As a newcomer to Canada, finding a job in your field is a crucial step toward settling down. Many newcomers, including those who’ve come to Canada with several years of work experience, realize not all of their skills and experience may be transferable to the Canadian job market. In regulated professions, like engineering, you may need to build new skills or strengthen some existing ones before you can get licensed or find your first job in Canada.
If you’re a newcomer engineer, this article gives you an overview of the education background and key skills required for engineering jobs in Canada. We also provide tips on how to research key skills you should include on your resume to land an engineering job.
In this article:
- Educational background and experience required for engineering jobs
- In-demand technical skills for engineering jobs in Canada
- In-demand soft skills for engineering jobs in Canada
- What skills should I put on my resume for engineering jobs?
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Find valuable information on career paths, required credentials, and the hiring process in your field in our Canadian Job Market Guide.
According to an Engineering Labour Market report published by Engineers Canada, newcomer engineers will be key in filling positions left vacant by retiring engineers in the fields of computer, civil, mechanical, and electrical and electronic engineering.
Engineering is a regulated profession in Canada and you’ll require a licence from a provincial or territorial regulator to practice engineering. The certification and licensing process for engineers involves an assessment of your academic credentials, work experience, language competency, and character. In addition, newcomers need to complete the Professional Practice Examination (PPE), which tests your knowledge of ethics and Canadian law as it relates to engineering.
You must have at least an undergraduate degree in engineering to qualify for a licence. While the specific academic requirements vary by field, you usually need strong knowledge of mathematics and physics.
Work experience plays a crucial role in determining your eligibility for a licence in Canada. While your professional experience as an engineer in your home country is accepted, some amount of Canadian experience is required. As an unlicensed newcomer, you can only start working in engineering if you’re supervised by a licensed engineer (Professional Engineer or P. Eng.) who takes responsibility for your work.
It may be difficult to find your first job as an engineer in Canada, but once you get your license, many opportunities will open up. For instance, if you’re qualified as a civil engineer, you may need to start at a technician or technologist position and eventually work your way up to an engineering manager role.
|Read our job market analysis for engineering in Canada for insights on the types of roles available to you and potential career paths, as well as tips on how to research demand for your expertise and licences and certifications required to practice in Canada.
Technical skills are also known as hard, job-specific skills. You’ll typically learn these skills during the course of your education, work experience, or training. Here are some of the hard skills that are in demand for engineering roles:
As an engineer, you’ll need to ensure that project goals are achieved within the given time and budget. Project management is a key skill that typically involves creating comprehensive project documentation, including clear milestones, constraints, and role allocation. In addition, you’ll be required to evaluate the performance of your team and facilitate collaboration.
Proper budgeting is essential to keep project costs in check, especially in civil and mechanical engineering roles, where projects are resource intensive. Operations and management teams often rely on engineers and engineering managers to provide accurate budget estimates, which drive project planning, costing, and profitability.
Quality assurance is one of the most crucial skills for an engineer. In many fields, engineers are responsible for ensuring the durability and quality of products and projects. This involves adherence to established quality standards, preventing defects and errors during the manufacturing process, and proactively focusing on project improvement to mitigate defects and mistakes.
There will be instances when your product or machine fails to work as expected. As an engineer, you’ll be required to troubleshoot and fix the underlying problem. Troubleshooting requires a systematic approach to identify the issue, understand why it occurred, and repairing or fixing it to avoid recurrence.
Many technical skill requirements for engineering jobs in Canada vary based on the field you’re in. Here’s an overview of some key skills needed for different engineering roles:
Key technical skills for computer engineering jobs (except software engineering)
As a computer engineer, you’ll be expected to have a strong grasp of technical fundamentals relating to computer and information systems, engineering, and applied technologies. An increasing number of employers look for applicants with knowledge of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for computer and hardware engineering jobs. In many cases, a knowledge of electrical and electronics systems, including Printed Circuit Board/Assembly (PCB/PCBA), may also be required.
You may also require expertise in various tools and technologies to qualify for computer engineering jobs in Canada. Some in-demand skills include:
- Cloud computing
- Knowledge of different operating systems such as Linux, Microsoft Windows, and Oracle
- Programming languages like Python, Java, and Structured Query Language (SQL)
Key technical skills for civil engineering jobs
Civil engineering jobs require a strong grasp of building design and construction, including choosing the right construction material and approving construction designs. You’ll need expertise in engineering, applied technologies, and earth sciences (geosciences) in order to conduct feasibility and environment impact studies. Knowledge of public safety and security regulations, including building codes and other provincial or municipal laws, is an in-demand skill as well. In addition, you may be required to plan and design civil projects such as buildings, roads, or dams, and review and evaluate tenders for construction projects.
While organizations may use different tools and technologies, the following skills are in demand for civil engineers in Canada:
- Expertise in Autodesk AutoCAD and Autodesk Revit
- Basic knowledge of statistical analysis software
Key technical skills for mechanical engineering jobs
A strong domain knowledge of mechanics and machinery, including mechanical installation, maintenance and repairs, is essential for mechanical engineering jobs. Some mechanical engineering roles may require you to develop maintenance standards and protocol, ensure machines are performing optimally, or conduct research into the feasibility, design, and operation of various mechanical systems.
Other in-demand technical skills include:
- Expertise in Solidworks, Autodesk AutoCAD or other CAD software
- HVAC systems
Key technical skills for electrical and electronics engineering jobs
As an electrical and electronics engineer, you’ll be required to have expertise in electricity-related technology and engineering, including design, installation and repair of electrical and electronic components, systems and equipment. A strong understanding of Printed Circuit Board/Assembly (PCB/PCBA) and micro- and nano-device simulation are other in-demand skills for electrical engineers.
From a technology standpoint, you’ll require some degree of expertise in the following:
- Autodesk AutoCAD or other CAD software
- Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems
- Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)
Key technical skills for petroleum engineering jobs
Petroleum engineers require a strong knowledge of geosciences, petroleum production and processing, drilling programs, mechanics, and machinery. In such roles, you may be required to forecast oil and gas reservoir performance and recommend recovery techniques to extend the economic life of wells. You’ll also plan, coordinate, and oversee the installation, maintenance, and operation of production equipment.
The tools and technologies used by petroleum engineers vary, but the following skills are currently in demand in Canada:
- Autodesk AutoCAD or other CAD software
- Basic knowledge of statistical analysis software
- Other computer and software applications, such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and forecasting systems.
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Soft skills are personality attributes you’ll need to interact with others and successfully do your job. There’s a lot of emphasis on “culture fit” during the hiring process in Canada, so it’s important to include relevant soft skills in your resume and cover letter while applying for jobs. Here are some soft skills Canadian employers typically look for in engineers:
Management and supervision
As an engineer, you’ll be responsible for supervising a team of technicians, operators, and other workers, as well as ensuring they deliver expected results within a specified time. Leadership and management skills are necessary for such roles. You’ll also evaluate the performance of various staff members and ensure they’re equipped to complete the tasks allocated to them.
Strong communication skills are essential for engineering jobs, as these roles often involve extensive coordination. You may also need to make presentations to clients or management teams for project approvals and updates. While proficiency in English is almost always required, many employers prefer bilingual engineers who speak both English and French. Many newcomers leverage English as a Second Language (ESL) resources to improve their language skills before starting their job search.
Engineers often give professional advice and guidance on various projects. Consulting is an in-demand skill for engineering roles that involve supporting management, operations teams, or clients in making decisions on projects. Typically, consulting requires strong subject matter expertise, as well as research and communication skills.
Problem solving and decision making
Strong analytical and problem-solving skills are a requirement for all engineering roles. You may be required to estimate project outcomes, adjust targets, modify resource allocation, or even pivot to a new approach in order to successfully deliver projects. As an engineer, you’ll need to make informed decisions about the equipment and processes to be used, bids or contractors for a particular project, and even whether a project is feasible or worth pursuing.
Planning and organization skills
Attention to detail, planning, and organization are key skills for engineers who are often responsible for supervising large projects. Even a minor oversight can derail an entire project, so you’ll need to ensure every aspect of your project is carefully considered and elaborated upon in your plan and that proper contingency plans are in place.
Most employers prefer engineers with an entrepreneurial mindset who are willing to take educated risks, embrace challenges, and adapt quickly to change. Many engineering roles encourage proactivity, and you may find yourself in a position to help improve a process or technology. Other keywords often used in job descriptions that have a similar meaning are “self-starter” and “self-motivated.”
A Canadian-style resume should typically be one or two pages long and should focus on skills sought by a particular employer. Ideally, you should customize each resume with keywords that match the required skills and experience specified in the job description.
In addition to the in-demand skills outlined in the sections above, you can identify other skills valued in your field by networking with established engineering professionals in Canada. Be sure to prepare a list of questions for your coffee chats, so you can extract all the information you need.
As a newcomer, you may need to strengthen some of your existing skills or develop new ones that highly valued in the Canadian job market. Canadians are open to helping newcomers adapt to the job market, so you may even be able to find a mentor who can help you build expertise in the industry and land a suitable engineering job in Canada.
If you seek an engineering job in Canada, you’ll require skills that match what employers in the industry look for. As a newcomer in Canada, you’ll first need to get licensed as an engineer by your provincial regulator to practice your profession. This resource provides a basic overview of the skills employers seek while hiring engineers.
If you’re seeking a job in the sales sector in Canada, you’ll require skills that match what employers in the industry are looking for. As a newcomer in Canada, you’ll need to develop a deep understanding of the industry’s demand and customer preferences to qualify for sales jobs. This resource provides a basic overview of the skills employers seek while hiring for sales positions.