How to work for Government as a Student in Canada


Imagine working for the government of Canada while still at school. The benefits you can get, apart from the work experience are many. Why not step out of your imagination. Act now. Apply for a job in any of the government agencies, and secure a future you can be sure of.

If you are a student in Canada, and considering remaining in Canada after school, maybe working toward a Permanent Residency (PR), the best time to start working towards it is now. Build your curriculum vitae with Canadian work experience, so that you can join the Express Entry Stream and add precious points to your CRS, without a sweat. Advisably, work for the government of Canada.

Working for the government has a lot of benefits for the student, one of which is the prospect of continuity and re-employment after school. Looking for a student job with the Canadian government, all you have to do is to choose between the three candidature options available.

Government agencies can employ students who are on Post-Secondary Co-operative Education and Internship Program (CO-OP), those who are on Research Affiliate Programs (RAP), and those who are on Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP).

For each of the 3 types of candidature, there is the assurance of a salary while you work. It’s more like being paid to learn. The 3 pathways to work for the government as a student in Canada

Three pathways to government employment as a student in Canada

Post-Secondary Co-operative Education and Internship Program

The Co-operative Education and Internship Program (Co-op/Internship) is supervised, on-the-job training for post-secondary school students, which lasts for a period of 4 months. During this period, the student is expected to earn skills and knowledge which he will need to become self-employed or to pursue an academic goal.

In Canada, some academic programs require work experience as part of the curriculum. As an international student who wishes to take part in a co-op or internship, you must apply for a co-op/internship work permit at the time of applying for your study permit.

To be eligible for a co-op or internship work permit, you must have the following:

  • A valid study permit
  • Your intended work must be an important part of your program of study. It must be relevant to what you intend to study in Canada.
  • Your intended work must be part of your program at a designated learning institute (DLI)
  • An academic official at the DLI must certify that your intended work is relevant to your program
  • Your employment must not form more than 50% of the total program of study.

Research Affiliate Program

The program provides opportunities for students to partner with Canadian government agencies, to conduct research related to their studies and to the agency. In this case, students are expected to work on a part-time basis, gaining experience with the agency while conducting research that is relevant to their educational program.

Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP)

This is the largest student employment program that provides opportunities for students to gain experience in the federal public service.

The FSWEP is a pathway to future career options within the federal public service, and students who are engaged through this program, enrich their academic program.

On a regular basis, international students immigrate to Canada to seek quality education and valuable work experience. The Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP) in Canada is designed for such people. The program provides students with Canadian work experience and a possibility of employment thereafter.

To gain employment on the FSWEP platform, students have to go through the Public Service Commission (PSC). They join a pool of other students and wait for opportunities in the federal public service. Students are employed on the basis of referrals from the public service commission.

Who is eligible for the FSWEP?

It has been argued that the government has a preference for full-time students as against part-time students, and awards them work-study arrangements.

The reason for this restrictive policy is that with the work-study arrangement, full-time students have the opportunity to cover most of their annual tuition and accommodation cost.

This will reduce the money they will need as student loans. Most part-time students are either employed elsewhere or have lower tuition costs than full-time students.

Although part-time students may not be eligible for jobs under FSWEP, there are many part-time government jobs available in Canada that may fit their part-time schedules.

There are retailing jobs, farming, hotel and resort, and construction and distribution jobs available for part-time students. Also, provinces offer employment especially for situations where their staff are on annual leave.

Benefits of working for the government as a student in Canada

A little bit more money wouldn’t hurt anyone, least of all a student who is probably living on loans. If you are wise, you can save up money to start paying back your loans when you graduate. Remember that the government will expect you to start servicing this loan, 6 months after graduation. Apart from saving to pay off loans, it feels good to receive a paycheck, especially as a student.

  • Seeking networking opportunities

Networking is very important for the international student who expects to remain in Canada after studies, and gain employment. If you build on your network, it will sustain you after school. The friends you cultivate through the years as well as your work colleagues may be good references when you are seeking employment.

  • Gaining professional experience

Government agencies afford students the opportunity to learn as they work. This would in turn help them in the future when they want to create their curriculum vitae. Experience is something your future employer will definitely appreciate when you are looking for a job after school.

  • Developing transferable skills

Skills like leadership, communication, team spirit, and hard work, are transferrable from one career to another. These are skills you can apply in any position you work at. This means that if after graduation, you get a job different from what you were doing as a student, these basic skills will still apply.

  • Highlighting your ambition

It is not easy to balance work and study. It takes a level of strictness to do so. If you don’t know, employers take note of students who are managing both aspects of their lives well. This shows a level of determination and ambition which employers appreciate. It will also help you to examine your potentials and your career path

  • Learning money management

You can learn to track your expenses and set your monthly budget limits so that you do not overspend. If you already have this skill, you are lucky. If you don’t this would be a good time to learn to manage your finances.

  • Applying classroom learning and receiving paid training

Isn’t it just wonderful – being paid to learn? This is apart from being able to put into practice, all that has been taught in class.

  • Enrich your academic program

It is natural to feel bored at school, probably because the academic work is not challenging. Working with professionals will help you to see your academic work from a different perspective, and it will help if you can discuss your studies with people who have superior and practical knowledge.

  • Develop your skills and enhance your employability

Of course, having previous work experience, wouldn’t hurt your curriculum vitae one bit. It feels good to know that you can apply for your entry-level job after school, with previous work experience.

  • Gain insights into potential future career options within the federal public service

When you are in the system, you have the chance to look around for career options that you can explore when you graduate.

Apart from the above benefits, an international student who has a qualifying work experience and knowledge of either English or French or both stands a chance of applying to stay permanently in Canada under the Express Entry System.

He can do this through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) if they gained experience through Post-Graduation Work Permit Program. Under the Express Entry system, international students can receive extra points for study in Canada, and this makes it easy for them to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Permanent Residency (PR).

Travelling to Canada with Cash

Requirements for working for the government as a student in Canada

  • As an international student, you are expected to work for 20 hours every week (part-time), during school sessions
  • You are expected to work for 40 hours every week (full time), during school breaks or holidays.
  • You can work without a work permit, if you have a valid study permit, on the condition that you are a full-time student. You can work in or out of the campus.
  • Your study permit is valid when it includes a condition that you can work with it. If the condition is not included, you can get it done at no cost.
  • You must return to full-time studies in the next academic year.
  • You must meet the minimum age requirement by the province or territory you are applying to.
  • Provide proof of eligibility in case contacted for a job (i.e. Letter from Registrar Office, registration confirmation, any other document confirming your full-time student status in the institution)

Government Agencies that employ students

The government of Canada believes in catching them young. To this end, some government agencies assigned special portfolios and job functions to students under the FSWEP. This is to encourage them to be accountable for the work they do. Some of these agencies are:

  • Canadian Forces Housing Agency (CFHA)
  • Communications Security Establishment (CSE)
  • Defense Research and Development Canada (DRDC)
  • Public Safety Canada (PSC)
  • Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
  • Department of National Defense (DND)
  • Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)

What are the job types available under FSWEP?

There are various jobs available under FSWEP

  • Information Technology
  • Administration
  • Fieldwork and research
  • Finance
  • Scientific Computing Student
  • Student border services officers (SBSOs)
  • Capital information officer and tour guide
  • Human Resources
  • Multi-media and Web Design
  • Protective Security Administration
  • Property Asset Management
  • Translation

The Public Service Commission (PSC) maintains an inventory of applicants. Students must apply through the PSC application portal. Managers can request referrals of available students at any time during the year. On the PSC webpage, an applicant will be directed to the government of Canada job bank where there is a list of available jobs. To become eligible for FSWEP opportunities, students must apply to the current FSWEP campaign

Salaries for students working in government

Rates of pay for hiring students can be found at:

On May 1, 2019,  a review of students’ pay rates took effect. Under this review, if the province or territory where the student is working, pays higher than the agency the student is working at, the pay rate of the province or territory, will supersede the agency’s.

Currently, the highest paying province is Alberta. The Alberta minimum wage is the basis on which students are paid.

The following web pages are significant to the student looking to work for the government of Canada

To find a student research job in the government  which will help you conduct research in your field of study and gain experience with government agencies through the Research Affiliate Program (RAP)

Government co-op placements and internships Find a list of programs and requirements for co-op placements and internships.

Other government opportunities for students and graduates.

Learn about other student and graduate hiring programs, inventories, fellowships and career options.

Job Bank

Job postings for students and youth across Canada.

Get a work permit

To apply for or extend a work permit, for foreign workers in Canada.


As a student working for the Canadian government, be careful not to give in to the temptation of working longer hours than the allocated 20 hours. Think about what you could lose if discovered – a chance to live the life you always wanted, in Canada. Obey the rules – stick to 20 hours a week.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an international student work for the government of Canada?

If you have a study permit and are enrolled full-time in an eligible institution you may work on and off-campus without a work permit.

How many hours can a student work for the govt in Canada?

You can work up to 20 hours per week. It is unacceptable to work more than 20 hours except during holidays. Defaulting may cost you your study permit conditions.

Also, you may lose your student status and may be forced to leave the country. When this happens, you become inadmissible to Canada.

What is the required age limit to work for the government of Canada as a student?

Normally, you must be a Canadian or foreign youth aged 18 to 35. For some countries, the age limit is 18 to 29 or 30 years old.

What is the salary of a student working for the government of Canada?

In Canada, students are paid as per minimum wage rate which is approximately equal to C$10.25- C$15 per hour amounting to C$400 – C$1000 per month.



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