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Education & Training

Dual Credit: Get a Head Start on Your Career

Dual credit courses are a great way to learn about a career you might be interested in.

As early as Grade 10, you can take dual credit courses to help you learn about a skilled trade or profession and get you ready to enter the workplace sooner. 

What is a dual credit?

Dual credit refers to courses high school students can take to earn high school credits as well as credit toward a post-secondary certificate, diploma, or degree, including a journeyperson trade certificate.

If you’re on a dual credit pathway, you may take a course to explore a skilled trade or profession that interests you. On some dual credit pathways, you might even finish an entire post-secondary program and be ready to start working in that career when you finish high school.

Some dual credit pathways require on-the-job training at a worksite. Other dual credit courses are taught at a high school or at a post-secondary campus, like a local college.

You can also take some dual credit courses online.

Learn how much time a dual credit course or pathway will take. Think about this when you plan your high school timetable. For example, if the dual credit pathway you choose is worth 15 credits in total, you may not have the space in your schedule for other course choices.

What courses can you take for dual credit?

You can take courses related to a career, such as child-development assistant, or in topics like forestry or robotics.

You can also take the Career and Technology Studies (CTS) apprenticeship pathway. There are 23 CTS pathways you can choose from in Alberta. They include a wide range of careers and jobs, such as electrician, auto body technician, hairstylist, baker, plumber, welder, cabinetmaker, and many more.

Do you see yourself in any of these careers? Let’s look at a few courses you can take if you decide to do a CTS Apprenticeship Pathway:

  • To be a baker, you’ll learn how to make cakes and cookies, ways to prepare custards and fillings, and techniques for making beautiful icings and piping on your cakes.
  • To become an electrician, you’ll learn about switching circuits, wiring and installation, and how batteries and magnetism work.
  • To be a hairstylist, you’ll study head anatomy and physiology, how to run a salon, advanced hair cutting and styling techniques, and much more.

If you complete the apprenticeship pathway successfully, you can write the first Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AIT) period exam for advanced standing toward certification.

Requirements for the Career and Technology Studies Apprenticeship Pathway

The CTS Apprenticeship Pathway must be taught in a school or facility approved by the Government of Alberta. The facility needs to be equipped to industry standards.

All your courses in a CTS Apprenticeship Pathway must be taught by a journeyperson for the trade you’ve chosen. This ensures the person is qualified to teach you.

If you write and pass your Apprenticeship and Industry Training exams within 3 years of finishing high school, you do not have to pay the exam application fee. But you will have to pay for any other attempts at passing the exams.

Application process

It’s best to work with a teacher or guidance counsellor on your application. First, you’ll want to find out if the course you want to take is offered at your school. The process is a bit different for every type of dual credit course. For example, to apply for dual credit courses in the trades, you need to submit a Prior Learning Assessment Application to Apprenticeship and Industry Training for approval before you write your exam.

You can also visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training Office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823 for more information.

What are the benefits of a dual credit pathway?

  • You learn about a career, so you can decide if it’s a good choice for you.
  • Your training helps you develop the skills and attitudes that you will need to do well in your career or job.
  • You learn about subjects you are interested in.
  • You get a jump-start on your post-secondary education. This might save you from having to take some or all courses at a post-secondary institution—and help you avoid post-secondary school debt.
  • You’re better prepared for the workforce when you finish high school.
  • You learn useful, practical skills.

How do I know if a dual credit pathway is for me?

It’s not always easy to know what career you might be interested in or choose the right classes to prepare you. You can start planning in Grade 8 or 9. Or you can explore dual credit courses once you’re in a high school that offers them.

Several online tools can help you:

How do I get started?

Talk over your ideas and decisions with people you trust, like your family, school counsellor, or someone working in the field. Think about the elective courses you want to take and whether they might be eligible for dual credit.

Your school counsellor can tell you if your school offers dual credit courses. They can also help you decide if a dual credit pathway is right for you.

Not all schools offer dual credit courses or pathways. If you decide on a dual credit pathway, your guidance counsellor will help you find a high school that offers them.

You can take the course through that school, either in the evening or online. Your counsellor can talk to you about other ways you can transition out of high school and into more education or a job.

Dual credits are designed to provide all students with a caring, respectful, and safe learning environment.

If you are Francophone, or if you identify as First Nations, Métis, or Inuit, you may be able to access dual credit courses from colleges that meet your linguistic, cultural, and educational needs.

Are my dual credit courses transferable to post-secondary?

Dual credit courses don’t all transfer to every Alberta post-secondary school. You need to find out if your courses transfer to the post-secondary school you want to attend. Remember:

  • Your school counsellor is a good resource.
  • This search tool from Transfer Alberta has information about dual credit transfers and general high school transitioning to a post-secondary school.
  • For more information, contact or the post-secondary school you wish to attend directly.

Preparing for your future

It’s never too early to start thinking about what you can do today to get ready for life after high school. Talk your plans over with the people you trust. Take the time to figure out what interests you and find out what your options are. These aren’t always easy decisions, but they’re exciting ones. You’re taking control of your education and your future.

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