You can gain experience when you study and work in Canada. You will also be able to make professional connections and make money as an international student. However, not all international students are allowed to work in Canada. So, we will talk about the eligibility criteria for working while also studying in Canada at the same time, the type of work permitted, and some tips you can follow to help you balance your academics and work life.
The important thing is to make sure that your work permit allows you to work while studying in Canada as an international student. Here in Canada, you can work on campus (if you have a valid study permit and social insurance number or SIN, and you’re a full-time post-secondary student at a public or private post-secondary school or a government-funded private college-level school in Quebec. You can also work off-campus without a separate work permit, however, you must be a full-time student at a designated school, be enrolled in a post-secondary professional, vocational, or professional training program in Canada, or a secondary level vocational training program in Quebec, your study program is at least 6 months long and has officially started, and you have a SIN number.
Which Students Can Work in Canada?
Before you study and work in Canada, you need to be 100% sure that you are allowed to. If you work without permission, you might have to leave Canada. Your study permit will tell you if you can work on- or off-campus.
Generally, international students are allowed to work on-campus without a work permit if:
- You’re a full-time student at a public post-secondary school, a private college in Quebec funded at least 50% by the government or a Canadian private school that can legally award degrees.
- You have a valid study permit and a Social Insurance Number (SIN). Remember, you must stop working on-campus the day your full-time study ends.
You can work off-campus without a work permit if:
- You’re a full-time student at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI).
- You’re in a post-secondary or vocational program, or a secondary-level vocational program in Quebec, lasting at least six months and leading to a degree, diploma, or certificate.
- You’ve started studying and have a SIN. Note: You can only start working once your study program begins.
Part-time students can work if they meet all the above conditions and are only part-time in their last semester, not needing a full course load to finish their program.
Study and Work in Canada
When you determine that you are eligible to study and work in Canada, there are 3 main types of work you can choose from as an international student. As mentioned earlier, these are on-campus work, off-campus work, and internships and co-op placements. Each of them has its own rules and conditions.
On-campus work refers to jobs located within the premises of your educational institution. If your school operates across multiple campuses, you are generally allowed to work only at the campus where you are enrolled. However, there are exceptions, such as if you’re employed as a teaching or research assistant or if your job is linked to a research grant.
Employers on campus might be the educational institution itself, a faculty member, student organizations, private contractors offering services on-site, or even your own business if it’s based on campus. One of the key benefits of on-campus work is that there’s no cap on the number of hours you can work.
However, there are restrictions. You cannot start working before your academic program begins. Also, you must stop working either when you stop studying full-time or when your study permit expires. Your study permit must clearly state that you are allowed to work, either on or off campus.
You can also study and work in Canada off-campus if you meet certain criteria. Typically, during regular academic terms or semesters, you’re allowed to work up to 20 hours per week. This rule changes during school breaks, like winter or summer holidays, when you can work more hours, either by working overtime or taking on multiple part-time jobs.
Between November 2022 to December 2023, Canada temporarily lifted the usual 20-hour weekly limit. During this period, international students in Canada can work more hours off-campus, up to the maximum allowed under provincial employment standards, which is usually between 40 and 48 hours per week.
To be eligible for off-campus work, you must be a full-time student both before and after any academic break. This means you cannot work off-campus during summer breaks that occur before you start your program or after you complete it.
Are you enrolled in a study program that incorporates work experience as a crucial part of the curriculum? If yes, you can apply for a co-op or intern work permit. We will explain how this works.
First and foremost, you must hold a valid study permit. The work experience, be it an internship or a co-op placement, should be an essential component for the completion of your study program in Canada.
You also need to obtain a letter from your educational institution. This letter should confirm that all students in your study program are required to undertake work placements as part of their degree requirements. The duration of your co-op or internship must be less than or equal to 50% of the total program duration. This arrangement allows you to gain practical work experience directly related to your field of study while you are pursuing your education in Canada.
Helpful Tips for Your Stay in Canada
You are going to need some tips when studying and working in Canada at the same time. Of course, you need to be able to manage your work life so that it does not affect your academic performance. You also need to use the opportunity to network with other people. So, let’s address some of the things you need to do when you study and work in Canada.
Start Researching Early
As soon as you decide to study in Canada or get your acceptance letter, begin researching your school, the local area, and job opportunities. Don’t just rely on job sites; gather as much information as you can. If you know anyone in Canada, especially students, chat with them for insights. They might connect you with useful contacts.
Visit Your College’s Career Office
Once in Canada, the career services at your college can be a big help. They offer job postings, career advice, and other resources.
Value Your Unique Skills
Remember, your international experience brings unique skills that can make you stand out in the job market. Look for opportunities that align with your field of study and allow you to develop new skills. Canadian companies often offer full-time jobs to former interns or part-time employees, so use your part-time gig as a stepping stone to future employment prospects.
You also have to customize your resume and cover letter. Don’t make the mistake of just sending the same resume to every job you come across. Tailor your resume and cover letter for each application, highlighting your relevant skills and experiences. This also extends to your cover letter. It should be concise but impactful, making you stand out. It’s worth the time to customize it for each job.
Take Networking Seriously
Many jobs in Canada aren’t advertised. The more people you know, the better your chances of finding these hidden opportunities. Now, as a new international citizen in Canada, any job can help you gain Canadian experience. You can even volunteer in your field to help you build this experience. While the opportunities come, don’t worry if you lack some experience. Instead, emphasize your enthusiasm and ability to apply your skills in new ways.
How Much Can a Student Earn in Canada While Studying?
There is no fixed amount, but there is a typical amount you can expect to earn when you study and work in Canada. Generally, the hourly pay for foreign students in Canada is between $13 and $25, depending on your type of job. Caregiver jobs in Canada, for example, can pay as much as $20 per hour. This is not to say that you cannot make up to $30 to $75 per hour here in Canada; you can. The minimum wage is from $11.45 to $22.50 per hour, so international students with the right skills can earn this much.
How Much Money Do I Need to Study and Work in Canada?
As an international student in Canada, expect to pay between $15,000 and $30,000 per year for undergraduate programs and about $10,000 to $25,000 per year for graduate programs. The tuition fees can increase every year, and you have to be prepared to pay the increased amount.
Overall, working and studying in Canada is worth it. The most important thing is that you will gain experience, so you don’t have to wait to complete your studies before you can work. Experience aside, make sure to seize every opportunity that comes your way to learn new skills, make connections, and further define your career goals.