Is a Canadian educational credential what you need to get ahead?

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The benefits of going back to school and questions to consider before enrolling

Immigrating to Canada in hopes of pursuing your career ambitions is a big deal, so it can be devastating to realize Canada does not recognize the certification you brought from your home country. So, what should you do? Go back to school for Canadian credentials in your profession? Study a complementary, or entirely new, field?

Before you invest in an educational program, a critical step you can take to secure your future is research. Start by asking yourself these big picture questions:

  • How old are you? How long is the educational program you’re interested in? Is it worth your while going back to school to retrain in your current profession?
  • Is your profession in Canada licensed? Will you have to also take qualifying examinations or secure a residency to work in your field?
  • What types of educational options are available from reputable learning institutions? If you don’t want to do another bachelor’s or graduate degree, perhaps there are some short-term, impactful industry-specific training programs that will get you on the path to career success in Canada.
  • What is the cost of training in your current or new field in Canada? Do you have the money to pay for it? If not, are you eligible for a loan in Canada?
  • What is the long-term payoff for you? Will your salary at the end of retraining meet your expectations?
  • What will your job prospects in Canada be after completing your studies? Is there a demand for your profession? Even with a coveted Canadian credential, what if your dream city is full of professionals in your field? Would you relocate to another city or province in Canada?
  • Ask yourself where will this training leave you in one year? In five years? In 10? Does this field have good prospects for advancement? Good extended health and medical benefits? Pension plans? Really dive into the profession of your choice and ensure it meets all your life goals.

For Fahad, a business analyst from Pakistan, going back to school in Canada was a worthwhile, albeit bumpy journey. He landed in Edmonton, Alberta, in 2008, ahead of his wife. “But as the recession took grip in 2009, I couldn’t find work, not even in the malls,” says Fahad.

Frustrated, he returned home, where he finished the two semesters he had left in an MBA program. Upon his return to Canada in 2011 — this time with his wife and MBA — he looked for more learning opportunities. A two-week job-hunting course was followed by a five-week workplace communication course. He then signed up for Business Analyst Certificate program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, which he funded with an affordable career loan from Windmill Microlending.