Red Seal Trades 101: The “Whats” and “Hows”

In its battle to retain global competitiveness, Canada has created the Red Seal Trades Program. What is it exactly? It is the country’s commitment to enhance and ensure the quality of its skilled tradespeople.

Red Seal in trading

Company executives, like Daniel Greenhalgh, co-founder of ENM Constructions, agree that skilled trade, the so-called “blue-collar jobs” is often underestimated. With the help of the Red Seal Program, Canada ensures the quality training of its workforce.


Administered by the Canadian Council of Directors Apprenticeship (CCDA), the Red Seal Program is an interprovincial standard of excellence for the skilled trades. By undergoing the program, apprentices who manage to meet the requirements obtain a Red Seal, which is an endorsement from the CCDA that the bearer is qualified and can work in their trade throughout Canada.

Red Seal Trades are vocations that require a person to be a registered apprentice, a certified journeyman, or a candidate for his or her province or territory. To date, there are 52 trades under the Red Seal Program.


Technically called Red Seal endorsement, the RSE is granted once a Certificate of Qualification, or an equivalent, is earned. This is usually done by completing an apprenticeship program, which generally works this way:

  • Find an employer willing to sponsor your apprenticeship program.
  • Register as an apprentice within your province or territory.
  • Undergo and complete the training (usually between two and five years).
  • Take and pass the exams and receive qualification as a journeyman.
  • Finally, pass the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Examination for your trade.

Sounds like a piece of cake? Not the slightest.


Each of the 52 trades under the program has its own Red Seal Exam specifically designed to test your abilities and qualifications based on the National Occupational Analysis (NOA or the national standards) for your trade.

It should contain the following:

  • Trade-specific tasks, activities, and terminologies
  • Safety procedures for your trade
  • Skills needed for your trade
  • Tools and equipment of your trade

Aside for these, aspiring apprentices should also take note of the following things about the exam:

  1. There is a four-hour time limit for the exam.
  2. The exam can be taken in either English or French.
  3. An examination fee is probably needed.
  4. Government-issued identification as well other materials listed on the confirmation letter will be presented.
  5. Personal items are not allowed in the testing area.
  6. Depending on your chosen trade, additional documents might be provided.
  7. Seventy percent is the passing mark and results may take at least four weeks before release.
  8. If failed, can be retaken after a waiting period.


Earning a Red Seal endorsement is a true mark of distinction. Even if your trade is not regulated in your area, employers will look at you more favorably. The Red Seal endorsement is the best possible way to secure a job in Canada. Not only is it an affirmation of your skills in your place of residence, but it is an acknowledgment of your expertise in any province or territory in Canada!

So, what else are you waiting for? Ensure your future!

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