Whether you’re a new grad, on a break from school, looking for a change or recently retired, you may be wondering about working overseas.
How do you make that dream a reality? As with all career plans, working abroad involves knowing what you can do, researching your options and preparing to reach your goals.
Thousands of Canadians, from professionals and entrepreneurs to students, go abroad every year to work. The kind of work available ranges from highly-skilled technical positions to hands-on tasks in developing nations, including
- working for a company in a country you want to visit
- working for a Canadian company with operations overseas
- working for a government or non-governmental organization (NGO)
- setting up your own business
- volunteering and interning
There are many benefits to working abroad, both personal and professional. But before you pack your bags, be sure that it’s a good choice for you and that you’re willing to do the research and preparation required.
Making the decision
Answering the following questions will help you decide if working abroad is a good choice for you:
- Do you want to work in a country where the language and culture are different?
- Are you prepared to learn or increase your skills in a second language?
- What do you have to offer an overseas employer?
- How adaptable are you?
- What type of work are you prepared to do?
- How long do you want to work away from home?
- What do you want to achieve by going overseas that you can’t achieve by working in Canada?
- What impact would your decision to work abroad have on your family?
- What affect would working abroad have on your career?
Besides your work-related skills, working in another country requires you to be:
- good at solving problems
- ready for a challenge
- skilled at communicating
If working abroad seems like a good fit for you, the next step is to gather information about jobs, destinations and requirements.
Doing the research
Where would you like to go? What kind of work are you looking for? Answering these questions means doing some research:
- Find out about working abroad at the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website, travel.gc.ca.
- Learn about the geography, climate, political system, economic base, language, laws, culture, religions and beliefs for the countries you’re interested in. Contact Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada or visit the Country Insights section of their website at intercultures.ca.
- Talk to people who have lived in the countries you’re interested in.
- Check out international job search websites below.
- Evaluate job offers carefully. Make sure the job you are going to is with a legitimate organization. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Preparing to go
The documents and preparations you’ll require will vary, depending on your destination and the level of support your employer provides. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada offers information for Canadians who want to live and work abroad. Call 1-800-267-8376 toll-free or visit travel.gc.ca to do the following:
- Make sure you have a valid Canadian passport and that it doesn’t expire until several months after you plan to return to Canada.
- Sign up for the free, confidential service Registration of Canadians Abroad so you’ll have assistance in an emergency.
- Contact your destination country’s embassy or consulate in Canada to find out about visa, work permit, residency permit and/or alien registration card requirements.
- Learn about vaccinations, health insurance and medical certificates and other health and safety concerns.
- Find out about taxation for Canadians working abroad.
An overseas work experience can boost your career and broaden your personal experience. With clear goals and careful planning, you can ensure that it’s a worthwhile adventure.
For more information about working abroad, see these resources:
- Expat Blog—a living abroad website by expats at expat-blog.com
- GoOverseas—directory of teaching and internship programs at gooverseas.com
- Indeed.com Worldwide—search for jobs by country at indeed.com/worldwide
- International Experience Canada—mobility for Canadians 18–35 who want to work abroad at international.gc.ca/experience
- InterNations—connecting expats working abroad at internations.org/magazine
- Jean-Marc Hachey’s Big Guide to Living and Working Overseas—subscribe or purchase at workingoverseas.com
- Monster.com Geosite—search worldwide for jobs at monster.com/geo/siteselection
- Transitions Abroad—resources for travel, work and study abroad at transitionsabroad.com
- Working Abroad—volunteer and internship opportunities, taking action for nature and society at workingabroad.com