Foreign Qualification Recognition (FQR) is the process of verifying that the education, skills and experience obtained in another country meet the licensure standards for safe and competent practice in Canada.
Many occupations in Alberta are regulated, which means you need to be licensed by a provincial Professional Regulatory Organization (PRO) to work in that occupation. Other common terms that mean the same thing as regulated are 'certified' and 'registered'.
PROs assess if you have the necessary qualifications to meet the licensure requirements to work in Alberta. These include:
- work experience
- proficiency in English
Your PRO will inform you if there are gaps that need to be addressed, or examinations you need to take before you can be licensed.
A license is not required to work in a non-regulated occupation. Employers can hire anyone they choose in occupations that are not regulated.
How to get licensed
The licensure process can be lengthy, complex, and may involve associated fees. It may take months or even years to be licensed to work in your occupation. The amount of time needed will depend on your personal circumstances and the individual PRO licensure process.
We strongly recommend starting the licensing process before you arrive in Alberta.
Step 1: Find out if your occupation is regulated
If your occupation is not regulated, learn more about working in Alberta. To prove you are suitable for the job in a non-regulated occupation, you will need to explain your international education to your employer. Most employers should accept your Educational Credential Assessment, but we recommend asking your employer if the assessment you have is acceptable when applying for a non-regulated job.
Step 2: Visit your PRO website and contact your PRO
Your PRO is the best source of information to answer questions about applying for a license in Alberta. It is important to ask your PRO for clarification if there is anything you do not understand.
Business, finance, administration and management
Accountant – chartered professional
Information technology (IT) professional
Local government manager
School business official
Supply chain management professional
Engineering, architectural, industrial and natural sciences
Electrical engineering technologist
Mechanical engineering technician
Mechanical engineering technologist
Health, dental and emergency services
Combined laboratory and x-ray technologist
Emergency medical personnel
General practitioner and family physician
Hearing aid practitioner
Magnetic resonance technologist
Medical laboratory technologist
Nuclear medicine technologist
Nurse – licensed practical
Nurse – psychiatric
Nurse – registered
Land use, natural resources and realty
Foresters and forest technologists
Real estate appraiser
Real estate associate/broker
Registered technologist in agrology
Social, legal, education and government
Early childhood educator
Funeral directory and embalmer
Home economist/human ecologist
Step 3: Gather required documents
Each regulated occupation has different requirements, but most PROs require:
- educational credentials
- resumés (curriculum vitae, or CV)
- personal identity documents
If you are unable to get all required documents, contact the PRO and ask what you should do.
Step 4: Request education transcripts from issuing authorities
Check if the issuing authority should send your transcripts directly to the PRO.
Step 5: Translate your documents into English
Ask the PRO if you need to use an approved translation service, or have original documents or translations notarized.
Step 6: Learn about application fees
Check your PRO website or contact them directly to learn about costs associated with the licensure process.
Step 7: Complete an application form and submit required documents to your PRO
A PRO will not start the licensure process until all required documents and application fees are received.
After you complete an application and submit documents to your PRO
If your PRO requires you to take examinations, check the available dates to make sure you don’t miss exams scheduled shortly after you arrive in Alberta.
Your PRO will assess your documents and give you an interim assessment decision. If you do not meet the requirements, you may have to complete additional steps after you arrive in Alberta, which could include:
- taking exam(s)
- obtaining practical experience or training (for example, legal articling or a medical residency)
- upgrading your education (for example, special courses or a bridging program)
The interim assessment decision may include issuing of a conditional license, which will allow you to practice under supervision or with a limited scope.
If you do not meet the requirements for a license or find limited job opportunities in Alberta, you may want to consider alternative jobs which allow you to use your skills and education.
For example, you may work in a job:
- with fewer requirements (for example, teacher as an early childhood educator)
- in a different industry with similar skills (for example, engineer as an applied science technician)
- in a different role in the same industry (for example, accountant as a treasurer or manager)
- in an unrelated industry (for example, nurse as a health insurance claims officer)
Choosing an alternative job allows you to start working while gaining Canadian work experience, awaiting licensure or upgrading your skills.
To find out more about alternative job options:
- contact your PRO
- research related occupations in alis or on the Government of Canada Job Bank
- visit immigrant serving organizations or access career services for advice
Links to websites with information and resources for various occupations. PROs may also have resources in their specific occupations.
- Opportunity Alberta provides information on living and working in Alberta and resources to make your move successful.
- The Before You Arrive in Canada video helps you get ready for your new life in Canada and explains some of the things you need to do before your arrival.
- This Newcomer's Guide to Working in Alberta will help you get the right information to make choices about your work that are best for you.
- The Bredin Centre for Learning offers a no cost program to help newcomers understand and successfully navigate the licensure and credentialing process in Canada. This program also helps newcomers get employment in their area of training.
- Directions for Immigrants at Bow Valley College provides newcomers with access to:
- career coaches
- interview and employment workshops
- mentoring and work experience programs
- support with training, upgrading and bridging programs
- The Settlement Calgary - Alberta Newcomers videos show the challenges newcomers face and have overcome to build a new life in Canada.
- Alberta Supports provides access to a broad range of services including career, employment and training programs.
Microloans for newcomer professionals
The following programs provide low-interest microloans to Alberta newcomers to help with expenses related to occupational licensing and certification, including training, examinations, textbooks and study materials, skills upgrading, and licensing fees.
- Servus-Bredin Microloan for Newcomer Professionals
- Windmill Microlending
- Career Loans
These websites provide useful information for employers that want to hire and integrate newcomers into their workplaces.
- This comprehensive Guide for Employers (PDF, 1.0 MB) is aimed at small and medium employers in Alberta. The guide provides insight and information about challenges faced by employers when hiring and integrating newcomers with goals of:
- fostering understanding
- promoting intercultural learning
- integrating international professionals into workplaces
- The Navigating the Interview Videos and Guide resource helps employers understand and assess the skills of internationally educated applicants. The material also helps newcomers:
- understand the Canadian interview process
- improve job interview skills
- explain their skills and experience to employers
- The Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council and the Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council engage local business professionals as mentors to address talent attraction and retention issues by improving their cross-cultural leadership and management skills. They also advise on how to develop intercultural competencies without incurring professional development or recruitment costs.
- Alberta Global Talent provides interactive tools and resources for Central Alberta employers helping them prepare for, attract, interview, hire, onboard and retain qualified immigrant employees to promote growth in their business.
Calls for proposal
The Alberta Immigrant Mentorship Innovation Grant provides funding for projects that support the development of career mentorship opportunities for immigrants.
Government plans and reports
The Government of Alberta plays a leadership and coordinating role in the FQR process and recognizes the critical role of stakeholders such as:
- professional regulatory organizations
- immigrant serving organizations
- post-secondary institutions
This collaboration helps ensure that Alberta has the right processes, information and resources to fairly and accurately recognize the knowledge, skills and experience of immigrants. A Foreign Qualification Recognition Plan for Alberta (2008) identifies collaborative and strategic actions that helps Alberta make significant progress towards improving the labour market success of immigrants.
- FQR Progress reports 2010-2013 outline progress made in recognizing foreign-earned qualifications to help newcomers work in their field of education and experience.
- Alberta supports the implementation of A Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications (the Framework). The Framework provides vision, guiding principles and desired outcomes for improving the assessment and recognition of foreign qualifications in regulated occupations in Canada. More information about the Framework is provided at the Forum of Labour Market Ministers’ website.
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