Professional Qualification Program

How this accountant turned teacher took her career from Delhi to Surrey 

While some students are inspired to teach from an early age, Damanjeet Kaur started out on a very different career path. Originally intent on being a chartered accountant, it was while performing an audit that she happened upon her true calling.

“It was during my time working for KPMG when I was sent to audit a school in Delhi,” says Damanjeet “Within the first week of that assignment, I knew the school building was my natural habitat.”

This resulted in Damanjeet quitting her job and completing her Bachelor of Education, setting her sights on her new career as a grade 11/12 business and economics teacher in Delhi. But it wasn’t long before she had her sights set on taking her career to the next level on an international scale.

“I’ve always had a penchant for this profession and moving to Canada was an opportunity to take that next step and gain another perspective,” she says. “I applied to the Teacher Certification Branch and I spoke to all my contacts in the profession. I tried to do as much research and networking as I could before landing in British Columbia.”

After reviewed her application, the TCB recommended Kaur to take SFU’s Professional Qualification Program (PQP) to get her BC teaching certificate. “The best thing about the PQP is that it recognizes and acknowledges your previous teaching experience,” says Damanjeet.

The next step was finding local school and classroom experience — a prerequisite of the PQP. “I got a job as an instructor at Kumon within the first month of my arrival,” she recalls. “I also volunteered at Georges Vanier Elementary in Surrey for about six months. I’d consider that experience extremely important as it helped me uncover that first layer of familiarization.”

Once accepted into the program, Damanjeet spent the next 12 months building her community and getting to know all the ins and outs of the BC school system.  But she says the program also revealed things about her character that she never knew existed. “It made me see a stronger and much calmer version of myself,” says Damanjeet. “It was a true rollercoaster, especially with the pandemic. But the PQP was also life-changing. It has broadened my horizons and my skills as a teacher.”

Now working as a teacher on call (TTOC) with the Surrey School District, Damanjeet says the best advice she can give to other international teachers looking to teach in BC is to do your homework and take things one step at a time. “It can be a long and overwhelming process trying to get certified in BC, but just know that everything doesn’t need to be done at the same time.” She adds, “just focus on the stage you are at and what comes next.”

Applications for the PQP’s January 2022 intake close on March 31, 2021. Visit the website for more information.