'I don't have enough experience'
'I'm too old'
'I won't find a job'
'I don't want to write another exam!'
The list of excuses or misinformation goes on and on. The truth is, if you want to live abroad, experience life in a new country, and continue doing the job that you love to do, you can!
The below information will detail the steps that you need to take in order to make it all happen.
Because I went through this process as a Canadian, the following information will be biased towards Canadians. However, if you are from America, or Australia, I do believe your experience will be quite similar!
Pick a Country
First things first, you've got to pick a country. If you are an English speaker, your job is going to be a lot easier if you pick a country where the national language is English.
BUT! If you are feeling super adventurous and envision yourself eating croissants in Paris, strolling the streets of Rome or riding a rickshaw in Mumbai, there is still hope! In these cases, you can work independently. You can create a niche for yourself and offer private speech therapy to English speaking residents of the country. As is the case in any country, working independently means that you will have to do your research to find out about business licences, insurance etc. If that's not for you, do a quick Google search to find out if there are any clinics in the city that offer Speech and Langauge services in English.
Get a Visa
In order to work abroad, you will need a visa which allows you to do so legally. If you are between the ages of 18 and 30-35 and you don't plan to move away from Canada permanently then the 'Working Holiday Visa' is the one for you! It's relatively easy to apply for, it's valid for 1 to 2 years depending on the country, and it tends to be a lot cheaper than other visas.
The following countries offer Working Holiday Visas to Canadians. Click the country to be taken to their immigration page where you can find out more information and apply.
* = ages 18 to 35
no* = ages 18 - 30
If you don't meet the age requirements for a Working Holiday Visa, you can find a job first and then get the company to sponsor you. The company that I currently work in London just sponsored an American to join us!
Mutual Recognition Agreement
Speech-Language & Audiology Canada (SAC) has a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) with the following associations:
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
- Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists (RCSLT)
- Speech Pathology Australia (SPA)
- Irish Association of Speech-Language Therapists (IASLT)
- New Zealand Speech Therapists' Association (NZSTA)
The MRA means that you will NOT have to write another exam! You will be able to join the professional association of the country and I repeat: You will NOT have to write that dreaded national exam again!
Joining the Professional Association is not the same as being licensed by the Regulatory Body. This is something that you will still have to do.
Apply for licensing with the region's regulatory body
As in Canada, each country will have a regulatory body that Speech Language Therapists need to join in order to be allowed to work in the profession. For example, in order to work in Vancouver, I needed to join the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professional of British Columbia (quite the mouthful!) and in order to work in London, I needed to join the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
This process can take some time. The application is quite comprehensive and requires you to detail what your MSc program (course names, content and number of hours). If you went to the University of Alberta, you are lucky because I've done all of the work for you! Carol and LuAnne will hook you up!
Once your application is sent in, HCPC can take up to 16 weeks to review the application and decide whether you are worthy of a license to work. I do think that the MRA and the fact that all Canadian SLPs have Masters degrees give us a leg up and I'd be surprised to hear about an application being rejected.
Find a Job!
So, you've picked a country, you've got a visa and you have a license to work...now all you need is a job! If you are coming to the UK I would recommend signing up for a few recruitment agencies. All of the interviews that I went to were set up by a recruitment agency, including the job that I landed!
Build an International Speech Toolbox
There have been so many great things about working in London. Besides getting to work with children who have the cutest British accents, I'm learning therapy techniques and programs that I had never heard about in Canada. It's been a great way of building my toolbox of skills. I can't wait to write further blog posts about certain therapy ideas, techniques and tools that blew my mind!
Work Hard and Play Hard
Make the most of your experience abroad and explore the city that you are in and all of the cities around it! The great part about living in London has been the close proximity to the rest of Europe. Work hard, earn money, and take mini holidays on your time off!
So what are you waiting for!? Come and join me in London! :)
Labels: For SLPs