alternative careers

Consider Alternative Careers

alternative careers

When newcomers come to Canada, many are highly skilled in regulated fields, but because those fields are regulated, they can’t work in the same jobs right away, until they have re-licensed in their home province.

In Canada, regulated professions include engineers, biologists and medical lab technicians. When the highly-qualified workers arrive in B.C., they may begin to re-license in their occupation but that can take time and sometimes newcomers decide they don’t want to requalify. To get working right away using their skills, many people opt for alternative careers.

To be clear, an alternative career is not a survival job. Rather, an alternative career is a position that will use a newcomer’s skills and knowledge and be a satisfying alternative to his or her previous work. For instance, an engineer may take an alternative career as a project co-ordinator; a biologist may work as an environmental technician. In both cases, there is a possible future career progression and rewarding compensation.

ISSofBC’s new IMPACT project has an upcoming webinar on this topic. The IMPACT team (Immigrant Pathways to Alternative Careers in Technology) has been researching and talking to newcomers, employers and professional associations in the fields of Engineering, Life Sciences and Information and Communication Technology.

The first webinar will review alternative careers for newcomers in Engineering and Other Services. Our guests will be Mark Rigolo from APEGBC (the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC) and Geoff Sale from ASTTBC (the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC). You can join this webinar on Wednesday, January 20 at 10 a.m. PST. Please register at:

Bit.ly/webinar4altcareers

Many newcomers to Canada feel a little confused about where they can work if they have come from a regulated job. But the economy is booming and thousands of job openings are expected in coming years.

Mark your calendar to catch this webinar to get ideas for alternative careers in engineering and related services. If you have questions you’d like to ask, you can send them in advance of the webinar. Just use the comment section or the Q&A button. You can also email

issbcimpact@gmail.com

If you happen to read this after the webinar has taken place, don’t worry. You’ll be able to watch a recording of the webinar on the ISSofBC You Tube Channel.


Gwen PawlikowskiAbout the Author:
Gwen Pawlikowski is a freelance writer and entrepreneur who has also worked as an ISSofBC employment counsellor with newcomers. She lives in New Westminster and loves the diversity of the Lower Mainland. Please click here for information on ISSofBC’s career services.

9 Comments

9 thoughts on “Consider Alternative Careers”

  1. As I know, many newcomers could not find an alternative job, even though they would like to keep their expectation down and try to find an alternative job. I find in Canada work experience is the most important element in job searching. I would suggest the immigrants service organizations could offer more internship job position and help newcomers to gain local professional experience and ultimately to get started in a new country.

  2. Dear newcomers,
    I would like to share with you my experience on job searching in different areas from my experience. But in my origin country, it is very usual someone who worked in different areas related specifically to business. So as a Business Administrator I worked in Sales and Purchasing area, I worked as a Realtor and as a Business Analyst at least. But how I can explain I have this crazy experience. How employers can understand what I did? So my advice is, when you are a newcomer it’s a good practice to start studying a career with high demand and as the same time try to be a volunteer. The question is so simple. Do you really understand that your previous experience and your education background could be not useful in the new country? Are you prepared for changes?
    So, it takes time to start speaking the local idiom, to start relations and doing the simple things that people in a new country do everyday.
    And I could learn with my friends who are living in Canada for many years that you have to achieve small goals everyday, because in the future you will have a good live here.
    Thanks for your attention.
    Nil

  3. I think that new immigrants who were highly-qualified workers in their country don’t want to requalify for their specialty in Canada means, they have faced the reality and had gave up to pursue their original career.

    However, if we just stick with only one job field, you will be stuck. Then you cannot move forward anymore.

    Always there are alternative ways to solve problems. In this case, if you can not qursue your original career anymore, you can think it is good chance to widen your possibility.

  4. I think alternative careers could work for very few people. Some of my former classmates who were medical professionals and pharmacists in their countries had a difficult time to study for achieving the score 7 of IELTS. They said they could get Canadian licenses if the government accepted the score 6 or 6.5. In my opinion, it would be better to learn English first before people highly skilled in regulated fields decide to immigrate to Canada if they want to have the same jobs as what they’ve had right after moving. If they do that, they don’t need to think about alternative careers.

  5. This article was helpful for me because I realized that my actual job is not a survival job. It is a alternative job. I decided to change my career here in Canada and my transferable skills will be useful to find my dream job. Sometimes, we have to go back one step to go forward 2 steps. Now, I’m excited. Thank you for recommend this article!

    1. I think alternative careers could work for very few people. Some of my former classmates who were medical professionals and pharmacists in their countries had a difficult time to study for achieving the score 7 of IELTS. They said they could get Canadian licenses if the government accepted the score 6 or 6.5. In my opinion, it would be better to learn English first before people highly skilled in regulated fields decide to immigrate to Canada if they want to have the same jobs as what they’ve had right after moving. If they do that, they don’t need to think about alternative careers.

  6. To be a newcomers, when you decide to move away your home country, that means everything will be from the very beginning.(icl. your job) So no matter survival jobs or alternative jobs, if you need a job for living in this country and you think it is your choice to come here, just go and find any kinds of job and do it. I can be a cashier, a wash-disher, an agent or a baker. Don’t care about what you do at the first time. If you care much about your salary, your position in your first job, nobody will hire you.

  7. Actually this article only talks about jobs in regulated fields, such as engineering, but I think alternative careers can also be considered in non-regulated industries.
    My concern is a little different. I was a journalist in China, covering Chinese entertainment industry. My experiences and skills are kind of useless in Canada and I know it is impossible for me to find a similar job, so I must consider changing my job. I was told that I could try to apply for administration positions or being an event planner. But the thing is, the salary is not quite satisfying for me. I do not know whether I should apply for an university or a college to totally change my career path, which means waste of money and time, or accept the unsatisfying jobs, or eventually, go back to China.

  8. This article helps to clarify that you do not need to work in a survival job if your profession is regulated. There is always an alternative to use your skills in a similar job.
    In my job searches I usually use similar terms for the same kind of job. Lets say that I were Marketing Director in my original country, I would search for example “Assistant Marketing”, “Marketing Coordinator” or “Sales and Marketing”, or something like that. In addition, I try to search for jobs in different websites, such as indeed.ca, workbc.ca, glassdoor.ca or in the companies websites.
    These are some tips that have helped me in job searches and I hope it can be helpful for someone else.

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