Employment & Job Requirements to Work as an Architect in Canada
Continuing your career will be an important part of your success when you arrive in Canada. So it’s vital to research employment and job requirements for architects before you arrive to help you restart your career. At a minimum, you want to ensure that your international credentials will be recognized in Canada. Otherwise, even if your skills, experience and expertise match the job description, you may have to take courses or write exams to validate your credentials.
By law, you can only practice as an architect in Canada, or use the title “architect,” if you have been licensed as a full member from the provincial or territorial regulatory body where you intend to work. However, it is not necessary to be registered or licensed to work in an architectural firm if you are working under the direction of an architect. The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) is the national association and the voice for architecture and its practice in Canada. It represents over 4000 architects.
1. Understanding Architect Job Requirements in Canada
There are steps that you can take before you immigrate to improve your chances of practicing architecture in Canada:
- Research how your international qualifications may be viewed in Canada and get a general sense of the Canadian labour market.
- Contact the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) and the provincial or territorial regulatory body in the area where you intend to settle and work. Find out the procedure to follow, costs, and time required to obtain a permit. Ask what steps in the licensing process that you can take before and after you immigrate. CACB requires your education documents such as your degrees and original transcripts to assess your education against Canadian standards. The academic institute must send the documents directly to the CACB.
- Enroll in language classes while you are in your home country and continue them after you move to Canada. To practice the profession, you need to have advanced English or French (depending on your destination province) language competency. Even if you speak fluent English or French, it’s helpful to improve your language skills.
- Gather and organize your official education, work and identity documents while still in your home country. When contacting them, find out what other documents you need to bring for employment purposes, or to continue education. Verify what documents need to be translated. You may need to use a professional translation service in Canada.
- Understand how the architect profession is practiced in Canada and become familiar with the procedures, laws, and legislation that govern architects in the province where you will settle.
- Know common architect titles in Canada and research potential employers.
For information, tools, and free webinars, visit our Finding a Job in Canada resource page. Get the help you need to achieve your career goals in Canada!
2. Employment for Architects in Canada
The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is Canada’s reference on occupations. It provides job descriptions, occupational statistics and labour market information. Check out NOC 2151 for a full list of job titles for architects.
The Canada Job Bank is another useful tool to learn more about your profession in Canada. Find out more at Canada Job Bank: Your Vital Research Tool.
Finding a job in Canada may be different than in your home country. So you may need help to find job vacancies, update your resume, write cover letters, prepare for interviews, and understand what Canadian employers look for.
The employment requirements for architects in Canada include:
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited school of architecture (or completion of the syllabus of studies from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada)
- A three-year internship under the supervision of a registered architect
- Registration with the provincial or territorial association of architects in the region of work
- A Master’s degree or a LEED certification may be required by some employers.
The first step is to contact the Canadian Architectural Certification Board to know how your educational qualifications would be assessed. The assessment takes about three months after submitting a full application package; then, the appropriate provincial or territorial regulatory authority takes care of the next steps in the licensure process: internship and examination.
You must also:
- Find a mentor and complete the Canadian Experience Record Book.
- Complete a specified number of hours of work experience in specific areas to meet the experience requirement of the licensure process.
- Submit your previous work experience in architecture in your country of origin for consideration.
Consider pursuing the Broadly Experienced Foreign Architects (BEFA) Program option to get licensed in Canada. Developed by the eleven Canadian Architectural Licensing Authorities (CALA), this bilingual program streamlines the process for foreign-trained architects to become certified for licensure/registration in Canada.
Credentials Assessment Services
If you plan to enroll in a college or university program to upgrade your skills, contact the school that you plan to attend and find out what steps to take. As well, check to see if they want you to use a specific credential assessment agency. Using unrecognized agencies can end up costing you more money and fees.
Make sure to highlight your international education and skills. Build on your existing knowledge and skills and explore university and college options thoroughly before deciding if you need to continue your education. You might be able to get advanced standing, transfer some of your credits and benefit from prior learning assessment options to gain credit or course exemptions. This will allow you to complete your program more quickly, without wasting money and repeating the education you already have.
Credential Assessment Agencies:
World Education Services (WES)
Comparative Education Service: University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies
International Qualifications Assessment Service – Alberta (IQAS)
The International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES)
To find more organizations and agencies providing credential evaluation, assessment and qualification recognition services click here.
Generally, architecture job prospects are positive. The number of architects is expected to increase slightly over the next few years as a result of the anticipated growth in construction and the demand for architectural services.
Though most Canadian cities offer employment opportunities in the architectural sector, you may find more opportunities in the fast-growing provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta. When looking for jobs, broaden your geographic area to include smaller cities and towns close to your target city. For example, if you intend to work in Toronto, you might find a job opportunity in nearby Hamilton, which is less than an hour’s drive from there.
Before deciding where you want to settle in Canada, research and find out where there is a higher demand for architects to make your job search easier.
In Canada, architects are employed by architectural firms, private corporations and governments. Or, they may also be self-employed.
New job openings in the sector will come mainly from opportunities that arise when architects retire or change jobs and, to a lesser degree, from employment increases. You can visit Canada’s Best Diversity Employers to check for immigrant-friendly organizations which you might be interested in. This special designation recognizes Canada’s best employers for recent immigrants. These employers offer interesting programs to help newcomers transition to a new workplace, and a new life in Canada.
3. Upgrading Your Skills to Meet Architect Job Requirements
Canadian employers place a high value on soft skills, which are personal attributes that enhance your interactions, job performance, and career prospects. Unlike your hard skills, you can apply your soft skills broadly.
Soft skills, such as leadership, good communication, abstraction, strategic thinking, and negotiation skills are important for architects. As an architect, you are expected to have technical experience, collaboration skills to work with multiple groups, and the ability to lead groups.
If your hard skills will get you an interview, most probably it is your soft skills that will get you the job and enable you to keep it afterwards.
Though not a must, upgrading your education and skills through a bridging program or other educational courses and workshops may be an important part of your journey to becoming a successful architect in Canada.
You may have strong technical skills, but often that is not enough to get a job or maintain it afterwards. You may need more training or skills upgrading, especially with regards to your communication skills and team dynamics.
Having strong skills in one or both of Canada’s official languages – English or French – is extremely important for your future in Canada. Whether you choose to focus on learning or improving English or French will depend on which of the two languages most people speak in the area where you intend to live.
You may be eligible for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program. Otherwise, you can find other free or affordable classes in English as a Second Language (ESL) or French as a Second Language (FSL) classes through the school boards or settlement agencies.
There are even language courses to teach you professional terminologies, such as Enhanced Language Training (ELT) and Occupation Specific Language Training (OSLT) in Ontario. And, if you already speak one of Canada’s two official languages at a high level, learning the other one is a good option, as it may offer you better employment opportunities.
Many immigrants take further education after coming to Canada. Some even want to change careers or enhance their careers with a Ph.D. or MBA. Read more: Higher Education Offers Benefits to Newcomers.
Bridging programs are a good way to transition from your international experience and training to the Canadian workplace. Many colleges, universities and immigrant-serving agencies offer bridging programs or workshops. You may be eligible for one. Do some research to find a program that’s suitable for you.
Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Architecture (PBDA)
If you wish to take courses required for CACB certification, you may register as a non-program student within the PBDA program.
Bridge Training for Immigrant Professionals Leveraging Architectural Knowledge for New Opportunities (I-PLAN)
This 14-week bridge training program helps internationally educated professionals find employment in the architectural field. Program components include architectural academic training, Enhanced Language Training (ELT), Canadian Workplace Essentials (CWE), and employment services; mentoring and internship placements.
Bridging Program Engineering Skills Enhancement
This 15-week bridging program is for internationally trained professionals with education and experience in engineering, architecture, or related professions. Participants of the program get training that helps them gain advanced concepts and skills in integrated solutions for the energy efficiency, green building, and renewable energy sector: The program includes Occupation Specific Language Training (OSLT), Canadian workplace culture, career planning, job search, and mentorship opportunities.
4. Job Search Techniques for Architects
Job opportunities for architects continue to remain positive, however, the Canadian job market is very competitive. So you need to prepare and understand job search steps to gain employment.
You must look for jobs in the region where you will settle. Therefore, take your time to research job requirements in that region and develop a plan for finding work. There are many ways to search for architect jobs in Canada:
- Broaden your search and include alternative careers and sectors such as design and construction.
- Seek out a mentor in the architectural sector – for example, a retired architect – who would give you valuable insights and advice and probably introduce you to their professional network.
- Join business-related job-finding or networking clubs through immigrant-serving agencies.
- Attend industry job fairs and regularly check the employment sections of your local newspapers.
- Check out college and university job board as well as association job boards.
Immigrant Settlement Agencies
Most settlement agencies offer help to find jobs, update your resume, write cover letters, and prepare for job interviews. Read more about Services in Canada to Help Newcomers Settle.
Resume Writing for Architect Jobs in Canada
Job hunting never really gets easier, even more for architects, who need to do so much more than simply just a resume (i.e. portfolios and work samples).
When writing your architect resume, be sure to highlight your relevant educational qualifications and specialization. There are many fields in architecture (NOC 2151) such as landscape architect, infrastructure architect, system architect, etc. and each of the different types has its own specifications in terms of job responsibilities and educational qualifications. Therefore, when writing your resume, be sure to tailor it for the job profile of the position that you apply for.
Find out more about writing your resume: Types of Resumes that are Common in Canada.
If you take a few things into consideration when looking for architect jobs in Canada, putting together an impressive resume package should be relatively easy:
Targeted and Personalized
It is critical that you leverage your social and professional networks. In your cover letter, be sure to mention any contacts you have within the organization or the names of professors or consultants who have referred you.
In this part, avoid writing that your goal is to “gain meaningful employment in the field of architecture”. You might as well simply say that your goal is to get a job. Instead, consider writing something like your goal is to “advance beyond your current position and earn the respect of your peers”. See how much more information someone can infer about you just by this minor change?
Your Role in Projects
Work experience in terms of jobs or individual projects plays a crucial role when applying for a position.
Mention the complete list of your job history specifying relevant responsibilities and activities performed. Describe all the projects you have handled individually or under supervision.
Be specific about your project involvements and your role as a team member. Give a brief description of the project, including name/location/scale, and the phases in which you contributed and deliverables you produced or to which you contributed.
If you wish to add more power to your resume, you can add photographs of your projects. This will help potential employers review your resume in a more effective manner.
Resume Design: Simple and Clean
Be aware of font size and spacing, making sure the text is easily legible. Take cues from your favourite design publications or branding consultancy websites. They are great resources for examples of clear and concise messaging.
List all of your relevant accomplishments, award, honours, and milestones to add credibility to your resume.
Lastly, architecture is an aesthetic profession in which attention is paid to the grand gesture, as well as to the smallest of details. So, be rigorous in your editing and make sure to proofread more than once for grammar and spelling mistakes.
Eight Tips to Write a Canadian Style Resume
Cover Letter Format that Canadian Employers Notice
Whether you are looking for your first job in Canada, moving from your first job to your second, or just seeking career advancement, you will need to hone your interviewing skills.
Here are a few questions that you can expect to hear that could make or break your interview. Preparing for them well may set you apart from the other candidates.
Tell Me About Yourself?
“Oh, where to begin?!” Hopefully, this isn’t your immediate thought! The key to answering this question is to be succinct; no more than a minute at most. A helpful guideline is to summarize your education and work experience and how it relates to the job that you are interviewing for.
Interviewers will sometimes ask this question as a way to make you feel at ease. However, it’s important to simply stick to the basics and move to the next question.
What Do You Know About the Company?
Before showing up for the interview, you should have a general idea of the work the company has done and the areas of expertise it specializes in. Speak of a few projects that are particularly of interest to you. Your answer is a way to demonstrate your understanding of the firm and where they are heading.
Why Do You Want to Work for Us?
A good response to this question (and most other questions) will depend on how well you have researched the company and prepared your answers. You can answer in terms of what you feel the company may need from a new employee and how you may fit into that role.
You could say that the firm is working on certain typologies that you would like to be involved with or that the company is using principles or techniques that you have a great interest in. For example, if the firm is doing innovative work with community housing, you could emphasize your interest and experience in this area.
Why Should We Hire You?
This is where you highlight your skills and talk yourself up. Be confident when answering this question. Mention your consistent performance and highlight specific aspects of your resume. Say that your skills and interests, combined with your history of results, make you a valuable candidate.
Whats Do You Value in a Job or Company?
Try to think about the various facets of growth that the company may offer. Talk about the advancement that you wish to achieve within the firm and the acknowledgement you would like to receive for your contributions. Concentrate your answer towards the opportunity and away from the security that a job offers.
What are some of the Important Trends in Architecture that Interest You?
Be prepared with two or three trends that interest you in today’s architectural climate. You might consider technological advances, policy concerns, or how architecture is reacting to global demands as you think about the relevant issues.
Networking is a vital activity to get job leads, advice and information about a particular firm, and meet others to expand your network. As many job vacancies are not advertised, you must make connections with practicing architects and others in your field.
Good places to network include conferences, association events, and industry get-togethers to meet people, build relationships, and share information.
LinkedIn is another important tool for networking. It is great to reconnect with your former colleagues and employers, search for companies and jobs, and get introductions and recommendations.
You can also join some related professional groups. But remember, that you have to allow time to cultivate and grow the ties you establish through networking. Nothing will happen overnight and you need to be patient.
An informational interview is a brief (20–30-minute) meeting that you schedule with a person who is currently working in your target field and geographic location to learn more about that particular sector. You should not try to get a job during an informational interview but rather find out whether or not a particular position or industry might be a good fit for your interests and your personality.
An informational interview with a contact from your network can be a great source for career information. In addition to gathering information about the industry, you also get the benefit of hearing first-hand experiences from a professional working in the field.
5. Architect Associations in Canada
The associations listed below provide additional information about licensure and certification and offer professional development, education, and networking opportunities.
Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC)
Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB)
Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA)
Provincial Regulatory Bodies
Alberta Association of Architects (AAA)
Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC)
Manitoba Association of Architects (MAA)
Architects’ Association of New Brunswick (AANB)
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland Association of Architects (NAA)
Northwest Territories Association of Architects
Nova Scotia Association of Architects (NSAA)
Ontario Association of Architects (OAA)
Prince Edward Island
Architects Association of Prince Edward Island (AAPEI)
Ordre des architectes du Québec (OAQ)
Saskatchewan Association of Architects (SAA)
Professional immigrant networks are organized, volunteer-run networks created by and for immigrant professionals that seek to:
- create a forum to contribute to and enrich their respective communities
- provide opportunities for their members to find meaningful employment and achieve their professional goals.
Activities include networking events, mentoring, information sessions, professional development such as workshops, training and other events.
isans: Immigrant Services of Nova Scotia: helps newcomer professionals with their full economic and social integration in the province of Nova Scotia.Ontario
Professional Immigrant Networks (TRIEC).