One of the many attractive factors for international students planning to enroll in Canadian universities? The work opportunities for students in Canada! Most universities have work placements and co-op programs to give you that real-world experience. Meanwhile, if you have a valid study permit, you can work full- or part-time, both on- and off-campus!
Rather than spending all your time in class, the Canadian education system encourages hands-on experience. Courses adapt to real-world industry practices and workplace needs. And great news – many of the work opportunities are paid! You can earn to offset your costs of living and tuition in Canada!
Everything You Need to Know About Working as a Student in Canada
So, what options do you have to work while you study? Before looking at student jobs in Canada, let’s take a look at some general eligibility criteria. Typically, your study permit will specify whether you may work in Canada. This depends on whether you meet certain eligibility requirements under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
Here’s a breakdown of what the relevant paragraphs in this document specify, under Paragraph 186(f), (v) or (w). You’ll find work opportunities for students in Canada if you:
- Are a full-time student, studying on-campus at a college or university
- Have a study permit for full-time study at a Designated Learning Institute (DLI). These are schools with the provincial or territorial governments’ approval to host international students
- Are enrolled in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program, or a secondary-level vocational program in Quebec, which
- is as long as, or longer than, 6 months
- upon completion, leads to a diploma, certification, or degree
- Work a maximum of 20 hours a week while classes are in session, and full-time over breaks
- Apply for a work permit before your study permit expires (even if your application is still pending, you may continue to work)
Now, this might look complicated at a glance. But Canadian universities and immigration make the process of finding work while you study straightforward and accessible. You’ll know how to proceed depending on which work opportunities for students in Canada suit you!
Finding Work on On-Campus
If you’re eligible to work on-campus, you get to work at any of the buildings on your university campus(es). This might, depending on your role, include buildings and facilities not on-campus if they’re part of your program or job affiliation. For instance, you might be working at affiliated libraries, research facilities, or on the field as a research assistant.
You may work on campus if you are:
- A full-time student at a post-secondary school including
- public colleges or universities, or a Collège d’enseignement general et professionnel (CEGEP) program in Quebec
- Private colleges in Quebec which run under the same rules as public colleges/universities, and receive at least 50% government grant funding
- Private schools with approval from the provincial government to legally award degrees
- Have a valid study permit
- Have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)*
On the other hand, you’re not eligible to work on campus if/when
- You complete or stop full-time studies
- Your study permit expires
- You’re on an authorized leave from studies
- You’re in the process of switching schools and are currently not studying
Potential On-Campus Employers
If you’re working on campus, you may be working for:
- The college/university itself
- Member(s) of the faculty
- Student organizations
- A self-owned business on-campus (e.g. if you own a business like a coffee shop or bookstore on campus, you are self-employed)
- Private businesses operating on campus
- Private contractors who run services on campus
*Getting Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
This is another requirement to work in Canada and enjoy other government services and benefits. To apply for the SIN for on-campus work, your study permit must include a condition that
- You can accept a job on or off campus by meeting the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations conditions above
- You may accept on-campus student jobs in Canada, but not off campus jobs, as long as you’re a full-time student at a college/university and hold a study permit for your program
Finding Work Off-Campus
To work off-campus, you’re also going to need your Social Insurance Number (SIN).
Here are the criteria you’ll have to meet to get a SIN for off-campus work:
- You may work for 20 hours every week while classes are in session. During scheduled breaks, you can work full-time. Full-time work during breaks includes overtime and adding up your hours from part-time jobs in Canada!
- You meet the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations criteria above
You may work off-campus if you are:
- Enrolled full-time at a DLI
- In a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional program, or a secondary-level vocational program in Quebec which
- is as long as, or longer than, 6 months
- upon completion leads to a diploma, certification, or degree
- Have started your program (you cannot start working before you begin your program, or after completing it)
Co-Op Programs and Internships
Work opportunities for students in Canada include work experience as part of your curriculum. Many universities offer co-op (cooperative education) programs or work placements. To complete your degree or certification, you’ll need to complete a designated period of work.
To work as a student enrolled in a co-op program, you’re going to need a co-op work permit. You’re eligible if:
- You have a valid study permit (consult the checklist of eligibility criteria under Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations)
- The curriculum requires work experience to complete your studies
- You have a letter from your college/university stating that everyone enrolling in this program must complete their work placements as a requirement for getting their degree
- Work placement or internship amounts to less than or up to 50% of your program
You’re not eligible for a co-op work permit if you’re:
- in a program learning English or French as a second language
- enrolled in a preparatory course for a study program
Working in Canada After Graduating
A caveat for the work opportunities for students in Canada is that you must stop working once your program ends. However, you can still apply to work temporarily in Canada after completing your program. By applying for the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), you can continue staying and working in Canada!
To be eligible for the PGWP:
- you must apply within 180 days of receiving official notice about completing your program
- have a valid study permit
- if your study permit expires before your program completion you may
- apply for a visitor permit to stay on in the country
- leave Canada, apply for the PGWP, and return once it’s approved
- the program you’re in must be longer than 8 months
If your program is longer than 8 months but shorter than 2 years, your PGWP’s validity is as long as the program length. If your program is 2 years or longer, you may get a PGWP valid for up to 3 years.
A PGWP is often the next step for international students aiming for permanent residency in Canada. One of the requirements to qualify for permanent residency is work experience in Canada, in specific categories. Taking up work opportunities for students in Canada and after you graduate helps you hit the ground running for this goal!
Our Concluding Thoughts
Choosing to work while you study is the norm in Canada. The Canadian education system is very responsive to the changing needs of the economy. This means schools develop their programs to suit what the current workforce is looking for. Universities big and small have work placements and co-op programs. Take advantage of these resources and get the work experience all employers seek. This might also pave the way for you to become a permanent resident in Canada!
If you’re planning to take up work opportunities for students in Canada, remember to make sure you hold a valid study permit. By meeting the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations criteria for working in Canada, you can easily work as a student permit holder. You’ll also need to get a Social Insurance Number (SIN), to both work and enjoy government benefits in Canada. And if you’re enrolled in a co-op program, your school will also help you secure your co-op work permit!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I Work Part-Time Jobs in Canada?
As long as you meet the eligibility requirements for foreign students working in Canada, yes, you can! With your study permit, you may work up to 20 hours a week during semesters. You can work full-time over breaks too. This includes both part- and full-time work. You may work overtime over breaks as well!
How Much Can I Earn as a Student?
Based on data from June 2021, the average hourly salary for student workers is CAD 15.42 in Canada. This will vary, though, depending on the type of work you’re doing and where you’re working. For example, student salaries average almost CAD 20 hourly in Victoria, British Columbia, compared to CAD 15.30 in Hamilton, Ontario.
A student intern in Canada may earn an average CAD 18 per hour. Meanwhile, student assistants earn an estimated CAD 15.70 hourly. Students in co-op work placements can earn up to an average CAD 20 hourly!
Remember, these are all estimates. How much you’ll earn will depend on things like your field of study, type of job, and location of work.
What Are the Highest Paying Part-Time Jobs in Canada for Students?
Some of the best paying part-time jobs in Canada for students include:
- student/teacher/research assistant
- rideshare driver
Ultimately, which job is best for students in Canada will depend on you! You’ll need to factor in things like your program, schedules, eligibility, location, and so on. For example, if you’re eligible, you can work on- or off-campus as a server at many of the coffee shops common in and around universities.