A Guide to Moving Abroad for Recently Qualified Accountants…Canada 


Following on from the recent CASSI and Barden webinar trainee and recently qualified accountants considering a move abroad Brian O’Connor ACA, Senior Associate with Barden and expert in recently qualified accountants careers, checks in with Siobhán Sexton ACA, Business Lead with Barden and expert in Recently Qualified Accountants careers, who shares THE best advice when moving to Canada.

So Siobhan, who have you reached out to for the most up to date information about moving to Canada?

I spoke to my colleague from my time in Toronto, Marie-Claire McDonnell, who is also ACA Qualified, and she has spent time as an accountant in both Australia and Toronto, before moving into Accounting and Finance recruitment in Toronto.

What is the market like in Canada at the moment?

It is 100% an employee’s market at the moment. And while inflation in Canada is high right now, there is plenty of work and the economy is doing really well which is great for people potentially making a move over.

What kind of roles do qualified accountants typically move into when they go to Canada?

Roles tend to be called SFA – Senior Financial Analyst or Senior Accountant. SFA roles are a hybrid role or an analyst focused role, and Senior Accountant are minimum 80% reporting/compliance with some budgeting/forecasting, so it is important to look closely at the spec when reviewing a role.

Do people typically take on permanent or contract jobs when they move over?

Traditionally there was a hesitancy in hiring people into permanent roles with no previous Canadian experience but this has changed in recent years. More and more companies are taking people on in permanent roles now which is great.

There are also lots of contract options – don’t be afraid to take on contract when you arrive first. Look at the company itself and the experience you are set to gain from the role.

Is there anything from a VISA point of view that I should be aware of?

Absolutely, unfortunately it is very difficult to work in Canada without a working visa. But the process isn’t overly complicated. In order to apply for the 2 year IEC working holiday visa for Canada, you must meet a number of criteria:

  1. Be a citizen of Ireland.
  2. Have an Irish passport that expires after your working holiday in Canada.
  3. Are between 18 and 35, inclusively.
  4. Proof of $2,500 CAD equivalent or more in savings.

Keep in mind that the VISA application process can take anywhere from 2 to 4/5 months, depending on a number of factors so it’s important to build this into your timeline and plans.

Should I try to get a job before I move over or when I arrive? How long does it usually take to get a job in Canada?

There is more of an appetite if you’re on the ground there – little things like having a local address and cell number can help – you won’t not get something, given the activity on the market, but being over there when looking can have its advantages. It could take up to 3 months though to secure a role, so do keep this in mind and be sure to have enough savings.

What is the likelihood of sponsorship if you wanted to stay for more than two years?

It’s different to Australia in that you don’t need sponsorship. You can apply for permanent residency (once you have one year of work experience in Canada within the last 3 years) and this is valid for 5 years. Once this is achieved, you can then apply for citizenship.

What experience is seen as being particularly valuable for companies taking on qualified accountants moving to Canada? (Is experience outside practice really useful?)

Industry experience isn’t crucial. My main advice would be to have the right information on your CV. Name your public companies experience as there is huge opportunities in public companies and show you are technically strong. If you had mostly private company clients include the size, what the company does, what you did and be specific in the detail.

What is the average pay rate for a recently qualified accountant in Canada?

$80-95k is the average annual pay right now and benefits in a perm role are really strong. You can sometimes get a higher salary in a contract role to make up for not having benefits.

What is the best time of year to get hired?

There is no right or wrong time to move to Toronto – August can be quieter as people are on holidays. One thing I would say to consider is the weather! January to March can see plenty of snow! 🙂

What 3 tips would you give to a recently qualified accountant looking to relocate to Canada from Ireland?

  1. Have 3 months’ rent in your pocket. It’s expensive to live there, so have savings, and remember that interview processes can take a little bit of time so have yourself covered.
  2. Be open to new roles in new industries. Mining, Real Estate, FS and tech are big industries there and are usually based in downtown Toronto and Vancouver and are rapidly growing industries in Canada. They can all be really good areas to get new experience in. Don’t say no to a role just because it is outside your comfort zone, think of the experience you will gain.
  3. Say yes to everything (within reason!!) – Networking is very important in Canada! Have a call, if someone asks you out for dinner or drinks, go. If someone mentions a sports club or book club, go! And enjoy meeting new people from all different backgrounds. And network, network, network.


About Siobhán…

Siobhan Sexton ACA  is Business Lead with Barden and is an expert in recently qualified accounting careers and recruitment.

Originally from Cork, Siobhán Sexton ACA trained in KPMG Cork in the Tax Department and she is ACA qualified since 2017.

Siobhán also worked as part of the Management Consulting team in KPMG Dublin during her training contract. She worked predominantly on pharmaceutical, IT and construction clients.

This experience gives her a unique insight into the finance, accounting and professional service markets.

Following the completion of her training contract with KPMG, Siobhán joined Barden Dublin in March 2017 as part of the Recently Qualified Accountants team.

In 2018 she took a sabbatical to travel to and work in Canada. During her time in Canada, Siobhán worked with both Michael Page and Robert Walters Recruitment. On returning to Ireland, Siobhán relocated to her hometown of Cork and now works with our Recently Qualified Accountants team in Barden Cork.

Contact Siobhán at siobhan.sexton@barden.ie or via LinkedIn.


At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future. Got a topic you would like us to research? Got an insight you would like us to share with our audience? Drop us a note to hello@barden.ie and we will take it from there. Easy.

You might also like

No resources found