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Working In Canada

j.arch

Hi all,

New poster here having frequently visited Archinect over the last few years.

I am based in the UK and recently completed an MArch Part II Architecture course. I am now considering trying to gain a bit of experience abroad and Toronto has edged nearer the top of my list for this. The idea is this would be an opportunity to get some experience working elsewhere before returning to the UK to complete the qualification and become a fully qualified architect. With this in mind does anyone have any general advice or guidance for moving from the UK to Canada to work in architecture. 

For example how are jobs structured there to match architectural education, I assume there must be a professional position (equivalent to Part II architectural assistant in the UK) for those who are just graduating out of masters courses. Is there a requirement for a certain amount of previous professional experience, how competitive is it to get into a practice post masters and within the current climate are there a lot of jobs available?

Any help or thoughts are much appreciated.

J.

 
Aug 22, 18 11:12 am
Non Sequitur

Licensed OAA architect here.  

(OAA stands for Ontario Association of Architects)

I can't speak much about the UK vs Canadian license process but I can provide some info as to the Canadian working world.  To you points:

  • Typically, fresh grads in Canada are considered intern architects if they are registered through their provincial associations and are in the process of completing their minium exp hours.  These are junior positions and assumes the applicant has an accredited M.Arch (or equivalent ie B.Arch or BAS).  B.Arch degrees do not exist in Canada anymore.  Those with related arch bachelors or college technical backgrounds but no M.arch get grouped into the arch technologist or designer category.  Normally all 3 of these groups are considered equally junior.
  • Previous experience is always a good thing but there is no specific requirement for junior position.  Keep in mind that architecture education in Canada has evolved and distanced itself from the American system and I've found that many employers expect fresh grads to be able to reasonably handle CD sets and construction details from day one (ie. without major handholding).  
  • In a large city like Toronto, you will face competition from at least the 3 arch schools in the region (UofT, Ryerson, Waterloo) plus all those relocating from other places in Canada and the US.  Loads of internationals land in Toronto because it is the largest city and there is no need to learn french.  
  • Jobs are plentyfull in Ontario and there is tons of construction happening.  The problem is that there is a big shortage are skill in the project architect & project management roles (8-10 year exp range) but no shortage of fresh grads.

Aside from that, we use the metric system because it's better and have our own endless circle of codes.


Aug 22, 18 11:31 am
Justin Turdo

What wh
you say a salary in Southern Ontario would be with someone with 8 years of experience and also licensed OAA? I am asking for a friend.

Justin Turdo

What wh
you say a salary in Southern Ontario would be with someone with 8 years of experience and also licensed OAA? I am asking for a friend.

j.arch

Thanks for the reply and the information you provided, all very useful!

Non Sequitur

No problem j.arch.


McTaco, to your point (in duplicate), I'd say if you've been licensed for 8 years and still don't know this... you may need to reconsider your current expose levels. With that said, 8 to 10 years is an odd spot because not everyone makes the move to PA or PM by then.  I have colleagues who still 5+ years in, have yet to participate beyond DD and CD phases.  If you're actually running projects, answering the contractor phone calls, making regular site visits, and dealing with clients, then 70+ should be the low bar to cross. 

This is obviously depending on project size and firm structure too. 

Bench

I went the opposite direction (Ontario > UK).


I would recommend having contacts in place before moving. While nowhere near London levels, Toronto isn't exactly a cheap place to live. It would be difficult to have an extended stay without a job. Canada also doesn't really use recruiters like in the UK, so I would not expect to have that as a fall-back.

For terminology sake, as a fresh Part II finisher you'd be the equivalent of having an M.Arch in Candada/US. You are eligible to pursue licensure (our Part III equivalent), but haven't finished that yet. You're considered an intern architect, albeit in a professional sense (ie, not a coffee-fetcher).

Some of the bigger firms, particularly ones that pursue international work or have partner offices in other countries, should be your primary target. They will appreciate the international outlook that you can bring, cross-pollination, etc.

Its a good market in most of Canada right now - and I think any place you can weather out the Brexit storm is a good call. You should look at visa options before going though, is there a YMS available to you? If so, how long and what are the restrictions ?

Aug 22, 18 12:44 pm
Non Sequitur

Good points. I forgot to suggest looking into UK-based or international offices. I was going to ping you this discussion later anyways. 8-)

Bench

Yeah the physical climate is different enough that smaller offices don't seem to take on that many international hires, unless they are strictly boutique/high-design firms (on both ends). I have never seen so much rain as when I lived in London - or mold for that matter.

AdrianFGA

You should try the North West then. London is a desert compared to Manchester or Liverpool, for instance.

j.arch

Okay thanks, that clarity on the terminology is useful, as looking on some architects websites I have seen positions for intern architects and was unsure exactly what that meant. I did look into visa options and filled out an assessment form which implied I would be eligible for a work permit, although didn't see anything regarding YMS. As for contacts I do have a family member currently living in Toronto on a work permit themselves (not in architecture though) so I would have someone to stay if needed while searching for a place to live. Ideally i'd like to secure a job before moving but I can imagine that's quite difficult!

Non Sequitur

^Intern Architect is a real professional term in Canada... unlike elsewhere where it implies slavery.

Bench

Sounds like you need more research on visa's. If you are seeking sponsorship to work in Canada (or anywhere for that matter) that is a whole different game. For instance, the fact that you can't enter the country to simply look for work without some sort of work permit...

j.arch

Yeah I need to look into visa's further. I'm not looking for sponsorship, just to enter on a work permit, which is what was suggested would be possible when I filled in the free assessment based on my experience/education.

Aug 23, 18 4:05 pm
Bench

That does not sound accurate. At all.

eco_gen

Check out Hays, Randstad, Michael Page and Design Group staffing. It is my experience that they heavily use recruiters in Canada. As for places (cities) to work in: look at Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton in that order. Edmonton and Calgary will appreciate your international experience the most and because of that will be easier to rise faster within. In Toronto and Vancouver, development is booming but you will not stand out as much there as you would in the other two cities. 

I agree that trying to land a job outside of the country seems to be the most safe, so does moving to Toronto where you have family. Utilize LinkedIn, reach out to people who work at the companie that you want to work for who have some sort of commonality to you, like they are an international from an outside country who relocated to Canada and then try to get them to agree to have a phone conversation with you. Do not ask for a job directly buy just ask for an informational interview and that you want to learn about their path and background. If they like you, they will try to help you.

Best of luck!

Oct 18, 18 10:50 pm
Bench

"It is my experience that they heavily use recruiters in Canada."


Not true. Recruiting agencies are relatively rare in Canada.

eco_gen

Your funny Bench, all of my friends in Canada have found their jobs through recruiters and I have found jobs that way in Canada. Don't confuse our friend from the UK please.

Non Sequitur

I second Bench's point. The only recruiters I've seen are those for the mega large A&E firms. Very few respectable offices use recruiters here.

Justin Turdo

also expect to donate half of your pay check to the liberal agenda in Canada. Remember Canada had zero debt until Pierre Trudeau took office with all his socialist programs.... and now his son is leading us further down the hole. 

Oct 19, 18 8:06 am
Non Sequitur

Such astute political observation. Did you come up with that all by yourself?

Justin Turdo

Yes.

Non Sequitur

It shows. It's also grossly incorrect.

Justin Turdo

How so? Please google Pierre Trudeau then if you do not believe me.

Non Sequitur

I am aware of my own country's political history. Perhaps you need training wheels, but reality is not that simple. Also, no one is paying 50% income tax and the "liberal agenda" is just another catch-all umbrella term the less-informed use to make their position appear intelligent.

Almosthip7

Ok this just made me laugh.

Justin Turdo

...call it what you will... but your buddy Justin is on track to setting a record for increasing federal debt... and that’s a fact jack! His father never in his 17 years of being prime minister balanced the federal budget. That’s also a fact. So you can attack all you want but numbers do not lie. As far as taxes... see gas tax, milk tax (raising of minimum wage), property tax, 13% hst on everything you buy... yes it doesn’t get out of your pay check directly but the government gets it elsewhere. So hit me again with your training wheel comment cause I’ve been around the block for awhile.

Non Sequitur

Thank you for confirming my initial assumptions. Less work for me.

Justin Turdo

Then defend him then if you will. Id be enlightened for you to change my mind.

Non Sequitur

JustinT (or Onelost, or McTaco), don't confuse my disinterest in debating you a victory. I know the political stance you've shown here and I have no interest in wasting my time. There are better, and more enjoyable, dead horses to beat. I could, however, have my arm twisted the other away if there were beers present. 8-)

Justin Turdo

...call it what you will... but your buddy Justin is on track to setting a record for increasing federal debt... and that’s a fact jack! His father never in his 17 years of being prime minister balanced the federal budget. That’s also a fact.  So you can attack all you want but numbers do not lie. As far as taxes... see gas tax, milk tax (raising of minimum wage), property tax, 13% hst on everything you buy... yes it doesn’t get out of your pay check directly but the government gets it elsewhere. So hit me again with your training wheel comment cause I’ve been around the block for awhile. 

Oct 19, 18 12:26 pm
Bench

So you've tried the indulging from the looks of it ?

Its the liberal agenda mannnn, dont you get it? Pass the cheetos

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