- Download our Moving to Montreal Guide (PDF)
It’s important for expats intending to work in Montreal to keep in mind that the official language of business and daily life in the city is Quebec French. While the city does have a significant number of English-speaking residents, they only account for a small portion of its population.
Prospective Montrealers will be happy to note that the city’s residents generally have access to more state benefits than elsewhere in Canada, though with the caveat of slightly lower salaries and high taxes. Expats interested in starting a business in Montreal will also have to contend with more government intervention and bureaucracy, thanks to Quebec’s unique culture and politics.
Job market in Montreal
Montreal’s economy remains one of the largest among Canadian cities. Some of its main industries include electronics, aerospace, civil and mechanical engineering, information and communications technology (ICT), and textile manufacturing. The city also has a strong service industry.
Montreal strives for innovation and creativity. Higher education is another key sector, with multiple universities serving the city, as well as research and development of artificial intelligence. The city is a cultural hub and is well known as a centre for film and video-game production.
Finding a job in Montreal
Most expats who relocate to Montreal do so through an intra-company transfer. Expats who have yet to find a job should start the search online. Company websites, social networking sites and job portals are great resources that offer access to plenty of job listings.
City residents have a legal right to be served in French, making it more difficult for non-French-speaking expats to find a job in Montreal. English-speaking expats with no networks in the city should be sure to start their French lessons as soon as possible to assist with the job search. That said, Montreal offers programmes aimed at migrants who are unable to speak French.
Several non-profit organisations, such as YES Employment + Entrepreneurship, assist with finding employment and starting businesses.
Expats looking to work in Montreal must have permanent residence or a work permit for Canada, as well as meet the selection criteria of the Government of Quebec.
Work culture in Montreal
Montreal is an interesting melting pot of Canadian working culture and European influences. People in the city tend to be fairly fashion conscious both at work and in their personal lives. The more creative workplaces tend to have casual dress codes but, even then, collared shirts remain common. In more formal business environments, people opt for a conservative yet stylish dress code.
There is a widespread emphasis on individualism and equality in Montreal, but some firms closely resemble the elaborate hierarchies found in larger, more traditional European corporations.
Typical business hours in the city are Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and sometimes as late as 7pm. By law, local stores are allowed to open between 9am and 9pm during the week and from 9am to 5pm on weekends.
►Doing Business in Canada gives more information on Canadian working culture
"Resuming your professional career can be quite challenging. Your previous credentials might not be acknowledged in Canada, so be prepared to start from scratch. It is helpful to network and prepare as many job references as you can before immigrating. Creating a profile on LinkedIn is a good place to start, where you can start researching companies and networking in your field."
Learn more about South African and Slovak expats Tim and Kamila's experiences in Canada.
Are you an expat living in Montreal?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Montreal. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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