Got Questions?
RTO Apprenticeship Toolkit

A Guide for Navigating the BC Apprenticeship System

Certification

Obtaining Trade Certification

In BC there are two ways to become a certified tradesperson, either through apprenticeship or by challenging the certification. The final skills and knowledge expected are the same, however the pathways differ.

To become a certified tradesperson in BC both apprentices and challengers must successfully complete an end of program ITA assessment. Typically this is a written examination; however, some trades may include a practical assessment in place of or in addition to the written exam.

Apprentices write the certification exam as soon as they complete their technical training. However they will not receive their Certificate of Qualification until all other program completion requirements have been met.

Challengers must apply to challenge the program by completing a Certification Challenge Application. Their application must prove that they have worked a minimum number of hours in the trade and that their work experience covers a minimum number of the competencies listed. Challengers who are approved to write the exam will receive their Certificate of Qualification if they pass the exam.

 

Certification through Apprenticeship

For someone to become a certified tradesperson through apprenticeship they must be a registered apprentice with ITA and meet all of the completion requirements for their trade.  Completion requirements vary by trade; refer to the program profile for individual trades on the ITA website. ITA does not issue a Certificate of Qualification until all completion requirements have been met.

Completion of technical training

Apprentices must successfully complete all levels of technical training for their trade, listed on the program profile.

Apprentices may challenge a level by writing a Level Exam instead of attending the technical training classes. If they pass the exam they receive credit for that level of technical training.

Completion of work-based hours

Apprentices must work a minimum number of hours to meet this completion requirement. The required number of hours varies by trade; check the program profile.

Only hours reported to ITA by the registered sponsor are applied towards the apprenticeship. It is recommended that apprentices get a copy of each Work-based Training Report submitted to ITA for their own records.

In the future, apprentices will be able to check their hours on line through Direct Access.

Completion of a logbook

A logbook is a tool for apprentices to track their hours, job tasks performed and achievement of the skills and knowledge requried for certification.

Logbooks are issued only for a few trades. For those trades issuing logbooks, completion and sign-off of the logbook is mandatory for certification.  Refer to the program profile for your trade to see if a logbook is required.

All competencies listed in the logbook must be signed off by a certified journeyperson in the trade or by an ITA registered assessor. Prior to ITA issuing the trade certification, the apprentice must submit proof of completion and sign-off of their logbook.

Logbooks vary significantly from program to program. Specific requirements and instructions on completing the logbook are contained in the logbook itself.

Third party certifications

Not all apprenticeship programs require completion of third party certifications. Check the program profile for your trade to see if any third party certifications are required.

These are credentials issued by third parties not associated with the provincial training authority, such as Foodsafe. A third party certification is usually an employment requirement and is not part of the occupation standards defined by industry.

Practical assessment

Not all apprenticeship programs list practical assessment as a completion requirement. Check the program profile for your trade to see if practical assessment is required.

Practical assessment is an assessment of an apprentice’s competencies, skills or knowledge performed by a sponsor, employer or third party.

Formal Workplace Assessment

When a practical assessment is listed as a completion requirement it indicates that a formal procedure is in place, often requiring a Registered Assessor to conduct the assessment.

Very few BC apprenticeship programs have a formal workplace assessment. In these programs the apprentice keeps a record of his or her work in a logbook and throughout the apprenticeship a Registered Assessor goes to the worksite to assess the Apprentice’s competency. These assessments vary between programs.

On-the-Job Assessment

For programs where practical assessment is not listed as a completion requirement the employer or sponsor is still responsible for ensuring their apprentice has achieved the required level of skills and knowledge before recommending certification.

Conduct regular on-the-job assessments and keep a record of competencies as they are completed. Employers who do this can be confident of their apprentice’s progress towards meeting the certification requirements.

ITA Certification Exam

All apprenticeship programs require the successful completion of a written certification exam. The exam will be either the provincial Certificate of Qualification (CofQ) exam or the interprovincial Red Seal exam, depending on the program.

Apprentices usually write the certification exam immediately upon completing their final level of technical training. The certification exam in an apprenticeship program is scheduled by the training provider.

Apprentices who miss the scheduled exam or fail it in their first attempt will need to schedule their own re-write.

Refer to “Scheduling and Writing a Certification Exam” for procedures on scheduling and tips on planning for and writing the exam.

Recommendation for Certification (RFC)

The final completion requirement for all apprenticeships is a recommendation for certification by the sponsor. This is an attestation that the apprentice is working at the level of a certified tradesperson. The apprentice will not receive their Certificate of Qualification until ITA has received a recommendation for certification by the sponsor.

How does it work?

Once the apprentice meets all other completion requirements and submits the requirements to ITA, ITA will then send the sponsor a form requesting a recommendation for certification.

If the apprentice is working at the skill level of a certified tradesperson, the sponsor needs to:

Sign the Recommendation for Certification and return it to ITA.

If the apprentice is not working at the skill level of a certified tradesperson, the sponsor needs to:

  • Indicate the reasons for not recommending certification
  • Include a training plan to address deficiencies
  • Suggest a date for ITA to send another RFC
  • Discuss with the apprentice and have him/her sign the form
  • Sign the form themselves
  • Return the signed form to ITA

*Recommendation for Certification must be signed by someone with sign-off authority!

Certificates are sent to the Sponsor

When ITA issues the Certificate of Qualification and the Certificate of Apprenticeship they are sent to the sponsor.

How does it work?

  1. ITA ensures all completion requirements have been met
  2. ITA sends the Certificate of Qualification and Certificate of Apprenticeship to the sponsor
  3. Sponsor signs the Certificate of Apprenticeship
  4. Sponsor presents certificates to the apprentice
  5. ITA maintains a permanent record of the apprentice’s certification

Challenging a Certification

Individuals with extensive work experience and enough time in a trade may apply to challenge the certification exam.  To do so, you must complete the Certification Challenge Application for your trade and submit it to ITA for approval.  If approval is granted you must write the exam within 12 months of the date of approval; after that you must reapply.

Pre-requisites

Pre-requisites to challenge vary by trade.

Typically challengers must provide proof that they have worked a minimum number of hours in the trade and that their work experience covers a required number of the competencies listed in the challenge application. For some trades there are additional requirements.

Check the Program Profile for your trade to see if you meet the pre-requisites.

Apprenticeship and Red Seal Programs > your trade > Program Profile

If you do not have sufficient work experience to challenge the certification, you may be eligible to challenge a level of technical training. Refer to Challenging a Level for more information.

What does it cost?

Assessment of challenge application: $120 (see current fee structure)

This fee includes the initial sitting of the exam and a 1st rewrite.

There is a $100 fee for any subsequent rewrites.

Individuals may be required to upgrade prior to rewriting an exam; refer to Fee Schedule. If you have any questions on your eligibility to rewrite a Challenge Exam contact ITA Customer Service.

How to apply

Download the Challenge Application

Challenge Applications are located on the ITA website. Locate the Challenge Application for your trade and download it.
Apprenticeship and Red Seal Programs > your trade > Certification Challenge Application
If no challenge application is listed for your trade contact ITA Customer Service.

Complete the Challenge Application

The challenge application contains instructions and forms required to apply to challenge. Follow the instructions and complete the forms applicable to your situation.

Collect all documents necessary to prove that your hours and work experience meet the pre-requisites and submit them to ITA. Documents submitted with the application do not have to be the originals, they can be photocopied, scanned, faxed, or emailed.

Employer declaration

On the challenge application you must obtain verification by your current and/or past employer(s) of your time in the trade and the scope of your work experience.

Statutory declaration

Under certain circumstances, applicants who are unable to obtain verification of their work experience by their employer(s) may still apply. To do so they must complete a Statutory Declaration in the presence of and signed by a Commissioner for Oaths, a Notary Public or a Lawyer. This can also be completed at ITA Customer Service.

Statutory declarations can only be used in the following circumstances:

• Self-employed
• Employer is no longer in business
• Employer will not complete an Employer Declaration
• Employment records are not available

Submit the application to the ITA

The ITA checks that your hours and work experience meet the pre-requisites. They verify with the employer(s) and/or contacts listed that the information you provided in the application is accurate.

It will take approximately 10 days for the ITA to process your Challenge Application.
ITA will notify you in writing of your eligibility to write the exam. If you are eligible they will include information on available exam sessions.

Schedule your exam

It is up to you to schedule your exam.

You must write the exam within 12 months of the date of approval; after that you must reapply and pay the assessment fee again.

Certification Exam

Whether you acquire your skills and knowledge through apprenticeship or through challenge, you must pass an ITA assessment to become a certified tradesperson in BC. Typically this is a written examination however some trades may include a practical assessment in addition to or in place of a written exam.  Some trades, like Professional Cook, have multiple assessment processes.

Scheduling the exam

Apprentices

Apprentices write their Certification of Qualification exam as soon as they have completed their final level of technical training. This may be an ITA exam, or in some trades it is the Interprovincial Red Seal exam. The exam session is scheduled by their training provider. If they miss this exam or do not pass on their first attempt, they must reschedule their exam with ITA.

Challengers

Challengers can write their certification exam as soon as their application has been approved by ITA. Exams can be scheduled up to two months in advance. Notification letters are sent to exam candidates to confirm the date, time and location of the scheduled exam.

Exam Schedule

Exam sessions are held weekly in the following locations:

  • ITA Customer Service (Richmond)
  • Burnaby

Exam sessions are held monthly in the following locations:

  • Chilliwack
  • Kamloops
  • Maple Ridge
  • Nanaimo
  • Penticton
  • Prince George
  • Victoria
  • Vernon

To schedule an exam in another area of the province, refer to Service BC for office locations

Preparing to write the exam

The following ITA guideline provides helpful information on the exam process, structure of exams, and study tips, whether your exam is for a provincially recognized trade or for an accredited Red Seal trade.

If you are writing an exam for a Red Seal trade, the following resources are useful.

Day of the exam

Before the exam

  • Arrive 30 minutes early for registration and check in.
  • Bring your photo ID.
    • BC Identification card
    • Canadian drivers license
    • Canada/US passport
    • Canadian Permanent Residency card
    • Certificate of Indian Status (Canada)
  • Leave prohibited materials at home.

During the exam

  • You will be provided with all materials needed to write the exam.
  • Paper translation dictionaries are permitted only with prior permission from ITA.
  • Electronic dictionaries are not permitted.
  • Food and beverages are not permitted.
  • All answers must be put on answer sheet.
  • Calculations may be done in exam or diagram booklets.
  • Do not write in code books.
  • Talking is not permitted.
  • When finished writing the exam return everything to the registration table.
    The invigilator will check to ensure everything is in order, then you may leave.
  • Do not ask Invigilators for any interpretation or clarification of exam content. If you have questions or concerns about the exam use the provided question feedback form (Bue Sheet).
  • Calculators will be provided.
  • Code books, if necessary for your trade, will be provided

Refer to the ITA Exam Instructions for additional information on what to expect the day of your exam.

Cost

Apprentices:

First attempt: no fee
First rewrite: no fee
Second and subsequent rewrites: $100

Challengers:

Assessment fee: $120

Exam marks

You will be notified of your exam results through your preferred channel of communication.
If you do not receive your marks within four weeks, contact ITA Customer Service.

A mark of 70% or higher is a pass.

If you fail the exam and your mark was close to 70% you may have your mark reviewed;
contact ITA Customer Service.

If you fail the exam you may rewrite it.

  • If your mark was 60-69% you can rewrite the exam without further training.
  • If your mark was less than 60% you must have further training before you can rewrite.

If you fail your exam twice, regardless of score, you will have to complete upgrading before rewriting again.

Receiving your Certificate of Qualification

Apprentices

Once an apprentice passes the certification exam and meets all other completion requirements, ITA will send a request to the employer asking for a recommendation for certification. ITA will not issue a trade certification until they have received a Recommendation for Certification from the employer signed by a qualified journeyperson in the trade or an individual with sign off authority.

Once ITA receives a recommendation from the employer they send the Certificate of Qualification and Certificate of Apprenticeship to the employer to give to the apprentice. A letter will also be sent to the apprentice advising them that the certification has been mailed to that employer. This may take 2 – 4 weeks from the date that ITA processes the Recommendation for Certification.

Challengers

Once a challenger passes the certification exam they can expect to receive their Certificate of Qualification within 2- 4 weeks of receiving their exam results.

FAQ

What does it cost to write a certification exam?

What does it cost to write a certification exam?

Apprentices

First attempt: no fee
First rewrite: no fee
Second and subsequent rewrites: $100

Challengers

Assessment fee for Challengers: $120

Refer to ITA Fee Schedule

How long will it take to receive my Certificate of Qualification?

Apprentices

Your employer should receive your certificates and wallet card 2-4 weeks from the date that ITA processes the Recommendation for Certification.

Challengers

You should receive your certificate and wallet card 2-4 weeks after you receive your exam results.

What if I don’t receive my certificate after 90 days?

If after 2 – 4 weeks your employer has not received your trade certificates and wallet cards, contact ITA Customer Services to ensure that all completion requirements were processed. ITA will check and confirm certification and check to see if the certificate package was returned to ITA in the mail.

If after 90 days, your employer has not received your certification package send a letter to ITA explaining that you never received your certification. ITA will investigate and issue a new certificate if required.

What is a Recommendation for Certification?

A Recommendation for Certification is an attestation by the employer that the apprentice is working at the level of a certified tradesperson.

Where can I write the exam?

Apprentices write their exam at their training provider’s location at the end of their last level of technical training.

For those who need to schedule an exam, sessions are held in the following locations.

Weekly

  • ITA Customer Service (Richmond)
  • Burnaby

Monthly

  • Chilliwack
  • Kamloops
  • Maple Ridge
  • Nanaimo
  • Penticton
  • Prince George
  • Victoria
  • Vernon

To schedule an exam in another area of the province, refer to Service BC for alternate locations.

What if I fail the exam?

If you fail the exam and your mark was close to 70% you may have your mark reviewed; contact Customer Service.

If you fail the exam you may rewrite it.

  • If your mark was 60-69% you can rewrite the exam without further training.
  • If your mark was less than 60% you must have further training before you can rewrite.

What if there is no Journeyperson at my workplace?

Someone at your workplace must be a journeyperson or have ITA signoff authority to sign-off on the apprenticeship.

The employer or his designate can apply to the ITA for sign-off authority. The application involves validation of their time in the trade. Once validated ITA grants them the authority to sign off on a Recommendation for Certification in that trade.

The employer or his designate also have the option of challenging the certification and getting their journeyperson status.

What if I lose my Certificate?

Complete a Certificate/Wallet Card Replacement Application and submit it to ITA.
Cost for certificate replacement is $35.