Working in Ottawa

Ottawa prides itself on being a global centre for learning. As a result of the city’s investment in schools, universities and other educational establishments, it now boasts one of the most highly educated workforces in the country. Furthermore, Ottawa offers some of the highest average salaries in the whole of Canada. 

Expats will find that while the city’s unemployment rate is stable and consistently below the national average, competition for well-paid jobs in is fierce. Therefore, it is best to have secured a suitable position before relocating to Ottawa.


Job market in Ottawa

As Canada’s capital and seat of power, Ottawa’s biggest employer is the federal government, and Canadian citizens are generally given preference when it comes to government jobs. The city is also home to several major national institutions, as well as foreign embassies and non-profit organisations which employ a large number of expats.

Ottawa is a thriving business and technology hub. Other leading industries for employment include health and social services, education, high-tech industries and manufacturing.

For most jobs in Ottawa, expats will be expected to speak fluent French or English. Speaking both will be even more advantageous.  


Finding a job in Ottawa

A good starting point for finding a job in Ottawa is to look online. There are many online portals where expats can look for work. Networking is also an essential element of the job search in Canada and social networking sites such as LinkedIn are especially helpful to make connections and research the local job market.

Expats looking for jobs in Ottawa may face some obstacles, such as a language barrier, having no previous work experience in Canada, and difficulty having their skills and foreign qualifications recognised by Canadian employers. 

However, there are facilities and services in Ottawa that assist foreigners in overcoming such challenges. For instance, a number of organisations offer courses in English or French as a second language. Expats will also benefit from approaching Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). It has a Foreign Credential Recognition programme that evaluates qualifications achieved abroad and helps internationally trained workers make an easier transition into the Canadian workforce.  

Expats moving to Ottawa should be aware that a licence is required by the province of Ontario to work in some sectors. Expats working in professions such as teaching, medicine, architecture, social work and engineering will need to obtain the relevant licence or certificate to practise in Ottawa before applying for a position.

Trailing spouses moving to Ottawa with a partner who is already in possession of a work permit in a managerial, professional or technical occupation will find the process of obtaining a work permit is made easier by the Canadian authorities.

New arrivals should note that regardless of their field of work, anyone working in Ottawa will be required to have a Social Insurance Number (SIN).