You, like many healthcare professionals, may be challenged to find work in your profession when you first arrive in Canada.  The healthcare job market is very competitive and you must hold a valid license to practise in a regulated profession before you can work. The application process to assess your credentials, work experience and language proficiency can be expensive and lengthy.  It is especially so if you require additional language training or academic upgrading.  Consider a related career or “career option”.

If you decide that your skills do not align with your primary career of choice, the Health Career Options Guide provides information about career alternatives.

These career options may allow you to find meaningful employment in Canada.

*Note: Healthcare professions are not static.  They evolve as new technology, research findings and care models affect the delivery of healthcare.  The scope of practice of each professional is subject to change.  Changes may demand further education, certification and possible licensure for assistive levels.  Users of this guide should know that the qualifications listed for some of these career options may change.

Who are Physiotherapists and what do they do?

Physiotherapists are members of a regulated profession in Canada and must hold a license to practise their profession.  They assess their clients before planning and carrying out individually designed treatment programs to maintain, improve or restore physical functioning, alleviate pain and prevent physical dysfunction. Physiotherapists work in hospitals, clinics, industry, sports organizations, rehabilitation centres and extended care facilities, or they may work in private practice.  They may choose to specialize in a particular field of physiotherapy such as neurology, oncology, rheumatology, orthopedics, obstetrics, pediatrics, geriatrics, the treatment of patients with cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary disorders, burns or sports injuries or the field of ergonomics.

What are the minimum or “entry to practice” requirements for this profession in Canada?

Canadian-educated physiotherapists must have completed a 2 year Master of Science in Physiotherapy degree, which includes clinical practice placements, before they can attempt the national physiotherapy competency exam administered by the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy regulators. Successful candidates, then, apply for licensure in the province where they wish to work.

Continuing education ensures professional competency and some physiotherapists elect to complete further study or training at the post graduate/doctorate level.

Can I work if I was trained outside of Canada?

Before you can work, your credentials, work experience and English or French language ability will be assessed to determine whether your skills match those required to work in Canada. The Canadian Alliance of PT Regulators  is the credentialing authority for all national regulators. Visit their site for a detailed explanation of the procedure you should follow. Note that fees apply to have credentials assessed and the process can be lengthy.

Not every applicant is successful in the credentialing and examinations processes. The success rates may vary for a number of reasons including differences in clinical practice or education in the applicants’ country of origin, and/or their English or French language ability. The Alliance’s country profiles site offers the success rates by country of written and clinical examination candidates. You may find this information helpful.

Can I plan for my professional life in Canada before I arrive?

Before you decide to come, view the Self Assessment Readiness Tool™ for Physiotherapists to compare your knowledge and skills against those required to work in this field. The tool offers case scenarios, examples of daily practice, a self- assessment test against the national competencies and information about the registration process. The assistive level tool, Self Assessment Readiness Tool™ for Physiotherapist Assistants may also be of interest to you. You do not need a license for employment as a physiotherapist assistant.

The Job Search Process in Canada: Ten Steps Tool describes the skills and processes you will need to find a job.  It describes language assessment, resume writing, interview skills, and the role of volunteering and finding a mentor.

Settlement agencies in Canada provide many services for newcomers.  These include both pre-arrival and post arrival information about language assessment and classes, career preparation, job search and other general information.  Click here to find a settlement agency in the area where you plan to settle.

What should I do if I can’t find work in my field?  Do I have options?

Yes, you have many options. The job market fluctuates for many professions so the demand for trained specialists is never constant. Many Canadians, who were trained for one career, may work in a number of related fields before they retire. For example, a physician may write healthcare policy, a nurse may work as a private healthcare consultant or an occupational therapist may translate health related documents as a fulltime career. They transfer their skills and experiences from one career to another. A career option, or an “alternative career” allows you to focus your skills, abilities and work experiences in a different direction. Ideally, you might choose a new career with fewer restrictions such as one that does not require a license, certification or extensive retraining.

If your skills and abilities do not match the Canadian standards, consider one of the following career options. You can work in this new field temporarily while you upgrade your education or language skills, or longer if the work is satisfying to you. These options were identified through consultation with regulators, the professional association, and/or educators and profession experts. They recognize many of the skills and abilities you already have.

Consider one or more of these options.  Click on each title to open a career fact sheet.
References and links.