Working while studying in Canada as an international student
Most international students in Canada work while studying. Working part-time, interning or volunteering while you study will help you develop skills to add to your CV. Employers in Canada and around the world value the transferrable skills and commercial knowledge that may be gained through work experience in addition to academic credentials. Besides, it also aids you financially.
Like all other countries, there are certain rules and regulations that have to be strictly adhered to while working as a student. Let’s take a look at the various career opportunities open to international students, as well as some must-dos for working in Canada.
Are you eligible to work while studying?
Most international students are legally allowed to work. You can start working in Canada only when your study course begins. You must stop working if you are no longer studying full-time or when your study permit expires. However, it is important to check your visa conditions to confirm if you can work during your studies. Your study permit specifies where and how much you can work while studying in Canada. If your study permit does not include any work conditions, you can ask to have these conditions added or altered. There’s no fee to add or change these conditions to your permit. You’ll need to request an amendment to your study permit before you can apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) from Service Canada.
What are the conditions that have to be met?
Based on what’s listed on the permit you may work on-campus or off-campus during your studies if the following conditions are met:
- You have a valid study permit (not expired)
- Your study permit states that you ‘may accept employment’ or ‘may work’ in Canada.
- You have full-time student status (Undergraduate students must be registered in a minimum of 1.5 credits in each of the fall and winter terms. Graduate students must be enrolled in a full-time Master’s program).
- Have a Social Insurance Number (SIN).
Part-time work option in Canada for international students
Based on what’s listed on your study permit, you may be allowed to work on-campus, off-campus or as a co-op or intern. Let’s explore these different types of employment types in a little more detail.
Option 1: Working on-campus
“On-campus” means you can work at all the buildings on your school campus. You can work as many hours as you want. In most cases, if your school has multiple campuses, you can only work on the one where you’re enrolled. You can work at other locations if you’re working as a teaching or research assistant and your work is strictly related to a research grant.
You can work for the college or university, a faculty member, a student organization, a private business, or a contractor that provides on-campus services. You can also run a business that is physically located on-campus.
Option 2: Working off-campus
The job opportunities off-campus are more than on-campus. Don’t be afraid to apply for jobs. Always verify with your college or university before accepting any form of employment. Your employer must be fully aware of your class schedules and your work shouldn’t interfere with your studies.
How many hours can I work while studying in Canada?
As a full-time international student, you can work off-campus without a work permit:
- up to 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions, and
- full-time during scheduled breaks, such as the winter and summer holidays or spring break.
What are the eligibility conditions to work off-campus?
You must stop working off-campus on the day you no longer meet the eligibility requirements listed below:
- have a valid study permit,
- be a full-time student,
- be enrolled at a designated learning institution at the post-secondary level or, in Quebec, a vocational program at the secondary level, and
- be studying in an academic, vocational or professional training program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate that is at least six months in duration.
- You shouldn’t be on authorized leave from your studies, or switching schools and not studying
Option 3: Work as a co-op student or intern
In some study programs, you get the chance to work in an industry related to what you are studying. You might get the opportunity to work in a full-time, paid position or might receive a one-term work assignment. The benefits of being a co-op and internship are that you receive a more in-depth, richer educational experience, real-world work experience, professional connections, and income while you study. You can apply for a co-op or intern work permit if:
- you have a valid study permit
- work is required to complete your study program in Canada
- you have a letter from your school that confirms all students in your program need to complete work placements to get their degree, and
- your co-op placement or internship totals 50% or less of your study program
How to find a job while studying in Canada?
Part-time job opportunities are plenty for students on-campus and off-campus. The student support services of your college or university can help you take advantage of on-campus job opportunities. The Government of Canada is a top student employer in Canada. You can also work part-time as a research affiliate with the Government of Canada while pursuing your studies. Explore hundreds of career paths and thousands of jobs on online portals for off-campus jobs. The top such websites are RobertHalf, Career Builder, Indeed, LinkedIn and Eluta.
How much can a student earn in Canada while studying?
From working in a cafe to working as a social media assistant or content writer, the part-time work options are plentiful. The average international student salary in Canada is $59,289 per year or $30.40 per hour*. Entry-level positions start at $48,516 per year, while most experienced workers make up to $72,747 per year*.
Tips for finding a job as an international student in Canada
Landing a job can be quite challenging. Here are a few handy tips for you:
- Ensure your study permit meets the eligibility conditions
- Apply for your nine-digit Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Open a Canadian bank account
- Research well, network more
- Have an impressive resume
Don’t forget to be open-minded, patient, and flexible with your employment choices. You should not, however, rely on part-time work to support your studies totally. It’s crucial to keep in mind that you should have enough money to cover your tuition and living expenses for the duration of your studies without having to work part-time.