Newcomers: Getting Started in Your Accounting Career in Canada

Good news for immigrants with training and experience in accounting: there is a lot of work for them in Canada! But because the profession is complex and regulated, it is necessary to be armed with patience. Tips and process.

There’s no point in sending your indistinct resume to all the accounting firms in town. In Canada, although there are general accountants, the tasks are much different, for example, between bookkeepers, business analysts, internal auditors and Chartered Professional Accountants (CPS), who are governed by a professional order and have broader skills. For the newcomer, the first step is to assess your skills to identify which positions you will be able to hold.

“There is another big decision to be made before starting the journey,” says Nisrin Al Yahya, employment projects coordinator at the La Maisonnée employability service. “Those who want to become a CPA will have access to better salaries and more prestigious positions, but they will have to comply with more formalities than those who opt for positions as technicians, assistants or accounting clerks, in companies or in the public service.”

Having your achievements recognized
Having supported many immigrants in their acclimatization with the accounting profession, Nisrin Al Yahya confirms that the community has its arms wide open and that most employers are adapting their hiring process to better favour New Canadians.

Formal structures for recognition of achievements are gradually being set up. It is certainly a good idea to begin with this process, supported by various CEGEPs and colleges, which will in particular permit being hired by the public and parapublic sectors. “But be careful,” warns Nisrin Al Yahya, “the process can take several months.”

Your accounting skills will be assessed, but also other technical skills, such as your mastery of the language and computer tools.

Getting up to date
Some good advice from Nisrin Al Yahya: “The fast track, in Quebec, is to get the Attestation of Collegial Studies (AEC) in accounting and management, which will give you access to the technician positions.” In the rest of Canada, take a look at courses in community colleges.

If you are only missing a few details, for example computer skills or knowledge of Canadian tax laws, the best would be to build a customized training track by only registering for the necessary courses, depending on your situation.

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