Governtment of Canada while still at school. There are many benefits you can get, apart from work experience. So why not step out of your imagination? Act now. Apply for a job in any government agency, 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 to join the Express Entry Stream and add precious points to your CRS without a sweat. Advisably, you can work for the government of Canada.

Working for the government has a lot of benefits for the student, including the prospect of continuity and re-employment after school. If looking for a student job with the Canadian government, you must choose between the three candidature options available.

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

For each of the three types of candidature, there is the assurance of a salary while you work. It is more like being paid to learn. The three 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, lasting four months. During this period, the student is expected to earn the skills and knowledge needed to become self-employed or pursue an academic goal.

In Canada, some academic programs require work experience as part of the curriculum. Therefore, as an international student who wishes to participate 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 essential part of your program of study. It must be relevant to what you plan 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 and conduct research related to their studies and the agency. In this case, students are expected to work part-time, gaining experience with the agency while conducting research relevant to their educational program.

Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP)

This most extensive student employment program provides opportunities for students to gain experience in 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.

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Regularly, 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 after that.

To gain employment on the FSWEP platform, students must 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 based on referrals from the public service commission.

Who is eligible for the FSWEP?

It has been argued that the government prefers 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 for student loans. In addition, most part-time students are employed elsewhere or have lower tuition costs than full-time students.

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

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

Benefits of working for the government as a student in Canada

Earning extra money

A little bit more money would not hurt anyone, least of all a student who is probably living on loans. If you are wise, you can save money to start paying back your loans when you graduate. Remember that the government will expect you to start servicing this loan six 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 crucial for international students who expect to remain in Canada after studying and gaining employment. If you build on your network, it will sustain you after school. Also, the friends you cultivate through the years and your work colleagues may be good references when you seek employment.

Gaining professional experience

Government agencies allow students to learn as they work. This would help them in the future when they want to create their curriculum vitae. In addition, experience is something your future employer will 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 to any position you work at. This means that if you get a job different from what you were doing as a student after graduation, 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. But, if you don’t know, employers note that students manage 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 potential and your career path.

Learning money management

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

Applying classroom learning and receiving paid training

Isn’t it just wonderful – being paid to learn? But, of course, 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. However, working with professionals will help you see your academic work from a different perspective, and it will help if you can discuss your studies with people with 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. However, 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 can look around for career options you can explore when you graduate.

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

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

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 must work 40 hours weekly (full-time) during school breaks or holidays.
  • If you have a valid study permit, you can work without a work permit as a full-time student. You can work on or outside 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 if you contacted for a job (i.e., a letter from the Registrar’s Office, registration confirmation, or 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 the government

In Canada, the hourly salary rate for secondary and high school students varies from province to province. Alberta has the highest established provincial/territorial minimum wage of $15.00 per hour.

  • College/CEGEP Pre-University students receive between $15.40 to $20.62.
  • University undergraduates in Canada get paid between $16.49 to $23.15 hourly salaries before taxes.
  • Masters students in Canada are paid between $22.04 to $27.73 gross salary per hour, while
  • Doctorate students are paid mostly between $25.94 to $33.58 and sometimes more, depending on the job’s complexity.


On May 1, 2019, a review of students’ pay rates took effect. Under this review, if the province or territory where the student works pays higher than the agency the student works, 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.

  • Find a student research job in the government that 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. Our old and recent releases may find other government opportunities for students and graduates.

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

Additional to other sources of government jobs discussed above, Canada Job Bank has Job postings for students and youth across Canada.

Get a work permit

Foreign workers in Canada see our resources in obtaining a work permit to apply for or extend a work permit.


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