Minimum wage in Canada is approximately $10/hour. As a student you can expect to make minimum wage, or slightly higher, at a retail or customer service job.
If you work in a restaurant, bar, café, or at some tourist attractions you can expect to supplement your income with tips, normally 15-20% of a restaurant or service bill. At some establishments, tips are divided among employees equally. At others, you may take home all tips personally earned.
You can expect to earn more at research jobs with your university, or professional level jobs.
As a part time employee in Canada you can expect to work 3-8 hour shifts. Some employers are flexible and willing to work around school schedules.
Jobs for students are most plentiful in March and April, before the commencement of the summer university break, and in September, when students return to school.
Depending on where you work, you may or may not require a work permit.
Finding a Job
The Government of Canada provides a free searchable Student Job Bank that can assist you in finding employment in your area.
Student jobs in Canada may be listed online through classifieds web sites Craigslist and Kijiji, through provincial job banks, through private Internet resources such as Monster.ca, Career Beacon, and Workopolis, through university job banks, on community bulletin boards, and in the print copy of newspapers.
Most job listings or postings in Canada will list the job title, employer name, terms of employment (full time, part time, etc.), salary (hourly or annual), anticipated start date, location, and skills requirements (education, experience, languages, specific skills, transportation, etc.)
Your university may also host a job fair, where you can meet prospective employers, exchange resumes and business cards, and network.
Due to the time and costs associated with advertising a job, many job vacancies are filled informally. This is referred to as the “hidden job” market. Networking, and asking professors, instructors, and friends is the best way to search for jobs in the hidden job market.
No Work Permit Required
Foreign students may work on campus at the educational institution where they study as a full time student without the need for a work permit.
You are only eligible to work on campus without a work permit if you have a study permit.
Work Permits Required
The Off-Campus Work Permit Program allows certain foreign students to work off campus while completing their studies. However, even if you work off campus, your studies must be the main reason you are in Canada.
To qualify, you must be a full-time student enrolled at a participating publicly funded post-secondary educational institution or in an approved program at an eligible privately funded institution. A full list of approved institutions can be found here. You must also be a full-time student for at least 6 of the 12 months preceding your application. You must also be in satisfactory academic standing.
To work off campus you must apply for a work permit. The work permit authorizes you to work up to 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions, and full time during winter and summer holidays, and spring break.
You can apply for an Off-Campus Work Permit online. The fee for applying for an Off-Campus Work Permit is $150. Work permits are generally valid for the same period as your study permit.
Visiting and exchange students are not eligible for this program.
Internships and Co-Op programs
For some academic programs, work experience is part of the curriculum. Foreign students who wish to participate in a co-op or internship program must apply for a work permit as well as a study permit.
By Jess Gerrow, who traded city life in Canada for island life in the Mediterranean two years ago. She is a postgraduate marketing student, blogger, and freelance writer.