What’s next for students after completing their postgraduate studies?

What’s next for students after completing their postgraduate studies?

Pursuing a postgraduate certificate or diploma in North America can be a valuable investment in one’s future. It provides an attractive option through affordable, flexible, and practical training to help international students advance their careers and achieve their professional goals. But what comes next after getting these graduate qualifications?

Postgraduate certificates can be a great opportunity to progress one’s career or increase the likelihood of finding a job in new industries. 

What qualifications do students acquire after getting a postgraduate certificate or diploma?

  • A graduate certificate can equip students with a valuable education credential, qualifying them for positions with increased responsibilities and higher pay.
  • By earning a graduate certificate, students can use this as an opportunity to transition to employment in a field outside of their undergraduate degree.
  • Holding a graduate certificate showcases a commitment to continuing education and the ability to acquire in-demand skills, which can make an applicant attractive to potential employers.

For international students, an added benefit could be obtaining a postgraduate work permit after graduation. For example, Canada offers career-focused programs to address skill shortages, so a certificate can be an opportunity for students to gain practical experience and stay on for work after their studies.

Career opportunities in Canada

Canada offers a wealth of work opportunities for students who have completed a postgraduate certificate and diploma, thanks to various government initiatives. According to Payscale, international students with these qualifications can earn an average of $55K CAD annually, with programs in Accommodation and food services, retail trade, manufacturing, and professional, scientific, and technical services being in high demand.

To meet its specific economic and demographic needs, each Canadian province and territory operates its own Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), which international students can take advantage of. Additionally, the Canadian government has recently announced an 18-month extension for Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders who wish to stay longer and an option to extend their work permit, allowing Canada to retain high-skilled talent.

Students who have completed their program of study are allowed to work while they are waiting for a decision on their PGWP application, provided they meet the following specific criteria:

  • they are or were holders of a valid study permit at the time of the PGWP application
  • they were a full-time student enrolled at a Destination Learning Institute in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program (at least eight months in duration, leading to a diploma)
  • they were authorised to work off campus without a work permit
  • they did not exceed the allowable hours of work.

Career opportunities in the United States

In the US, students with postgraduate certificates and diplomas can also find wide employment opportunities, with an average annual salary of $75K USD. Many of these programs have embedded work placement opportunities and qualify for Optional Practical Training (OPT) which allows F-1 students to remain in the US for up to a year after completing their studies and engage in temporary employment related to their major field of study. OPT can be granted for up to 12 months before and/or after completing academic studies. However, any pre-completion OPT time will be subtracted from the available post-completion OPT period.

To apply for an OPT extension, the following requirements must be met:

  1. Be employed by an employer enrolled in E-Verify, as demonstrated by a valid E-Verify company identification number or a valid E-Verify client company identification number used by the employer’s agent to create E-Verify cases.
  2. Have received initial Post-Completion OPT employment authorisation based on STEM degree.

It’s important to note that students must apply for an OPT extension within one year of graduation and provide a STEM degree from a university authorised by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program (SEVP).

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