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If you have been working in one of the trades for a few years, you’ll want to look into becoming Red Seal certified. Red Seal certification is proof that you have the knowledge and skills to work at your trade at an advanced level that meets the trade standards across the country. It’s a nationally-recognized measure for skilled trades workers and the term Red Seal certified is acknowledged by both the trades themselves and consumers.
Sometimes, a tradesperson comes to Canada with advanced skills in a trade but any certifications they had in their home country aren’t transferable when they immigrate. Other times, someone has been working in their job a long time and either didn’t think they could become certified or they simply didn’t get around to doing it. These situations happen regularly and for those reasons, there are ways to become Red Seal certified without having to undergo the apprentice process.
Tradespeople who didn’t complete their apprenticeship training in Canada or had some training a long time ago and continued to work in the trade without completion, can “challenge” the Red Seal exam. In order to challenge the exam, you will fall under the trade qualifier or challenger category which confirms you are not a certified journeyperson and have not completed an apprentice program in Canada.
There is a range of requirements for each trade. This will include proof of the required number of hours worked within the trade, a full understanding of the trade’s scope and any provincial or territorial jurisdiction requirements. Prior to registering with your province’s or territory’s certification authority to challenge the red seal exam, you should contact them to determine the eligibility requirements for your trade.
Of the hundreds of trades throughout Canada, only 56 are Red Seal trades. While many people think of trades as being part of the construction industry (and many, like carpenter, construction electrician, industrial electrician and heavy equipment operator are) the trades expand across many industries. Other Red Seal trades include baker, automotive service technician, cook and hairstylist, to name a few. For a complete list of the Red Seal trades, visit the Red Seal website.
When you think it’s time to challenge the Red Seal exam, take a moment to think about your time and availability. While you may feel you’re ready to become certified, you need to be honest with yourself about your ability to study for the exam. The truth is that working in a trade every day isn’t quite the same as explaining what you do and how you do it. The Red Seal challenge exam is about the explanation of the skills, there is no physical practice of the trade on the exam, it is a multiple-choice question and answer exam. Therefore, if you are new to living in Canada and are still getting settled and comfortable in your community, it may not be the right time to write the exam because you may lack enough time to study. There are a number of life situations that would keep you from having the study time you need, so it’s important to be honest with yourself about your ability to prepare for the exam right now.
If you have time to study, but are lacking in focus or don’t know where to begin, you may want to look into one of the Red Seal trades programs that help you with Red Seal exam preparation. These courses are often delivered online, so they offer the flexibility of studying with others and learning from an instructor anywhere you have a computer, microphone, camera and internet connection. Red seal exam preparation doesn’t need to be overwhelming either. It requires a regular, ongoing time commitment and dedication but the information will be around things you are familiar with and applicable as you work in your trade.
Visit the Red Seal site’s preparation guide section for more information on what you need to study or contact a local school that offers Red Seal trades programs for exam preparation to find out if a prep course is right for you.
If you aren’t yet convinced of the benefits of Red Seal certification, here are a few of the reasons people take the exam and earn their certification:
– You gain the ability to move across the country without multiple provincial or territorial certifications. Red Seal certification ensures that you can work in another province or territory as the national standard is portable throughout Canada.
– You will have recognition of your status as a skilled and employable tradesperson. There is something about saying you are “Red Seal certified” in that people appreciate the value in the designation. It’s a way to prove accomplishments, status and worth in your trade without explaining all the education, testing and hours of experience.
– Being Red Seal certified may allow for a higher per hour wage or salary.
– For those running their own business in a Red Seal trade, proving certification may allow you to attract higher quality apprentices and other applicants to work for you. Alternatively, becoming Red Seal certified may encourage you to start your own business.
– Becoming Red Seal certified gives pride not only in your own accomplishments but also in the work you do in the skilled trade you’ve chosen.
– Working in the trades are generally more hands-on occupations that allow you to witness the work you accomplish on a daily basis. Seeing what you’ve done and what you can do is a great ego booster and something that encourages you to keep working on improving in your chosen trade.
If now is the right time for you to challenge the exam, you may want to start by contacting your provincial or territorial certification authority or a school that offers Red Seal trades programs to prepare you for the exam. Both of these sources can help you understand what you need to do to ensure your eligibility to register for and write the Red Seal challenge exam for your trade.
You can take credit for your years of working in your trade and prove your knowledge and experience by earning your Red Seal certification by challenging the exam.