IT Employment & Job Requirements in Canada
The job requirements for many IT occupations usually require a university degree along with related employment experience in a specific area of IT expertise. Most information and communications technology occupations are non-regulated in Canada. However, employers usually require a professional IT certification. To practice as a professional engineer (P.Eng.) (i.e. software engineer – NOC code 21231 or computer engineer – NOC code 21311), you require a license from a provincial or territorial professional engineering association.
Before You Move to Canada
To improve your chances of finding an IT job in Canada, there are steps that you can take even before you arrive:
- Improve your English or French language skills (depending on your destination province). You will need to prove your language competency or be tested.
- Take language classes while you’re in your home country and continue them when you arrive in Canada.
- Understand how your IT occupation is practised in Canada and familiarize yourself with the laws and legislation that govern it in the province where you will settle.
- Know the name of your job in Canada and learn about the specific IT job requirements in Canada for your job title.
- Check our resources available from the Information and Communications Technology Council to develop your job search plan.
- Research Canadian companies and join IT groups on LinkedIn to learn about the industry in Canada.
A Guide for IT Jobs in Canada
Best Cities for Software Engineer Jobs & Salaries in Canada
1. Understanding IT Job Requirements in Canada
The information and technology (IT) sector is a major employer in Canada and contributes about $150 billion a year to Canada’s economy. There are more than 32,000 IT firms across the country, with over 600,000 people working in IT occupations.
It is important for you to have a general overview of how your international qualifications may be viewed in Canada. As well, it’s important to have a general sense of the Canadian labour market and workplace culture.
2. Employment for IT Professionals in Canada
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) professionals work in a variety of occupations. Some of these occupations are regulated, while others may require certification or licensing, or a combination of education and work experience, but no certification or licensing.
The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is Canada’s reference for occupations. The NOC code provides standard definitions of the occupation. For job seekers, you can also learn about other titles that are commonly used for your NOC code. This can be helpful when applying for jobs in Canada. The NOC code also outlines the IT job requirements in Canada for specific IT occupations.
The Canadian IT sector includes the following NOC groups:
Computer and Information Systems Managers:
NOC code 20012
- Computer and Information Systems Managers
- Systems Development Manager
IT Job Requirements:
A bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science, business administration, commerce or engineering is usually required. Employers usually require several years of experience in systems analysis, data administration, software engineering, network design or computer program, including supervisory experience.
NOC code 21220
- Informatics Security Analyst
- Informatics Security Consultant
- Systems Security Analyst.
IT Job Requirements:
A bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer security, computer systems engineering, information systems or completion of a college program in information technology, network administration or other related computer science program. Some employers may require certification or training that is provided by software vendors.
Business Systems Specialists:
NOC code 21221
- Information Systems Business Analyst
- Information Technology (IT) Business Analyst
- Business Systems Consultant.
IT Job Requirements:
A bachelor’s degree in computer science, business administration, information systems or a related discipline or completion of a college program in computer science. Some employers may require certification or training by software vendors.
Information Systems Specialists:
NOC code 21222
- Information Systems Quality Assurance (QA) Analyst
IT Job Requirements:
A bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer systems engineering, software engineering, business administration or a related discipline, or computer science at the college level. Employers usually require computer science experience to meet IT job requirements in Canada. Some employers may require certification such as Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) or another IT designation.
Database Analysts and Data Administrators:
NOC code 21223
- Database Administrator (DBA)
- Technical Architect – Database.
IT Job Requirements:
A bachelor’s degree or college program in computer science, computer engineering, or mathematics. Employers usually require computer programming and related experience to meet IT job requirements in Canada.
Software Engineers and Designers:
NOC code 21231
- Cloud Operations Engineer
- Telecommunication software engineer.
IT Job Requirements:
A bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer systems engineering, software engineering or mathematics, or completion of a college program in computer science. Some employers may require a master’s or doctoral degree in a related field.
In addition, software engineers belong to a regulated profession in Canada. Therefore, they require a license from a provincial or territorial association of professional engineers to practise as a Professional Engineer (P. Eng.). Engineers are eligible for registration upon graduation from an accredited engineering program, three to four years of supervised work experience in engineering, and passing a professional practice exam.
NOC code 21311
- Computer Hardware Engineer
- Hardware Development Engineer
- Network Infrastructure Engineer
- Wireless Communications Network Engineer.
IT Job Requirements:
A bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, electrical or electronics engineering, engineering physics or computer science. A master’s or doctoral degree in a related engineering discipline may be required.
Computer engineers must have a license from a provincial or territorial association of professional engineers to approve engineering drawings and reports and to practise as a Professional Engineer (P. Eng.). Engineers are eligible for registration upon graduation from an accredited engineering program, three to four years of supervised work experience in engineering, and passing a professional practice exam.
User Support Technicians
NOC code 22221
- Client Support Agent – Technical Support
- Technical Support Analyst
IT Job Requirements:
Completion of a college program in computer science, computer programming or network administration. College or other courses in computer programming or network administration. Some employers may require certificates or training provided by software vendors to meet IT job requirements in Canada.
Credentials Recognition to Meet IT Job Requirements in Canada
Several agencies assess international education credentials to help newcomers to Canada access the education and employment they need. Most ICT occupations are non-regulated in Canada. However, if you intend to practice as an engineer, it is important to know that it is provincially regulated. You will need to have formal proof of your credentials assessed for Canadian equivalency. To avoid wasting valuable time and money, make sure you first contact the relevant regulatory organization to find out which credential assessment agency you should use.
The same rule applies if you are applying to college or university to upgrade your skills. First, contact the school to find out what steps to take, and the credential assessment agency you should use.
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 pursue further education. Use your international credentials and experience to gain credit or course exemptions. You may be able to get advanced standing, transfer some of your credits and benefit from prior learning assessment options. This will allow you to complete your program more quickly, without wasting money and repeating the education you already have.
Credentials Assessment Services
World Education Services (WES) – Ontario
International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS) – Alberta
The International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES) – British Columbia
To find more assessment services here.
You can find IT jobs in most Canadian cities, however, the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa offer the highest concentration of IT jobs. Other cities to consider for IT jobs include Montreal and Vancouver. Montreal is the heart of the gaming industry in Canada and Vancouver has many companies in the commercial/entertainment development sector. If you plan to work in Montreal, you need to have French language skills as a job requirement.
According to Industry Canada about 44,000 companies operate in the Canadian IT sector. 91% of these companies are in the software and computer services industries, 4% are in the IT wholesaling industries, and 2% are in manufacturing.
The Canadian IT companies employ around 555,978 employees and generate about 168 billion dollars. As well, a large number of people work in the information technology departments of Canadian companies that use technology such as banking, insurance, healthcare and retail. You can learn about Canadian companies that hire recent immigrants by visiting Canada’s Best Diversity Employers website. These employers offer interesting programs to assist new Canadians adapt to a new workplace and life in Canada.
IT Sector Reports
ICTC – Market Outlook Report 2017 – 2021
The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) reports that technological changes and globalization are among some of the factors driving the demand for skilled digital talent. The report predicts that by 2021 around 216,000 critical digital talent positions will need to be filled. In addition, the number of youth entering the ICT workforce is a small fraction of the number of older workers who are nearing retirement.
Fueling the talent supply is immigrant employment in ICT. Supply from the immigration stream has grown at a rate of 6.7% from 2009 – to 2016 while talent born in Canada accounted for only 0.7%. This means Canada will have to access Internationally Educated Professionals to transform and grow technology industries.
Read the full report here.
3. Skills Upgrading to Meet IT Job Requirements
You may need to upgrade your skills, especially in regards to your soft skills to meet IT job requirements in Canada. Having strong skills in one or both of Canada’s official languages – English or French –is important for career success in Canada. Whether you choose to focus on improving English or French will depend on which of the two languages most people speak in the area where you live.
You may be eligible for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program. Or, you can find other free or affordable classes in English as a Second Language (ESL) or French as a Second Language (FSL) classes through local school boards or settlement agencies.
Upgrading Your Language Skills
There are even Job-specific language training programs to teach you professional terminology. And, if you’re in Ontario there is Occupation Specific Language Training (OSLT).
Canadian employers look for friendly and assertive professionals with strong communication skills. They also look for people who will fit into their workplace culture and will become leaders over time. In the IT field, they expect employees to have a strong understanding of the business in addition to the technical aspects of the job. They encourage employees to upgrade their existing skills and acquire new skills.
Continuing Your Education in Canada
Some companies even provide financial support to employees for professional development. Because IT technology changes so rapidly, you need to upgrade your skills regularly to stay relevant and competitive in your field.
Colleges and universities offer many IT continuing education courses. Taking these courses is a good way to upgrade your skills. And, often these courses are offered after business hours which makes them easy to attend after your workday.
If you want to make a career change or enhance your career options, you may be interested in pursuing further education in Canada. Click here for links to Canadian Universities and Colleges.
Bridging Programs to Help IT Professionals Meet Job Requirements in Canada
Bridging programs are a good way to transition your international experience to the Canadian workplace. Many colleges, universities and immigrant-serving agencies offer IT bridging programs, and you may be eligible. Here are some programs to consider:
University of Winnipeg – English for Specific Purposes
The program combines language and workplace culture training, and a bridge-to-work component. The goal is to help participants obtain IT employment that matches their skills, knowledge, and experience.
An additional component of the program is the WorkIT program offered by the Information and Communication Technologies Association of Manitoba.
GO Talent connects employers to Internationally Educated Professionals (IEPs) who still live in their country of origin and are in the process of coming to Canada.
York University – Bridging Program for Internationally Educated Professionals (IEPs)
This program works with small and large local businesses, not-for-profits, professional associations and accreditation bodies. It helps IEPs to transition into jobs that match their education, credentials and experience.
ACCES Employment – Information Technology Connections
This program provides IEPs with occupation-specific communications training and mentoring opportunities.
Humber College Bridging Program .NET Developer
This successful program with 98% of graduates securing jobs in their field within six months of graduating. It is a bridging program for internationally trained computer programmers. This program provides participants with the advanced concepts, skills and knowledge required to work as .NET Solution Developers.
Humber College – IT Infrastructure Bridging Program
This bridging program is for internationally trained immigrants with education and experience in information technology, computer science or engineering (computer, electronics or electrical). You’ll learn advanced concepts and gain skills in computer networking, information security, installation and configuration of servers in a virtual environment with an emphasis on operating systems. Graduates from this program work as Systems Analysts, IT/Network Administrators, Network Analysts, and more.
Humber College – Occupation-Specific Language Training – Technology
This free technology training course provides immigrants with the workplace culture and language skills to communicate effectively on the job. OSLT Technology is an intensive program for immigrant professionals who have the training and/or experience as Engineers, IT Specialists, or Architects from outside Canada. This program provides the technical work-related training required to enter your profession in Canada. All Humber OSLT graduates earn a certificate.
Navigating the Canadian IT Workplace
This program is for internationally educated Information and Communications Technology (ICT) professionals in the Ottawa area. It offers technical training and full-time professional work placements.
Bredin Centre for Learning
Centre for Skilled and Internationally Trained Professionals
A no-cost program that helps internationally trained professionals understand and move through the licensure and credential process in Canada. Those who are not part of a regulated profession will be provided with up-to-date information about their profession. Bredin staff will support IEPs through the process and help them find jobs that directly relate to their education.
4. Job Search Techniques for IT Professionals
The Canadian job market is very competitive, and you’ll need to prepare and understand each of the job search steps.
You may need some help, especially since finding a job in Canada may be very different than in your home country. Fortunately, there are many settlement services to help you search for jobs, update your resume, write cover letters, and prepare for job interviews. Click the link to find immigrant services in your area.
There are many that you can search for IT jobs in Canada:
- Broaden your search and include other geographical areas, alternative careers and companies outside the sector, as a lot of them have IT departments or positions.
- Join job-finding or networking groups in the IT sector through settlement agencies.
- Attend career/job fairs, info sessions and conferences related to the IT sector.
- Seek out an IT mentor who could give you valuable advice and introduce you to their professional network.
Types of Resumes that are Common in Canada
Cover Letter Format that Canadian Employers Notice
Resume Writing Tips for IT Jobs in Canada
You should write your resume with prospective employers and hiring managers in mind. Your resume should show that you are able to participate in project planning activities with your team and as a group and be able to peer review your team members to help each other reach the end goal.
If you are a Software Developer, for example, your resume should show your ability to contribute to the design, development and release of software updates to a product that’s used by thousands of customers.
- Have a portfolio and include samples of your work.
- Highlight your technical skills and your teamwork, leadership, communications and business experience.
- Ask someone to review your resume and provide feedback.
Below are some examples of common phrases that your resume should include:
- Develop and analyze technical designs and requirements to meet functional specifications.
- Review programming code to ensure development standards are compatible with the software.
- Adapt to changing technology by learning and applying new methods to achieve organizational goals.
- Provide technical support to ensure the stability of networks and applications; diligently respond to user issues.
Interview Techniques for IT Jobs in Canada
IT professionals work in dozens of fields. Therefore, how you prepare for an IT job interview will depend in part on what type of position you are pursuing.
One way you can separate yourself from the pack is by creating a work portfolio. It expresses what you may not be able to put into words. In addition to taking your portfolio to the interview, you can send a link to the interviewer ahead of time. This way, they can review the portfolio and you can discuss it during the interview.
Informational Interviews Can Help You Learn More About IT Job Requirements in Canada
Reach out to people you might know who work in IT companies or other organizations that you’re interested in working. Ask them if they will be willing to connect you with someone in the company who works in your related field of expertise. Contact the individual and ask to meet with them at their convenience.
Connecting with people will expand your professional network, give you an insight into their company and help you understand IT job requirements in Canada.
You should not try to get a job during an informational interview but rather find out whether or not a particular position or employer is a good fit for your skills, experience and interests.
An information interview with a contact from your network can be a great source of career information. In addition to gaining information about the IT industry, you’ll also benefit from learning about their first-hand work experiences.
Networking is a key activity that can help you to find job leads, and gain insights into specific companies and the IT industry n Canada. Often, many job vacancies are not advertised, so, connecting with other IT professionals is a great way to discover jobs in what’s known as the “hidden job market”.
Ideal places to network include conferences, association events, and social mixers where you can meet people, build relationships and share information.
LinkedIn is another important tool for networking and it’s a great way to reconnect with former colleagues and employers, search for companies and jobs, and get helpful introductions to others in the field. As well, you can join related IT groups and engage in group discussions.
Note that it’s not appropriate to ask a networking contact for a job, but if they know of any job leads, they’ll likely share that information with you. Your network can be a great source to learn about IT jobs in Canada.
Remember, that you have to allow time to cultivate and grow the ties you establish through networking. You need to be patient because these relationships take time to grow.
5. IT Associations in Canada
These IT associations offer professional development, education, and networking opportunities.
ICTC – Information and Communications Technology Council: strives to create a strong, aware, prepared and better educated Canadian ICT industry and workforce.
CIPS – Canadian Information Processing Society: a non-profit professional association for IT practitioners. It offers networking opportunities, certification (I.S.P. and ITCP), accreditation of IT post-secondary programs, a niche IT job board and represents Canadian IT professionals in international forums.
CWTA – Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association: is the authority on wireless issues, developments and trends in Canada. It promotes the industry with a focus on the sector’s growth in Canada.
ITAC – Information Technology Association of Canada: Identify and lead on issues that affect the ICT industry.
CTIN – Canadian Technology Immigration Network: helps internationally-trained engineering technology professionals get their credentials recognized and find employment in Canada.
Professional Immigrant Networks
Professional immigrant networks are organized, volunteer-run member-based networks created by and for immigrants to:
- create a forum to contribute to and enrich their respective communities; and
- provide opportunities for their members to find meaningful employment and achieve their professional goals.
These networks offer mentoring, information sessions, professional development, workshops, speaker events, and connections to jobs.
isans: Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia: helps newcomer professionals integrate economically and socially in the Nova Scotia.
Alliance of Technology and Science Specialists of Toronto Inc. (ATSS): offers programs to help members gain Canadian experience and get jobs at their level.
Hispanotech.ca: brings together Hispanics in Canada’s technology markets, helps them enter the workforce and recognizes their contributions in the technology field.
For information, tools, free webinars, and more visit our Finding a Job in Canada resource page. Get the help you need to achieve your career goals in Canada!