Yrene lives in Lumby British Columbia, Canada, and is the founder of BackcountryCanadaTravel.com. She was born in Switzerland, lived and worked on different continents and has travelled the world. Yes, that's me, an Entrepreneur, wilderness nut and animal lover. I write about things I love. Mostely.
8 Tips For Finding A Job and Working in Canada
A Guide To Working In Canada
Canada is a gap year hot spot with wild landscapes, fascinating wildlife, and its multicultural scene, making it a great country to explore.
On top of that, Canada ranked as the second-best country in the world for 2018, just after Switzerland, a study published by the U.S. News. That makes it even easier to choose Canada as your gap year destination.
However, Canada is an expensive place to live in and to travel. The countries enormous size makes you rely on long-distance buses and expensive domestic flights to get around. For this reason, some travellers decide to buy a car when they arrive. You will also find out quickly that food, drinks and accommodation are expensive, and even more so in places like Vancouver and Toronto. Whether you’re a newbie traveller on a gap year or a returning old timer, you might come to Canada with the intention of working in Canada to support your travels.
Finding work while you travel requires a good attitude and a flexible mind.
Don’t expect to find a good paying job if you’re on a working holiday visa, also known as International Experience Canada, IEC visa. Come down the high ladder; don’t feel that you’re too good for certain jobs.
Working in Canada is a great way to meet people from all walks of life. However, it will be a culture shock when you realize that it’s nothing like at home.
The working holiday visa gives you the opportunity to get temporary work for topping up your travel funds, it’s not meant to cover the cost of your trip. This is the reason you are required to bring $2,500 with you when you arrive in Canada. If you arrive with less money you might end up broke and have to go home early.
Canada gives you an open work permit on WHV, which means that you can stay with one employer for the whole duration of your visa
Paper Work At Arrival
Before you start working in Canada, open up a Canadian bank account and apply for the social insurance number (SIN). This saves you hassles down the road. A SIN is a number issued in Canada to administer various government programs. Your employer will ask for it when you start work.
To apply for your SIN visit your nearest Service Canada office on arrival. You will need to bring your passport and work permit and they will also ask you about a permanent Canadian address. If you don’t have one yet, use the address of the hostel you’re staying at, work address or the address of a friend. You will receive your SIN on the same day. Keep it in a safe place; don’t lose it. The SIN will expire on the day your visa expires.
Minimum Wage In Canada
Many Canadians work for minimum wage at a couple of different jobs and still struggle to pay their bills. There is a good chance, that you will get paid the minimum as well. The minimum wage levels vary in all the different Canadian provinces and territories; check out the Retail Council of Canada Website for the current numbers.
Now that we have taken care of the basics, here are some tips to help you find work in Canada.
1. Take Advantage Of Canadian Hostels
There is a good chance that you will book into a backpacker’s hostel when you arrive in Canada. Hostels are a source for excellent information when you’re looking for work. Most hostels have a notice board with job opportunities on display and hostel staff can point you in the right direction. Hostels are also where you meet fellow travellers who might share their job hunting experience with you.
Even hostels themselves sometimes need help and offer free accommodation and a little spending money in exchange for work. Check out the Canadian Hostel Job Websites:
2. Certification Check
Canada is fond of certifications and safety regulations in the workforce.
If you are planning on working behind a bar or restaurant where alcohol is being served, you’ll need the Serving it Right certification.
For working in a kitchen or any food service industry in British Columbia, you might need a Food Safe certification which is a one day course.
An occupational first aid certificate will give you a big advantage if you are looking for work in the adventure tourism industry, in the mines or oilfields. It’s a mandatory requirement for most jobs.
Working at construction sites and other labour jobs require additional “safety tickets” like Fall Protection, Worksite safety, and many others. All provinces and territories have their own requirements, therefore the same certifications may not be valid in a different part of Canada. The certifications needed depends on the type of job you’re applying for and the company. Most courses can be done online and are offered by specialised Online Training Centres.
3. Get Out Of The Big Cities
I’m amazed that many people get stuck in the big cities and run out of money before they have seen any of the Canadian backcountry. City life is expensive, not only for travellers from abroad. Before you leave home, do your research and check out smaller towns where you might find work.
In smaller towns you not only will save money, but you also will meet Canadian country people and learn about the Canadian way of life. City life is not what Canada is all about. Honestly, to live in a city you don’t need to come to Canada; cities are similar all around the world.
4. Check Out Farms and Ranches
It is much harder to find a paid job on a farm than you might think. Many places rely on volunteer workers. If you’re dreaming about a ranch job in Canada where you can spend your time riding horses, I wish you good luck.
You have a better chance of finding a job at one of the many orchards in British Columbia. Most seasonal jobs offered at orchards are hard work; kneeling, crouching and lifting heavy boxes for minimum wage. Make sure you get all the details of a job before accepting it.
Links for you to check out:
5. Apply At Canadian Ski Resort
Canadian Ski resorts depend on seasonal workers from overseas. What could be better working at a ski resort and save up some cash during the long Canadian winter? Once the season closes you will be ready to hit the road and explore Canada during its best time of year. Most of the ski resorts have a job section on their website where you can apply.
- Whistler Blackcomb, Whistler, BC
- Big White, Kelowna, BC
- Silver Star Mountain Resort, Vernon, BC
- Red Mountain Resort, Rossland, BC
- Lake Louise Mountain Resort, Banff National Park, Alberta
- Marmot Basin, Jasper, Alberta
For a full list of Canadian Ski Resorts click HERE.
6. Don’t Be Fussy – Lower Your Expectations
Don’t expect that you will land the perfect job in Canada. Be flexible and open-minded and take whatever opportunity comes along. Many of the jobs are short-term and often good fun, once you change your attitude and get over the social awkwardness. Look at jobs you haven’t considered before like labouring, cleaning jobs, night shifts, or work in a warehouse.
7. Job Hunting
Job hunting in Canada can be hard work; don’t let rejections put you off. Have a resume ready when you arrive. A Canadian resume doesn’t include a picture, age or marital status.
If you’re in a smaller town it’s quite common to walk into a store or restaurant with your resume in hand, asking for work.
Don’t come to Canada for the money, come for the experience. And make sure to practice some Canadian slang before you arrive.
8. Consider Volunteering as an option
Instead of working in Canada for a wage, consider doing volunteer work. Although you won’t get paid for your hard work, in exchange you will get free accommodation and food at most places. It is a great way to meeting local people and it’s a rewarding experience.
Get Your Canadian Tax Refund
If you are working in Canada, you pay between 15 and 29 % income tax, which gets taken off your wage. The good news is that you may be able to get some or your money back through the Canadian tax refund. Find out more here.
Get Travel Insurance
If you’re participating in the Canadian Working Holiday Visa program (IEC), you will need to prove of insurance for the full duration of your work permit. World Nomads is a travel insurance for independent travellers and worth checking out.
- Work and Travel Canada – The Ultimate Guide
- Visas requirements for Canada
- Canada Facts You Need To Know
- Travel Resources
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