Bridging Programs: Work in Your Chosen Field
Unlock your career potential in Canada with Bridging Training Programs.
Adapt your international experience, gain local credentials, save time and money on education, and thrive in Canada, in your chosen profession.
Table of Contents
- What are bridge training programs and who organizes them?
- Who are bridging programs for?
- What do bridging programs offer?
- How can I find and enroll in a bridging program?
- How can I choose a bridging program?
- Contact CanadaVisa and Cohen Immigration Law for Assistance
OverviewBridge training programs work to help newcomers and internationally trained professionals adapt their work experience, professional credentials, and education, so that they may work in a regulated industry in Canada. Read on to learn more about bridging programs, what they offer, how to apply, and what to consider when choosing one.
For more information on finding and securing employment in Canada, visit our dedicated webpage here.
What are bridge training programs and who organises them?
Bridge training programs work to help newcomers and internationally trained professionals receive the accreditation and/or education that they need to work in a regulated industry in Canada. These programs also provide a wealth of other industry/employment related services, including networking services, mentorship, language training, individualised career counselling, and more.
These programs are funded by Canada’s provinces and territories, and are organised by provincial governments, employers, educational institutions, occupational regulatory bodies, community organisations, and other relevant stake holders.
Who are bridging programs for?
Bridging programs in Canada are run for the benefit of newcomers and internationally trained professionals who are looking to work in a regulated industry in Canada.
Regulated industries in Canada are those that are controlled by provincial/territorial and federal law. Usually for individuals to professionally practice within these industries, they require some sort of professional certification/licence, or specialised education—usually connected to specific standards and regulatory measures that a specific industry is governed by.
You can find a full list of federally regulated industries in Canada here.
What do bridging programs offer?
In addition to services already discussed, bridging programs in Canada offer various benefits and resources to help newcomers and internationally trained professionals achieve their career goals, including:
- Career Switching: Bridging programs assist in transitioning to a related field by enhancing education and credentials. For example, internationally licensed doctors can switch to non-licensed roles in Canadian healthcare through bridging programs.
- Job Search Assistance: Bridging programs actively support job searches by offering networking and mentorship opportunities, job search support services like resume preparation and mock interviews, clinical or job placements for gaining Canadian experience, and individualised career counselling.
- Networking and Building Connections: Recognising the importance of networking in the Canadian job market, bridging programs often incorporate networking opportunities into their curriculum. They may also provide training on workplace culture and communication skills.
- Mentorship: Bridging programs connect newcomers with qualified mentors who can offer industry-specific insights and guidance beyond what is taught in the classroom, helping individuals navigate their careers more effectively.
- Certification and Exam Preparation: Bridging programs focus on preparing individuals for Canadian-specific certifications and licensing exams. They bridge any knowledge or skill gaps and often provide exam skills workshops to enhance success rates.
- Canadian Work Experience: Bridging programs facilitate finding paid work or clinical placements, which not only provide valuable experience and references but also fulfill certain licensing requirements in some professions. Canadian work experience is highly valued by employers.
How can I find and enroll in a bridging program?
Each province and territory in Canada run their own bridging programs. These can be found at their provincial/territorial government website, usually with more in-depth information on the program itself, including scope, invested stakeholders, provided services, and more. There is usually a fee associated with enrolling into a bridging program (often dependant on the program length and scope), though some provinces may offer financial assistance, depending on one’s legal status and circumstances.
Note that most provinces have a variety of bridging program options, that may be fulfilled by both public and private institutions. Doing a web search, or contacting your local immigrant serving organisations is advised to get a better sense of programs in your area and industry. Above all newcomer's are advised to make sure that their chosen bridging program will help them gain a recognised licence with the relevant municipal, provincial, and/or federal board authority for their profession. If this is not the case, you may risk spending time and money on a course without improving your employment credentials in Canada.
Below is a list of some bridging programs by province and territory, as well as each province/territory’s government page, which can be used to learn more about specific bridging services relevant to you:
- Alberta Government: Immigrant Bridging Program— This webpage details the Alberta Bridging Program, a training and employment service provided by the Government of Alberta. The program focuses on providing participants with language training and critical employment skills. It encourages immigrants to contribute actively to Alberta's society and its workforce, based on their skills and experience. Approved service providers offer these bridging programs.
- Alberta Government: Bridging Program Guidelines—This document contains guidelines for the bridging programs offered in Alberta.
- Welcome BC—This webpage details the process and eligibility criteria for bridging programs in British Columbia
- Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants—This webpage details career prospects and resources for newcomers who have professional experience in certain fields, and are looking to continue in their careers in British Columbia.
- UManitoba Programs for Health Professionals—The University of Manitoba offers various bridging programs for internationally trained healthcare professionals, including Audiologists, Pharmacists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Respiratory Therapists, and Speech-language Pathologists. In addition, the University offers general supports to internationally trained healthcare professionals as well.
- New Brunswick Community College (NBCC)—The NBCC is a crown corporation that operates out of New Brunswick, and administers a 13-month bridging program for internationally-trained and out-of-province nurses. In addition, the college offers multiple career-based programs in a variety of industries.
Newfoundland and Labrador:
- Eastern Health—The Eastern Regional Health Authority, also known as Eastern Health, is the largest integrated health authority in Newfoundland and Labrador. It offers a wide range of health and community services, incorporating public health, long-term care, and acute or hospital care. The authority offers a variety of bridging programs for healthcare professionals, including generalised and specific nursing courses.
- Association for New Canadians in Newfoundland and Labrador (ANCL)—The ANCL is one of the primary immigrant serving organisations in Newfoundland and Labrador. The organisation offers bridging programs, as well as employment search help, language training, and more.
- Learning Institute NS Health—The Learning Institute for Healthcare Workers in Nova Scotia offers a 10 month bridging program for nurses trained internationally or out of province.
- Immigrant Serving Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS)—ISANS is one of the primary immigrant serving organisations in Nova Scotia. In addition to other settlement services, the organisation provides bridging programs for a variety of professions, including ones for: Architects, Medical Laboratory Technicians, Skilled Trades, Teachers, and more.
- Ontario Government: Ontario Bridge Training Program—The Ontario Bridge Training Program (OBTP), offered by the Government of Ontario, offers career-specific language training, employment-oriented and technical skills upgrading, workplace culture, and communication training. Local community colleges, universities, occupational regulatory bodies, and immigrant-serving organisations deliver the training. Available for both regulated and non-regulated professions, the program includes tuition for courses and exams, micro-loans, a mentoring partnership, and online orientation resources. Beneficiaries have proven to find jobs in line with their skills within a year of completion.
Prince Edward Island:
- Prince Edward Island (PEI) Government—The PEI Department of Health and Wellness has partnered with the Nova Scotia Health Authority to deliver the Registered Nurses (RN) Bridging/Re-Entry Program. The program covers professional nursing, communication, medical administration, clinical nursing skills, and more that RNs in Canada are required to know to practice.
- Ordre des Ergotherapuetes du Quebec (OEQ)—The University of Montreal offers a 18-24 month bridging programs for occupational therapists, with varying fees depending on your legal status in Canada.
- Regina Open Door Society (RODS)—RODS is one of the primary immigrant serving organisations in Saskatchewan's capital, Regina. The organisation offers a variety of bridging programs for internationally trained individuals to integrate into the Saskatchewan labour market, including building interview skills, financial literacy, knowledge of worker's rights, and on-site experience through a volunteer co-op program.
How can I choose a bridging program?
Once you have found a relevant bridging program in your province or territory of residence, there are a few things you may want to consider before finalising on a choice:
Perhaps most importantly, make sure that the bridging program you choose is recognised with the provincial/federal regulatory body that governs your industry in Canada. If this is not the case, you may find yourself having invested time and money without meaningfully improving your employment options in Canada;
Check to see who the program is associated with, who provides services, and what relevant stakeholders might be. Many bridging programs are associated with several local stakeholders (for example educational institutions, regulatory bodies, and/or employers)—having a program be connected to relevant and important stakeholders can be hugely beneficial for your training and accreditation, but also for other services like networking and recruiting. Since some services may also be fulfilled by stakeholders, this can be an especially important detail.
Finally, it is worthwhile to consider both time and money when choosing a program. Does your schedule permit for a full-time program, which may function like a university/college course? Would you prefer to only take night classes, and can your program accommodate this? Furthermore, considering (for example) whether your chosen course will have a positive enough impact on future employment options is a simple way to gauge whether the course is worth the financial investment. In this regard noting any available bursaries or financial assistance available to you through your provincial/territorial government should also be considered.
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