2024-03-12T10:22:56-04:00May 24, 2023|

How to immigrate to Canada as an engineer

As Canada’s economy grows, the demand for engineers across various fields has increased. Engineers in Canada are well-respected for their knowledge and the role they play in shaping the future of infrastructure, information and communication technology, environmental sustainability, manufacturing, and more.

Whether you recently qualified as an engineer abroad or have several years of engineering experience under your belt, moving to Canada can open a whole new world of opportunities for you. In this article, we explore immigration programs you can leverage to immigrate to Canada as an engineer, the provincial licensing process, and in-demand engineering jobs in Canada.

In this article:

Reasons to move to Canada as an engineer

Newcomers from various parts of the world choose to move to Canada in search of a better quality of life and more lucrative career pathways. As an internationally trained engineer, settling in Canada can be an attractive opportunity for various reasons, including:

Shortage of skilled engineers across fields

According to Engineers Canada’s Labour Market report, the Canadian economy will need to fill over 44,000 engineering jobs between 2020 and 2025 across 14 engineering fields. As senior engineers retire and industries continue to grow, the country faces a shortage of mid-level and intermediate-level experienced engineers. This skills gap cannot adequately be filled by new Canadian graduates, creating an immense opportunity for internationally trained engineers.

Engineering is an in-demand profession in most provinces

Engineers and engineering managers are in demand in provinces such as Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, Alberta, and Manitoba. Demand for civil, mechanical, electrical and electronic, and software engineers, as well as engineering managers, exists across most Canadian provinces. Jobs in other fields of specialization, such as metallurgical and materials engineering, mining engineering, aerospace engineering, and petroleum engineering, are more prevalent in provinces where those industries are present.

Engineers earn high salaries in Canada

Although engineering salaries may vary based on your field of specialization and the province you practice in, engineering jobs in Canada generally pay well. For instance, the average salary for civil engineers in Canada is around $75,000 per year, with some engineers earning as much as $150,000 annually.  

Immigration programs for internationally qualified engineers

Canada welcomes newcomers with the skills and education needed to bridge critical skill gaps by allowing them to apply for permanent residence (PR). There are several immigration programs you can choose from to immigrate to Canada and get PR as an engineer.

Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program

The Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program is an Express Entry stream that allows skilled internationally qualified workers to immigrate to Canada. Under this program, applicants are selected for PR based on their Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS) rather than their profession. 

When you submit your Express Entry profile, it’s ranked based on factors such as your age, education, work experience, language proficiency, and more. You can also get additional points for a Canadian job offer, a provincial nomination (see below section on PNP), or any Canadian education or work experience you have. Applicant profiles are then ranked based on their total scores, known as CRS scores, and applicants who meet the cut-off receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for PR after each draw. Being selected under the Federal Skilled Worker program allows you to live in any province or territory in Canada.

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP)

Most Canadian provinces and territories, except Quebec and Nunavut, have Provincial Nominee Programs that allow them to nominate applicants who can help bridge labour shortages. After you choose the province you wish to move to, you may be able to apply for PNP directly (paper-based application) or through the federal Express Entry program.

Note: Instead of PNP, Quebec has a Quebec Selection Program that allows the province to invite suitable candidates for PR.

While some provinces use CRS scores to shortlist applicants, others nominate skilled professionals to fill urgent labour market needs based on the National Occupation Classification (NOC) codes of their past work experience. In such cases, you will have a better chance of receiving a provincial nomination if the province is looking for engineers in your field of expertise.

As labour market requirements evolve over time, the in-demand professions across provinces may change. As an engineer, you should keep track of the below PNP streams and draws.

Province  PNP streams for engineers
British Columbia
  • B.C. Skills Immigration – Skilled Worker Stream: For candidates with a permanent job offer in B.C. in a NOC TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 (previously skill type 0 or skill level A or B) job.
  • Express Entry BC Skilled Worker: For candidates in the Express Entry pool with a job offer in B.C. in a NOC TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 (previously skill type 0 or skill level A or B) job.
    • BC PNP Tech stream: For applicants with a full-time job offer from a B.C. employer in one of 29 eligible NOCs.
  • Alberta Express Entry Stream: For qualified candidates from the Express Entry pool.
    • AAIP Accelerated Tech Pathway: For applicants working with or having a full-time job offer from an Alberta-based tech company in one of 23 eligible NOCs.
  • Express Entry Human Capital Priorities Stream: For skilled workers with Express Entry profiles and required work experience, education, and language skills.
  • OINP Employer Job Offer – Foreign Worker Stream: For skilled foreign workers with a full-time offer for a NOC TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 (previously skill type 0 or skill level A or B) job in Ontario.
  • Skilled Workers in Manitoba: For skilled workers with a long-term, full-time job in Manitoba, who have been working with that company for at least six months.
  • Skilled Workers Overseas: For experienced foreign workers with skills needed in the local labour market and an established connection with the province.
Nova Scotia
  • Nova Scotia Express Entry Labour Market Priorities: For foreign workers in the Express Entry system who meet Nova Scotia’s labour market needs. 
  • Skilled Worker Stream (Skilled Workers Pathway): For foreign skilled workers and recent graduates with a full-time, permanent job offer from a Nova Scotia employer.
New Brunswick
  • NB Express Entry: For qualified candidates from the Express Entry system who are working for a New Brunswick employer in a NOC TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 (previously skill type 0 or skill level A or B) job.
  • Skilled Workers stream: For experienced foreign workers with skills, education, and work experience needed in the local labour market and an offer of a full-time position.
  • International Skilled Worker – Saskatchewan Express Entry: For qualified candidates from the Express Entry system who have at least one year of Canadian work experience.
  • International Skilled Worker – Occupations In-Demand: For foreign workers who are skilled in an in-demand occupation but do not have a job offer in Saskatchewan.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island

Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP)

The Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) is a federal government-run program that allows skilled foreign workers (and international students who studied in Canada) to settle permanently in one of Canada’s Atlantic provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick (NB), Prince Edward Island (PEI), or Newfoundland and Labrador (NL).

Selection under the AIP is not based on occupation. However, you may qualify for the program if you have at least one year of full-time paid work experience (1,560 hours) in the last five years and meet language requirements. You will also need a job offer from an Atlantic Canada employer. 

Note: This list is not exhaustive and, depending on your situation, you may qualify for other immigration programs as well. Download our guide on immigrating to Canada for more information.

How to get licensed in Canada as a foreign-trained engineer

Engineering is a regulated occupation in Canada, and you must be licensed by your provincial or territorial regulator before you can work independently as a Professional Engineer (P.Eng.). However, you can start working under the supervision of a licensed engineer once you’ve started your licensing process, even if you don’t immediately qualify for a P.Eng. license. The only exception is for software engineers, who don’t require a license to practice. 

Understanding engineering licenses in your province

Most provinces allow you to start the licensing process before you arrive in Canada. The engineering licensing process differs across provinces and territories and, before you apply, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the types of licenses your province offers, along with their requirements and restrictions.

  • Generally, a full license grants you a Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) credential and allows you to practice your profession without supervision. Most provinces require applicants to have at least four to five years of engineering experience, including some Canadian experience (usually one year) before they qualify for a full license. However, in May 2023, Professional Engineers Ontario, became the first regulatory association in Canada to do away with the Canadian experience requirement for internationally-trained engineers looking to practice in Canada. If you intend to work as an engineer in a different province or territory, you’ll still need Canadian experience to qualify for a P.Eng. license.
  • A provisional license may be granted by some provincial regulators to applicants who meet all other licensure conditions except the Canadian work experience requirement. As a newcomer engineer, you may be eligible for a provisional license if you have at least three or four years of foreign engineering experience. However, you will need to work under the supervision of a licensed P.Eng. who takes responsibility for your work until you get your P.Eng. license.

If you are a recent engineering graduate or don’t have enough total work experience (foreign or Canadian) to qualify for a provisional or full license, you can apply for the Engineer-in-Training (EIT), Member-in-Training, or Engineering Intern program (nomenclature varies across different provinces) with your provincial or territorial regulator. As an EIT, you can start working under the supervision of a licensed PEng and gather the necessary work experience towards your licensure.

Applying to the regulator for an engineering license

Once you’ve determined your eligibility for a license in your province, you need to submit an application to the regulator, provide the required documents, and pay a licensing fee. Although the exact licensing requirements vary by province/territory, the process typically involves the following:

Academic assessment

The provincial or territorial regulator will review your academic credentials and documents, including your degrees, transcripts, certifications, and course description or syllabus, to determine if you need additional education, work experience, or examinations before you qualify for a license.

If you completed your studies outside Canada, you will need an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) to validate your foreign degrees, diplomas or certifications and verify that they are equivalent to Canadian credentials. If your original documents are not in English (or French, if you’re applying for a license in Quebec), you must also submit a certified translation.

You will need at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering, or equivalent, with a specialization in the field in which you wish to practice to qualify for a PEng. 

Work experience assessment

Work experience in engineering is one of the key requirements for licensure. Most provinces/territories require engineers to have four to five years of work experience, including at least one year of Canadian experience. The only exception is Ontario, where Canadian work experience is no longer a requirement.

Internationally qualified engineers can start their licensing process before they arrive but must typically work under the supervision of a licensed Professional Engineer to get the required Canadian work experience for a P.Eng. (except in Ontario). To qualify for supervised work, you can either get a provisional license or enrol as an Engineer-in-Training, Member-in-Training, or Engineering Intern with your provincial regulator.

After you fulfil the work experience requirement, you must submit a work experience record approved by your supervisor and, in some cases, you may have to appear for a competency-based assessment to prove your technical engineering knowledge.

Language competency assessment

Depending on the province you intend to work in, you must demonstrate your proficiency in one official language, English or French. The method of assessment varies by regulator, but you’ll typically need to achieve a good score on an approved language test that assesses your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.

Character assessment

You must demonstrate good character and have a positive reputation. This helps engineering regulators ascertain that you’ll behave ethically, with the best interest of the public in mind. Usually, you need to provide character references, including at least one from a licensed engineer in Canada, and answer some test questions to help the regulator assess your trustworthiness and character.

Professional Practice Examination (PPE)

To become a licensed engineer, you must pass a Professional Practice Examination (PPE). This exam tests your knowledge of engineering-related laws, professional and ethical standards, as well as topics such as contracts, patents, trademarks, and copyrights.

In-demand jobs for engineers in Canada 

Many provinces and territories require qualified engineers to meet local labour market needs. According to recent provincial and territorial data, the following engineering jobs are most in-demand across Canada:

Province  PNP streams for engineers
British Columbia (B.C.)
  • Civil, electrical, electronic, and mechanical engineers (NOC 21300, 21310, 21301, previously 2131, 2133, 2132)
  • Information systems analysts and consultants (NOC 21211, 21220, 21221, 21222, 21233, previously 2171)
  • Software engineers and designers (NOC 21211, 21231, previously 2173)
  • ​​Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians (NOC 22301, previously 2232)
  • Engineering inspectors and regulatory officers (NOC 22231, previously 2262)
  • Information systems analysts and consultants, and software engineers (NOC 21211, 21220, 21221, 21222, 21233, 21231, previously 2171, 2173)
  • Engineering managers, computer and information systems managers (NOC 20010, 20012, previously 0211, 0213)
  • Computer engineers (NOC 21311, previously 2147)
  • Database analysts, software engineers and designers (NOC 21223, 21211, 21231, previously 2172, 2173)
  • Civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical, industrial and manufacturing, metallurgical and materials, mining, geological, petroleum, aerospace, and computer engineers (NOC 21300, 21301, 21310, 21320, 21321, 21322, 21330, 21331, 21332, 21390, 21311, previously 2131 to 2134 and 2141 to 2147)
  • IT systems managers (NOC 20012, previously 0213)
  • Computer analysts and consultants, database analysts, software engineers and designers (NOC 21211, 21220, 21221, 21222, 21233, 21223, 21231, previously 2171, 2172, 2173)
  • Engineering managers (NOC 20010, previously 0211)
  • Civil, mechanical, electrical, electronic, industrial, software, and computer engineers (NOC 21300, 21301, 21310, 21321, 21211, 21231, 21311, previously 2131, 2132, 2133, 2141, 2173, 2147)
  • Information systems and database analysts (NOC 21211, 21220, 21221, 21222, 21233, 21223, previously 2171, 2172)
  • Engineering technologists and technicians (NOC 22300, 22301, 22302, 22310, previously 2231, 2232, 2233, 2241)
Nova Scotia
  • Civil engineers (NOC 21300, previously 2131)
New Brunswick
  • Civil and aerospace engineers (NOC 21300, 21390, previously 2131, 2146)
  • Information system analysts and consultants (NOC 21211, 21220, 21221, 21222, 21233, previously 2171)
  • Database analysts and data administrators (NOC 21223, previously 2172)
Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Electrical, mechanical, infrastructure and biomedical engineers (NOC 21310, 21301, 21399, previously 2133, 2132, 2148)
  • Software engineers and designers (NOC 21211, 21231, previously 2173), including UI/UX developers, AI developers, Python, Web, .NET developers
  • Data analysts (NOC 21223, previously 2172)
Northwest Territories
  • Yukon Express Entry (YEE): For Express Entry applicants who have a full-time and year-round job offer from an eligible Yukon employer.
  • Skilled Worker: For applicants with a full-time job offer from an eligible Yukon employer.
Note: This list is based on in-demand jobs data published by various provinces and territories and recent PNP draws. Labour market needs may change over time and provinces may prioritize other NOCs to bridge skill shortages. Read our in-demand jobs in Canada article series for more information on the scope of your occupation, average wages, and more.

Newcomer's guide to Canada's provinces and territories

How much money do engineers make in Canada? 

Engineering is a highly paid profession in Canada. Average salaries for engineers in Canada vary by province, field of expertise, and years of work experience.

According to the Government of Canada’s Job Bank, civil engineers earn a median hourly wage of $41.20 in Canada, with salaries being the highest in Alberta ($45/hour median wage) and lowest in Prince Edward Island ($31.79/hour median income). In some parts of Alberta, Quebec, and British Columbia, experienced civil engineers can earn as much as $70 per hour.

For other engineering occupations, median wages in Canada are as follows:

  • Mechanical engineers: $42 per hour
  • Electrical and electronic engineers: $45 per hour
  • Chemical engineers: $43.37 per hour
  • Industrial and manufacturing engineers: $40.87 per hour
  • Mining engineers: $46.67 per hour
  • Petroleum engineers: $52.88 per hour
  • Aerospace engineers: $47.30 per hour
  • Computer engineers (except software engineers): $46.39 per hour
  • Software engineers: $48.08 per hour
  • Engineering managers: $55.29 per hour

How to find engineering jobs in Canada? 

Once your licensing process is underway, it’s time to start looking for your first engineering job in Canada. You can start your job search even before you arrive in Canada. Here’s what you should do to find your desired role: 

  • Check relevant job descriptions to understand local job market requirements: The skills, experience, and qualifications required in your engineering field may be different in Canada. The best way to identify skills gaps and narrow down suitable job opportunities is to research what employers are looking for. While you may not qualify for engineering jobs until you have some Canadian experience and a P.Eng. license, you may be eligible for engineering associate, engineering assistant, and Engineer-in-Training opportunities that allow you to work under the supervision of a licensed engineer.
  • Craft a Canadian-style resume: The resume format you used back home may not always be suitable for the Canadian job market. There are three main types of resume formats in Canada: reverse chronological, functional, and hybrid. The ideal format for your resume will depend on how much work experience you have in your field. Most Canadian employers use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to shortlist resumes, so it’s important to customize your resume for each job with keywords from the job description. To get started, download our free Canadian-style resume templates
  • Explore job search platforms and company websites: Job portals such as Job Bank, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Monster, and Indeed are great places to look for job opportunities. In addition, you should create a list of target companies and keep tabs on their websites’ career pages.
  • Skill building: In addition to any courses or training needed for the purpose of your licensure, you can obtain certifications in software, technology, or other skills that are in demand in your occupation. For instance, if you’re looking for jobs in civil or electrical engineering, a certification in AutoCAD or other CAD software may be useful.
  • Build your professional network: Networking is crucial for engineers in Canada. You can connect with fellow engineers on LinkedIn, through professional associations, and at industry events and nurture meaningful relationships. One of the biggest advantages of networking is it gives you access to job opportunities that may not be available publicly. You may even be able to find licensed engineers in your network who are looking for associates. Your connections can also guide you on the licensing process, provide mentorship and referrals for jobs, or vouch for your character when you qualify for a P.Eng. license.

Networking guide for newcomers to Canada

Recruitment process for engineers in Canada

Most Canadian employers have a comprehensive hiring process for engineers which involves resume shortlisting, several interview rounds, and technical skill testing.

If you’re selected based on your resume and cover letter, the first interview round will likely be a screening interview to ensure that your goals align with the company’s objectives and the job. This will typically be followed by an introductory in-person or virtual interview with the hiring manager to gauge your skills, strengths, past experience, and overall suitability for the role. 

Many employers also give applicants tests, case studies, or exercises aimed at verifying their technical skills, either before or after an interview with the hiring manager. For instance, you may need to appear for a coding test for software engineering roles. For civil and mechanical engineering positions, candidates may be tested on their mathematical skills, analytical capabilities, and problem-solving skills, in addition to their technical subject matter knowledge. 

The culture fit interview, too, is an important part of the recruitment process in Canada. The objective of the culture fit interview is to gauge your soft skills and your familiarity with the company’s vision and ethics, and how well you fit into the team culture.

After you’re selected for the role, most employers will also conduct background screening and reference checks to verify your education credentials, work experience, and conduct. Finally, the employer will make an offer of employment, which you can accept outright or after negotiating its terms.

Finding your career in Canada guide

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Read our Canadian job market analysis for engineering for more insights on the hiring process.

Should you move to Canada as an internationally qualified engineer?

Qualified engineers are highly sought after in all provinces of Canada and the local supply isn’t enough to meet the labour market needs. As an internationally trained engineer, Canada’s immigration programs offer you an exciting, lucrative opportunity to move to Canada and settle permanently. However, the licensing process is time-consuming and you may need to spend some time working under supervision before you can land a job as a licensed engineer.