How to Immigrate to Canada as a Teacher
Most people agree that Canada’s education system is one of the best in the world because its infrastructure, curriculum, and teachers are all very good. Because of this, teaching jobs in Canada are respected and highly sought after, and they often come with high pay and benefits. But most provinces and territories don’t have enough qualified teachers and need more and more newcomers to fill roles that are in demand.
Whether you just got your teaching certificate abroad or have been teaching for years in your home country, moving to Canada can give you a lot of new opportunities. In this article, we talk about immigration programs you can use to move to Canada as a teacher, the process of getting a provincial teaching certificate, and teaching jobs in Canada that are in high demand.
Reasons to move to Canada as a teacher
People move to Canada from all over the world because they want a better quality of life and more money-making opportunities. As an international teacher, Canada can be a good place to settle down for a number of reasons, such as:
1. Shortage of skilled teachers at all levels of education
No matter if you teach kindergarten or college students, you can find a job in Canada at your level. Most teachers and substitute teachers are needed in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia (B.C.).
2. Teaching is an in-demand job in most Canadian provinces
No matter where you want to live in Canada, qualified teachers are likely to be in high demand. Since there aren’t enough teachers who were trained in the country to meet the needs of the local job market, many provinces invite teachers who were trained abroad to become permanent residents (PR) to help fill skill gaps. Teachers are in high demand, which also makes it easier for qualified teachers who just moved to Canada to find jobs right away.
3. Canada pays its teachers more than most other countries do.
According to OECD data from 2021, Canada has the third highest salaries for experienced primary and secondary school teachers in the world, after Luxembourg and Germany. Even though average salaries vary by province, teaching level, and years of experience, most new teachers earn more in Canada than they did in their home countries.
Immigration programs for internationally-qualified teachers
Canada lets newcomers apply for permanent residence if they have the skills and education to fill in important skill gaps. As a teacher, you can choose from a number of immigration programs to move to Canada for good.
Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program
One of the most popular ways for skilled professionals to move to Canada is through the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Express Entry program. Under Express Entry, applicants for permanent residency (PR) are chosen based on their score on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) instead of their job.
Your CRS score will be based on things like your age, education level, work experience, language skills, and more. You can also get more points if you have a valid job offer in Canada, a provincial nomination (see the section below about the PNP), or work or school experience in Canada. Even though you won’t get extra points for being a teacher under the FSW program, if you get an Invitation to Apply (ITA) under this category, you can choose to live in any province or territory.
2. Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP)
Many provinces in Canada have their own PNP programs that let them choose applicants who best fit their needs in the job market. Depending on which province you want to move to, you may be able to apply for PNP directly or through the federal Express Entry program.
Some provinces look at the National Occupation Classification (NOC) codes of your past jobs. If the province is looking for teachers at your level, you will have a better chance of getting PR.
It’s important to remember that the requirements for work in each province change over time. As a teacher, you should keep an eye on the following PNP streams and draws.
3. Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP)
The Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) is a federal program that lets skilled foreign workers and international students who studied in Canada move to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland and Labrador to live there permanently.
Even though the AIP doesn’t give teachers more attention than other professionals, if you have worked at least 1,560 hours for pay in the last five years (about 30 hours per week for a year) and meet the language requirements, you may be able to join.
A job offer from an employer in Atlantic Canada is one of the most important parts of the Atlantic Immigration Program. You can only get a job as a teacher if the province gives you a license. This means that you will need a teaching certificate from your province before you can apply for PR through the AIP.
How to work in Canada as a foreign-trained teacher
Before you can become a teacher in Canada, you need to meet a few basic requirements. Each province and territory has its own rules, but most of Canada follows the ones below.
1. Get an Educational Credentials Assessment (ECA)
If you went to school outside of Canada, you’ll need an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) to check that your foreign degrees or diplomas are valid and the same as Canadian ones.
Teachers in kindergarten and elementary school usually need a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent in education and child development. If you want to teach in a secondary school in Canada, you need a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in education and in the subject you want to teach. For higher-level teaching jobs, like university professors, the qualifications are higher, and you may need a master’s or doctoral degree in your field.
2. Apply for a provincial teaching certificate and license
Teaching in Canada requires a provincial or territorial license. You can get Canadian teaching certification before you arrive. As soon as you decide where to live, apply to the College of Teachers or teaching regulatory body in your province or territory. Certification takes time.
Most provinces require academic transcripts, a teaching certificate from your home country, and a statement of professional standing. Your application will result in a Certificate of Qualification or teaching certificate.
Education jobs may not require a teaching certificate. If you fit one of these categories, you may be able to teach in Canada without a Certificate of Qualification from your local regulator:
- International language teacher
- Those who teach English or French as a second language. You may, however, need a certification called Teacher of English/French as a Second Language (TESL/TFSL).
- Teacher of continuing education for adults
- Teachers for young children, daycare, or the Montessori method
- Teachers of music
3. Prove you’re fit to teach
Most provinces and territories require morality before issuing a teaching certificate. References and criminal records from your home country or previous employers may be required. You may also need references from education employers who can attest to your professionalism. Ontario requires you to complete a sexual abuse prevention program before certification.
4. Language proficiency in English and/or French
Except for Quebec, English is the main language of instruction in most provinces and territories. To show that you can speak English well, you will need to show results from a language test like IELTS or CELPIP. Depending on the province or territory, the minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score to qualify may be different. You must be fluent in both English and French if you want to teach in Quebec or a Francophone school in another province.
5. Teaching experience and familiarity with the Canadian curriculum
They need to have taught before and be familiar with the Canadian curriculum.
Even though you don’t need recent teaching experience to get a provincial teaching certificate, it will help you get a teaching job in Canada.
Most provinces and territories also care about your Canadian culture and education. If your home country’s education system is very different from your Canadian province or territory’s, you may need more local training. This one-year program includes education classes and a supervised practicum.
How much do teachers in Canada get paid?
In Canada, teaching is a very well-paid job. The average pay for teachers in Canada depends on the province, the level of teaching, and the number of years they have worked. Because of the high cost of living in the territories, wages tend to be higher there as well.
On average, elementary and kindergarten teachers (NOC 41221) make between $24.04 and $52.75 per hour, according to the Government of Canada’s Job Bank. The median salaries for this level of teaching are $43.75 in Ontario, $36.20 in British Columbia, and $55.48 in Nunavut.
High school or secondary school teachers (NOC 41220) in Canada make between $26.92 and $53.85 per hour, with the median hourly wage being $47.12 in Ontario, $38.46 in B.C., and $55.43 in Nunavut.
The average hourly wage for college and vocational teachers (NOC 41210) is between $18.19 and $58.53. College teachers earn a median hourly wage of $36.54 in Ontario, $42.31 in British Columbia, and $62.05 in Nunavut.
In Canada, most university professors and lecturers (NOC 41200) make between $24.62 and $76.92 per hour. In Ontario, the average hourly wage for university professors is $56.56, but in British Columbia, it’s only $43.27.
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