In this article, we will talk about the civil engineering profession and help you understand how to validate your education and experience to work as a Professional Civil Engineer in Canada. It is important to mention that anyone who is not a permanent resident or Canadian citizen, must have a work permit to be able to work in the country legally.
Canada’s population growth observed over the past years, implies a constant demand for investment in infrastructure, for both urban and remote areas of the country. For this reason, there are various opportunities for Civil Engineers in Canada. A Professional Civil Engineer has an average salary of CAD$ 60 000/year, with some experienced professionals earning around CAD$100 000/year.
In Canada, occupations can fall into two types: non-regulated and regulated. For non-regulated occupations, a licence or certification is not required, like, for example, in most IT occupations. For regulated occupations, a licence or certification is required to work, and in this case, the licence or certification will be issued by the provincial or territorial regulatory authority responsible for the occupation. Most engineering and healthcare occupations are regulated, among many others.
Since civil engineering is a regulated occupation in Canada, to work as a civil engineer, professionals will need to get their education and experience assessed by the engineer regulator in the province or territory they intend to work. Professionals can only use the title of Professional Engineer (P. Eng.),when they have been licensed by one of the twelve provincial or territorial engineer regulators.
Civil engineers can work as , even if they have not been fully licensed by a regulator yet, as long as they are supervised by a licensed engineer, who takes professional responsibility for the work.
The status of engineer-in-training (known in Quebec as Candidate to the Engineering Profession) indicates that some requirements of the licensing process has been completed. Engineers-in-training will work toward gaining the work experience needed to become a licensed engineer. On the other hand, licensed engineers can practise professional civil engineering and will take full responsibility for their own work. There is no need to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to become a licensed engineer. However, the immigration status may affect the type of licence obtained (e.g. professional engineer or limited licence engineer).
The national organization Engineers Canada oversees all the provincial and territorial associations that regulate the practice of all categories of engineering in Canada. It ensures that the standards of engineering education, professional qualifications and professional practice are met. However, each provincial or territorial regulator has its own processes and requirements for licensing professionals.
Provincial and Territorial Engineer Regulators
Below is a list of each associations’ websites in Canada:
● Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia (EGBC)
● Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO)
● Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA)
● Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba (APEGM)
● Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ)
● Engineers and Geoscientists New Brunswick (APEGNB)
● Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS)
● Engineers Nova Scotia
● Engineers PEI
● Engineers Yukon
● Northwest Territories and Nunavut Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists (NAPEG)
● Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador (PEGNL)
In general, to become a licensed civil engineer in Canada, regulators will require that professionals must meet these five requirements when applying for a licence (not necessary in this order):
● Academic: have obtained an engineering education
● Work experience: have supervised work experience that demonstrates ability to apply engineering knowledge
● Language: can communicate in at least one of Canada’s two official languages (English or French)
● Good character: have demonstrated good character in their conduct
● Professionalism and Ethics: have passed the National Professional Practice Examination (NPPE)
Each regulator will assess all the academic documents to determine if the applicant needs to complete any additional courses or take any examinations. Depending on the regulator, all documents must be sent directly from the educational institution to the regulator. If the academic documents are not in English or French, some regulators may require a certified translation. They can also require an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) to be done. An ECA is used to verify that a foreign degree, diploma, or certificate is valid and equivalent to a Canadian one.
These are some of the organizations in Canada, where you can get an ECA:
● Comparative Education Service: University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies
● International Credential Assessment Service of Canada
● World Education Services
● International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS)
● International Credential Evaluation Service
Some universities in Canada offer bridging programs to assist internationally educated engineers meet the academic requirements for the licensing process.
Work Experience Assessment
Professionals will be required to demonstrate that they have applied their engineer education through engineering work for a specified amount of time. In most provinces and territories, a minimum of 4 years of experienceis required, being one of them in the Canadian environment.
Each regulator has their own process to assess the work experience. This may require a “work experience record” to be completed, and it will normally include providing previous employer's information, positions held and a description of engineering works done. The format that the record will be delivered may be through interviews, detailed references or examinations.
Some regulators may also ask for a (Competency-based Assessment (CBA) – In this assessment, professionals will have the chance to demonstrate that they qualify for licensing through examples of their work history.
Applicants will need to prove they are able to communicate in English or French. The language required depends on the province or territory applicants plan to work. In Quebec, French is required, whereas in New Brunswick, either English or French is acceptable. In all other provinces or territories, English is required. Each regulator uses a variety of methods to assess language competency. They can have their own assessment process or they can require official examinations like TOEFL or IELTS.
Good Character Assessment
Professionals will need to provide evidence that indicates they are a person of good character and reputation. Regulators may assess these evidences through questions on the application form, direct contact during the application process and/or contacting references provided by the applicant. According to the regulator's guidelines, there are six common traits they will observe in this assessment: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.
Professionalism and Ethics Assessment
Applicants will need to complete the National Professional Practice Examination (NPPE). This exam tests the applicant's knowledge in ethics and Canadian laws for engineering. The registration for the NPPE is done through each provincial or territorial regulator. Exams can be administered online or in-person, and in some cases, it may even be possible to write the exam from outside Canada. Materials to study for this exam can be found on each regulator website.
Engineers Canada, with funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, has developed the engineerhere.ca website to provide a single source of information to international engineering graduates looking to become licensed engineers in Canada. This website has information on a range of topics such as getting licensed, finding the right employment and fitting into the Canadian engineering profession.
By Janayna Sercheli
If you wish to immigrate to Canada as a Civil Engineer, contact Klaps Immigration Consulting for more information on immigration processes.