Step 2:  Assess Your Communication Skills

Map of Canada

What is your language level?

If you were trained outside of Canada, the regulator or professional association may ask you to prove your proficiency in English when you apply for a license to practice in Canada.  Levels are set in four categories: speaking, writing, reading and listening.  Note that the test required may be different than the one you need for immigration purposes.  Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses the IELTs General test for immigration. Regulators and professional associations demand the IELTs Academic level.

You cannot work in the profession until you meet all the requirements for licensure including language skills.  If you do not meet the language level in each category, you cannot proceed through the licensure process until you have improved your language ability and passed the test successfully.

Canadian Language Benchmarks

The Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks’ (CLB) website provides detailed information about the national standards for English and French language proficiency for adult immigrants and those who are thinking about immigrating to Canada.

Most regulators do not use the CLB tests but the site offers great information about the testing process.  If you realize that your skills need improvement, begin language training before your immigrate.  You can study to improve your level after you arrive in Canada, but it can be a slow and expensive process if you cannot earn a living while you do so.

Test yourself in reading and listening at the Canadian Language Benchmarks Online Self Assessment  website. The results are unofficial and confidential to you but they may help you determine your level in these two skills.

Complete the practice tests even if you are confident that you have the necessary language skill levels.  You may not be familiar with this type of language test.  Practice will help you to improve your confidence so that you will be successful when you are asked to prove your ability by the regulator or professional association.

Click here for more information. 

Click here to take a test. 

Other language proficiency tests
Tests – IELTS, CELBAN, TEF, CanTEST, TESTCan, TOEL IBT and others

A number of different language proficiency tests are used in Canada. Some regulators favour one over another. 

In general, most regulators require that you score in a certain range.

Check the regulator’s website where you wish to apply for licensure to learn which test you will be asked to take. A complete list of regulators is found in Step 4.

These tests are recognized by many regulators in Canada.

Click here to read about score requirements.

IELTS Academic

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a widely approved test of English language proficiency in Canada for many professions and educational institutions. The site offers information about training venues, testing venues, materials and costs. Note that there are two levels of tests, the general and academic levels.   Regulators and professional associations require the academic level.

Click here for more information. 


The Canadian English Language Benchmark Assessment for Nurses (CELBAN) is a profession-specific language test and is recognized as proof of language proficiency by Canadian nursing regulators.  The site offers information about courses and programs as well as a self assessment test.

Click here for more information. 


Le Test d’evaluation de Francaise assesses French language proficiency on a 7 level scale.  It is recognized as a valid test by IRCC and  is used by a number of regulators.

Click here for more information

Additional information about proficiency levels by profession