Working While Studying in Canada



There are many reasons why Canada is routinely a top 3 destination in the world for students. Canada provides benefits that few other countries can match: a welcoming culture, beautiful landscapes and some of the best schools in the world. But a major selling point for international students considering Canada is the ability to work while studying. Unlike other countries, Canada’s system makes it easy for students to work throughout their studies, while being set up in a way to ensure work-life balance. Keep reading to learn more about working in Canada while studying!

Getting Started

To be able to work in Canada as an international student, you must all of the meet the following criteria:

  • Must have a valid study permit
  • Must attend school full-time
  • Must have a Social Insurance Number 

Students must have a valid study permit and attend school full-time at a valid post-secondary school (college, university or CEGEP in Quebec). To obtain a study permit to study in Canada, students must first receive a letter of acceptance from a preapproved school and have a valid passport or travel document. These schools are also known as Designated Learning Institutions (DLI). DLI’s are schools that have been approved by the Government of Canada to host international students.  The good news is that the vast majority of accredited Canadian universities and colleges that are available for international students have DLI status! 

The final and perhaps most important part to gaining employment in Canada, is having a Social Insurance Number (SIN). The SIN is a 9-digit number that is provided by the government to eligible applicants. This number is a requirement for all international students (and Canadians) to work or access government programs in Canada. This process can be done in three different ways: online, mail or in-person. Online applications are the most popular option for international students. The Government of Canada even allows students with a valid study permit to submit their application outside of Canada, enabling students to find work as soon as they wish!  Note: post-graduate students must verify with their institution if their program is eligible for the PGWP and must apply to extend their SIN if extending their stay from an undergraduate permit.


Where and How Much Can I Work?


One of the major benefits Canada offers to students who wish to work is the option to either work on-campus or off-campus. Depending on where you decide to live, both options provide their own benefits. During regular academic sessions, full-time students may work 20 hours per week. When there are scheduled breaks in the school year, such as summer break, students are able to work full-time hours


Students who live on-campus can benefit from getting to and from work easily, likely without ever needing transportation! This allows greater flexibility in what hours you can work throughout the school year.  Many international students in Canada opt to find housing off-campus. This option provides students a chance to immerse themselves in the food, language and culture of the city they live in. It also gives them an opportunity to work off-campus. By allowing access to a wider variety of jobs off-campus, Canada can help international students gain meaningful employment in their new home!

The Job Hunt

After arriving in Canada and starting their studies, many students are eager to find employment. However, many don’t know the best steps to take in their job search. 

The three essential steps are:

  • A valid Social Insurance Number
  • Resume/CV
  • Cover Letter

A CV and cover letter provide potential employers with key background information about you. Your CV usually lists your skills and educational background, as well as general information. Today, many employers require you to submit a cover letter as well. Cover letters are used to introduce yourself to an employer and describe your qualifications and suitability for the role. 

While students looking for on-campus employment opportunities will likely be able to find some job postings on bulletin boards around school, most students find jobs online. Free online portals such as Indeed and Monster,  as well as government websites, provide regularly updated job listings that students can easily access year-round.


Like in many countries, networking is key in Canada. People often prefer to hire people they know, or that a colleague can vouch for. This market, known as the ‘hidden’ job market, provides around 80% of all new hires every year. This means that during your studies and time working, it’s key to build your network, as it can be the difference between finding a job or not!


No matter what field you choose, Canada is home to a robust industry filled with the right job for any student wishing to make Canada their home. Interested in studying in Canada? Aplicar gives you instant access to over 200 schools and over 4400 programs! Let us help you find the program of your dreams today!