British Columbia is Canada’s third most populous province after Ontario and Quebec, with a large portion of its residents living in the Lower Mainland, which includes the coastal city of Vancouver and surrounding municipalities. The province attracts newcomers from all over the world with its cultural diversity, career opportunities, and enjoyable temperate climate.
The government of British Columbia periodically invites newcomers with the skills and experience to meet the province’s growing labour requirements to work and settle in B.C. as Permanent Residents (PR) through the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP).
This article provides information on British Columbia’s job market, including key industries and in-demand occupations for newcomers in B.C., along with NOC codes and median wage estimates, so you can arrive prepared to kick-start your career in Canada.
In this article:
- What are the top industries in British Columbia?
- Which cities have the most job opportunities in B.C.?
- What jobs are in demand in British Columbia?
- What is the minimum wage in British Columbia?
- What is the unemployment rate in B.C.?
- How do I move to British Columbia?
As you plan your move to Canada, choosing a province to settle down in is a huge decision. While the job market is an important factor to keep in mind, be sure to also research the local culture, major cities in each province, spoken languages, and cost of living in the region. Arrive’s Newcomer Guide to Canada’s Provinces and Territories is a great starting point.
- Services industry: The services sector is the largest contributor to the province’s GDP and the biggest employer in British Columbia. Some key service industries include real estate, construction, banking and financial services, health care, entertainment, retail, education, and professional, scientific, and technical services.
- Manufacturing industry: Top manufacturing industries include aerospace, clean technology, life sciences, information and communication technology, and paper.
- Mining and natural gas industry: B.C. has more than 700 mining and mineral companies, and employs over 25,000 people in mining and natural gas extraction and processing. The province is rich in precious metals and non-metallic minerals.
- Agriculture, aquaculture, and food processing industry: A wide range of agricultural and seafood products support a varied food processing industry in the province.
- Forestry: B.C. is one of the world’s largest exporters of wood products and the industry employs over 55,000 people.
- Lower Mainland, including Vancouver, Surrey, Burnaby, and Richmond: The most populous area in all of B.C., the Lower Mainland region offers ample job opportunities in services, trade, technology, film and television, tourism, natural resources, and construction.
- Victoria: The capital city of Victoria has large industries centred around advanced technology, tourism, education, health, retail, construction, and agriculture.
- Abbotsford: Abbotsford is known for its large agribusiness industry. It also offers employment opportunities in technology and aerospace industries.
- Kelowna: Kelowna has a diverse economy with opportunities in agriculture, health care, manufacturing, tourism, and service industries.
The in-demand jobs have been compiled based on in-demand occupation lists released by British Columbia, priority occupations identified in latest B.C. Provincial Nominee Program guidelines, and NOCs selected in recent PNP draws. The occupations listed in the sections below are not exhaustive and are subject to change as the labour market needs evolve.You can also use the Government of Canada’s Job Bank portal to conduct a trend analysis of average wages, eligibility criteria, and job requirements for your occupation in a particular city or province.
Construction and engineering jobs in B.C.
- Construction managers (NOC 70010, previously 0711): To get a job as a construction manager, you may require a management degree and can expect to earn a median income of $41 CAD per hour.
- Civil, electrical, electronic, and mechanical engineers (NOC 21300, 21310, 21301, previously 2131, 2133, 2132): These in-demand jobs in B.C. pay between $36 CAD and $43 CAD per hour. However, you’ll need an engineering degree and a provincial licence to work as an engineer.
Technology jobs in B.C.
- Information systems analysts and consultants (NOC 21211, 21220, 21221, 21222, and 21233, previously 2171): IT analysts and consultants earn a median income of $36 CAD per hour.
- Computer programmers and interactive media developers (NOC 21230, 21232, 21234, previously 2174): As a programmer or developer, you can expect to make around $43 CAD per hour.
- Computer network technicians (NOC 22220, previously 2281): Technicians make a median income of $28.85 CAD per hour in B.C.
- Software engineers and designers (NOC 21231, previously 2173): Software engineering jobs in B.C. are highly paid, with a median hourly pay of $52 CAD. You’ll need an engineering degree to qualify.
Business and administration jobs in B.C.
- Administrative officers and assistants (NOC 13100 and 13110, previously 1221 and 1241): These roles typically pay between $23 CAD and $26 CAD per hour.
- Financial auditors and accountants (NOC 11100, previously 1111): For finance and accounting roles, you’ll need a graduate degree or diploma in relevant courses. Auditors earn an average salary of $28 CAD per hour in B.C.
- Accounting technicians and bookkeepers (NOC 12200, previously 1311): Bookkeepers are paid a median hourly wage of $24 CAD.
Health care jobs in B.C.
- Specialist physicians, general practitioners and family physicians (NOC 31100, 31101, and 31102, previously 3111, 3112): Most of the in-demand occupations in health care require a provincial licence. To practise as a physician in B.C., newcomers also need to take a qualifying examination. Physicians, depending on their specialization, make a median annual income between $164,237 CAD and $256,202 CAD in British Columbia.
- Registered nurses and psychiatric nurses (NOC 31301, previously 3012): Registered nurses earn a median income of $41 CAD per hour and require a provincial nursing licence.
- Licensed practical nurses (NOC 32101, previously 3233): This in-demand occupation pays a median wage of $29 CAD per hour.
- Medical sonographers (NOC 32122, previously 3216): Sonographers make between $35 CAD and $39 CAD per hour in B.C.
- Nurse aides, orderlies, and patient service associates (NOC 33102, previously 3413): Nurse aides and orderlies earn between $18 CAD and $25 CAD per hour, depending on their experience and seniority.
Education and social services jobs in B.C.
- Social and community service workers (NOC 42201, previously 4212): These jobs pay around $21 CAD per hour in B.C.
- Educators for universities, colleges, vocational institutes, and early childhood education (NOC 41200, 41210, and 42202, previously 4011, 4021, and 4214): University and college professors and lecturers require a provincial teaching credential to work in BC. The median hourly pay for these occupations is $43 CAD. Early childhood educators earn a median income of $19 CAD per hour.
Sales and services jobs in B.C.
- Retail and wholesale trade managers (NOC 60020, previously 0621): Managers in trade earn a median hourly wage of $30 CAD in BC.
- Restaurant and food service managers (NOC 60030, previously 0631): The median hourly wage for these positions is $26 CAD.
- Corporate sales managers (NOC 60010, previously 0601): Managerial jobs in sales make an average of $31.25 CAD per hour.
As of June 1, 2021, the minimum wage in British Columbia is $15.20 CAD per hour.
In November 2021, the unemployment rate in British Columbia was 5.4 per cent.
In addition to the federal Express Entry program, the province also invites skilled immigrants to come to B.C. as permanent residents through the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP).
To work in B.C. temporarily, you’ll require a work permit. You’ll also have a better chance of finding a job if your skills match the province’s in-demand occupations. British Columbia is also home to some of the best universities in Canada, which welcome thousands of students each year. After graduating from your study program, you may be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit and can gain valuable work experience that will make it easier for you to settle permanently in Canada.
Want to learn more about living in B.C.?
Check out our province-specific resources for more information:
- Provincial spotlight: Introduction to British Columbia for newcomers
- How to apply for a health card in British Columbia
- How to get a driver’s licence in British Columbia
- Understanding your rights as a tenant in British Columbia (B.C.)
- The School System in British Columbia (B.C.)