Nova Scotia Certificate of Qualification

A Certificate of Qualification (CQ) is a provincial, post-secondary credential issued by the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency. A CQ certifies that an individual has met the high industry-set standards for the trade according to the Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act and General Regulations. To obtain a CQ, an individual must successfully complete a formal assessment process, which is usually the certification exam for their designated trade. A CQ will bear the Red Seal if it is issued in a Red Seal trade. 

 The Red Seal

The Red Seal program was established to provide greater mobility across Canada for skilled workers. Successful completion of the program is represented by the Red Seal Endorsement, which is a recognized standard across Canada and protected in the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act for exclusive use by completed apprentices and skilled tradespersons who have passed the Red Seal exam.

Because it is nationally recognized, the Red Seal Endorsement (RSE) enables tradespersons to work anywhere in Canada without further training or examination. As well, employers look to the RSE as an indication of skills and competency. "RSE" can be used on business cards and signatures.

To get the RSE on a Provincial Certificate of Qualification, contact the apprenticeship authority that issued the certificate and apply to write the exam. 

 Certificate of Apprenticeship

A Certificate of Apprenticeship is a provincial, post-secondary credential issued by the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency to a registered apprentice who has successfully completed all of the requirements of a formalized apprenticeship training program.  These requirements usually include: working in the trade under the supervision of a journeyperson for a specified period of time as set out in the regulations for that trade; completing the skills, knowledge and competency requirements for the trade; successfully completing all of the the technical training requirements for that trade; and successfully passing the certification exam for that trade.  The Certificate of Apprenticeship is usually issued at the same time as the Certificate of Qualification.

 Certificate of Proficiency

The Certificate of Proficiency is a time-limited provincial, post-secondary credential, issued by the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency to a person who experiences difficulty passing the certification exam due to barriers not related to their skills, knowledge and competency in the trade. The Certificate of Proficiency allow the person to continue practicing the trade while they address the barriers in preparation for challenging the certification exam.  Individuals applying for a Certificate of Proficiency must demonstrate, through practical skills, that they meet the standards and requirements established for that trade and has worked a significant amount of time in the trade. The criteria for meeting the requirements of the Certificate of Proficiency are set out in the General Regulations and include: having worked in the trade for at least 18,000 hours; experienced cultural barriers, literacy barriers or education barriers that prevent them from passing the certification examination; needing time to develop functional, English language skills; or has unsuccessfully written the certification exam at least twice. 

 Equivalency Card

 Your Certificate of Qualification (CQ) does NOT have the Red Seal

  • If your CQ was issued in Nova Scotia, no action required.
  • If your CQ was issued in another Canadian jurisdiction AND is in one of Nova Scotia's compulsory certified trades, including Blaster, you must apply for an Equivalency Card.

 Your Certificate of Qualification (CQ) HAS the Red Seal

  • If your CQ is for Construction Electrician and you wish to obtain an electrical wiring permit in NS, you need to apply for an Equivalency Card.
  • All other situations, no action required.