I receive emails every week from wanderlust SLPs, and the question is always the same; ‘What do I have to do to work in….?’. While I am no expert – just an SLP who has done it myself, I thought I’d write a post about the steps I took to work overseas. If you are from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, Canada and the United States, then it can be quite obtainable. Our countries are all part of a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) and most qualifications are transferable to that country.
STEP 1 – VISA
You have to do research into visas and see if it is possible for you to enter the country legally to work. Every country has different visas and it really is a matter of searching a little! Some countries will let 18-30 year olds enter and work for 12 months and you will have your visa in 48 hours, while others may require you to have an employer sponsor you and guarantee a position before you have moved there. This information might sway you towards or away from a specific country. I would recommend doing a search such ‘work visas Australia’, ‘work visas Canada’ or whatever country you want to go to first and get the facts.
STEP 2 – MRA
The next step is to look up the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between your country and the country that you want to work in. Whilst these countries may acknowledge your degree or qualifications, your program may not tick all the boxes and you may have to do ‘extra’ things before you will be allowed to work there. This may include sitting a speech pathology exam or having a certain amount of clinical hours in a certain area (such as audiology). You also have to be a member of your countries own speech-language association and may have to be enrolled in certain programs related to professional development. Doing a little bit of research will also help you decide the best or easiest places for you to work.
I have a link to all of the MRA agreements on my site – so click here.
STEP 3 – FINDING THE JOB
Depending on the type of visa, finding a job may be the hardest part, especially if your visa stipulates that you must find employment before you move to the country. It may be easier to go through an allied health care staffing agency, particularly if you need your employer to sponsor you. The benefit of working with a staffing agency is that you will have a team to look after you and walk you through the process, in most cases providing a list of what you have to do to move and work (this saves a lot of time searching the web!).
You will find in your research that many agencies specialize in helping international staff get a job. This can be a bonus as it means that they are familiar with visa requirements, paperwork and the whole sponsorship process. The agency can then work at the country end finding you employment before/after you move. Agencies are not for everyone and your previous research into visa requirements will help you decide if you want a job waiting for you before your leave or if you will try to find one once you arrive. Just be aware that some employers may not be inclined to hire you if they have to sponsor you and are not sure how it all really works.
Don’t forget to look under the ‘Work Abroad’ tab (look up and left on my site). I have added some information such some reasons why you should work overseas, information I wish I knew before I undertook the process, links to international SLP associations and a couple of personal stories on what it is like to be a foreign SLP!