Overview of the Licensing Process in Ontario

1. Regulated Professions

In Ontario certain professions are regulated (i.e., controlled or restricted) by self-governing organizations called occupational regulatory bodies (ORBs). A person has to register with the governing organization, and to become licensed by it in order to practice that profession.

In some regulated professions, it is illegal for you to work or use the title of the profession if you are not registered with the regulatory body. In others, you can do the work of the profession but you must register with the regulatory body if you want to use the title.

Some professions are not regulated by law, but may have voluntary professional bodies. If you belong to one of these professions, membership in the professional bodies is not mandatory.

If your profession is on the Occupational Regulatory Bodies in Ontario list, it is a regulated profession

2. Occupational Regulatory Bodies (ORBs)

Regulatory bodies have been established under provincial laws to protect the public by setting standards of practice and competence. They have the authority to:

  • set entry and training requirements
  • set standards of practice
  • assess qualifications and credentials
  • license, register or certify qualified applicants
  • discipline members

3. The Licensing Process
Although the registration process is different in each province and for each profession, certain generic steps and requirements are common to most professions in Ontario.

Assessment of Credentials

Getting your credentials assessed is usually the first step in the licensing process. It’s a good idea to take this step immediately, even if you do not yet meet the other requirements for licensure (e.g. work experience, language proficiency). Remember that the regulatory body can take time – sometimes months – to complete the assessment.

You may choose to use an independent credential assessment service, such as World Education Services or WES (at www.wes.org/ca/licensing). Independent assessments are generally used for employment purposes or for entry into training or educational programs. You should always check with your occupational regulatory body to find out what type of credential evaluation is required.

To prove your qualifications, you will have to provide certain documents, including:

  • detailed course descriptions
  • transcripts
  • copies of degrees
  • letters from employers
  • copies of your other certificates, permits or licences

In most cases, the regulatory body will require official copies of your documents. For example, the educational institution from which you graduated must send your transcripts directly to the regulatory body. In some situations, the regulatory body will accept notarized copies.

Most regulatory bodies require documents in English. You are responsible for the translation costs.

Some regulatory bodies have Mutual Recognition Agreements with regulatory bodies in other English-speaking and/or Commonwealth countries, or the U.S. This means that the Ontario regulatory body will automatically recognize professionals from those countries.

A few regulatory bodies (e.g., Midwives and Medical Laboratory Technicians) have a system of Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) as an alternative to the credential assessment process.

You will probably have to pay several hundred dollars for the assessment of your credentials.

Language Requirements

Almost all occupational regulatory bodies expect some degree of fluency in English or French. The ORB may explicitly or implicitly demand a level of fluency.

Explicit requirements usually involve a specific score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language or other standardized English or French language tests.

If a regulatory body does not have a stated fluency requirement, it usually means that the ORB’s own examinations will test your fluency. Applicants who are not able to read and write to a certain level will fail the test.

Training

In some cases, you will have to take some upgrading or training courses to meet the requirements of the profession in Ontario.

Courses may be delivered by the regulatory body itself or by a community college or university.

Usually, you will have to pay a fee for training or upgrading.

You may find that the courses you need are not available in your geographic area or that they may not be offered on a continual basis.

Work Experience

In many professions, you will have to complete a period of supervised work experience before you will receive a licence. Some regulatory bodies demand Canadian work experience, which means that the experience you gained in another country will not meet their requirements.

You may have to find a position – paid or unpaid – with a licensed member of your profession. The work experience you gain must include specified duties and responsibilities in order to meet the requirements for licensure.

Examinations

Formal examinations are part of almost every licensing process.

Exams often involve a large fee.

Examination formats include multiple choice, practical (hands-on), problem-solving and essay. The formal exams often act as a test of your English fluency as well.

You may be able to get study guides and preparation courses from your regulatory body.

You may or may not be able to write the exams in your own geographic area. Exams are often offered only once or twice a year.

Some regulatory bodies offer applicants more than one opportunity to write and pass the examination(s).

Appeals

Most regulatory bodies do not have an appeals process. If they do, it can be restricted to certain reasons, or to certain parts of the licensing process.

If you are appealing a decision made by your regulatory body, you should have the services of a lawyer.

Registration

Usually the final step in the licensing process, registration means that you have completed the final registration form and paid the registration fee.