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Electricians, Get Ready for Your Red Seal Exam with These Tips

By: Ronda Payne

Published On: March 17, 2020

Electricians are tradespeople the modern world couldn’t do without. Imagine what life would be like without all of the lights, power and wiring we require. It takes someone who is savvy with running wires and checking systems to ensure our voice assistants are able to fully connect to the house, our garage door opens with the touch of a button or the fan over the stove starts up when we click it on.

The role of electrician has a range of different requirements depending upon where in Canada you want to be an electrician and which type of electrical work you want to specialize in. According to the Red Seal trades site, a construction electrician is defined as:

“Construction electricians plan, assemble, install, alter, repair, inspect, verify, commission, operate and maintain electrical systems. Electrical systems provide heating, lighting, power, security, communication and control in residential, commercial, institutional, industrial and entertainment environments.”

And an industrial electrician is defined as:

“Industrial electricians install, maintain, test, troubleshoot, service and repair industrial electrical equipment and associated electrical controls. Their work includes equipment or components directly or indirectly exposed to electrical power such as motors, generators, pumps and lighting systems.”

Regardless of the type of electrician, the red seal exam preparation for both trades is much the same. While the information these individuals will study is different, it’s the approach that is consistent.

However, before we get into red seal exam preparation tips, it’s important to know what kinds of designations or certifications are required or compulsory in the different provinces and territories throughout Canada. When a trade is designated as a red seal trade in a province or territory, that means anyone who has earned their red seal designation is entitled to work in that trade throughout the country without having to earn any other regional certifications. Contacting the regional certification body is required to ensure your red seal certification has been registered with that region, but other than that, there should be no other requirements.

This is due to the nationally-accepted standards for various red seal trades and is one of the biggest benefits of the red seal program – mobility. Some trades have fluctuating work levels based on a variety of factors, so the ability to relocate without having to undergo certification in other regions is highly appealing.

Regional requirements for Construction Electricians and Industrial Electricians

BC is the only province that has no compulsory requirements in terms of designations on electrical trades or otherwise, but this shouldn’t be interpreted as a “free-for-all” or complacency. In BC, most companies and job sites have requirements for certification and being red seal certified is an excellent way to achieve this.

In other regions, the minimum requirements to work as one of these types of electricians vary. In Alberta, construction electricians are known simply as electricians and have compulsory certification, though not red seal, while industrial electricians are not designated red seal trades. Saskatchewan’s construction electricians have red seal-based compulsory requirements and industrial electricians are also not red seal designated. In Manitoba, the construction electrician trade is red seal compulsory and the industrial electrician is compulsory, though not via red seal certification.

Ontario’s construction electricians are known as Electrician – Construction and Maintenance which is a compulsory trade, though not via red seal, and industrial electricians are not compulsory. Quebec’s trade’s program is based on the type of work done in a particular trade rather than the title. Both the electricity (Quebec’s name for the construction electrician role) and industrial electrician require competency certificates.

The Maritime provinces are fairly consistent. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island all have compulsory certification requirements, though not via red seal, for construction electricians but not for industrial electricians. Neither role is compulsory in Newfoundland and Labrador. Canada’s territories are similar. A construction electrician (known as Electrician (construction) in the Northwest Territories) are all compulsory certified. Red Seal Industrial electricians are not compulsory and the trade is not designated as red seal in Nunavut.

While most provinces and territories don’t have a certification requirement for red seal construction electrician, it can be the element that makes the difference between you getting hired for a job over another candidate.

Red Seal Exam Preparation

For a tradesperson, red seal exam preparation is perhaps the most important exam readiness they have ever encountered. Those who have worked up through an apprenticeship program and are working their way towards a journeyperson’s designation are already in the mode of learning so they may not need extra study help to take their red seal certification exam. However, for those experienced in their electrical trade looking to challenge the red seal exam, a pre-course is often the ideal way to achieve that red seal exam preparation they need.

Preparation courses can assist with exposure to the exam format, an understanding of how the exam flows, the types of questions to expect and how to maintain a study schedule. Some people, however, prefer to study on their own and may choose to undertake their red seal exam preparation in their own ways. After all, for an experienced construction electrician or industrial electrician, this is knowledge the individual already has and needs to put into words and concepts in order to be able to accurately answer the multiple-choice questions on the exam.

For self-study individuals, the red seal trades site at can be an incredible asset. Go to the “trades” tab, click on “red seal trades” and then select construction electrician or industrial electrician from the list of trades. Within each trade’s page is all the information used to develop the red seal exam. The first place to start is the link titled: study for the red seal examination. You’ll find an explanation about the study guide, a basic outline of the process to get ready for the exam and a slightly more detailed, downloadable PDF version of the study guide.

The most important thing to remember is to prepare for the exam. While it is based on your trade and things you already know, because the exam is multiple choice and is not a hands-on demonstration of your knowledge, you’ll want to be sure you thoroughly understand how the concepts may be presented on the exam.


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