Required education and experience for software engineering and IT jobs
To qualify for software engineering and IT jobs in Canada, you must have a software engineering degree or a bachelor’s or master’s degree in information technology, computer science, or computer programming. Newcomers who completed their education in a different country may need an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) to verify that their foreign degree is valid and equivalent to a Canadian one.
While specific academic requirements vary based on the role and seniority, you usually need a strong knowledge of mathematics, computer programming languages, and engineering subjects.
Unlike other engineering fields, software engineering and IT are not regulated professions in Canada and you don’t need to be licensed by a provincial or territorial regulator to work as a software engineer or IT professional. However, certifications in specific technologies related to your area of interest, such as AWS or Oracle, can give you an advantage over other candidates during your job search.
As a newcomer, your software engineering or IT experience from another country may be transferable to the Canadian market. However, you may need to bridge certain skill or knowledge gaps before you can land your dream job in the field.
In-demand technical skills for software engineering and IT jobs in Canada
Technical skills, also known as hard or job-specific skills, are skills you typically learn during your education, work experience, or training. The technical skills required for a job may vary based on the software engineering or development sub-discipline you’re interested in, such as web development, mobile development, infrastructure development, data analytics and AI, cloud computing, or DevOps. Here are some of the hard skills that are generally in demand for software engineering and information technology roles:
Knowledge of computer and information systems
A strong understanding of how computers and IT systems work is a basic qualifier for most software engineering jobs. You should be familiar with different types of operating systems, including their interoperability, modelling architectures, and designs.
Knowledge of programming languages
You need to be proficient in programming languages, such as Java, Python, SQL, R, C++, HTML5, and CSS3, which are commonly used in Canada. Most software engineering or IT jobs require expertise in one or more of these, so you can fast-track your career search by learning a new programming language. Many roles may also require expertise in the content management system the organization uses, such as WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal.
Working with technological equipment and infrastructure
Setting up technical infrastructure, installing programs, and debugging or reprogramming technical systems may be a key part of your role as a software engineer or IT professional. With the growing popularity of cloud computing, you may also require expertise in setting up and working with cloud-based infrastructure using AWS, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure technologies.
Software development, web development, and application building
Expertise in back-end and front-end development is usually a requirement for most software engineering and IT roles. Depending on the organization you’re applying to and their existing technology systems, you may need to be proficient in software or web development or app building. Typically, this implies a strong understanding of data structures, design patterns, algorithms, and system architecture. Familiarity with app development tools, such as Java-Spring Boot or Node.js, may also be useful.
Data management and analytics
Most organizations in Canada rely on data to make business decisions. Expertise in data management and processing, as well as data analytics tools, such as Power BI, Microstrategy, Tableau, Talend, and Apache Spark, can help you land an IT job as a newcomer. If you have prior experience working with databases and related technologies, such as MongoDb, Elastic-Search, SQL server, NoSQL, Oracle, and Kafka, be sure to include those skills in your resume where relevant.
Agile methodology and DevOps experience
Some Canadian companies follow an agile approach for software engineering and development. The project is broken down into smaller components and the team works on it in an iterative manner, keeping the end-user in mind. DevOps often forms an integral part of the agile process, allowing the collaboration of people, processes, and technology to enable faster delivery of projects. Many software engineering and IT roles require applicants to have experience with collaboration and DevOps tools like JIRA, GitHub, and Jenkins.
As a newcomer, you may be unfamiliar with some of the in-demand technical skills for software engineers and IT professionals in Canada. Use your pre-arrival wait time to enrol in boot camps or training programs for programming languages, data analytics, user experience (UX) design, new tools, or to add new skills to your resume.
In-demand soft skills for software engineering and IT jobs in Canada
Soft skills are personality attributes you need to interact with your colleagues and clients in order to successfully perform your job. Many Canadian employers conduct culture fit interviews as part of the hiring process, so it’s important to showcase relevant soft skills in your resume and cover letter and during interviews. Here are some soft skills employers in Canada typically look for when hiring software engineers and IT professionals:
Management and supervision
If you’re applying to senior IT and software engineering roles, supervising a team of developers, programmers, technicians, and other workers may be part of your job. As a manager, you’ll be responsible for setting targets and ensuring that your team delivers expected results within the given timeline.
If the role requires working on multiple projects at a time, you may also need to build project teams, equip your staff with resources to complete the project, and evaluate performance and progress on the tasks. Leadership skills are crucial for senior roles and you’ll need to empower and motivate your team to deliver quality results in order to meet the company’s objectives.
Software engineering and IT jobs often require extensive coordination and strong communication skills are a must. You may need to work closely with customer success, marketing, product management, or finance teams, on certain projects and must be able to translate technical terms and processes into language non-technical individuals can understand. Moreover, you need to be able to understand the requirements of the end-user before you design or fix any software or technical systems.
Proficiency in English is almost always required and many newcomers leverage English as a Second Language (ESL) resources to improve their language skills before they start their job search.
The work you do as a software engineer or IT expert may have a direct impact on user experience. Being detail-oriented is important while writing or reviewing code to spot errors that may adversely affect the output of your application or program. Even a minor oversight can derail projects, so you’ll need to demonstrate attention to detail to succeed in software engineering and IT roles.
Problem-solving and decision-making
Most IT and software engineering roles require problem-solving and decision-making skills. 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. In certain situations, you may need to make tough decisions on project viability or the best use of resources to maximize value for your organization.
Creativity and innovation are must-have skills for IT professionals and software engineers. You may need to deliver projects within certain resource constraints, find ways to debug or improve existing technical systems, or create solutions from scratch. The ability to think creatively and try new approaches can help you stand out in your role and deliver innovative solutions.
Whether you’re tasked with setting up IT infrastructure, implementing analytics tools, or designing software, the first step will be to evaluate user needs so you can deliver a solution that meets their requirements. Often, end users will be non-technical people who may not be able to understand or articulate their requirements clearly. You’ll require sharp analytical skills to assess their wants and needs, as well as skill level, and deliver a solution that helps with their use case and provides a good user experience.
What skills should I put on my resume for engineering jobs?
While the above sections outline several of the in-demand skills that employers seek when hiring software engineers and IT professionals in Canada, these are by no means the only skills you should list on your resume.
Depending on the extent of your work experience, your Canadian-style resume should ideally be one to two pages long and should showcase key skills for your field. While applying for jobs in Canada, it’s important to customize your resume and include keywords that match the skills and experience outlined in the job description.
Bear in mind that Canada’s technology landscape is always evolving and new tools and solutions are released each year. Networking with established professionals in your industry is a great way to stay up-to-date on trends and learn about tools and technologies gaining popularity in the market.
Networking can also help you identify other skills employers value in your area of expertise. You can connect with other professionals in your field on LinkedIn and ask them questions during coffee chats to gather information to help you prepare for interviews. You may even be able to find a mentor who can help you build expertise in your field and land a software engineering or IT job in Canada.