Everything Young Skilled Tradespeople Need To Know About The Red Seal Program


As a new graduate who may be thinking about pursuing a career in the skilled trades, you should be familiar with the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program and how you may benefit from acquiring a Red Seal endorsement as a skilled tradesperson.

Managed by the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA), the Red Seal Program encourages unified industry labour standards in all provinces and territories, helping apprentices and tradespersons from across the country achieve skilled work qualification no matter what province or territory they reside in.

Who needs a Red Seal endorsement?

Skilled tradespeople who expect to work in one or more province or territory in Canada should pursue a Red Seal endorsement. A Red Seal removes the need for you to complete further examinations in other provinces.

Without a Red Seal, you will be required to go through additional provinces’ certification and training requirements if you decide to move or work there, even if you are already certified to work within your home province or territory.

Trades included in the Red Seal Program

There are over 50 trades included in the Red Seal program, accounting for over 80% of the whole Canadian trades workforce, including Heavy Duty Equipment Technician, Industrial Electrician, Millwright, Powerline Technician, and even Cook, Hairstylist and Landscape Horticulturalist. Still, not all trades in Canada are Red Seal trades at this time, which is why it’s so important to do your research.

To browse through skilled trades information and Red Seal certification, you can use the Trades section of the official Red Seal website. The Industry Training Authority of British Columbia has also put together a convenient list of Red Seal programs which you can quickly browse through as you scroll down this page on their website. Trades listed with a red dot bedside them are in the Red Seal Program.

The Interprovincial Red Seal examination

Acquiring a Red Seal means taking the Red Seal examination and passing it.

First, Red Seal candidates in the trade must meet all requirements, which generally includes graduation from a recognized provincial or territorial apprenticeship program or a provincial/territorial journeyperson level Certificate of Qualification to be eligible to take the Red Seal examination.

Your eligibility requirements are determined by your province or territory’s apprenticeship authority before you can take the Red Seal examination. Since qualifying criteria vary from one another in all provinces and territories, you should contact your province or territory’s apprenticeship office for more information on Red Seal examination eligibility.

How the Red Seal Program is administered

The CCDA along with each provincial and territorial department responsible for labour, training and education administers the Red Seal Program in established trades, with authority steered by each province or territory’s legislation.

According to the Red Seal website, a network of advisory groups support the program, including apprenticeship boards, certification boards, and local or provincial advisory committees.

How to prepare for your Red Seal examination

If you’ve met all the certification requirements for your trade and are eligible to take the Red Seal examination as decided by your province or territory, you can find a copy of the National Occupational Analysis (NOA) for the appropriate Red Seal trade, which will guide you through a list of tasks and sub-tasks you should be expected to be competent in as a skilled tradesperson.

All questions asked in the Red Seal examination remain within the scope of the information outlined the NOA for each trade. You can also obtain an exam counselling sheet and practice questions for some trades to help prepare you for your exam.

Further information about the Red Seal Program

As a skilled tradesperson, it is not a compulsory part of your training certification to pursue a Red Seal endorsement, even if your skilled trade has compulsory components like training, apprenticeship and certification. Even though compulsory trades are also Red Seal trades, it is entirely up to you to write the Red Seal examination.

To find out more about the Red Seal program, contact your provincial or territorial office. You can also contact the Red Seal Secretariat for more information.

Visit TalentEgg’s Skilled Trades Career Guide for eggs-clusive student and entry level Skilled Trades jobs plus articles and videos to help you hatch your career.


Photo credit: 110520-N-GC412-038 by USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on Flickr
About the author

Elise Moreau is a Toronto-based tech and social media columnist, blogger, copywriter, and small business marketing consultant who has dedicated her entire educational career to small business management and marketing. In 2009, she graduated from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology with a bachelor of commerce degree in business and information technology before going on to earn a post-graduate degree from George Brown College in small business entrepreneurship in 2011. Since then, she's learned how to incorporate her business and technology background into her passion for writing.