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Five regulated or specialized occupations: How to obtain your professional designation or recognition

Economic conditions in Canada have steadily improved, while the unemployment rate continues to drop.1 Many Canadians are re-entering the labour force after lengthy hiatuses as companies are hiring and profit sheets are back in the black. There are several regulated or specialized occupations – those controlled by a professional association or provincial and/or federal law – that have a positive outlook. About 20 percent of all jobs in Canada are regulated.2 Some require advanced education and licensure, while others require only provincial certification. Here are highlights from five of those careers and information on getting started.

Human resource specialists

A human resource professional is the life-blood of an organization. They handle recruiting, training and personnel relationships. The organization will turn to an HR person for strategic advice, clear guidance, and leadership on all aspects of HR. To become a human resource specialist, one can complete a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as psychology or sociology. However, a bachelor in Human Resources is offered at several universities and colleges as an undergraduate degree program.3 Once a bachelor’s degree is obtained an HR person can decide to get a Certified Human Resources Professionals (CHRPs) designation. According to PayScale, a CHRP designation can increase career opportunities and greater earning potential than HR professionals without the designation. HR professionals who pursue the CHRP must meet all requirements set out by their provincial HR associations, which aim to measure their competence and experience as HR professionals. CHRPs must undergo studies, comprehensive exam(s) and ongoing learning to keep their designation.

Although this certification is not required to work in HR, some employers will view it as a tiebreaker when choosing between several candidates.

Payroll specialists

Payroll specialist are sometimes considered part of human resources or the finance department. They handle the payroll obligations of the organization and the financial dealings between the company and its employees. Payroll, employee benefits and allowances, and pension plans are some of the areas a payroll specialist will manage. A strong background in accounting is what most employers will look for when selecting a payroll specialist. Though accountants must be certified through their respective province, certification is not necessarily required to become a payroll specialist. A degree in accounting is sufficient to get your foot in the door.

However, to succeed in today’s competitive business environment, the Canadian Payroll Association in Canada offers CPA Certification Programs to people working in payroll. These programs allow payroll specialists to obtain the following designations:

  • Payroll Compliance Practitioner (PCP)
  • Certified Payroll Manager (CPM)

Payroll specialists who wish to enroll in the programs must meet a payroll experience prerequisite to register. To satisfy this prerequisite, they must have at least two years of experience being responsible for an organization’s payroll function, which includes being accountable to management for the accuracy of employees’ pay and all government statutory remittances, or equivalent experience, obtained in the past five years. They must also maintain a membership with the CPA.


The globalization of commerce has placed a premium on individuals who can speak multiple languages. Translation services are more in demand,4 especially as cloud computing continues to make strides into international commerce. Translators read written documents in one language and re-write them in a different one. They should not be confused with interpreters, who translate the spoken word.

The titles of “certified translator”, “certified terminologist”, “certified interpreter”, “certified conference interpreter” and “certified court interpreter” are granted by the provincial regulatory bodies for these professions. First, apply for membership to one of several organizations associated with the Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council (CTTIC). CTTIC is responsible for the application of uniform standards for professional certification across Canada. CTTIC also administers the various exams that confer the right to use these titles.

Translators in Montreal earned the highest average wage in 2011, at $34 per hour. Most of the nation’s translators earn at least $20 per hour.4

Massage therapists

The overall outlook on jobs for massage therapists continues to be strong due at least in part to the plethora of ways patients are able to pay for services. Auto insurance policies now cover massage therapy at higher rates; therapists in Ontario said 11 percent of their total business came from auto insurance claims.

Each province has varying requirements for practicing massage therapy. The Massage Therapy Alliance of Canada lists affiliated provincial associations and their minimum education requirements necessary for certification. These credentials can be obtained after graduating from one of several member institutions of the Canadian Council of Massage Therapy Schools.

Therapists can go into business for themselves if they wish, but many therapists work in multiple operations to maximize earnings potential. A recent survey found that 43 percent of practicing therapists said income only met expectations when working multiple jobs.5

Real estate agents

The housing market in Canada has been relatively steady, though some in the industry expect home values to decline over the next two years.6 This is expected to create a buyer’s market and drive up opportunities for real estate agents. Prospective agents must complete a course of study administered by their respective province to gain certification. Agents are generally paid based on the sale price of a house they close, with the average real estate agent currently earning about $49,423 a year.7

The Canadian Real Estate Association is the major trade association for this field. It works through 100 real estate boards and associations across the country.


About the author
Ben Mcgregor
A real estate agent and financial consultant for local SMBs,
Ben also shares his insights on how to organize your finances on several business websites

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In addition to our regular guest bloggers, First Reference Talks blog published by First Reference, provides occasional guest post opportunities from various subject matter experts on the topics of payroll, employment and labour law, payroll, HR analytics, corporate immigration, accessibility related issues in Canada. If you are a subject matter expert and would like to become an occasional blogger, please contact Yosie Saint-Cyr at If you liked this post, subscribe to First Reference Talks blog to get regular updates.

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