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Certification Requirements FAQs

What are regulated occupations?Answer

Regulated occupations have legal requirements or restrictions with regard to licensing, certification or registration. They are professions (e.g. forester, lawyer, nurse, teacher) and trades (e.g. electrician, heavy equipment technician, plumber, welder) that are controlled by law to protect the public.

In Alberta, there are different types of legislation or regulations governing regulated occupations. In some regulated occupations, you must be registered with the appropriate professional regulatory organization or, in a trade, with Apprenticeship and Industry Training. In other regulated occupations, you must be registered if you perform restricted activities or use a protected title.

Restricted activities

Restricted activities are tasks specified in provincial government legislation or regulations. In health occupations, restricted activities are set out in Schedule 7.1 of Alberta's Government Organization Act. (PDF)

Protected title

To use a title that is protected in legislation or regulations, you must be registered with the appropriate professional regulatory organization or, in a trade, with Apprenticeship and Industry Training. You may not have to be registered to work in these occupations. For example, you may be employed as a marine biologist or a wildlife biologist, but you may call yourself a Professional Biologist only if you are a registered member of the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists.

In Alberta's Health Professions Act, there are restrictions on who may use the titles doctor, surgeon, pathologist, oncologist or nurse, and the abbreviation Dr. There also are restrictions on the way you may use the phrase "regulated health professional" and the words "registered" and "regulated" in reference to a health occupation.

For information about Alberta legislation or regulations governing particular occupations, see the appropriate occupational description. You can also search for and view legislation or regulations on the Government of Alberta Queen's Printer website or purchase fully formatted copies (in Word or WordPerfect) for immediate download to your computer or delivery by mail.

What is the difference between a professional regulatory organization and a professional association?Answer

In some occupations, the professional association and the professional regulatory organization are 2 separate bodies. In other occupations, the professional association is the professional regulatory organization. The organizations for physicians and architects in Alberta are good examples of these different situations. The Alberta Medical Association, a professional association of physicians, is a separate body from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, the professional regulatory organization for physicians. The situation is different for architects: the Alberta Association of Architects is both the professional association and the professional regulatory organization in Alberta.

Professional associations represent the interests of their membership. Professional regulatory organizations have been delegated the authority to govern their profession by the provincial government and work within a regulatory framework established by government. Professional regulatory organizations have the authority to:

  • set entry requirements and standards of practice
  • assess applicants' qualifications and credentials
  • certify, register or license qualified applicants
  • discipline members.

Professional associations and professional regulatory organizations do not act as employment agencies in Alberta. Some publish information about job opportunities in member newsletters or on their websites but they do not guarantee members employment or actively assist members in finding employment. Finding employment is the individual's responsibility. For more information, see How do I obtain work in Alberta? below.

How do I find out if I need more training?Answer

Professional regulatory organizations and provincial government departments require applicants for certification or registration to meet specified education and experience requirements. They also may require applicants to write examinations and participate in interviews. Examinations and interviews are usually, but not always, conducted in Alberta. Information about certification or registration requirements is usually posted on the professional regulatory organization's website.

Professional regulatory organizations may conduct their own assessments of applicants' qualifications. If your credentials were earned in another province or territory or outside Canada, find out:

  • how the relevant Alberta professional regulatory organization assesses credentials earned outside Alberta
  • if it is possible to complete some of the assessment process prior to your arrival in Alberta
  • how much the qualifications assessment will cost.

Professional regulatory organizations in Alberta may require applicants who have foreign credentials to obtain an assessment from the International Qualifications Assessment Service or another assessment service such as the International Credentials Assessment Service of Canada. Or, professional regulatory organizations may include the cost of obtaining such an assessment in their certification or registration fees. To avoid paying for a qualifications assessment twice, find out what procedures will be followed in your case.

Many professional regulatory organizations are prepared to assess combinations of education, training and experience that may be equivalent to their standard certification or registration requirements. If you don't have the specified education but do have related education and experience, you may not have to go back to school to qualify for certification or registration. Contact the appropriate professional regulatory organization or provincial government department, describe your qualifications and ask about alternate ways of qualifying for certification or registration. Depending on your situation, you may be able to:

  • participate in a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition process that helps adults demonstrate and obtain recognition for knowledge and skills they have acquired outside of formal education settings
  • obtain a formal assessment of your qualifications and credentials
  • take an upgrading program or a bridging program to fill the gap between the knowledge and skills you already have and the knowledge and skills you need to work in your occupation in Alberta.

If you do need to upgrade your qualifications before you can work in your occupation in Alberta, career counselling and immigrant service agency personnel can help you identify and select a suitable education program. The Government of Alberta funds career counselling and immigrant services located throughout the province. For information about these services, contact the Alberta Career Information Hotline by calling between 8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Phone number in Edmonton: 780-422-4266
Canada-wide toll-free phone number: 1-800-661-3753
Phone number from North American locations outside Canada: 780-422-4266
Phone number from outside North America: 0-1 780-422-4266

The Government of Alberta also publishes guides and resources such as Time to Choose...A Post-Secondary Education Program in pdf and printed format to help people make education plans.

Where can I get information about self-employment and starting a business in Alberta?Answer

In some regulated occupations in Alberta, most people are self-employed. For example, many dentists, lawyers, optometrists and physicians set up professional corporations or join partnerships and operate their practices as businesses. In other occupations, relatively few people are self-employed. For example, most chemists, foresters, medical laboratory technologists and nurses are employed by publicly funded institutions or private companies. To find out if many people are self-employed in your occupation, contact the professional regulatory organization, an Alberta Works centre, an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or the Alberta Career Information Hotline.
 
If you are interested in starting a business in Alberta or working on a contract basis, check out Self-Employment on the alis website.

Why can't I find my occupation in OCCinfo?Answer

This site provides information about occupations that are governed by law in Alberta. If it does not contain an occupational description that is relevant to your work, your occupation is not regulated in Alberta. However, voluntary certification still may be of benefit to you.

If certification or registration is required by law, employers must hire only job applicants who have the required credential. If a credential is not required by law but is widely respected, employers may choose to hire only people who have it. To determine if this is common practice in your occupation, check the websites of Alberta employers in your field or industry. If they do not provide information about job opportunities and desired qualifications on their websites, send their human resources or personnel departments a brief description of the type of work you will be looking for in Alberta and ask about the qualifications required for that type of work.

What if I trained in another country?Answer

If you plan to immigrate to Canada, it is important to learn as much as possible about Canada's labour market before you arrive. Employers' expectations and the employment situation in your occupation may be quite different in Canada than it is where you are. Jobs in Alberta is a good place to start your research.

For information about living and working in the province of Alberta, see Where can I get information about what it is like to live and work in Alberta? and How do I obtain work in Alberta? below.

The International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS) in the Alberta government evaluates international credentials and issues certificates indicating how credentials from other countries compare to educational standards in Alberta. IQAS assessment certificates can be attached to a job resumé to help employers understand your education. IQAS assessment certificates are also used by some educational institutions and professional licensing bodies. Please visit IQAS for further information about the IQAS assessment service and to obtain a listing of the professional licensing bodies and educational institutions using IQAS.

Careful preparation prior to your arrival can significantly reduce the length of time it will take to have your qualifications recognized in Alberta. One of the most important things you can do to speed up the certification or registration process is to bring the documents that will be required to verify your qualifications. You may be asked to provide official transcripts of marks from educational institutions (not photocopies) or original documents from employers, references and/or regulatory organizations. You also may be asked to provide evidence of your language proficiency in English. For more information, see How well must I be able to communicate in English? below.

The following organizations may be able to provide assistance and advice that is relevant to your particular situation:

  • the professional association or regulatory organization where you obtained your training
  • the professional association or regulatory organization in Alberta
  • immigrant serving agencies in Alberta.

In some occupations, associations and regulatory organizations have signed international mutual recognition agreements that make it much easier for members to have their credentials recognized in other countries. Further, some Alberta professional regulatory organizations allow applicants for registration or certification to challenge examinations or meet other requirements while applicants are still living outside Alberta.
 
Immigrant serving agencies provide information and guidance for immigrants after they arrive in Alberta. For information about immigrant serving agencies in Alberta, visit Alberta Labour. You can also contact the Alberta Career Information Hotline between 8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Phone number in Edmonton: 780-422-4266
Canada-wide toll-free phone number: 1-800-661-3753
Phone number from North American locations outside Canada: 780-422-4266
Phone number from outside North America: 0-1 780-422-4266

What if I trained in another province or territory?Answer

Each province and territory in Canada determines which occupations are regulated in its jurisdiction, and how those occupations are regulated. Not every province and territory regulates the same occupations (professions or trades), and certification standards may differ across the country. You may be required to meet certification or registration requirements to work in your occupation in Alberta even though you are not required to be licensed, registered or certified to work in the province or territory you trained in. Or your occupation may be regulated elsewhere in Canada but not in Alberta.

Students are encouraged to investigate certification requirements in the province in which they first intend to work. In Alberta, you may be required to successfully complete examinations and provide documents such as letters from employers, a resume, transcripts, even a criminal record check.

Bringing required documents with you when you move can speed up the certification or registration process in Alberta considerably. Even better, you may find that you can begin the certification or registration process before you leave your home province or territory.

If you are certified and experienced in your field, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory in Canada? below

What if I am already certified in another province or territory in Canada?Answer

To make it easier for certified workers in regulated occupations to move across Canada, the federal, provincial and territorial governments introduced amendments to Chapter 7 (Labour Mobility) of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) in 2009. Under Chapter 7, persons who are currently certified and in good standing in a regulated occupation in one jurisdiction in Canada are eligible to practice in any other jurisdiction in Canada without requirements for additional education, training, experience, examinations or assessments of their qualifications. Visit the Labour Mobility Coordinating Group website for more information about labour mobility.

The Governments of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have signed the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA). Article 13 (Labour Mobility) in this agreement also facilitates the labour mobility of certified workers. Further information can be found on the NWPTA website.

All of the regulated occupations profiled are subject to the labour mobility provisions found in Chapter 7 of the AIT and Article 13 of the NWPTA. For more information about labour mobility in Alberta, visit Labour Mobility.

A certified worker in a province or territory who has concerns about the recognition of his or her certification in another Canadian jurisdiction can contact the Labour Mobility Coordinator in their jurisdiction.

In Alberta, the labour mobility coordinator can be contacted at:

Domestic and International Labour Mobility (DILM) Unit
Phone: 780-644-4306
Toll-free within Alberta: 310-0000
Fax: 780-422-7173
Email: labourmobility@gov.ab.ca

What if I have documents from the Government of Canada saying that I am qualified to work in Canada?Answer

If you have been admitted to Canada as a skilled worker, the Government of Canada has determined that your education and work experience will help you find work and make a home in Canada. That determination is not a guarantee of employment or a guarantee that your qualifications will be accepted by employers, professional regulatory organizations or provincial government departments.

Being qualified to work in Canada does not mean that finding work will be easy. In Canada's labour market, employers are solely responsible for hiring decisions and individual job seekers are responsible for finding work by identifying and approaching employers who may need their services. The employment situation in a particular occupation is constantly changing based on supply and demand and often varies from one part of the country to another. For more information, see Is there work available in my field in Alberta? below. 

Further, each province and territory in Canada has its own legislation and regulations governing employment. That means laws governing practice in your occupation may be quite different depending on where you live in Canada. In fact, some provinces or territories may have laws and regulations governing employment in your occupation, while others do not. This database only describes certification and registration requirements for employment in regulated occupations in the province of Alberta.

In Canada, professional regulatory organizations and provincial government departments administer laws and regulations regarding employment in specific occupations. Provincial regulatory organizations are often affiliated with national organizations (e.g. Canadian professional associations) but the provincial organization, not the national organization, sets requirements for practice in Alberta.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada is a national government body that:

  • admits immigrants, foreign students, visitors and temporary workers who enhance Canada's social and economic growth
  • resettles, protects and provides a safe haven for refugees
  • helps newcomers adapt to Canadian society and become Canadian citizens through a variety of human service agencies
  • manages access to Canada to protect the security and health of Canadians and the integrity of Canadian laws.

National and provincial government departments and professional regulatory organizations provide a variety of services to help people obtain work but finding a job is ultimately the job seeker's responsibility. For more information, see How do I obtain work in Alberta? below

How well must I be able to communicate in English?Answer

In Alberta, the language of the workplace is English. To work in any occupation, you must be able to speak English well enough to communicate effectively with people who speak only English. In occupations that involve paper or electronic communications, you also must be able to read and write well in English. If you work in an occupation that has a specialized vocabulary, you must be familiar with that English vocabulary as well as words used in everyday conversation. For example, in health care occupations, you must be familiar with English medical terminology. In technical occupations, you must be familiar with technical terminology to interpret operating manuals and communicate with others in the occupation.
 
In most occupations, you must be able to speak, read and write in English very well to obtain employment in Alberta. Immigrants who have basic communication skills in English often must upgrade their language skills before they are able to convince employers that they are the best candidates for employment opportunities.
 
In occupations that are not regulated, employers may require job applicants to demonstrate that they can communicate well enough in English to succeed on the job. Demonstrating your English language skills may involve participating in an interview or submitting the results of an English language proficiency examination. Many different English language proficiency examinations are available including TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), CLBA (Canadian Language Benchmark Assessment), CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program), IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication).
 
In regulated occupations, the professional regulatory organization or the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board is responsible for ensuring workers meet standards of safe practice. These organizations often specify which tests results they will accept and what levels of language proficiency are required for certification or registration. If you have not successfully completed high school English courses in Alberta, you may be required to take written and oral English language proficiency examinations as part of the certification or registration process.
 
Different examinations and levels of written and oral proficiency are required in different occupations. In some occupations, the required proficiency levels are very high. For example, if you will be working with patients in a health care setting, you probably will be required to have a very high level of proficiency in both written and spoken English. In other occupations, proficiency in spoken English may be more important than proficiency in written English (or the other way around).
 
Employers, professional regulatory organizations and provincial government departments may accept only certain types of evidence of your competency in written and spoken English. Before you pay to take an English language proficiency examination, contact employers, Apprenticeship and Industry Training or the appropriate professional regulatory organization and ask about required or recommended assessment procedures.

Where can I get information about what it is like to live and work in Alberta?Answer

Visit AlbertaCanada.com for information about living and working in Alberta. The publications  Welcome to Alberta  and Working in Alberta is also available for immigrants.

Information about living and working in Alberta is also available from immigrant serving agencies located throughout Alberta.

Is there work available in my field in Alberta?Answer

To avoid disappointment after you arrive in Alberta, learn as much as you can about the Alberta labour market before you move. The term labour market refers to the overall employment situation, not a particular place or thing. Labour market conditions in Alberta are constantly changing based on supply and demand and may differ from one area of the province to another. For example, employment demand for construction workers often increases dramatically after the announcement of a major construction project and decreases when the project is completed. How easy or difficult it will be for you to find work will also be affected by how many other qualified applicants there are in Alberta. Therefore, it is important to gather current, accurate information about the labour market in your occupation so you can make informed decisions.

The following sources of labour market information can help you develop a realistic picture of the current and future employment outlook in your field in Alberta:

  • The Government of Alberta publishes labour market bulletins about specific cities and regions as well as information about the province as a whole on the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website. 
  • The ALIS website also provides links to Job Banks that post information about current employment opportunities in a wide variety of industries and occupations.
  • Professional associations, professional regulatory organizations and unions may provide labour market information in newsletters or on their websites.

Most government labour market forecasts are based on National Occupational Classification (NOC) occupational groups. Each group and subgroup is identified by a number. To find out what number is associated with your occupation, check the appropriate occupational profile or use the NOC Number Search facility. Or ask a staff member at the Alberta Career Information Hotline or an Alberta Works office. If you are an immigrant, you also have the option of consulting staff at an immigrant serving agency.

  • The Alberta Career Information Hotline provides information by phone or fax. Hours of operation are between 8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. 
    Phone number in Edmonton: 780-422-4266
    Canada-wide toll-free phone number: 1-800-661-3753
    Phone number from North American locations outside Canada: (780) 422-4266
    Phone number from outside North America: 0-1 (780) 422-4266
  • Alberta Works Centres provide access to print and Internet-based labour market information. They are located throughout Alberta. Contact information is also available from the Alberta Career Information Hotline.
  • Immigrant serving agencies provide labour market information as well as other services for immigrants who have already arrived in Alberta. Contact information is available from the Alberta Career Information Hotline.
How long will the registration or certification process take?Answer

It may take weeks, months or years to register with a professional regulatory organization or obtain the certification you need to work in your occupation in Alberta. The length of time required varies from one occupation to another and from one situation to another. If you take your training in Alberta, registration or certification will probably be a relatively simple process.

If you train or have trained outside Alberta, certification or registration may require an assessment of your qualifications. A qualifications assessment typically takes months to complete. It may take longer if you have problems providing required documents such as degrees, diplomas, certificates, employment records, letters of reference or transcripts of marks from educational institutions. Professional regulatory organizations often will not accept photocopies. Further, they may require records, letters and transcripts to be sent directly to them by employers, references or educational institutions. If documents must be translated into English and certified by a translator before they can be assessed, the certification or registration process will take more time.

Careful preparation prior to your arrival in Alberta can speed up the certification or registration process considerably. Find out what will be required in your case. The best place to start is the website of the appropriate professional regulatory organization or, if you work in a trade, the Apprenticeship and Industry Training website. Website addresses and other contact information are included in the contact details.

After you have studied the certification and registration information provided on the Internet, contact the professional regulatory organization or Apprenticeship and Industry Training if you have questions or need more information. Also contact the relevant regulatory body or professional association where you obtained your training. That organization may be able to help you gain recognition of your qualifications in Alberta.

Starting the certification or registration process before you move to Alberta can help to avoid a lengthy waiting period after your arrival. For more information, see What if I trained in another province? or What if I trained in another country? above.

Is there a cost for registration or certification?Answer

Yes. Every regulated occupation has different requirements for licensing, registration or certification and related fee schedules. Requirements may include:

  • written examination(s)
  • oral examination(s)
  • language proficiency standards
  • a qualifications assessment conducted by the professional regulatory organization or a specified qualifications assessment service
  • a period of supervised work experience.

Professional regulatory organizations and Apprenticeship and Industry Training post information about requirements and related costs on their websites.

In addition to examination and registration fees, there may be other costs associated with obtaining registration or certification. For example, if an examination is held outside of Alberta, you will be expected to pay for transportation and accommodation as well as the examination itself. Transportation and accommodation costs can add up to thousands of dollars depending on where examinations are held and how many examinations you must complete. If this information is not posted on the appropriate website, contact the organization directly to find out:

  • where examinations are held
  • when examinations are held
  • how much each examination costs.
How do I obtain work in Alberta?Answer

Looking for work is a challenging process. It requires having a clear picture of the skills you have to offer employers and identifying employers who need people with those skills. You have to market your skills by contacting people and presenting your qualifications effectively. In Alberta, many public and private institutions provide services to help job seekers find work opportunities and present their qualifications well on paper and in interviews. However, the ultimate responsibility for finding work rests with the job seeker.
 
The Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website is a gateway to many work search resources and services:

What is a Red Seal trade?Answer

A Red Seal trade is a trade that is included in the Interprovincial Standards (Red Seal) Program. This program encourages standardization of provincial and territorial apprenticeship training and certification programs. A Red Seal allows qualified tradespersons to practice their trade in any province or territory in Canada where the trade is regulated without having to write further examinations.

If you have a Red Seal on your certificate of qualification or completion of apprenticeship, your qualifications may be recognized in Alberta. To be sure, check Alberta Advanced Education, Apprenticeship and Industry Training. You can also find out how to contact an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office by calling the Alberta Career Information Hotline between 8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Phone number in Edmonton: 780-422-4266
Canada-wide toll-free phone number: 1-800-661-3753
Phone number from North American locations outside Canada: 780-422-4266
Phone number from outside North America: 0-1 780-422-4266

Who do I contact about the trades in Alberta?Answer

The Apprenticeship and Industry Training division of Alberta Advanced Education is the provincial government body responsible for administering legislation, regulations, training programs and certification in the trades. Apprenticeship and Industry Training's website provides detailed information about trades that is not duplicated here.

Information about the trades is also available by telephone. To find out how to contact the Apprenticeship and Industry Training office nearest you, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline between 8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Phone number in Edmonton: 780-422-4266
Canada-wide toll-free phone number: 1-800-661-3753
Phone number from North American locations outside Canada: 780-422-4266
Phone number from outside North America: 0-1-780-422-4266

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