Nurses In Canada-Pay, IELTS, Immigration, Requirements &Types

Nurses are caregivers who take care of patients and help to manage their physical needs, prevent illness, and treat health conditions. They observe and monitor the patient, recording any relevant information that aids in the treatment of the patient.

Nurses follow the progress of the patient and they act with the patient’s best interests in mind. The care nurses provide goes beyond just administering medications, the care they provide for the patient covers several needs of the patient. The presence of nurses cannot be over-emphasized in the world.

Nurses are employed in several aspects of professional settings, especially in the practice of healthcare. They may also be supervisors of the care delivered by other healthcare workers. 

Nurses that are registered usually have to meet a requirement of minimum practice hours and go through continuing education to maintain their license. Also, nurses are required to be free from any serious criminal convictions. 

In this article, we’ll be talking about nurses. Nurses in Canada, to be exact. The country is ranked as having the best standards of living in the world and they are on the lookout for both nursing students and aspiring nursing professionals. 

If you want to study a nursing program or you are already a registered nurse and you want to settle in Canada, opportunities are waiting for you. Nursing is a highly valued career option in Canada right now because of the increasing demand for healthcare professionals. 

There is also an added advantage with the high possibility of various permanent residency options. Canada is also an immigrant-friendly country with about 20% of its population filled with multicultural people from different spheres of life. 

There are more predictions of the continued shortage of nurses in Canada in the future. This means nursing jobs are available now more than ever, but let us start with the different types of nurses in Canada.

Types of Nurses in Canada

If you’ve spent a considerable amount of time in a hospital, you’ll understand that nurses are the lifeblood of the place. They keep things running smoothly. Besides hospitals, nurses can also work in dozens of other places. Several specialties provide a range of services in the healthcare industry, from counseling and teaching to palliative care. What this means is that there are different types of nurses out there in the world. 

Whether you’re thinking about becoming a nurse or you’re in the field already and you want to advance your career, there are so many types of nurses and so many different roles they play for you to consider.

We will take a look at the types of nurses in Canada. They are categorized into four main types: Registered Nurses (RNs), Nurse Practitioners (NPs), Registered Practical Nurses or Licensed Practical Nurses (RPNs or LPNs), and Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNS).

Registered Nurses (RNs):

This type of nurse holds a deep knowledge base in areas such as clinical practice, critical thinking, and research utilization.

There are more RNs in Canada than any other type of nurse. As of 2020, there were more than 300,000 RNs that were registered in Canada. 

Their job description includes:

  • Administration of care for patients.

  • Assisting doctors to record medical history.

  • Monitoring symptoms.

  • Delivering direct care to patients in all types of medical situations.

  • Working with families and patients in different settings. 

RNs in Canada can also be certified, through the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) in more than twenty specialties:

  • Cardiovascular Nursing.

  • Community Health Nursing.

  • Critical Care Nursing.

  • Critical Care Pediatric Nursing.

  • Emergency Nursing.

  • Enterostomal Therapy Nursing.

  • Gastroenterology Nursing.

  • Gerontological Nursing.

  • Hospice Palliative Care Nursing.

  • Medical-Surgical Nursing.

  • Nephrology Nursing.

  • Neuroscience Nursing.

  • Occupational Health Nursing.

  • Oncology Nursing.

  • Orthopaedic Nursing.

  • PeriAnesthesia Nursing.

  • Perinatal Nursing.

  • Perioperative Nursing.

  • Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing.

  • Rehabilitation Nursing

Nurse Practitioners (NPs):

There were more than 6,000 NPs in Canada, in 2020. NPs are simply RNs who have additional training in advanced nursing.

They must have a Master’s degree or advanced diploma in nursing. NPs are different from RNs in their roles in patient care, the education they had to go through, and their duties.

The tasks for NPs include:

  • Accessing patients.

  • Diagnosing them for diseases, disorders, and other conditions.

  • Emphasizing disease prevention and health management.

  • Initiating treatment like healthcare management, offering therapeutic interventions, and prescribing medications.

  • NPs also order and interpret diagnostic tests.

Registered Practical Nurses or Licensed Practical Nurses (RPNs or LPNs):

RPNs and LPNs mean the same thing, the titles just depend on the province. The title RPNs is used in Ontario and Quebec while LPNs are used in the other provinces. They make up the second-largest number of nurses in Canada. In 2020, there were more than 130,000 RPNs/LPNs in the country. 

RPNs/LPNs do not have the same level of education as other types of nurses because they are placed with more stable patients in uncomplicated conditions. Some of their tasks include:

  • Changing bandages.

  • Speaking with families of patients. 

  • Taking blood and pressure readings. 

These types of nurses make up the largest portion of part-time workers, according to the Canadian Institute of Health Information.

They also make up 59% of nurses working in long-term care. That’s the largest proportion of nurses working in long-term care. 

Before LPNs and RPNs can start a healthcare career, they must complete Canada’s national licensing exam.

They also need a two-year practical nursing diploma from an accredited college. Their education focuses on foundational competencies within their scope of practice and ​standards. 

Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNS):

We will call them RPNS for the sake of this article. RPNS are currently licensed to work only in Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, Yukon, and Saskatchewan. Still, there are more than 6,000 RPNS in Canada. 

RPNS focuses on “mental developmental health, mental illness, and addictions while integrating physical healthcare and utilizing bio-psycho-social and spiritual models for a holistic approach to care,” according to the Registered Psychiatric Nurse Regulators of Canada.

They focus a lot on:

  • Illness prevention.

  • Rehabilitation.

  • Recovery.

  • Emotion, behavior, and cognition.

Besides these four regulated streams of nursing, nurses can still specialize in other areas such as:

  • Clinical studies nursing, they observe and interview patients for research.

  • Midwife nursing, assist mothers who wish to give birth at home. 

  • Education, they work in hospitals or schools training other nurses.

  • Travel nursing, they go to different locations for temporary assignments.

As you can see, there are several options in the field of nursing and personal care. Your healthcare career can go in so many directions, with something new to learn regularly.

Number of Nurses in Canada

The total number of nurses in Canada in 2010 was 284,788 while in 2020, the total number was 304,558. The chart here shows the total number in Canada from 2010 to 2020.

Nurses Shortage in Canada  

The shortage of nurses in Canada started way before the pandemic, but experts say the past two years did not do much to help the situation, rather it made matters worse. 

Issues in healthcare and social assistance like an aging workforce, poor salaries, and the pull of higher-paying international jobs made nearly one in five jobs vacant in the first quarter of 2021, according to Statistics Canada

The shortage was predicted long ago by the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) and the effect of it is the significant mental-health toll it had on nurses, resulting in most of them quitting their jobs. Job vacancies for registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses increased up to 85.8% in the second quarter of 2021. It is the largest increase among all occupations in the country. 

In a 2009 report, the CNA predicted that Canada would see a shortage of 60,000 full-time nurses by 2022. The president of the association said the estimate was based on some factors but it still does not account for the impacts of the pandemic.

 Salary of Nurses in Canada  

The shortage of nurses in Canada means that employment prospects for registered nurses are very good there. Nurses trained internationally can also apply for jobs in Canada. 

The government also forecasts that as the population ages, demand for health services will increase, which will, in turn, increase the demand for health professionals in general. Slightly over 50% of job vacancies will be open because of the expansion in demand.

On that note, the average nurse salary in Canada is $71,886 per year. This means the average wage is $36.86 per hour. 

Entry-level positions can start at $55,212 per year, while more experienced workers can make up to $91,371 per year.

Highest Paid Nurses in Canada

In Canada, the job description for nurses ranges from general services to more specific services, but they are all important.

Just as the job description isn’t one size fits all, the salaries are not too. There are some types of nurses that earn higher than others.

This does not, in any way, make the other specialties less important. We will look at the top six highest-paid nursing specialties in Canada and what they do. 

The top six specialties are Enterostomal therapy nurses (ET), Cardiovascular nurses, Community health nurses, Critical care pediatric nurses, Critical care nurses, and Emergency nurses.

1. Enterostomal Therapy Nurses (ET): 

These nurses undergo very intensive training to be able to treat open wounds and openings in the body, either natural or artificial called stomas. Not only do ET nurses treat stomas and help patients recover from them, but they also provide education and rehabilitation steps. 

All of this expertise makes an ET nurse one of the highest-paid nursing specialties in Canada.

2. Cardiovascular Nurses:

This type of nurse assists in the caring of patients with heart conditions, acute or chronic. Sometimes, they assist cardiac surgeons during heart surgery. 

A cardiovascular nurse works in the treatment and rehabilitation of a patient after a serious medical issue like a heart attack or they perform resuscitations if the patient goes into cardiac arrest. 

These nurses build their skills and knowledge around the cardiovascular system, using the training for both assessing and monitoring the patient to better understand the patient’s issues.

3. Community Health Nurses:

These nurses connect directly with the community to help with their health. Besides providing treatment, they can also create health plans for their patients and they also implement these plans for an overall healthier community. 

Another important role they play is to educate their patients about the prevention of some issues like obesity, substance abuse, or even sexually transmitted diseases. 

Due to the nature of their job, these nurses are also one of the highest-paid nursing specialties in Canada.

4. Critical Care Pediatric Nurses:

This specialty of nurses looks after children in need of critical care. A child between 0-17 years of age in serious condition that needs intensive care will be treated by a critical care pediatric nurse. 

They care for children who have serious illnesses or who are recovering from an accident or surgery. They provide either long-term care or short-term care, it all depends on the child’s condition. 

They also act as the middle person between the family of the child and a surgeon in the case of surgery. They try to explain the procedure to them so they have a good understanding of the situation. 

Critical care pediatric nurses have extensive training to treat many highly serious conditions in children.

5. Critical Care Nurses:

These nurses are similar to critical care pediatric nurses but they treat patients ages 18 and older with serious conditions. They also provide either long-term or short-term care depending on the patient’s need and act as the go-between for the patient and their family, and a doctor or surgeon. 

They are usually stationed in the Intensive Care Unit or the Trauma Unit, to look after patients who come out from the emergency or operating room. 

6. Emergency Nurses:

This type of nurse works in emergency rooms and departments and they also provide treatment for patients in ambulatory care centers and military settings, including war zones. 

They have the training to deal with any emergency and they are capable of assessment, diagnoses, stabilization, or even resuscitation. They learn to take charge of a situation and make quick decisions. 

You can read more about the six highest-paid specialties in Canada here.

International Nurses in Canada

These nurses make up 8.9% of Canada’s regulated nursing supply. If you were internationally trained or have work experience, you would probably have some of the basic requirements needed to be a nurse in Canada. 

Each province and territory have its requirements for internationally educated nurses to be registered in Canada. Once you meet the provincial requirements where you want to work, you have to apply for a license and write the licensing exam, of course.

Nurses trained internationally face challenges most times getting their credentials recognized in Canada. The shortage has made it important for the time it takes to complete certification or licensure to be reduced, so they can meet the system’s need for nurses.

Education and experience are also important requirements for internationally trained nurses. They must have graduated from an approved school in their country, hold a valid nursing registration from their country, and have experience of at least two to five years within the nursing profession.

Age Limit for Nurses in Canada

One’s age might be taken into consideration if the demands of the job are going to be stressful and the nurses might find it difficult to meet those demands due to their age.

But there is no official age limit in Canada. They have practicing nurses who are well into their 60s and 70s.


A bridge program in Canada is a partnership between two post-secondary institutions that allows students to transfer college credits from one school to another. A student who wants to opt for a bridge program holds a two-year college degree but wants a four-year degree. 

Most bridge programs are categorized into three types:

  1. Bilateral: It is an agreement between two institutions and two specific programs that have similar content.

    Students are also permitted to use some of their initial credits to complete the other program at the new school.
  1. Multilateral: This is an agreement between one school and several schools that offer programs of interest that are related.

    What this means is that the completion of one specific program will lead directly to another degree program in the partnership schools that are related to the completed program. 
  1. Concurrent: This is a collaborative agreement between two institutions where students have to work toward two sets of qualifications, like a diploma and a degree, at the same time and on the same campus.

The nursing courses in bridging programs provide in-depth knowledge and an enhanced learning experience for nurses who already have a certain level of education and experience in the field. 

Some nursing bridging programs offer clinical placements as well. This would enable the students to gain real-life experience by applying the skills they’ve learned in the program. 

There are bridging programs for internationally educated nurses offered by different institutions and the requirements, program lengths and tuition fees for these programs will vary, but they will allow students to bridge into Bachelor of Science Nursing programs. You will have to check the program details for each school carefully on their website.

Bridging programs for Internationally educated nurses try to help nurses that got educated internationally transition smoothly into the Canadian healthcare workforce. 

Bridging students will gain the necessary knowledge they need about the Canadian HealthCare system including safe and ethical practices in the system.


The Canadian Immigration Program is based on points and to qualify for a permanent residency visa, you need to have at least 67 out of 100 points across the application. 

In addition to this, you also need a high IELTS score. The score does not have a pass or fail rather it offers a score from zero to nine, which means:

9Expert User
8Very Good User
7Good User
6Competent User
5Modest User
4Limited User
3Extremely Limited User
2Intermittent User
1Non User
0Did Not Sit The Exam

The minimum IELTS score required for nurses in Canada is an overall score of 6.5, at least 7 in the speaking component, and no less than 6 on any other individual component.


Nurses are among the most in-demand jobs in Canada right now, as a result of the shortage that is still expected to persist. 

If you are interested in having a career in nursing in Canada, you must first apply to the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) and submit the documents that will allow you to register as a nurse in Canada. The NNAS is a national online application service developed by nursing regulatory bodies in Canada. 

You will find the NNAS 6-Step Application Process here.

Registered Nurses (RNs) and Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNS) are expecting new job openings. The openings are expected to be a total of 191,100 while the number of job seekers is estimated to be a total of 154,600.

Although nurses are in high demand in Canada, it is important to research nursing jobs and employment requirements before you arrive in Canada. It would be difficult to secure a job without the required credentials and license.


Nurses fall into one of two categories in the Canadian government’s National Occupation Classification (NOC). Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses are NOC 3012, skill level A, while licensed practical nurses are NOC 3233, skill level B. 

Registered nurses with a Bachelor of Sciences in Nurses are the most needed by healthcare facilities everywhere including Canada. One of the attributes that makes them so desirable is their versatility, because of their skills, they can cover multiple areas.

Also, as a result of the projected number of job openings being larger than the projected number of job seekers for Registered psychiatric nurses (RPNS), they are needed in Canada.

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