Alberta is famous for its extensive oil resources. This, teamed with the permissive local economic policies, contributed significantly to the province’s economic boom.

The province did experience some economic losses with the oil crash back in 2014 when unemployment reached record figures. This, coupled with the recent Covid-19 pandemic, means that where expats once had little trouble finding employment in Calgary, the job market has become significantly more competitive, particularly in the oil and gas sector. Fortunately, Calgary's economy is quite diverse and suitably qualified expats are able to secure work in the city's other industries, such as the services, agriculture, IT and financial sectors. 

Job market in Calgary

Economic activity in Calgary still centres mostly on the petroleum industry. Alberta has the lion’s share of Canada’s oil industry and petroleum companies such as BP, EnCana, Imperial Oil, Suncor Energy, Shell, TransCanada and Nexen Inc all have their headquarters in Calgary. While Calgary was a great place for expats with expertise in the oil and gas sectors, this industry has recently suffered some blows and, as a result, landing a job in this field has become increasingly difficult. However, expats with the right qualifications and skills will still find decent employment prospects in the city.

Agriculture and tourism are also significant employers. Engineers, geologists, financial service providers and IT specialists will find plenty of job opportunities in the city.

The growth of Calgary, especially over the past decade, has also had far-reaching infrastructural effects on the city, with a considerable amount of suburban and inner-city development taking place. This has created plenty of opportunities for those with skills in architecture, urban planning and construction. The population growth in the city has also increased the need for teachers and healthcare professionals.

Finally, as Calgary seeks to discard its image as the most ‘cultureless’ of major Canadian cities, there has been a considerable amount of investment in media and the arts.

In terms of working culture, expats, especially those from Western Europe and the US, will have no problem slotting into the Canadian workplace. A highly developed, efficient country Canada is, by all accounts, a dream for committed professionals. As in most Western countries, business in Canada operates on a 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday basis.

Finding a job in Calgary

Expats who want to work in Calgary need to have permanent residence or a work permit linked to a specific job offer before arriving in the city. Many people are fortunate enough to relocate as a result of an intra-company transfer with a company they were previously working for in their home country.

For those without a firm job offer in place, the best way to start searching for a position in Calgary is to consult local job listings online. There are plenty of good job portals to assist job seekers, including social networking sites such as LinkedIn.

The career sections of bigger newspapers such as the Calgary Herald are also worth perusing. Alternatively, expats can consult a professional recruitment agency to assist in their job search.

Work culture in Calgary

Canada has a large and thriving free-market economy, and though there is more government intervention here than in the US, there is far less than in many European countries. Locals tend to be open minded and tolerant, and expat businesspeople can look forward to a welcoming working environment.

Despite its size and diversity, expats can nevertheless count on a few consistencies in Canada's business culture, and Calgary is no exception. Canadians value punctuality, and it is rude to be more than a few minutes late. Canadian companies generally have egalitarian management structures. The typical management style in the Calgary workplace tends to be less formal than in Europe, with managers preferring to be seen more as part of the team and less as aloof authority figures. Decisions ultimately rest with 'the boss', but input across all levels is highly valued.