The qualification recognition process leading to professional registration (licensure or certification) can be very complex. It requires a commitment of time, effort, and money. Being well informed will help you to plan your career path in Manitoba.
This Question & Answer Guide will help you gain a better understanding of qualification recognition in Manitoba and hopefully plan a career path that is right for you.
Click on a question below for the answer.
What is qualification recognition?
Qualification recognition is:
the process of verifying that the education, training, skills, and practical work experience obtained in another country, meet the required occupational standards set by regulators for entry into a regulated occupation in Canada.
A successful QR process ends with registration with the regulatory body and the issuing of a license or certificate.
Government and supporting agencies refer to this process for internationally educated professionals (IEP) as:
- Qualification recognition (or QR)
- Foreign qualification recognition (or FQR)
Regulatory bodies usually refer to the process as the:
- Registration process
- Professional registration process
- Licensing process
- Certification process
Regulatory bodies provide this information on their website under headings such as:
- Become a Member
- Become Registered
- Internationally Educated Applicants
What is a regulated profession?
In Manitoba, as in other provinces in Canada, a regulated profession is:
an occupation that, in addition to demanding a high level of expertise, training, and qualifications, also requires recognition from a professional regulatory body.
Recognition from a regulatory body results in registration, and the issuing of a license or certificate.
Registration gives individuals the legal right to practice their profession and/or use the professional title within a specific province (or territory).
There is legislation (laws) that determine which occupations are regulated and how each will be regulated.
Regulated professions (or occupations) include:
- Professions (e.g. physicians, nurses, engineers, dieticians, early childhood educators) and
- Trades (e.g. electricians, steamfitters-pipefitters, plumbers, hair stylists, estheticians).
What is a regulatory body?
A regulatory body is:
a government approved organization that governs a profession. It is responsible to ensure that its members are qualified to provide safe and competent practice to the public.
Registration with a regulatory body grants the legal right to practice and/or use a professional title and results in a license or certificate.
In Canada, professions are regulated on a provincial level; regulatory bodies are given authority by the provincial government (many professions also have national organizations that support the work of the provincial regulatory bodies; however, they are not regulators).
The purpose of a regulatory body is to protect the public by ensuring professions are practised competently and ethically. To achieve this they:
- Set standards for who may enter the profession.
- Establish criteria and processes for registering applicants.
- Set standards of practice for those working in the profession.
- Create and enforce rules for when and how members may be disciplined or removed from the profession.
You may come across various terms used to refer to a “regulatory body”. Other terms often used interchangeably are:
- Professional body
- Professional regulatory body
- Regulatory authority
The name of a regulatory body will often include one of the following terms:
The word ‘college’ in this context does not mean ‘educational institution’. For example, the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba (CRNM) is a regulatory body, not a training institution.
Can I work in my profession before I am licensed?
Some professions are both right to title and right to practice. They have both a reserved title and an exclusive right to practice. In other words, you must be registered with the regulatory body both to work in this profession, and also to use the reserved title.
For example, an individual must be registered with the College of Occupational Therapists of Manitoba in order to:
- use the title “occupational therapist” and any other variation or abbreviation of that title (including an equivalent in another language); and
- work as an occupational therapist in Manitoba or perform any of the specific duties of an occupational therapist.
Some professions are right to title only. You must be registered with the regulatory body in order to use the reserved title. However, if you are not registered, you are still legally allowed to work in the field and to engage in the activities of the profession.
For example, an individual must be registered with the Certified Technicians and Technologists Association of Manitoba in order to use the title “Certified Engineering Technologist”. However, even without going through the registration process, it is still legal to work in the field and to perform the activities of an engineering technologist.
Even though legally, an individual may work without registration in these professions, it is important to know that employers may require registration with the regulatory body as a condition of employment. Registration may also be an advantage in your job search because it could help an employer understand how your education compares to Canadian education/training. In deciding whether or not to pursue registration in a right to title profession, it will be important to find out what employers ask for when hiring.
Other ways of saying that a profession is right to title are:
- Protected title
- Restricted title
- Reserved title
- Exclusive right to title
Rather than using the terms “right to title / right to practice”, trades are designated as “compulsory” or “non-compulsory”.
Which professions and trades are regulated in Manitoba? Who regulates each profession and trade?
There are many regulated occupations Manitoba. Each has its own regulatory body.
30 professions are included under Manitoba’s Fair Registration Practices in Regulated Professions Act. Professions included under the Act have their registration processes regularly reviewed by the Office of the Manitoba Fairness Commissioner to ensure they are transparent, objective, impartial, and fair.
Follow this link for a list of the 30 regulated professions under this Act.
For a list of the 55+ designated trades, 9 of which are compulsory*, see this website’s section on trades.
For a list of the 70+ additional occupations that are regulated in Manitoba, see this table.
Note: *Nine (9) of the 55+ [s1] trades are compulsory. A compulsory trade requires a worker to be either a registered apprentice under Apprenticeship Manitoba or a certified journeyperson (holder of a Certificate of Qualification) in order to work in the trade.
The remainder of the trades are voluntary (non-compulsory). Workers in voluntary trades are not required by law to be registered apprentices or certified journeypersons. An individual with or without experience can legally work in any of the 40+ voluntary trades in Manitoba. However, an employer has the right to require employees be registered apprentices or certified journeypersons.
What is the difference between a regulatory body and a professional membership association?
The roles and activities of regulatory bodies are clearly outlined on this website under “What is a regulatory body?”. A regulatory body has these characteristics:
- They commit to serve in the public interest.
- Members must complete a registration process; membership is required in order to carry a professional title and/or work in the profession.
- There is provincial legislation (law) that enables their activities.
Professional membership association:
Professional membership associations are not involved in the regulatory process. These are organization made up of members who shares common occupational interests.
- They organize a variety of activities including: professional development, networking, conducting and publishing research, and staging conferences.
- They serve the interests of the members of a profession; they will protect and lobby for the interests of their members, the provincial regulatory community and educational institutions.
- Membership is usually voluntary. It may require that members follow a code of professional conduct and are subject to discipline.
- There is usually no legislation around their activities.
Some examples of professional membership associations are the Manitoba Child Care Association, the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists and the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineers.
Consider joining a professional membership association:
Membership in a professional membership association can provide valuable opportunities to meet people working in your profession, to participate in events and to learn about developments in your field. It is a good idea to learn about associations that exist in your profession and what they offer members.
How do you know the difference?
You may find that either of these types of organizations (regulatory bodies or membership associations) share similar titles. They may have words such as “association” or “society” in their names. This can be misleading if you are not familiar with the organization; always clarify if you are not sure of an organization’s role.
What steps are involved in professional registration?
Each regulator has its own registration process. However, there are many steps that are similar for each regulatory body.
You may be required to do some, or all, of the following to qualify for registration.
- Provide your original degrees, diplomas and certificates, including translated, notarized copies. Typically, they must be provided by your educational institution directly to your regulator.
- Complete a self-assessment.
- Provide proof that you meet your regulatory body’s English language proficiency requirements.
- Provide information about your previous work experience.
- Complete assigned courses or other remedial training (sometimes referred to as gap training or a bridging program).
- Write exams. (Many exams are offered in English only. Sometimes, applicants must travel to another city in Canada to write an exam.)
- Complete a competency-based assessment or a practical examination.
- Complete an assignment.
- Undergo an interview.
- Get Canadian work experience.
- Work under supervision.
- Provide proof of immigration status and being able to work in Canada.
- Provide security and criminal record checks.
What should I know about the registration process to support my career decisions?
It is critical to have a realistic picture of how things work, what the costs are and how long it might take you to complete your process (get licensed or certified). This will help you plan and make good career and employment decisions.
You need to understand the steps to registration and which bodies are involved in the process. It is especially important to understand how the steps apply to you, and what would happen if you were unsuccessful with any of the steps along the way.
Review your regulatory body’s website. Consider contacting your regulatory body with questions. Some regulatory bodies will meet with you personally or on the phone to answer questions and discuss your case more specifically. Some regulatory bodies provide helpful advice to applicants.
Below are some of the important questions you may want answers to:
- What is the success rate of internationally educated applicants with my background on the various steps involved in your registration process and with licensing?
- How long does it typically take for someone with my educational background (country and school of education) to become fully registered?
- Where in the process do applicants with my background have the most difficulty?
- Are there wait lists to complete mandatory requirements such as bridging programs (if applicable), and if so, how long are they?
- How many unsuccessful attempts can I make on the various steps in the process before I am no longer eligible to continue?
- Are there consequences for doing poorly on, or failing, one of the steps? If so, what are they?
- What would the maximum costs be if I am unsuccessful at different stages of the process and need to repeat steps?
- Are there document expiry dates I need to be aware of (ex: language proficiency tests are usually only valid for two years) and what would it mean for me if my document expires before I complete a step or my registration process?
- Is any stage of the registration process competitive (meaning only a certain number of applicants are accepted) and if so, how many applicants are there and how many are typically accepted?
- Are there currency of practice requirements I need to meet to be eligible for the registration process? If there is a currency of practice requirement this means you can only be out-of-practice for a limited time before you are no longer eligible for the registration process. Among the regulated professions, the health professions most typically have currency of practice requirements. These requirements vary by occupation.
- Are there any available supports for internationally educated applicants (e.g.: exam preparation materials, study groups, practice exams, etc.)?
What is a practical, or competency-based assessment?
Some regulators include competency-based assessments as one step in their registration process.
This is a way to measure skills and expertise through practical demonstration.
Competency-based assessments allow you to show what you know and can do. Rather than proving your knowledge in a written exam, you are required to demonstrate your skills. For example, this could involve using specific tools or equipment while you are being observed, or dealing with a profession- specific scenario in a simulation involving actors or role play.
College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba (CRNM) ==> Clinical Competence Assessment (CCA)
College of Pharmacists of Manitoba (CPhM) ==> Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)
Usually, these assessments are only part of a registration process. They are used along with other forms of assessment such as licensing examinations.
What are third-party assessors?
Third party assessors are organizations that support the regulatory body by doing some of the assessment involved in the registration process.
For example, third party assessors might verify and compare academic credentials for equivalency to Canadian programs, or they might also administer written or practical examinations. Third party assessors are not regulatory bodies; they support assessment but they do not license applicants.
Examples of third party assessors:
- Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR)
- The Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC)
- National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS)
- National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB)
- World Education Services (WES)
- International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS)
What is gap training? What is a bridging program?
In Manitoba, there are some training programs set up to help immigrants transfer their knowledge and skills into a Canadian setting. These are known as “gap training” programs and “bridge programs”.
Gap training helps an internationally educated professional (IEP) meet the requirements of the regulator.
Gap training can help address the differences between the way your profession is practiced overseas and in Canada. Gap training can also be used by a regulatory body to help ensure an applicant is ready to practice their profession in Canada.
Gap training “fills in” for differences or gaps. Usually training is customized to the applicant, based on gaps indicated by the assessment in the registration process.
- Training on the cultural practice of the profession in Canada:
It is common for professionals to encounter differences in the way work is done in Canada as they adapt to a new culture and new systems.
- Profession-specific English and communication training:
Many newcomers have not practiced their profession/occupation in an English setting. Even individuals with strong English language skills can encounter challenges communicating effectively for work.
- Training to develop additional skills:
There may be differences in the skills needed to work in a Manitoban context. The scope of the profession may be different; equipment available may differ; geography, climate and environment may differ and so your approach to doing something may need to change, etc.
A bridging program prepares individuals to join a pre-existing program of study.
It offers a bridge between where a person is and where they need to be in order to participate in a program at an educational institution.
Note: In Manitoba, IEPs are typically expected to pay for the costs of the gap training/bridging programs but there are financial support programs that may be able to help you cover costs.
Where should I go to learn about the registration process of my profession or trade?
Your regulatory body is the most reliable and up to date source of information.
It is best to visit/contact your regulator or directly access their website and the websites of any relevant third party assessors.
Most regulatory bodies in Manitoba have specific web pages for internationally educated professionals that explain in detail the registration process for applicants with international education and experience.
Important – Avoid out of date and inaccurate information.
Other IEPs, family and friends are a great source of support but you should not rely on them for information on what you need to do to get licensed in Manitoba. Friends and family may have information that is old or incorrect. Even other IEPs who have already completed the registration process may not have the most current information on registration processes; processes are always changing and are very detailed. As well, your particular situation may be different from others entering or practicing your profession. It is important to learn about and plan for your specific registration pathway.
Some regulated professions post answers to Frequently Asked Questions, or FAQs that can be very helpful.
If you cannot find answers to your questions on your regulator’s website, you can contact them directly. Staff should be available to help you either by phone or in person at their office. Several regulated professions have dedicated staff to support internationally educated applicants. They will meet with you to talk about your application and to answer your specific questions.
Is there labour market demand for my profession?
Career planning should always include labour market research.
- What industries are active?
- Where are the jobs?
- What kinds of work will be available now and in the future?
Before starting on a registration process, consider:
- Is there a demand for professionals in your field and what are the employment possibilities?
- If there is an oversupply, are there specific areas of demand in which you could specialize to increase your opportunities for employment?
- Are there other areas of work in which it may be advantageous to hold a professional designation?
If there is no demand or the outlook is poor, you may want to think about a related area where your knowledge and skills can be applied, rather than go through a lengthy qualification recognition process.
These labour market information (LMI) resources are a good place to start. Research current trends and opportunities.
Manitoba Economic Profiles
The Government of Manitoba provides a variety of labour market information on its website through the department of Economic Development and Training. You can find out how the unemployment rate in Manitoba compares to the rest of Canada and what the top employment sectors are within the different regions of Manitoba. Learn what industries are in high-demand in Manitoba and see how that has changed over the years.
Manitoba Occupational Forecasts
See the projected labour market demand for specific occupations and sectors in Manitoba and where the job openings are expected to be up until 2025.
Canada Job Bank
Use the explore careers search feature to find information on various occupations, employment outlook, wages, and more.
Is my English language level high enough?
Many professional registration processes require internationally educated applicants to demonstrate their English (or sometimes French) language proficiency.
Regulators will indicate which proficiency tests are acceptable and what levels you must demonstrate in listening, speaking, reading and writing.
As you research your registration process, find out:
- What tests are acceptable as proof of proficiency? (Note: Scores must usually be achieved on one proficiency test. In other words, they cannot be a combination of scores from more than one exam sitting or from more than one type of exam.)
- Who offers these acceptable proficiency tests?
- When are they, where are they administered, and what do they cost?
- At what point in your registration process will you need to provide your language proficiency scores?
- Will your test result expire? Often, language proficiency test results are valid for just two years.
Without meeting language proficiency requirements you may not be able to move forward in your registration process.
Remember that strong language and communication skills are key to your success.
Although some registration processes do not have language proficiency requirements, it is still very important to work on your English language proficiency. This will help you understand and get through the professional registration processes. Most importantly, it will help you work successfully in your field. Read Job Ready English to understand more about developing your English.
How long will the registration process take?
It can take months, and sometimes years, to complete the registration process in a regulated profession.
Unfortunately, individuals sometimes spend a lot of time and resources working through a registration they end up abandoning. The average length of time it takes to be fully recognized varies both by the regulatory body and by the circumstances of the applicant.
It is important to research as much as possible the minimum and potential maximum amount of time that the registration process could take.
When applying, it is important to consider these factors that may affect the timelines in your registration process:
- Do you need to improve your English language skills?
- Do you have the funds or can you access funding to pay for the costs of your registration process?
- How long will it take to get all the required documents needed to complete your application?
- Are translation or notary services required? If so, are they available and how long will this process take?
- Will you require academic upgrading (a bridge/gap training program or other)?
- When are the required exams or assessments offered?
- When will you be ready and prepared to take exams or a required program?
Some of these factors could lengthen the process:
- The time it takes for documents to be sent to your regulator by a third party (ex: educational institution, academic credential assessment service).
- Whether you need to repeat an exam or assessment.
- Whether a period of internship or Canadian work experience is necessary.
- If supervised practice is required, whether employers have opportunities available.
- When a required course or program is available.
- How quickly a regulatory body can assess your application.
How much will it cost to go through the registration process and get licensed?
Costs of becoming registered also vary by profession and can sometimes be quite high. They can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
There are also additional costs associated with becoming licensed or certified by a professional body (the final step in your process). These costs, called registration fees, are typically paid when you get your license and then once each year afterwards.
What financial supports are available to help me cover the costs of the registration process?
Read more about the various financial supports available to internationally educated/trained professionals and tradespersons in Manitoba.
What types of supports are available to help me in the registration process?
Following are some types of support that may be available to you either before you move or once you arrive in Manitoba:
- English for specific purposes (ESP) classes
- Professional membership associations
- Mentorship programs
- Profession specific self-assessment tools
- Exam preparation study groups
- Test taking skills courses
- Profession specific exam preparation resources (study guides, practice exams)
- Resources on related occupations
Not all supports exist for each occupation. When you arrive in Manitoba, investigate the supports available for your occupation. Some supports, such as online self-assessment tools or the websites of professional membership associations, may be accessible to you before you immigrate.
Two important sources of information are regulatory bodies and employment or settlement agencies.
If you are in Winnipeg, Manitoba Start can provide information to you or refer you to additional supports.
If you are outside Winnipeg, visit a settlement agency close to you.
Can I work while I pursue registration?
Many people need a consistent income and have to balance their immediate obligations with their longer term career goals. It is important to go through a careful career planning process to determine your priorities.
Build realistic short term and long term plans.
When you are planning, consider these points:
- Some registration processes require you to be in full-time upgrading and it will be difficult to work during that time.
- You may want to focus only on your registration process during critical periods, such as when you prepare to write an exam. This may increase your chance of success.
Working part time, or not working at all, may be an advantage, or even necessary, at some points of the registration process.
Keep in mind that working is also a very valuable way to learn about the Canadian work context and to develop a network.
- If you are working in a transitional job while you pursue registration, this may still be an excellent opportunity to find work that uses your skills or to gain exposure to the field of your occupation.
- Developing or maintaining English language and communication skills is another advantage of working.
In some cases, it is possible, or even necessary, to begin working in your profession before you are fully registered.
Where this is possible, it is usually after the regulatory body is satisfied with your application, and after you have demonstrated your knowledge/skills through examinations, programs of study or interviews. These types of positions are usually paid. They will likely be paid at a lower level than they will once you are fully registered. Knowing whether there is an opportunity for paid work during your registration process may also help you in your decision making.
See the information on available financial supports. Explore these options before assuming you will need to be employed throughout the entire time you are pursuing your registration process.
What are my options if I don’t pursue registration?
Deciding to pursue, postpone or not to pursue registration is one of the most important decisions you will likely have to make when you come to Canada.
This guide provides important information to consider when making your decisions.
If you are considering postponing your registration process, it is important to learn what the implications for doing this might be.
- Some professions have currency of practice requirements. This means you can only be out-of-practice for a limited time before you are no longer eligible for the registration process.
- Among the regulated professions, the health professions most typically have currency of practice requirements. Again, these requirements vary by occupation.
Your decision to pursue, postpone or abandon registration should be based on a well informed career plan.
Consider your priorities, your resources and your goals.
- Research the labour market.
- Explore what possible related occupations may exist. If you decide to use the skills you developed in your profession for a related occupation you will have to learn about how that occupation is practiced in Canada and how to present your skills to employers.
- If you choose to pursue your profession and you are not successful you will need to have another plan.
Some people, after weighing all of the factors, even decide to choose a new career path. Research will help you tremendously.
Once you are in Manitoba, there are supports to help you in your career planning.
If you are in Winnipeg, you can get support from Manitoba Start.
If you are outside Winnipeg, visit a settlement agency close to you.