Red Seal Certification

Shown above is a completed Red Seal certificate. Timon Potseluev completed his Red Seal Plumber Certification with help from Greenlight Canada. If you attend a proper school or apprenticeship program, you can do the same!

What is Red Seal Certification?

The Red Seal is a system of qualification that allows workers to prove that their essential skills meet certain standards. Most tradespeople who eventually pass a Red Seal Exam started as an apprentice and hope to receive Red Seal endorsement after completing their time under a qualified veteran in their industry.

What the Red Seal Means

The government of Canada recognizes the importance of trades and the role that they play in the economy of our country. According to Statistics Canada, 1 in 5 people in the workforce engage in trades and are involved in the construction and manufacturing sectors of our economy.

In Canada, provinces and territories are responsible for skilled trades training and certification. However, in the modern day economy, the interprovincial mobility of the workforce becomes crucial with so many construction, infrastructure, and manufacturing projects, as well as  businesses looking to hire the skilled labour force. 

The Red Seal Program was originally created to facilitate the ability of skilled workers to move across provinces for employment. Over the years, The Red Seal Program has become a recognized standard for skilled worker certification on the national scale.

Red Seal Trades

Although the overall list of professions defined as trades includes over 400 professions, only 55 of them are designated as Red Seal trades such as:

  • chefs
  • millwrights
  • plumbers
  • welders
  • carpenters
  • industrial mechanics
  • heavy duty equipment mechanics
  • automotive service technicians

The program sets unified standards to assess the skills of tradespeople across Canada, with each industry closely involved in developing the national standards for the entire trade.

Canadian provinces and territories use the Red Seal examination as the final certification exam in designated Red Seal trades to provide standardized evaluation will be accepted across Canada. The organization responsible for the Red Seal program is called the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) where the provinces and territories participate as members.

How Do I Meet Red Seal Standards?

To meet Red Seal standards, you need to hold a valid certificate in a trade or occupation that participates in the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. Then, you need to submit the correct application form and successfully pass the Red Seal exam for your industry. Each industry will have different standards and exams, so researching for your particular industry is the best course of action.

Typically, the process will require a specified number of hours of apprenticeship, a written and/or practical (hands-on) examination, and payment of a fee. Some industries may require your high school diploma.

In some cases, you may be able to work towards your Red Seal apprenticeship hours while earning your high school diploma. You can find many practice exams online to help you understand the expectations of your exam. 

Each certificate varies based on the standards of your province. For more information about Red Seal certification, financial aid for apprenticeships, examinations, and practice tests, you can go to canada.ca.

Red Seal Exam Preparation

The best place to learn about Red Seal exam prep is on the Red Seal website. Some things to note: The person or people supervising your apprenticeship should also be familiar with the content of a certification course. Each individual trade will also have its own set of exam qualifications. When you meet all the qualifications, you will be able to register for your exam.

If you have special needs, you may be entitled to accommodations during the written portion of your exam. If you wish to use these accommodations, you will need to register well in advance, so be prepared.

Exams are based on what is called the National Occupation Analysis (NOA) for your trade. These are skills provinces have identified as the most important and necessary for safety and expertise in your industry. Your trade’s NOA is your best study guide. The Red Seal exam questions are based on the NOA sub-tasks.

Each exam will have a set number of questions based on each subtask. By looking at each subtask, you can make sure you are preparing for each section of your exam. In your exam prep, make sure to understand the acronyms used in your trade, the tools and equipment you use, and terminology and definitions as well. 

There are also many practice tests available online that will give you a sample of the types of questions asked on the Red Seal exams. 

You may require additional language training to be successful in your exam. These opportunities are available to you through the Red Seal program. 

What to Expect at the Red Seal Examination

During the written exam, you will have to answer 100 to 150 questions (the number varies by trade).

There are 100 to 150 multiple choice questions per exam, depending on the trade. The goal of the examination is:

  • To test the level of your knowledge of the trade
  • To test your ability to use mathematical formulas to solve trade-related problems
  • To use the metric or imperial system in trade-related situations
  • To check your problem-solving abilities

The duration of the exam cannot exceed 4 hours. The examination is scored by the computer, so all answers have to be marked clearly. The minimum passing grade is 70%.

The test cannot be completed remotely. You can only pass the test while you are in Canada. You may be accompanied by an interpreter at the exam.

Manitoba Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island are accepting candidates who have a Red Seal, even without a job offer from an employer.

If you have more questions on the Red Seal Examination and immigration opportunities that it offers for professional tradespeople, please contact us

For more information on the Red Seal program and how to receive this endorsement, visit the official Red Seal website.

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