Immigrate To Canada As A Therapist In Counselling: All You Need To Know

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Immigrate To Canada As A Therapist In Counselling: All You Need To Know
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Are you a candidate with skills and qualifications in one of Canada’s 82 jobs for occupation-specific Express Entry draws? We want to help you move to Canada. Please submit your CV here.

A shortage of therapists in counselling and related specialized therapies in Canada provides opportunities for qualified foreign nationals to gain their permanent residence here through occupation-targeted Express Entry system draws.

“As job openings and job seekers are projected to be similar over the 2022 – 2031 period, it is expected that the shortage between labour supply and demand seen in recent years will continue over the projection period,” notes the Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS) website.

“Job openings are projected to arise primarily from employment growth. Population growth and the rising share of older people will have an important impact on job creation in this occupational group.”

With Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) changing Canada’s Express Entry system to allow it to target 82 jobs in healthcare, technology, trades, transport and agriculture last summer – including therapists in counselling and related specialized therapies – it opened the door to a new pathway to immigration for them.


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Therapist in counselling and related specialized therapies occupations, categorized under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 system with the code 41301, include:

  • addictions counsellor
  • art therapist
  • bereavement counsellor
  • child and youth counsellor
  • drama therapist
  • family counsellor
  • marriage counsellor
  • movement therapist
  • music therapist
  • psychotherapist
  • registered clinical counsellor
  • registered dance therapist
  • registered marriage and family therapist
  • sexologist

And are closely related to the following jobs:

  • social and community service workers
  • managers in social, community and correctional services
  • social workers
  • career development practitioners and career counsellors (except education)
  • educational counsellors
  • kinesiologists and other professional occupations in therapy and assessment

In May this year, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) made all of these workers eligible for immigration to Canada Express Entry occupation-targeted draws.

The flagship Express Entry selection system had previously only conducted draws based on immigration programs, not by targeting specific occupations.

Occupation-Targeted Draws Aim To Reduce Labour Shortages

“Everywhere I go, I’ve heard loud and clear from employers across the country who are experiencing chronic labour shortages,” said then-Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.

“These changes to the Express Entry system will ensure that they have the skilled workers they need to grow and succeed.  We can also grow our economy and help businesses with labour shortages while also increasing the number of French-proficient candidates to help ensure the vitality of French-speaking communities.”


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The federal government’s job-hunting and career-planning website, Jobbank, ranks the job prospects of therapists in counselling and related specialized therapies over the next three years as very good, its highest rating, in Ontario and the Yukon and good throughout the rest of the country.

In early November, the Indeed.ca job-hunting website listed 6,983 jobs for therapists across the country.

In Canada, the median hourly wage for therapists in counselling and related specialized therapies is  $29 but that varies from a low of $19 right up to $45, reveals Jobbank.

Based on a 37.5-hour work week, that means these workers can expect to earn up to $87,750 annually in Canada.

FST, FSW and CEC Now More Responsive To Labour Market Needs

Candidates hoping to immigrate through Express Entry occupation-targeted draws need at least six months of continuous work experience in Canada or abroad within the past three years in one of these occupations to be eligible, experience that can have been gained while working in Canada as temporary foreign workers with a work permits or as an international student with a student visa.

Under the changes announced at the end of May, the Express Entry streams, including the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), as well as parts of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) are now more responsive to labour market needs.

Canada first signalled its intention to start occupation-specific draws through Express Entry in June last year, when changes were made to the Immigration, Refugee and Protection Act to allow invitations based on occupations and other attributes, such as language ability.

The majority of Canada’s provinces have been issuing occupation-specific invitations for several years.

Under the changes to the act, the immigration minister is required to consult provinces and territories, members of industry, unions, employers, workers, worker advocacy groups, settlement provider organizations, and immigration researchers and practitioners, before announcing new categories.

IRCC must also report to parliament each year on the categories that were chosen and the reason for the choices.

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) says the number of occupations facing shortages doubled between 2019 and 2021. From 2018 to 2022, federal high skilled admissions accounted for between 34 and 40 per cent of overall French-speaking admissions outside Quebec, which manages its own immigration intake.

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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of immigration.ca featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.