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Considering a New Electrical Career Path For New Immigrant in Canada

Considering a New Electrical Career Path For New Immigrant in Canada

Hello all,
I need your suggestions for my dilemma.
In a couple of weeks, I will land in the Province of Saskatchewan Canada as a new PR immigrant (Saskatchewan is the provincial government that nominated me and made my immigration dream a reality. So morally and legally, that's where I have to go).
I have a bachelors degree in electrical engineering and couple of years of field work experience in my country. I have also obtained the EIT certification from apegs - a step towards the P.Eng certification.
However, while I believe I will eventually get a job with time as an engineer, I do not want to waste valuable time restricting myself to engineering because so far, my job search hasn't given much to be excited about regarding openings for EIT jobs.
In contrast, I see openings for electricians and apprentices practically everyday - with wages ranging from fair to awesome (at least by my estimation).
While I don't mind making the switch to become certified electrician, I am not sure I am prepared to sacrifice another 4 years of prerequisite apprenticeship before I can be certified as a journeyman.
So, I am wondering if there are waivers for folks like me with a degree and years of "engineering" experience to reduce the number of years for apprenticeship.
On the other hand, considering the fact that from my present EIT certification, I need just one year of Canadian "engineering" experience to take a shot at P.Eng. What are the odds of getting a job that'll qualify me to go for P.Eng

Thanks in advance for your contribution

RE: Considering a New Electrical Career Path For New Immigrant in Canada

Congratulations and best wishes- Canada is a great place to live, and Sask can be very friendly. You seem to have a practical, pragmatic attitude and that will serve you well in your transition.

Regrettably, Sask has really only three things going on at a large scale: oil sands/gas production, potash, and agriculture. All three are hurting at the moment. The days when they were hurting for bodies to fill jobs are gone, sadly, and since oil prices have been low for quite a while, I doubt they're coming back in the immediate future.

That doesn't mean you won't find work, but it does mean that finding an EIT job at the moment, and actually getting it, are both likely to be pretty hard to do.

I'm not aware of any electrician trade-related rules which give a waiver for apprenticeship to degreed engineers, but have met more than one degreed eng who was working as a journeyman electrician. The trades are frequently where foreign-trained engineers end up out of pure economic necessity, though you'll meet many of them driving taxis's no bed of roses, and many eng immigrants to Canada feel like they were lured with stories of shortages and then excluded from the market, and aren't all that happy as a result. Regrettably, they lack a key piece of information to understand their situation. Of people in Canada with engineering degrees, only 30% of them work in engineering or as engineering managers. Google "OSPE underemployment" and you'll find the report, with the census data which supports it. 33% of them work in jobs like those in the trades, where no university degree of any kind is required.

That's the reality in average terms. As they say, your mileage may vary- you may have some particular skills that make an employer want to overlook your lack of the required year of experience gained under the mentorship of a Canadian licensee, and they may hire you and provide you that opportunity. It does work that way for thousands of engineering immigrants to Canada yearly- they do make the successful transition into the profession. But regrettably, a P.Eng license is neither really needed to get a job as an engineer, nor any guarantee of getting a job if you've got the license.

RE: Considering a New Electrical Career Path For New Immigrant in Canada

The market for EITs here is atrocious at the moment. But I'm sure if you can work as an apprentice electrician for a while it will help the resume.

RE: Considering a New Electrical Career Path For New Immigrant in Canada

Thanks for that well-informed response moltenmetal.
I certainly am not under any illusion of bed of roses in Canada. I am fully aware of the challenging times over there.
But can you please enlighten me a bit more on the issue of skills that you talked about.
I know soft skills are crucial (like communication and relationship), but what hard/technical skill do you think will be advantageous? I consider myself a good user of computer. I am pretty good with autocad, revit and I can read and interpret drawings very well but I am not sure about the relevance of these.

RE: Considering a New Electrical Career Path For New Immigrant in Canada

Can't help you with what skills are "in demand" for electrical engineers. Wish you the best of luck- and concur that a working knowledge (hands-on experience being an electrician) will make you more practical and hence should help you find work as an engineer in the future- perhaps in a smaller company where they actually need both design and say cabinet assembly skills in the same person.

RE: Considering a New Electrical Career Path For New Immigrant in Canada

You would find that developing a working knowledge of Canadian electrical codes beneficial and a selling point across industries and employers. They're used everywhere, I would guess.

To moltenmetal's point about design and cabinet assembly work, Canadian electrical codes are used. Some of those smaller Canadian companies produce cabinets and buildings for the USA. Having a working knowledge of NEC (NFPA 70) would be good then. That kind of work is generally for the process industries (continuous, batch, and discrete) so getting the Liptak handbooks from CRC Press would be wise and get familiar with them.

If you get into cabinet design for control systems, CEMS, etc., you'll need an understanding of power, systems, sensors, utilities needed for analyzers, etc. Drawings are important for layout of each component and they have to be orderly. A mess of wires running around a cabinet is undesirable. A good understanding of grounding, signals, etc. and how to run them is critical. Knowing how to troubleshoot is a good skill for EEs to run or observe FATs, Factory Acceptance Tests, or SATs, Site Acceptance Tests. You need to demonstrate where the power runs and that you have continuity of power as well as ground per the drawings. Not many have that ability. They cannot translate the drawings to the finished product. I don't know how common that is but I've seen it a few times.

In the USA, my location, NEC covers everything for power, fiber, communications, underground cable installation, etc. It is known and used by Master electricians but EEs need a working knowledge of it, too. I've run into electrical contractors that had a poor working knowledge of the NEC.

Hope that helps a little...

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter

RE: Considering a New Electrical Career Path For New Immigrant in Canada

Knowledge of the local codes and standards isn't a "special skill", it's minimally necessary knowledge to perform usefully on the job. That goes for whether you're working as an engineer or an electrician, although a more thorough and comprehensive knowledge would be expected of an engineer.

RE: Considering a New Electrical Career Path For New Immigrant in Canada

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful suggestions.
moltenmetal, you are right about familiarity with codes being the basic necessity. But I suspect lacajun was looking at the issue from the perspective of immigrants as I stated.

I have always wanted to get the CEC codes. This makes it even more imperative that I should. Although I suspect there will be quite a number of things that will jump at me based on my familiarity with BS7671.

So, the pragmatic path to follow is looking pretty obvious from the discussions so far for a new immigrant:
1) While engineering roles for EIT is not completely out of reach, trends in recent years and current realities in the industries suggests that it may not be easy to get
2) Reality check: It is established that a substantial population of degree holding engineering graduates (especially from oversea universities) work in fields that don't necessarily require university education.
3) Experience gained as an apprentice can be quite advantageous on resume. It also lead to a respectable career path (after spending the mandatory number of hours).
4) Whatever career path is towed, it is important to distinguish oneself by acquiring special industry/job specific skills in addition to basic knowledge necessary to do the job.

RE: Considering a New Electrical Career Path For New Immigrant in Canada

This document is specific to the mining industry in canada, but saskatchewan does have big potash and medium size uranium mines.
Knowledge of this document would give you an immediate edge trying to break into this well paid industry. lots of 13.8 as well as 4160 in use.

RE: Considering a New Electrical Career Path For New Immigrant in Canada

moltenmetal, I am well aware that code knowledge is not a special skill and minimally necessary knowledge to perform usefully on the job. I have been around the block a few times in my 28 years of engineering. He will be new to Canada, he only has two years of experience as an EIT, and didn't state what he knows or doesn't know. He was looking for ideas so I threw some out. If they are unnecessary, no big deal. I am a PE in EE and have run into electrical contracting companies that are weak in code knowledge, by my estimation. You never know and sometimes it's best to assume the least amount of knowledge is held rather than the most - until you know for sure. smile

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter

RE: Considering a New Electrical Career Path For New Immigrant in Canada

I'd say that your "soft skills" along with your "couple years of field experience" will probably be 90% determining in your path and success. Not knowing you or the people you grew up amongst, I have no idea how "entrepreneurial" you are as a person. Having mostly lived in or near large metropolitan areas of the US, I and many of my friends and acquaintances find most immigrants to be far more entrepreneurial than most of us. Too many people seeking "employment", at least until recently, have simply expected a job to exist somewhere, waiting for them simply to apply, accept, and perform for 40 or so hours a week. If you have an entirely different POV, and the soft skills that would naturally accompany that, you may easily find yourself able to support yourself in your field of choice. Building your network will be key also, as I'm sure you well realize.

The work required to enter an electricians apprenticeship and complete it would be work on a good, but "parallel path" and not toward your goal.


(Me,,,wrong?, just fine-tuning my sarcasm!)

RE: Considering a New Electrical Career Path For New Immigrant in Canada


wfrancis: I see openings for electricians and apprentices practically everyday - with wages ranging from fair to awesome...

Because the hours range from fair to outrageous. Be careful what you wish for!
Anyway, glad you made it. I would encourage you to consider the alternatives you've mentioned, plus there are some other choices, such as becoming a technician or technologist in a sub-discipline that may suit you. There are thousands of technicians and technologists in Canada, and most of the college diploma programs are better geared to matching up foreign credentials than many Canadian universities are.
Note that I'm drawing attention to the (important) differences between colleges and universities in Canada, which is much more clear-cut here than they are in many other countries, and maybe nobody has pointed this out to you yet.

PS I'm a licensed engineer in Saskatchewan and a P.Tech.Eng in Alberta. I've spoken to a couple of very helpful people at APEGS who may be able to give more specific advice to help you.


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