Updated January 2023
If you’re considering studying a trade or completing an apprenticeship, you may be thinking ahead to getting the Red Seal endorsement.
Once you become a certified journeyperson, you can pursue Red Seal certification by taking the interprovincial exam. Successful candidates earn a Red Seal endorsement on their certificates of qualification and apprenticeship, proving their skill level in a particular trade.
But what is the value of this endorsement? How can it help your career? And is it worth the extra effort?
Let’s dive into the details.
WHAT IS THE RED SEAL PROGRAM?
The Red Seal program sets a national standard of excellence for tradespeople in Canada.
Each province or territory is responsible for certifying tradespeople in its jurisdiction. So when you earn a Certificate of Qualification (or equivalent), it comes from your provincial or territorial body.
But a Red Seal endorsement is an extra mark of distinction that gets added to your provincial or territorial trade certificate. It provides Canada-wide recognition of a tradesperson’s abilities.
Essentially, an RSE is a widely respected stamp of approval. It serves as proof that you have attained a high level of knowledge and skill in your trade.
WHAT TRADES QUALIFY FOR RED SEAL?
Currently, there are 56 Red Seal trades. They cover a wide range of occupations, from welders and appliance repairers to cooks and hairstylists.
According to Statistics Canada, the five most popular trades for which people receive Red Seal endorsements are:
☑️ Construction electrician
☑️ Automotive service technician
☑️ Carpenter☑️ Industrial mechanic (millwright)
Some Red Seal trades go by slightly different names in different jurisdictions. For instance, in Ontario, “construction electrician” is called “construction and maintenance electrician.” And “bricklayer” is called “brick and stone mason.”
Also: not every Red Seal trade is designated as such in all areas of Canada. Quebec, for example, only awards Red Seal endorsements in 41 trades rather than 56.
WHAT DOES A RED SEAL ENDORSEMENT DO FOR YOU?
The biggest advantage is mobility.
While trades training standards may vary from one part of the country to another, the Red Seal endorsement is valid and highly regarded throughout Canada. It means your education and skills will be recognized from coast to coast, without need for further training or examination.
Even if you don’t plan to move to another region, having your Red Seal can give you a competitive edge in the job market. Some employers, especially in large companies, specifically look for Red Seal certified tradespeople.
WHY MIGHT YOU CHOOSE NOT TO GET A RED SEAL ENDORSEMENT?
Red Seal is a voluntary program. You don’t need an RSE in order to work in a Red Seal trade in Canada.
Many tradespeople enjoy successful careers without ever getting their RSE. We looked at dozens of job postings for various trades, and Red Seal only came up in a small percentage of them.
The Statistics Canada data shows that in a typical year, roughly 60 to 65 per cent of certificates awarded in Red Seal trades include Red Seal endorsements. That means more than a third do not.
So is it right for you? To decide, research positions that appeal to you and see what those employers require. Seek advice from people currently working in your trade.
You might decide an RSE is a valuable asset that you want to pursue. Or you might conclude that it’s not worth the hassle.
Note: Some provinces use the Red Seal standards for their Certificate of Qualification exams, meaning that you automatically receive your RSE if you pass the provincial exam.
HOW DO YOU GET A RED SEAL ENDORSEMENT?
The first step is earning your Certificate of Qualification from your provincial or territorial authority.
That typically means completing an apprenticeship and passing a certifying exam. Depending on your trade, this process can take anywhere from two to five years.
Once you have your C of Q and are a fully qualified journeyperson, you must take and pass the Red Seal exam for your trade.
You may be able to challenge the exam without being certified if you can prove that you have sufficient skills and experience.
WHAT’S THE RED SEAL EXAM LIKE?
Each Red Seal exam consists of 100 to 150 multiple-choice questions. The test is designed to evaluate your trade knowledge as well as your mathematical and problem-solving skills (as related to your trade). It may include the use of diagrams.
You have up to four hours to complete the test. You need to score at least 70 per cent to pass.
You can get a preview by taking a practice test on the Red Seal website. Just select your trade from the alphabetical list and then launch the sample questions.
WANT TO PREPARE FOR AN APPRENTICESHIP AND START WORKING TOWARD YOUR RED SEAL?
You need plenty of hands-on experience to qualify for a Red Seal endorsement. You can boost your odds of getting hired as an apprentice by completing pre-apprenticeship training at a trade school or career college.
We can help you take your first step toward becoming a certified tradesperson.
Click below to explore our skilled trades programs and chat live with an admissions advisor. We’re here to help!