2024-03-12T10:59:14-04:00Jul 5, 2022|

How to immigrate to Canada as a teacher

Canada’s education system is widely recognized as one of the world’s best due to its top-notch infrastructure, curriculum, and teachers. As a result, teaching jobs in Canada are well-respected, coveted positions that often come with high salaries and benefits. However, most provinces and territories have a shortage of qualified teachers and increasingly require newcomers to fill in-demand roles.

Whether you recently qualified as a teacher abroad or have taught in your home country for several years, 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 a teacher, the provincial teaching certification process, and in-demand teaching jobs in Canada.

In this article:

Guide on immigrating to Canada

Reasons to move to Canada as a teacher

Newcomers from across the globe choose to immigrate to Canada in search of a better quality of life and more lucrative opportunities. As an internationally-trained teacher, Canada can be an attractive country to settle in for various reasons, including:

Shortage of skilled teachers at all levels of education

Whether you teach kindergarten or university students, you can find available jobs at your teaching level in Canada. The shortage of teachers and substitute teaching staff is most prominent in British Columbia (B.C.), Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta

Teaching is an in-demand job in most Canadian provinces

No matter which Canadian province or territory you plan to live in, qualified teachers will likely be in high demand. Since there aren’t enough domestically-trained teachers to meet the local labour market needs, many provinces invite internationally-qualified teachers as permanent residents (PR) to help bridge skill gaps. The fact that teachers are highly sought after also makes it easier for qualified newcomer teachers to find jobs in Canada soon after their arrival.

Teachers earn higher salaries in Canada compared to other countries

According to 2021 OECD data, salaries for experienced primary and secondary school teachers in Canada are the third highest in the world, after Luxembourg and Germany. Although average salaries vary by province, teaching level, and years of experience, most newcomer teachers earn more in Canada than they did in their home countries.

Immigration programs for internationally-qualified teachers

Canada welcomes newcomers with the skills and education needed to bridge critical skill gaps by allowing them to apply for permanent residence. There are several immigration programs you can choose from to immigrate to Canada permanently as a teacher.

Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program

The Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Express Entry program is one of the most popular immigration programs for skilled professionals in Canada. Under Express Entry, applicants are selected for PR based on their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score rather than their occupation. 

Your CRS score will depend on factors such as your age, education, work experience, language proficiency, and more. You can also qualify for additional points if you have a valid Canadian job offer, a provincial nomination (see below section on PNP), or prior Canadian education or work experience. While you won’t get any bonus points under the FSW program for being a teacher, getting an Invitation to Apply (ITA) under this category will give you the flexibility of living in the province or territory of your choice.

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP)

Many Canadian provinces have their own PNP programs that allow them to nominate applicants who best meet their labour market needs. Depending on the province you want to move to, you may be able to apply for PNP directly or through the federal Express Entry program.

Some provinces account for the National Occupation Classification (NOC) code/s of your past work experience, and you will have a better chance of qualifying for PR if the province is looking for teachers at your level.

It’s important to note provincial labour requirements change over time. As a teacher, here are some PNP streams and draws you should track.

Province  PNP streams for teachers
British Columbia
  • Skilled Worker: For professional, management, technical, trade or other skilled workers.
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island

Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP)

The Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) is a federal 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)

Although the AIP doesn’t prioritize teachers over other professionals, you may qualify for the program if you have at least 1,560 hours of paid employment in the last five years (around 30 hours per week for one year) and meet the language requirements.

One of the main requirements of the Atlantic Immigration Program is a job offer from an Atlantic Canada employer. You can only qualify for a teaching job after being licensed by the province. This means you will need to get a provincial teaching certificate before applying for PR through the AIP.

Note Icon  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 work in Canada as a foreign-trained teacher

Before starting your teaching career in Canada, you must meet some basic requirements. Each province/territory has its own requirements, but the ones listed below apply to most parts of Canada.

Get an Educational Credentials Assessment (ECA)

If you completed your studies outside Canada, you will need an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) to review your foreign degrees or diplomas and verify that they are valid and equivalent to Canadian ones. 

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers usually require the equivalent of undergraduate or bachelor’s degrees in education and child development. If you plan to teach at the secondary school level, you must have an undergraduate or bachelor’s degree in education, as well as in the subject you intend to teach in Canada. The qualification requirements for senior-level teaching positions, such as university professors, are higher and you may need a master’s or doctoral degree in your field.

Apply for a provincial teaching certificate and licence

Teaching is a regulated occupation in Canada and you must be licensed by a province or territory before you can work as a teacher. Luckily, you can start the teaching certification process before you arrive in Canada. It can take time to get certified, so be sure to apply to the College of Teachers or teaching regulatory body in your province/territory as soon as you decide where you want to settle.

In most provinces, you must submit your academic transcripts, a teaching certificate from your home country, and a statement of professional standing as part of your certification application. Once your application is approved, you will receive a Certificate of Qualification or a teaching certificate.

Canadian job market guide

Some jobs in education may not require a teaching certificate. While each province/territory has its own list of exceptions, you may be able to teach in Canada without a Certificate of Qualification from your local regulator if you fall under one of the following categories:

  • International language teacher
  • English or French as a second language teachers. You may, however, require a Teacher of English/French as a Second Language (TESL/TFSL) certification. 
  • Adult continuing education teacher
  • Early childhood, daycare, or Montessori teachers
  • Music teachers
  • Tutors

Prove you’re fit to teach 

Most provinces and territories will require proof that you have good moral character before they grant you a teaching certificate. You may have to provide character references and criminal background check records from your home country or other regions where you previously worked or lived. You may also require positive professional references from your current or former employers in the field of education. Some provinces, like Ontario, also require you to complete a sexual abuse prevention program in order to qualify for certification.

Language proficiency in English and/or French

In most provinces and territories, except Quebec, English is the primary language of curriculum delivery. You will need to submit language test results, such as IELTS or CELPIP, to prove your proficiency in the English language. The minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score to qualify may vary by province/territory. If you plan to teach in Quebec or a Francophone school in another province, you must be proficient in both English and French.

Tips Icon  Tip:
French teachers are in demand outside Quebec as well. Several provinces, including Ontario, offer public schooling in French. French language learning is also mandatory in some provinces, sometimes as early as Grade 1. To learn more, read our newcomer guide to the school system in Canada.

Teaching experience and familiarity with the Canadian curriculum

Although recent teaching experience is not required for getting a provincial teaching certificate, it’ll be useful when you start applying for teaching jobs in Canada.

Another important factor most provinces and territories look for is your familiarity with Canadian culture and curriculum. If your home country’s education system is significantly different from that in your Canadian province or territory, you may need to enrol for additional training in your region. This training program can take up to one year and typically includes some education-related courses and a supervised practicum.

In-demand jobs for teachers in Canada 

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

Province  In-demand teaching jobs
British Columbia (B.C.)
  • University professors and lecturers (NOC 41200, previously 4011)
  • Colleges and vocational teachers (NOC 41210, previously 4021)
  • Early childhood educators (NOC 42202, previously 4214)
  • University professors and lecturers (NOC 41200, previously 4011)
  • College and vocational teachers (NOC 41210, previously 4021)
  • Post-graduate teaching assistants (NOC 41201, previously 4012)
  • High school or secondary school teachers (NOC 41220, previously 4031)
  • Elementary and Kindergarten teachers (NOC 41221, previously 4032)
  • University professors and lecturers (NOC 41200, previously 4011)
Nova Scotia
  • Early childhood educators and assistants (NOC 42202, previously 4214)
New Brunswick
  • University professors and lecturers (NOC 41200, previously 4011)
Newfoundland and Labrador
  • University professors and lecturers (NOC 41200, previously 4011)
  • High school or secondary school teachers (NOC 41220, previously 4031)
Prince Edward Island
  • University professors and lecturers (NOC 41200, previously 4011)
Canada’s territories
  • Early childhood educators (NOC 42202, previously 4214)
  • School principals and administrators (NOC 40021, previously 0422)
Note Icon  Note
This list is based on in-demand jobs data published by various provinces and territories and recent PNP draws. Although some provinces, such as Ontario, haven’t included teaching NOCs on their in-demand jobs list, this may change once PNP draws resume at the pre-pandemic pace. It’s also important to note labour market needs may change over time. 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 teachers make in Canada? 

Teaching is a highly paid profession in Canada. Average salaries for teachers in Canada vary by province, teaching level, and years of work experience. Wages are also typically higher in the territories to account for the high cost of living in these regions. 

According to the Government of Canada’s Job Bank, elementary and kindergarten teachers (NOC 41221) usually earn between $24.04 and $52.75 per hour, with the median salaries for this teaching level being $43.75 in Ontario, $36.20 in British Columbia, and $55.48 in Nunavut.

High school or secondary school teachers (NOC 41220) in Canada earn between $26.92 and $53.85 per hour, with the median hourly pay being $47.12 in Ontario, $38.46 in B.C., and $55.43 in Nunavut.

College and vocational teachers (NOC 41210) typically earn between $18.19 and $58.53 per hour. The median hourly salaries for college teachers are $36.54 in Ontario, $42.31 in B.C., and $62.05 in Nunavut.

University professors or lecturers (NOC 41200) usually make between $24.62 and $76.92 per hour in Canada. In Ontario, the median hourly salary for university professors is $56.56, while in B.C. it is around $43.27.

School principals and administrators (NOC 40021) can expect to earn between $33.46 and $64.84 per hour in Canada, with the median hourly wage being $51.92 in Ontario, $48.08 in B.C., and $54.09 in Alberta. 

Should you move to Canada as an internationally-qualified teacher?

Teachers are highly sought after in several Canadian provinces where the local supply of educators isn’t enough to meet the labour market needs. As an internationally-trained teacher, Canada’s immigration programs offer you an exciting, lucrative opportunity to move to Canada and settle permanently. Moreover, you can start your certification process even before your PR is approved, allowing you to land a teaching job soon after you arrive in Canada.