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Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada
5

Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

(OP)
Hi Folks,

Just moved to Canada, Vancouver after clearing requirements of the permanent residency / federal skilled worker program. Now seeking for a position in engineering. Seems that paper-works part was the easiest one; this was the entry ticket. Now the hardest part, how to land a qualified job...

I would like to give here some background and also some first assessment of the situation...

Graduated from a university that is not in North American (i.e not US, Nor Canadian) with a master and bachelor in mechanical engineering. This does not seem to fly with prospective employers unless really exceptional skills are part of the picture. In this respect, a professional licensing organization could help, but it is a long way to go to become a licensed engineer (and for fully understandable reasons). Being chartered engineer does not seem to help. Not so many "equivalence by committee" shortcuts out there neither. So here, some substantial professional experience can be put on the table but validating the academic part is not going to be piece of cake.

There is also a lot of emphasis on "soft skills" here in Canada. I of course worked on that part through out my professional career, but by Canadian standard, looks like there is a lot of improvement needed. This is also British Columbia. So English communication skills must be sharp; another roadblock not negligible.

Canada is also unknown territory to me in view of job seeking techniques. Tried to adapt my resume (form and content) to fit the "Canadian style" as far as it could be determined from various web sources. There will be trial and error for sure. In addition, I come from the oil & gas industry and wondering if there are so many opportunities lined up with that industry sector, in the subject area/province.

So what is my best option(s):

- Start all over again -> enroll into a Master or Bachelor program and study.
- Shift my profile to "engineering technician" -> Study, obtain a certificate or even a degree (no issues with doing the shift as long as I could learn and stay technically focused).
- Concentrate efforts to obtain recognition by a professional organization.
- Move to a different province more fitted to Oil & Gas industry (which one? e.g. Alberta or Ontario ?).
- Start a project in engineering as self-employed. Guess this would also require to clear professional registration.

Thank you for any suggestion...

PS: I was advised to take a survival job at first. Well, I suspect this could be a sword with two edges: On the one hand, yes, this would relieve the financial pressure I could face initially but on the other, I am afraid that there will be a price to that and it is that it will set a sort of routine that could prevent me from moving to a qualified job later. In other words I could become content of the survival job I would have undertaken. It goes without saying that in the event of any financial emergency, a different line of thought would apply.

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

US experience, but probably still relevant. I do have a lot of family in BC and almost moved there myself.

I found contract work was a good way to get working quickly and get among working people. From there you can get a much better view of what's happening in the job market.

BC is geared much more to mining and timber than oil & gas.

Many employers are wary of transient "temporary Canadians" waiting to punch their ticket to the US.

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

If you have oil and gas experience, the next province east (Alberta) may have better opportunities in that field.

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

(OP)
Yes seems the compass needs to be pointed much to the east...
I thought I could apply out of BC and state that I am open/willing to relocate (genuinely I am).
Not sure how it will be perceived, but it is a starting point.

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

Hate to be too pessimistic , but you have a tough row to hoe. $60 oil has pretty well decimated the O+G industry in Alberta. Theres still some mining in BC, but nowhere near what it used to be. If you're looking for anything other than entry level engineering positions , P.Eng registration is almost essential. You need to educate yourself as to how to start this process , and it is unique to each province. Education from a non-english speaking region will not be viewed favourably...... discrimination?? , yes probably but also reality. No first hand knowledge of it myself , but anecdotal evidence suggests many , many foreign educated engineers in Ontario working as cab drivers. A bit more detail on your background and experience and I might be able to provide more advice.

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

Howdy rotw,
I am not sure what your experience level is, or where you received your degrees from, but getting that first job as an engineer in Canada as a new arrival is a daunting task. There are a few companies in the lower mainland that do work in the oil (& gas) patch. I would suggest that you contact them. A couple that come to mind include;
  • Solaris Management Consultants
  • Allnorth Consultants
  • Tetra Tech (formally Fransen Engineering)
Good luck.
GG

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

(OP)
Hi miningman,

Thanks for the input. Some further info:

Professional registration: I am studying the requirements for professional registration. As for the academic part, I understand need to have my credentials evaluated (by a third party organism) "course by course" to the Canadian counterpart, including have the equivalent GPA determined. This may or may not fly (I was sort of "average" student during bachelor...never overshooting! however I did score quite good for the MSc".

With regard to professional experience, I've been working as equipment/machinery engineer with world class original equipment manufacturers and engineering contractors for something like a decade mostly on big oil & gas/petrochemicals infrastructure projects. Have quite good reference letters at hand. On the other hand, I have switched jobs quite often. Usually (before oil prices collapsed) I could find work as I am specialized on a certain type of equipment where competences tend to be scarce (not a rule but often the case). But nothing is taken for granted. Nowadays, I've seen very qualified and expert people struggling to keep job in their own knowledge territory. Times are tough.

Something that I need to also mention and which is going to add substantially to the difficulty, is that I have about one year unemployment gap in my resume (I had fix term contract with the last employer and this has not been extended). I hope this gives further details that would help assess the situation. That worries me a lot.

Flexibility: No problem doing a shift to a different sector/activity and build things up all the way up from (almost) scratch. It would be a pity and a waste of know how that I could not leverage on the capital / product knowledge already acquired. But so be it.

No problem also shifting to engineering technician type of job like I did mention before. For example, I would be more than happy to pursue a career of engineering technician in the field of vibration analysis. I see certain overlap with my past career, so that would be an option I would definitely consider. Being already certified in USA as vibration analyst, would probably help out. I am exploring if there is any option to pursue an engineering technician diploma in the field, here in BC (I was told the institute is called BCIT, but any hint would be appreciated). If this is a path that could land me a job in about a year or so, that would fine.

I heard about the cab drivers stories...no disrespect for this type of job but I don't want to end up that road because I did not relocate for the sake of it but I did so primarily for professional development. If this could result in a better quality of life, then why not :)


GroovyGuy,

Thanks very, very much for the companies mentioned. I am going to get in touch with them straightaway.

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

I would recommend looking up professional societies (ASME, I'm sure there are others that have regular meetings in your surrounding areas) and also maybe reach out to some professors at the nearby universities to see if they need assistance with anything. At this point you'd likely benefit more from making contacts that can put in a good word for you if you apply to companies. If they're from the area they may have insight as to what type of job you should be pursuing as well.

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

(OP)
Thanks Shotzie.

"reach out to some professors at the nearby universities to see if they need assistance with anything".
Yes, excellent point.

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

(OP)
by the way,
Is there an option to work in a sort of internship (without claiming / receiving financial compensation), just to get exposure to a certain field/area and also learn from observing other people doing the job. I know this is custom for students (I have witnessed students doing internship while I was part of staff) but not sure how this can be set up for a non-student (edit: the term I was looking for is "apprenticeship")?
Maybe it does not make sense at all, but I thought I could drop the question :)

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

rotw,
Welcome to Canada.
One thing I've found is that the professional engineering organizations in each province are VERY different from each other. It's difficult to overstate the matter.
My limited knowledge:
EGBC - BC - tendency to align with US professional organizations
APEGA - Alberta - staunchly independent and unwilling to accept the standards of others
APEGS - Saskatchewan - the personal touch gets you far

Since you've mentioned a willingness to pursue technical disiplines, I will add one more:
ASET - Alberta - agressively growing into APEGA territory

They all seem like organizations committed to the same thing, but scratch the surface, and you will discover a different sub-culture in each one. My attempts to gain registration from APEGA was met with reluctance and numerous tedious exams, and I am still not finished. My registration with APEGS required an interview which I conducted by telephone and was finished in a few months. Does registration with APEGA have greater value than registration at APEGS? No, it's all just alphabet soup to me. So my advice is to "shop around" before settling down.

Is there anything tying you to Vancouver or British Columbia? Family? (not meaning to get too personal)

My experience in another regard may be poorly calibrated, but I'll share it just in case it may help. Canada is getting used to its population diversity, but the "used to it" is not evenly distributed. If comparing prospects for employment between two companies, one based only in Canada and one based internationally and operating in Canada, you will still have better chances in the latter company. It is not really due to bias or active prejudice, so don't take it personally, it's just that we can be a bunch of local yokels, not very worldly.

Lastly, I have several times met with people looking for work with foreign credentials, but that was not what presented the barrier to me. Each time I found that they were applying for work outside of their trained discipline and work experience. While I could sympathize with their need to find employment I could tell that multiple struggles would probably prevent them from succeeding if they were hired to work with me. Not only would they be attempting to find their bearings in an industry they didn't know, but they would be doing it with a language barrier and skills gap at the same time. So my last piece of advice is to do everything you can to stick with what you know best, and not to set aside what you called "the capital / product knowledge already acquired.". If at all possible, that is. Sometimes there is no choice.

Best of luck to you. I'm sure we will read of your success in the near future!

STF

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

Oil and Gas career and you didn't move to Texas (or Oklahoma, or Pennsylvania, or the Dakotas, or Louisiana)? What were you thinking.

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

(OP)
SparWeb,

Thank you kindly for the support. Your info will help my research as far as professional registration is concerned.

Is there anything tying you to Vancouver or British Columbia? Family? (not meaning to get too personal)

Yes, I've some family in US, Washington. So I thought it would be good idea to settle close by. However it is not a must and am open to move into another province depending on options available. In addition, I went through a permanent residency program that is limited to English-speaking provinces (in other words, Quebec is not option - at least not for now...). That is basically what makes me land in BC. Climate is also favorable, but that is more of a "nice to have".

MFJewell,

Yes you are right, there are huge opportunities in TX for instance. For example, my former employer is headquartered in there so I even have some connections. The thing is I need a work permit to work in the US. This is difficult to obtain but most importantly, I learned (the hard way) to never ever take any life/career option that involve residency rights tied to work irrespective of the land and the benefits (some people say never say never..sure, but I am not going to be easy on this one as the cut has been too deep). It is a very personal perspective on things - no offense intended.

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

I'm always put off by the term "world class". It conveys a weak sense of definition and a strong odor of obfuscation.

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

Getting registered as an EIT (as I doubt you'll be able to get a P.Eng. without one year canadian experience) should be your first step. Most companies will include that in their requirements.

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

rotw,

Most provinces in Canada (definitely Alberta) recognize certified engineering technicians and technologists (CTech and CET). I know a number of people who immigrated to Canada, got certified as engineering technologists, and then got licensed later on as professional engineers. The bar is lower, and you get in the door.

I hate recommending resume services, but I recommend resume services. Everybody uses ATS software to process resumes. Resumes are not immediately a test of your literacy. They are a test of your (or someone else's) SEO skills.

--
JHG

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

(OP)
canwesteng and drawoh,

Ok well noted - sounds like this would be the baseline.

One question (also to others...), using the self-assessment tool from EGBC, I got the following result:

"You may currently qualify to be a Provisional Member and be eligible for full certification after you have worked in a Canadian environment for at least 1 year."

Would this also be an option (say that I stand some chances with the application - optimistically -)?

Just to explore the various alternatives...

Thanks in advance

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

I've never heard of a "Provisional Member". Do they offer any kind of definition of what that is, what is required, whether any authority is granted under that membership?
I was curious enough to poke at the EGBC website for a while, and I cannot find a definition. Although I could find the self-assessment tool, I could not enter answers that would make it offer a "provisional" membership.

Make sure you speak to their registrar or administrator on the phone and discuss your options. Clarify the meaning of this with them, and make sure it's an option that's available, and in your best interest. Compare this option to the other options suggested by Drawoh and Canwesteng, because those paths may be more suitable to you.

STF

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

(OP)
SparWeb,

To my understanding, I apparently fulfill the PEng conditions except I miss one year of professional experience in Canada (as minimum), which is a mandatory requirement. In this case, the PEng application can be started; if succesfull, it would result with a provisional status which means it is subject to completion of one year work experience in Canada before the PEng title can be earned.

You know better than me. This is just my take on it. Your points are also absolutely valid. This why I plan to call them shortly to get a better picture. For example it is not 100% clear to me if the professional references must be PEng in Canada or would it be ok if they have other engineering credentials and from abroad.

How did I qualify for that route using the assesment tool? Well I included an engineering degres not accredited, added a master's degree (with thesis) completed in a same discipline as for the bachelor. Then I included 9+ year of relevant professional experience. Selected less than a year of experience in Canada (there was no option to say no or zero experience to that). If you have time to play around and select such combination, I think you should reproduce a result identical to mine, if am correct.

In addition, I went through the requirements and these are quite heavy. Chartership registration for example required a certain amount of time for preparation (portfolio, interview, etc). This goes even beyond that and its sort of start all over again ':(

RE: Just relocated: How to land an engineering position in Canada

You should likely purchase the textbooks and begin studying for the national professional practice exam (NPPE), assuming it is applicable in the region you intend to work. Speak with the governing engineering body to find out which version they write, although the textbooks likely won't change. That exam is partially law/ethics and partially English comprehension and I suspect would be required before they would award you with a provisional PEng license (although I may be wrong. Again, verify with APEGBC/APEGA, etc).

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