Northern Canada comprises three territories: Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut. Although these cover large expanses of land, each has a relatively small population compared to the other Canadian provinces.
To meet their labour markets’ growing demands, these territories welcome newcomers with skills required for jobs in both traditional and emerging industries. The Northwest Territories and Yukon have Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) of their own to invite entrepreneurs and skilled individuals to settle in their regions.
This resource provides an overview on the job market in Canada’s territories, including key industries, cities that offer the most employment prospects, in-demand occupations, NOC codes, and median wage estimates to help you prepare for your career in Canada.
In this article:
- What are the top industries in the territories?
- Which cities have the most job opportunities in Canada’s territories?
- Which jobs are in demand in Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut?
- What is the minimum wage in the territories?
- What is the unemployment rate in Canada’s territories?
- How can I move to the territories?
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.
- Mining, oil, and gas industry: In all three territories, mining is the largest contributor to the economy. Nunavut and Northwest Territories also rely on oil and gas exploration.
- Services industry: The tourism industry is a significant source of revenue for the territories. Other key service sector industries include real estate, construction, transportation, and financial services.
- Fisheries and other natural resource-related industries: Commercial fishing, hunting, and trapping are important industries in this region.
- Yellowknife: Nearly half the population of the Northwest Territories, or around 20,000 people, live in the capital city of Yellowknife. The city is projected to have about 975 job openings each year, in industries such as mining, oil and gas, commercial fishing, agriculture, and tourism.
- Whitehorse: The most populous city in Yukon, Whitehorse, has a population of nearly 25,000. Most newcomers who move to Yukon choose to settle in this city. Outside of the traditional industries of fishing, forestry, and agriculture, most employment opportunities in the territory are centred in Whitehorse. The mining, energy, tourism, and film industries offer the most job opportunities.
- Iqaluit: The capital of Nunavut, Iqaluit is home to just over 8,000 people or around 20 per cent of the territory’s population. The city’s economy primarily relies on natural resources, traditional arts and crafts, mining, and tourism.
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The in-demand jobs have been compiled based on in-demand and priority occupations identified in the latest Provincial Nominee Programs 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.
There’s significant overlap between the in-demand occupations in Northwest Territories and Yukon, while Nunavut has some additional labour requirements. It’s also important to note the average wages in the territories are generally higher compared to other Canadian provinces, both due to labour shortages and a higher cost of living. Among the territories, Nunavut has the highest pay brackets while Yukon has the lowest.
Services sector jobs in the territories
- Early childhood educators (NOC 42202, previously 4214): Early childhood educator roles typically require a diploma in early childhood education and, in the territories, you stand to earn between $22 CAD and $24.66 CAD per hour.
- Accountants and bookkeepers (NOC 11100, 12200, previously 1111, 1311): Bookkeepers and accountants are paid a median hourly income of $42 CAD to $51 CAD.To qualify for these jobs, you need a degree in finance or accounting.
- Retail salespersons (NOC 64100, previously 6421): In-demand jobs in retail pay an average wage of $17 CAD to $18 CAD per hour.
In Nunavut, there’s also demand for:
- School principals and administrators (NOC 40021, previously 0422): School principals and administrators in the territories earn between $56 CAD and $69 CAD per hour.
- Financial managers (NOC 10010, previously 0111): In-demand jobs in finance typically pay between $54 CAD and $67 CAD per hour.
- Managerial positions in social, community, and correctional services, construction, and human resources (NOC 40030, 70010, 11200, previously 0423, 0711, 1121): For most managerial roles, you need a degree in management or in a relevant field.
Health care jobs in the territories
- General practitioners and family physicians (NOC 31102, previously 3112): As a newcomer, you need a licence to practice medicine in the territories.
- Registered nurses (NOC 31301, previously 3012): Senior nurses in the territories make between $52 CAD and $67 CAD per hour.
Trades occupations in the territories
- Electricians (NOC 72200, previously 7241): These in-demand jobs pay a median hourly wage of $30 CAD.
- Heavy-duty equipment mechanics (NOC 72401, previously 7312): Mechanics earn between $33 CAD and $35 CAD per hour in the territories.
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Northwest Territories and Yukon raised their minimum wage to $15.20 CAD per hour in 2021. At $16 CAD per hour, Nunavut has the highest minimum wage in Canada.
In September 2021, the unemployment rate in the Northwest Territories was 4.5 per cent. Yukon and Nunavut had an unemployment rate of 6.1 per cent and 9.1 per cent, respectively.
Under the federal Express Entry program, you can immigrate to any part of Canada, including the territories. In addition, the Northwest Territories Nominee Program and the Yukon Nominee Program allow skilled workers and entrepreneurs to work and permanently settle in these territories. At present, Nunavut does not have a dedicated Provincial Nominee Program.
Want to learn more about living in the territories?
Check out our territory-specific resources for more information:
- Provincial spotlight: Introduction to the Northwest Territories for newcomers
- Provincial spotlight: Introduction to Yukon for newcomers
- Provincial spotlight: Introduction to Nunavut for newcomers