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Electricians and Types of Red Seal Certification

By: Ronda Payne

Published On: January 23, 2020

Many trades are in the construction industry and among the hundreds of kinds of trades in Canada, just 56 are Red Seal trades, which means they are eligible for Red Seal Certification and are able to use the RSE acronym (Red Seal Endorsement) when qualified. For those who are already in the trade and meet all of its requirements but have not yet earned journeyperson certification, there is an opportunity to earn Red Seal Certification without going through the apprenticeship program. This is known as a Red Seal Exam challenge.

People who are working as an electrician may think there is no need to bother with the Red Seal Electrician Exam Challenge. After all, they are already working and doing well in their job. However, having RSE has a number of benefits. This includes the ability to relocate throughout the country without having to be certified in a new jurisdiction, having an identifiable national endorsement of your skills and abilities and being able to apply for roles that require Red Seal Certification, among others.

Electrician Categories in the Red Seal Program

Electricians are commonly Red Seal Certified and within the category, there are four different types of electricians: Construction Electrician, Industrial Electrician, Powerline Technician and Electric Motor System Technician. The titles of these jobs do vary depending upon the province or territory in Canada. For example, in BC a Construction Electrician may simply be called an Electrician and an Electric Motor System Technician is known as a Winder Electrician.

Individuals in each of these roles have the ability to write a Red Seal Electrician Exam challenge if they meet the requirements defined by their trade. In order to understand if you have the amount of experience in your trade and meet any other requirements to write the Red Seal Electrician Exam challenge, you will need to contact your provincial or territorial certification authority. These contacts can be found on the Red Seal program site.

Tools to use to Prepare for a Red Seal Electrician Exam Challenge

Each of the four electrician Red Seal trades will have a different exam with different information to study and prepare. What is common to these trades (all Red Seal trades actually) is that the basis for the exams is the occupation’s NOA (National Occupational Analysis) or the newer RSOS (Red Seal Occupational Standard). The NOA is also known as a National Occupational Classification; it’s Canada’s national system for describing occupations. In 2015, new RSOSs were introduced and will gradually take the place of the NOA for Red Seal certification.

The RSOS is the standard the Red Seal Electrician Exam challenge is based on unless it is not yet available, then an exam challenger should use the NOA. Find the information to help you with your pre-exam studying by visiting the Red Seal Trades page on the Red Seal Program site and click on the link to your specific trade.

Each trade offers the most current version of the occupational standard, exam preparation guide, sample questions, exam breakdown and a breakdown of the apprenticeship data from across the country. Additionally, there are links to the Government of Canada’s job bank and job market reports. By accessing all of this information, you will have everything you need to fully prepare for a Red Seal Electrician Exam challenge.

For example, a review of each electrician role’s exam counselling sheet reveals that the Construction Electrician exam has 100 questions in 5 categories. The Industrial Electrician has 100 questions in 6 categories, the Electric Motor System Technician has 100 questions in 3 categories and the Powerline Technician has 125 questions in 5 categories. There are sample questions available for three of the four electrician roles, the Electric Motor Technician does not have sample questions. While the sample questions help you understand the way the multiple-choice questions are written and the style you can expect on the exam, they certainly don’t tell you what questions will be on the exam or determine whether you are prepared for the exam or not.

Red Seal Exam Preparation Guide

There are a number of ways to use the tools noted above. For some people, studying requires structure and an opportunity to have an expert available to answer questions about areas they are unclear on. If you don’t have a mentor to turn to, the best option may be to look into an education provider that offers a red seal exam preparation. These courses provide ongoing assignments, structured sessions, interaction with instructors and others and the ability to review all the material that may be on the exam and determine the areas you need to apply more study time.

The Red Seal Exam Preparation Guide available here is helpful in that is explains not only preparation advice, but it also outlines what to expect from the exam itself in terms of what you can bring and the format. Using this preparation guide is good for those who are self-studying types and can stay focused. In the guide, you’ll also find out about ways to deal with exam stress and when you can expect the results (up to four weeks after writing the exam) and how to show your certification to others.

What if you Don’t Pass the Red Seal Electrician Exam Challenge?

It happens to everyone. Maybe you booked the exam and various family events prevented you from studying as much as you wanted to or perhaps you didn’t sleep well the night before the exam and your mind went blank the second you sat down to write it. No matter the cause, if you don’t obtain the 70% minimum mark to pass the exam, you will be able to rewrite it. Check with your province or territory authority to determine the amount of time that must pass between each re-take and how many times you can try.

There are four different kinds of electricians eligible to earn Red Seal Certification. If you’ve been working in one of them for a significant period of time and haven’t yet earned your journeyperson’s certification you may be eligible to write the Red Seal Electrician Exam challenge. This is one certification that will advance your career and make your job opportunities open up across the country.


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