yet entered Canada. In this case, you need to inform the potential employers of your earliest availability in Canada to start work.

Moreover, note that the decision to relocate to another country is a major undertaking that often entails trade-offs or making sacrifices. For example, you might be living in affluence in your home country, or you’re probably a senior executive in your company. These circumstances, unfortunately, might change when you relocate.

If you decided to immigrate so as to give yourself and family a better quality of life than you currently enjoy in your home country, then you must be prepared to sacrifice any temporary challenge or discomfort that you might encounter after you immigrate.

For example, if you were at the top of your career as a senior executive in your home country, it’s unlikely that you will initially get a job at the same position or earn the same salary when you arrive in Canada.

Therefore, as you pursue your immigration plans, the need to also plan for contingencies should be given serious consideration!

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