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September 20, 2023

How To Get Red Seal Certification in Ontario

Whether you’ve been working as a contractor for a while now or just starting in your chosen trade, getting Red Seal certified is a great move to further your career as a skilled tradesperson—and potentially boost your income, too.

Red Seal is widely recognized throughout Canada as well as internationally, giving you a competitive edge over non-certified contractors. Whether you’re a carpenter, electrician, or anything in between, A Red Seal endorsement is a mark that you have the knowledge and skills required to meet the national standard in your trade.

We’ll dive into all you need to know in this article to help you figure out if this certification is worth your time and energy.

What Is the Red Seal Program?

The Red Seal Program—officially known as the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program— sets national standards on which to evaluate the skills and qualifications of skilled tradespeople across Canada.

Only specific kinds of trades are part of the Red Seal program. These are typically called “compulsory trades,” which require a tradesperson to be a registered apprentice, a certified journeyman, or a candidate for one in their province or territory. There are currently 54 Red Seal Trades that span a wide range of occupations.

The Red Seal program is administered across provinces and territories in Canada under the guidance of the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA). Over 80% of registered apprentices in Canada work in a Red Seal trade.

Those who pass the Red Seal exam will receive a Red Seal endorsement as proof that they meet the standards in their trade. As such, they can move and work in different provinces and territories without facing additional requirements.

Steps to Obtain Your Red Seal Endorsement

Just like how having insurance boosts your reputation, A Red Seal endorsement is an extra layer of recognition. However, you must earn a Certificate of Qualification (or equivalent) from your province or territory before getting an endorsement. You must first complete a registered apprenticeship. Here’s an overview of the process:

    1. Find a Sponsor

Finding an employer willing to sponsor your apprenticeship is step one. Having previous experience in your designated trade will better position you to get a potential sponsor, who will then provide you with paid hands-on training.

    2. Complete Apprenticeship Training

The next step is to register as an apprentice at your territorial or provincial training authority. Expect to undergo two to five years of apprenticeship work at this stage, although this will depend on your trade and skill level.

Most Red Seal trades require years of on-the-job training before you can be allowed to take the Red Seal exam. Additionally, proof of a qualification certificate must be submitted before you’re allowed to take the certification exam.

A mentor discussing work with his apprentice while cargo trucks move shipping containers in the background

    3. Pass Your Apprenticeship Exams

You must take an exam at each level of your apprenticeship program until you reach the final certification exam. Upon passing, you will receive a Certificate of Qualification as a journeyman, or someone who is skilled in a given trade or craft. Take note that only skilled trades that have an exam will be granted a provincial or territorial Certificate of Qualification.

    4. Complete the Red Seal Exam

To get a Red Seal endorsement, you need to take a Red Seal exam. While the number of questions included in Red Seal exams depends on your trade and the Canadian province or territory in which you’re taking it, you can expect at least 150.

Expect these questions to cover areas such as the tasks and activities in your skilled trade, necessary safety procedures, trade-specific terminology, tools and equipment specific to your trade, and other technical and practical content.

There are sample Red Seal exam questions available online to help you prepare. Do note that the sample test is for study purposes only and does not represent the exact questions you’ll encounter during the Red Seal examination.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Red Seal exam fee is not set by the federal government and varies depending on your location—contact your provincial or territorial office for more accurate information on what you can expect to pay.

Is a Red Seal Endorsement Right for You?

Red Seal certification is voluntary, which means you don’t require a Red Seal endorsement to work in a Red Seal trade. You should do your research and seek advice from other colleagues working in your designated trade to help make your decision.

However, one of the biggest advantages of earning a Certificate of Qualification is how it will open up new doors in your career. Most, if not all, employers prefer to hire skilled tradespeople with verified credentials. Being Red Seal certified also shows future clients that you meet national standards and provide exceptional workmanship.

You’ll also gain the valuable benefit of work mobility. The Red Seal program provides you with automatic recognition of your skills in any province or territory where your particular trade might get regulatory requirements.

Three contractors inspecting a support beam in an old house

Things to Remember

Throughout the process of obtaining an endorsement, make sure to store records of your work experience, hands-on training, and any exam results. These documents might be required when you apply for your Red Seal trade certification.

Additionally, specific details and processes can change over time, so check official sources to ensure you’re still following updated guidelines.

Further Your Career With Contractors Insurance

Taking the exam and getting a Red Seal certificate is a great way to get ahead in your trade career. However, there’s another way to secure your finances and show clients you’re serious about your work: purchasing insurance policies.

Contractors Insurance is an award-winning commercial insurance brokerage based in Ontario known for providing top-notch service and personalized insurance bundles to our clients. Our team of expert insurance brokers is ready to provide tradespeople like yourself with tailor-made insurance solutions free of unnecessary riders.

Contact us today to get started!


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