Why You Should Apply for a Trade Certificate in Canada

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Many qualified people are currently working in Canada who have not had their trade certificate or credentials recognised.

Many qualified people are currently working in Canada who have not had their trade certificate or credentials recognised.

Within the last decade the Canadian construction industry has been one of the fastest growing industries in the country. This increase has created a large demand for skilled tradespeople and has attracted foreign workers to Canada, often to make a very good living. The construction industry in Ireland, Britain and many other European countries has been in decline in the last few years with work very hard to find. Everyday, labourers, electricians, plumbers and so on, are arriving in Canada to find better occupation prospects.

Before I discuss the benefits here is a brief overview of having your foreign credentials / certificate recognised

Electrician By photo taken by flickr user editor B (flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Electrician by editor B / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Canada has very strict laws and regulations that govern the construction industry, whether it is health & safety or licensing. Many of these trades require a Canadian “Certificate of Qualification” in order to be recognised as a qualified tradesperson and work within that trade or you must be a registered apprentice.

A certificate of Qualification is issued by the province to the tradesperson. This document certifies that the tradesperson meets the professional standards set out by the governing body of that trade.

For many trades it is not mandatory to have a certificate in order to work. For example, in Ontario a carpenter does not need a certificate to work, however an electrician must have a certificate or be a registered apprentice in order to work in this trade. The trades that do require a certificate are known as compulsory trades and the trades that do not require a certificate are known as non-compulsory.

It is important to know that the licensing and certification of trades is provincial and not federal. Each province has different regulations that manage the regulation of trades. For example: a compulsory trade in Alberta may not be a compulsory trade in Manitoba and vice versa.

Please contact your local provincial trade regulatory body for more information.

Alberta BC New Brunswick
New Foundland & Labrador Nova Scotia Manitoba
Prince Edward Island Northwest Territories Saskatchewan
Quebec Ontario Yukon

The Ellis chart is a tool created by Employment Development Canada (EDC) which compares all of the apprenticeship programs and licensing/certification across Canada. So if you are unsure whether your trade is compulsory or non-compulsory in another province, you are looking to do an apprenticeship, or whether it is a Red Seal trade, this is a very useful tool and it will point you in the right direction.

When you apply to the province for a “Certificate of Qualification” they will take certain factors into consideration. The province will refer you to the provincial department who regulates trades and certification in that province and that deparment will assess you on the certificate/qualification that you received in the country where you became a qualified tradesperson. They will preform an equivalency evaluation of the foreign trade certificate/qualification and determine whether or not it meets the industry standards in Canada. They will also assess you on the amount of hours you have worked in your industry and the amount of experience you have in various aspects of your trade.

If your assessment meets the provincial standard, you will be eligible to write the C of Q examination for your designated trade. If your qualifications do not meet the standards you will be advised to do an apprenticeship course in order to qualify to write the C of Q exam.

Construction By Tano4595 (Self-published work by Tano4595) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Construction by Tano4595 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

Even if your trade is not compulsory and does not require a C of Q,  It is still in your best interests to apply for one. Having this certification shows your potential customer or employer that you meet the industry standards. An employer is more likely to hire the candidate who has the certificate over the candidate who does not, and the same can be said about the customer looking to contract you.

After you have witten the exam and received your certificate of qualification, you now have the option of applying for a Red Seal certificate.

The Red Seal program is a standard of excellence recognized throughout Canada. Through the Program, trades-persons are able to obtain a Red Seal endorsement on their provincial/territorial certificates by successfully completing an inter-provincial Red Seal examination. The Inter-provincial Standards Red Seal Program acknowledges your competence and ensures recognition of your certification in all provinces in Canada. There are currently 55 Red Seal-designated trades.

Once an individual earns a Red Seal endorsement on their provincial Certificate of Qualification, the Red Seal Program acknowledges their competence and ensures recognition of their certification throughout Canada (where the trade is a Red Seal designated trade) without further examination. In other words, individuals who have a Red Seal endorsement simply need to contact the provincial apprenticeship and certification office in the new province to have their qualifications recognized.

Benefits to having a certificate of Qualification and Red Seal

  • Having the Certificate of Qualification is very beneficial for immigrating to Canada.  For example, if you apply under the federal skilled trades program (if you are eligible), you do not need a job offer if you have a certificate of qualification.
  • Having either the Certificate of Qualification or Red Seal will boost your job opportunities and could possibly allow you to demand more pay. An employer is far more likely to choose the candidate with the certificate over the candidate who does not.
  • You will be qualified to train apprentices depending on the apprentice ratio for your trade. (The ratio means the amount of apprentices employed and trained simultaneously. The provincial regulatory body of your trade determines this number.)
  • Having either the Certificate of Qualification or Red Seal will allow you to work in other provinces without writing further exams.
  • Having either the Certificate of Qualification or Red Seal will demonstrate to your clients/customers that you are a professional company with trained qualified tradespersons.
  • If you are self employed or a contractor you are more likely to attract quality employees/candidates

As I mentioned before, whether your trade is compulsory or non-compulsory it is definitely beneficial to apply for the certificate of qualification and/or Red Seal as it will further your career and will provide opportunities in the future.


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