Red Seal

I have had numerous requests from tradesman wanting to work in Canada as to what the Red Seal (the inter-provincial standards red seal program) is, and how it affects tradesmen in their profession.

The Red Seal was established in 1959 and represents a standard of excellence for industry. Through the program, tradespersons are able to obtain a Red Seal endorsement on their provincial/territorial certificates by successfully completing an inter-provincial Red Seal examination.

There are currently 55 trades included in the Red Seal Program on a national basis, including Boilermakers, Carpenter’s, Construction Electricians, Heavy Duty Equipment Technicians, Heavy Equipment Operators, Industrial Electricians, Industrial Mechanics (Millwrights), Instrumentation and Control Technicians, Machinists, Metal Fabricators (Fitters), Mobile Crane Operators, Welders, Sheet Metal workers, amongst others.

What is an Apprenticeship?

An Apprenticeship is an agreement between an apprentice who wants to learn a skill and an employer who needs a skilled worker, i.e. the person will be earning whilst leaning. An Apprentice will combine on the job experience with technical training, with the aim of producing a certified journeyman. Once the Apprentice has completed the necessary training and acquired the necessary skills, the Apprentice will receive a Certificate of Qualification.

So where does the Red Seal Program fit in here?

The Red Seal Program represents the industry’s recognition of an inter-provincial standard of excellence for the skilled trades. Apprentices who have completed their training and become certified journeypersons are able to obtain a Red Seal endorsement on their provincial or territorial certificates of Qualification and Apprenticeship, once they have successfully completed the Inter-provincial Red Seal examination.

Should you be doing the Red Seal Program? And what are its benefits?

The Red Seal provides reassurance and absolute certainty that the tradesman is qualified to a standard of knowledge and competency that has been defined by Industry, and which involves a rigorous vetting process within industry from coast to coast. It means that the Inter-provincial Standards Red Seal Program acknowledges their competence through Canada without further examination. The Red Seal basically provides a stamp of approval on the tradesman’s capabilities and provides greater mobility for skilled workers across Canada. The Red Seal program allows qualified tradespeople to practice their trade anywhere in Canada where the trade is designated.

Tradespeople who hold a Red Seal can also work anywhere in Canada, including Alberta without further training or additional testing.

What do you need to qualify for a Red Seal?

In order to qualify for a Red Seal, you have to hold a valid certificate in a trade that participates in the Inter-provincial Standards Red Seal Program. You would also need to ensure you submit the correct application form and fees applicable, and also will need to successfully pass the Red Seal exam.

For more information on the Red Seal, and to see if it’s something you should be considering, click here:

10 Responses to “What does the Red Seal mean for tradesman in Canada?”

  1. Todd Gohn

    this test is no joke especially if its been a few years since you have out of school for a while

  2. Josh

    Thanks for the great post outlining the benefits of the Red Seal certification – it’s admittedly something I don’t think a lot of people know about. BC is doing a lot to help promote skilled trades professions and we’re listening to the people on the ground for input. Clint, a Red Seal automotive technician and refrigeration mechanic made a big difference – read his story on the BC b-sides blog:

  3. Thomas King

    I just completed the Instrumentation and Controls Technician exam….it was much more difficult that expected. It took a week to get the grade….I passed but barely. I studied for 2-3 months. I do recommend it…..a recruiter told me recently employers are looking for it for insurance reasons.

  4. Matthew

    I just finished the carpentry program and wrote the red seal the day after my provincial exam. The red seal exam was prob the hardest test I ever wrote in my life. It was hard die to the fact that there were a lot of procedures. A lot of question u can find the answers in the code book. There’s questions from all provinces on there. Not just Alberta. Even if I read all my modules again from all four yrs. wouldn’t have really helped me get a better mark. It’s kinda general knowledge. U either know or don’t. And again procedures on how things r done. It’s a real test of yur knowledge that’s for sure.

  5. James walbourne

    Writing your Redseal exam is no walk in the park,that’s for sure.It’s something you achieve from hands on experience and knowledge over the years.

  6. Paul Clement, RSE

    A Red Seal should be mandatory in Carpentry in Canada. Anyone who argues that it is not necessary is not a tradesman. I have heard numerous arguments that it is not required if you have the experience or time in the trade. This fable is pushed by those not willing to put the time into their craft.

    I am still amazed that if I want to cut and style your hair I need to be certified but I can build a $300,000 home with no license, no certification, no insurance and no training.

    Don’t let those that don’t see the value in training and certification hold you back. The Red Seal shows a commitment to your trade, knowledge and skill. The Red Seal is only the beginning, this is a life time of learning and dedication. New materials, new tools, new methods and the ever changing Building Code and Municipal By-Laws.

    If you are intent on finishing your Red Seal and becoming a Certified Journeyman Carpenter you are entering into a Trade Guild that dates back centuries. Be proud of your accomplishments. Show off your projects, be proud of them and never ever stop learning and striving to add to your skills and knowledge.

  7. jack friesen

    The red seal exam is one of the hardest things ever so I heard anyway. I have not yet done it but I plan to do it in the future. Good Luck!

  8. Uttam

    I dont have any trade.Basic NDT program certifications from SAIT Calgary school of automation.How do I become Red Seal Journeyman welder or is there any Red Seal certification I should consider? Please advice.

  9. maria sanderson

    I am new to this apprenctice and red seal info…So, anyone that is an apprentice can write a test to become a red seal? or is it only for certain apprentices? Thanks in advance.

    • Susan Kihn

      Hi Maria. Thanks for the feedback on my article. In Canada, skilled trades-related training and certification are the responsibility of the provinces and territories. Each area has its own rules related to trades and for apprenticeship training and certification. There are more than 400 trades designated by province and territory in Canada. Not all of these trades are Red Seal Trades. I would suggest you have a look at the below link, which gives a fair amount of information on red seal trades in Canada.

      Good luck with this, and thanks again for the feedback. Regards. Susan.


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