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What to Know about Bilingual Careers in Canada

What to Know about Bilingual Careers in Canada

The Meaning of Bilingual Jobs & Linguistic Profiles in the Government of Canada

For many Canadians, bilingualism is a cultural asset and a significant career booster. The demand for bilingual professionals stretches across various sectors, reflecting Canada’s commitment to embracing both English and French. From the bustling streets of Montreal to the governmental corridors in Ottawa, speaking two languages opens doors to a range of promising career paths.

Bilingualism is particularly important for government and crown corporation employees, where Canada’s official language laws require certain positions to be fluent in both French and English.

In this blog, we’ll explore:

  • Which positions require French-English bilingualism,
  • Canada’s Second Language Evaluation,
  • What a language profile is & how to build one.

Bilingual Job Requirements in Canada

In Canada, language career requirements vary based on job title, organization and region.

Public service positions often require bilingualism as the hiring institution is subject to Canada’s official language laws. In the private sector, some Canadian companies may require bilingualism in their prerogative as it may be essential to a smooth workflow.

According to a 2018 survey by Indeed, 8% of job postings in Canada were classified as bilingual positions, requiring candidates to speak one or more languages. The vast majority of those jobs require French and English and are located in French-speaking provinces.

For example, 63 percent of all Canada’s bilingual job postings are from Quebec, and 26 percent originate in Ontario.

Ultimately, each ministry, HR, or hiring manager works differently when determining bilingual jobs, and the decisions may vary from one department to the next on which level of proficiency is required for them.

Here is our guide to navigating SLE administration!

Bilingual Jobs Meaning

In the Canadian government there are both unilingual or bilingual jobs, mearing that depending on a job’s description, location and communication duties, candidates may be required to possess specific proficiency in French and English.

Bilingual positions are common in certain regions of Canada, including the National Capital Region, parts of Northern and Eastern Ontario, the Montreal area, parts of the Eastern Townships, Gaspésie, Western Quebec, and New Brunswick​.

Government Of Canada — Linguistic Profile

Candidates for bilingual positions must have a qualifying linguistic profile with the Government of Canada established through the Public Service Commission (PSC) Second Language Evaluation (SLE).

The three PSC SLE levels are as follows:

  • Level A — Beginner
  • Level B — Intermediate
  • Level C — Advanced

Candidates taking the SLE earn a letter score for all three tests taken — reading, writing and oral communication.

These PSC SLE scores are used to build three-letter profiles, such as BBB and CCC language profiles. For example, CBC indicates:

Reading Writing

Oral Interaction

French C B C


On job descriptions, BBB/BBB means a person whose first official language is English must possess BBB Government of Canada French Levels, or vice versa.

A CBC level is the bilingual standard for most positions at the federal government. 

Imperative & Non-Imperative

For some jobs, French-English fluency may be “bilingual imperative” or “bilingual non-imperative” in the hiring process.

  • Bilingual Imperative roles require candidates to attain specific fluency results before being hired.
  • Bilingual non-imperative jobs allow candidates to be hired with a two-year grace period to train and study their second language.

SLE test results are typically valid for up to five years. Public Service Commission allows candidates to retest following a 30-day cool-down period.

Becoming Bilingual Pays Off

A novice-level linguistic profile may be a career barrier in advancement or promotion, so someone may be considering improving their language profile for many reasons. Most public sector workers even qualify for a bilingual bonus if they earn the required SLE levels.

Building an SLE language profile involves diligent preparation and practice in English and French. While self-teaching is always an option, it may not get you to your goals as quickly or as effectively as a professional tutor can.

Earn Levels Faster & On the First Attempt

LRDG’s professional language tutors can help accelerate your progress to your desired SLE levels. The LRDG online language tutoring platform offers flexible, remote and personalized language learning.

Over 30,000 learners have benefited from our comprehensive and effective language training approach, which is reflected in our impressive 90% test-pass rate. around a candidate’s schedule and rebalances around their successes and their needs.

Book a call today!

Earn Levels faster & On the First Attempt - LRDG SLE Levels

Frequently Asked Questions about SLE Careers

What are bilingual careers?

Bilingual careers are jobs that require a candidate to possess a specific level of proficiency in Canada’s two official languages: French and English. These careers require candidates to either have or obtain a specific linguistic profile.

Does being bilingual help you get a job in Canada?

Yes, especially in regions where French is predominately spoken. Proficiency in both French and English is also a common job requirement for employment with the Canadian government.

Do bilinguals get paid more in Canada?

Bilingual positions generally earn 10% higher salaries than unilingual ones. In the Canadian government, qualified bilingual workers also receive an annual $800 bonus.

How do I get bilingual certification in Canada?

People seeking employment with the Canadian government can earn bilingual certification by taking the Second Language Evaluation. This evaluation includes a reading, writing and oral test.

What are imperative and non-imperative appointments?

An imperative appointment requires that the linguistic prerequisites of the job must be met at the point of hiring. A non-imperative appointment allows for the role to be filled by someone who commits to acquiring bilingual skills through language training funded by the government.