As the top destinations for immigrants around the world, your decision to immigrate to Canada or the United States is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life.
After you have moved here, finding work in your field will be a high priority for you. Like anyone entering the workforce in North America, it may be difficult at first.
Almost two million newcomers to the United States are unemployed or underemployed in low pay-paying positions that do not use their professional skills and knowledge. Do not let this information hold you back. There are surprising ways for you to use your past education and experience in new fields and exciting careers.
Finding work in an alternative or related career can help lower your financial stress by providing income and giving you more time to find your preferred work. In addition, it also helps you:
- Grow your professional network in Canada or the United States
- Gain Canadian or American work experience
Good networking and local experience are crucial in getting jobs that will help with your career growth. Many Canadians and Americans often view their education and employment experience as a starting point on a flexible career path. In a new country where you will face new ways of thinking about housing, transportation, laws, and so on, it will be helpful to broaden your thinking about your job search as well.
Alternative and Related Careers
Alternative careers are careers outside your original field. However, you can still use the skills and knowledge you gained during your education and training in your new, alternative career. Alternative careers are great for internationally trained professionals who do not want to go through relicensing in Canada or the United States, and are interested in exploring a different career path.
For example, if you were an engineer before coming to Canada or the United States, you could explore an alternative career as a general operations manager, an interior designer, or a geospatial information technologist. If you were an accountant, you could begin a new career as a human resources professional, an insurance broker, or a purchasing manager.
By choosing to explore an alternative career, you can:
- Work in a field that supports your skills, interests, and talents;
- Explore new career options that might not have been around when you first started your career; and
- Explore occupations that have higher salaries, or a better work/life balance.
Related careers are careers within your field which do not require you to relicense in your original profession. Related careers are ideal for internationally trained professionals who want to continue working in their field, but do not want to undergo relicensing or who want to work while relicensing.
For example, if you were an engineer before coming to Canada or the United States, you could explore a related career as a land surveyor, construction manager, or product safety specialist. If you were an accountant before, you could work as a cost estimator, financial analyst, or a loan officer today. By choosing to pursue a career related to your original occupation, you can:
- Increase your professional network and make connections in the field in which you want to relicense;
- Gain Canadian or American work experience toward relicensing requirements; and
- Continue building your knowledge and skills base.
Some alternative and related careers may need additional education or training. Some upgrading options take a few months, whereas others can take a year or more. In Canada and the United States, it is common to pursue additional education or training when changing careers.
Immigrating to a new country and looking for work can be a difficult process. Even among skilled immigrants who have experienced a high degree of career success before arriving in Canada and the United States, they will find that their career often stalls after landing here. Many immigrants face a sense of identity loss due to this and the other changes happening around them.
The best advice that successful people give is that people entering the workforce should be flexible and strategic about their options and next steps. Settling in a new country, and pursuing an alternative or related career can be a positive and exciting experience. With the right mindset, the possibilities are endless.