No matter where you come from, it’s impossible to feel like an outsider while working abroad in Toronto. After all, nearly half of the population was born somewhere else, and it’s likely that several of the 150 languages spoken here will catch your ear as you walk through its streets. As the biggest city in Canada, job opportunities in Toronto are practically endless. You’ll find pubs and galleries nestled next to parks and skyscrapers, providing ample choice for job seekers of all types. While the winters may be chilly, the warm welcome you’ll receive from Toronto’s residents makes this city a perfect place to work and play.
Job Opportunities in Toronto
In a city with 2.7 million residents, job opportunities abound in every direction. No matter what you’re interested in, from teaching English to software engineering, chances are you can make it happen with jobs abroad in Toronto.
While all options are on the table, there are some fields that more readily hire international employees. The hospitality industry is one of the most common, and working in a restaurant, bar, or hostel is a great way to familiarize yourself with the local culture, meet other young people, and snag a flexible schedule so you can adventure out of town on the regular.
If you love the great outdoors, a seasonal position might be your best bet. In the summer months, youngsters head out of Toronto to the northern forests, and camp counselors and trip leaders are needed to supervise everything from crafts to sports. When it turns cold, several ski resorts outside of the city offer temporary jobs, with morning dawn patrols and fresh powder as an extra job perk.
It’s not necessary to have past work experience to find a job for foreigners in Toronto; however, some employers do prioritize applicants with prior knowledge of the field. Keep in mind that some areas such as health care, child care, or primary education do have government restrictions and may not be available to non-residents. In nearly all cases, a working knowledge of English is required.
Depending on the position, your work hours and environment will vary. Working at a restaurant may involve primarily evening hours, while a camp counselor may be on the clock most of the day. For those who work in offices, a typical nine-to-five schedule is likely, and the dress code may be more formal. It’s important to discuss things like working hours, wages, and the business culture with your employer prior to starting your job. Don’t show up wearing shorts when you should be sporting a tie!
Life in Toronto for Expats
You may have chosen Toronto for the employment opportunities, but don’t forget to have some fun too! While it’s important not to shirk your work responsibilities, Toronto is a big, exciting city and your experience there is what you make of it. Take advantage of your time off to explore the city’s unique neighborhoods, stroll along the waterfront, or head out of town to take in more of the Great White North.
Toronto is a city of neighborhoods, and you’ll notice the atmosphere, language, and cuisine change as you trek from one end of the city to the other. Spend an afternoon sampling pupusas in Kensington Market or give your hockey knowledge a boost at a Toronto Maple Leafs game. If you’re lucky enough to be in town in August, eat to your heart’s content at the “Taste of the Danforth” food festival in Greektown.
When you are at work, be sure to be polite and punctual. Canadians are known to be direct communicators, but they do so in a way that is respectful of others’ opinions. Be sure to make eye contact with whomever you’re speaking with and avoid discussing personal issues or politics with those you don’t know well. In general, Canadians are forgiving of cultural faux pas, as long as you remember to treat others with respect.
Salary & Affordability
But what about making a living with job opportunities in Toronto? Will you be pinching pennies or living large after clocking out for the day? Luckily, the city has options for all budgets, ensuring that your stay here will be enjoyable no matter how many loonies you have in your pocket.
Salaries in Toronto vary depending on the field and the employee’s experience level. Many positions in the hospitality sector are paid minimum wage, which is around 11 CAD per hour. Servers and bartenders are usually paid a bit less but often make more through tips they receive (Canadians are expected to tip 15% or more when dining out). Ski resort wages are similar, though individuals in supervising roles will usually earn more.
Keep in mind that Toronto is a major metropolitan area, and while it’s quite possible to make a living on a low wage, it does take some thought and budgeting to make the most of your experience. Consider looking for lodging in a less expensive neighborhood or finding a roommate. Explore the local markets and cook food at home instead of eating out frequently. There are always ways to budget, and luckily the ramen in Toronto is top notch!
Accommodation & Visas
Unlike a quick trip overseas for a week, working abroad in Toronto requires some foresight and a lot of paperwork. While it’s always worth it in the end, the long slog through forms and waiting in line at embassies can test even the most resilient person’s patience. Luckily, working in Canada is probably easier than you’d think, and finding a place to stay isn’t all that bad either.
Unless you’ll be working at a summer camp or ski resort, it’s likely that you’ll be responsible for arranging your own lodging as you work abroad in Toronto. Apartment rental costs vary depending on the location. As with most big cities, don’t expect to land a cheap one-bedroom in the city center. Instead, look at options in other neighborhoods or search for a roommate to share costs.
While figuring out housing is important, the one thing you must arrange before arriving is your work visa. Individuals who are not Canadian residents must have a visa in order to legally find jobs in Toronto. There are several ways to obtain a work visa, depending on your expected length of stay and your employment opportunities.
For those who are interested in working as a way to experience life in Canada, you may be eligible for a one-year working holiday visa. There are several different companies that can help you obtain one. Conversely, if you have been hired by an employer for a full-time position, the company may sponsor your work visa. For more information about how to obtain a work visa, visit the Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Toronto is a diverse, multicultural city and it’s easy to find a piece of home within its many different neighborhoods. Head to Little India when that paneer craving hits, or check out one of many Chinatowns across the city for the perfect egg tart. Knowing you have a familiar spot in the city can help ease homesickness and culture shock and make your transition into life as an expat in Toronto a bit easier. Just remember that you’re in Canada to experience a new way of life, so don’t linger too long in those comfortable spots!
Though Canada is officially a bilingual country, Toronto operates primarily in English. For non-native English speakers, spending time here will improve your language skills, which will no doubt benefit you in your future career. Not only are you brave enough to work in another country, but doing it in a new language will certainly make your resume stand out.
While it may not be difficult to obtain a short-term working visa, many temporary jobs can involve long hours and low pay. It’s best to view your job opportunities in Toronto as a learning experience instead of a way to get rich. You’ll learn about the culture, meet new friends, and if you budget properly, visit other parts of Canada before heading home.
Whether you’re looking to gain some work experience over summer break or you’ve decided to take a working holiday post-college, working abroad in Toronto is a great way to accomplish your goals. Not only will you take away some extra cash and add lines to your CV/resume, but you’ll also gain a deeper appreciation for Canada, its multicultural residents, and its welcoming way of life.