How to Earn Your Certificate of Qualification

What is a Certificate of Qualification (C of Q)?

certificate of qualification proves that a person is qualified to work in a certain skilled trade in Canada. This means that they: have passed a certification exam. meet all the requirements to practice their trade in that province or territory (Government of Canada, Eligibility to apply for the Federal Skilled Trades Program, 2021).

What is the Ontario College of Trades? 

The College is responsible for regulating skilled trades across Ontario.

What are regulated professions and trades? 

Some professions and trades are regulated in Canada to protect public health and safety.

In some professions and trades it is illegal to work or even use the title of the profession or trade if you are not registered with the regulatory body. In other professions and trades, you can do the work, but you must register with the regulatory body if you want to use the title of the profession or trade.

In Canada, professions and trades are regulated in each province. There are regulatory bodies – organizations that control licences and certificates – in each province. If you get a licence or certificate, it is valid in 1 province. If you move to another province, you have to apply for a licence or certificate again.

Find more information here.

From the Ontario College of Trades FAQ:

When do I write the C of Q exam?
If your trade requires a C of Q exam, you are eligible to write the exam after you have completed an
Ontario apprenticeship training program, or after you have been approved through the College’s Trade
Equivalency Assessment (TEA) process.

Do I need to pass the C of Q exam to legally work in my trade?
If your trade is designated as compulsory, you must pass the C of Q exam to legally work in the trade. For
exceptions to this rule, please visit the College’s website.
If your trade is designated as voluntary, you are not required to pass the C of Q exam to work in the trade.

Why should I write the C of Q exam if it’s not mandatory?
There are many benefits to obtaining your C of Q, even if it’s not legally required. Obtaining your C of Q
shows you are qualified in your trade by having the skills, knowledge and experience that meet industry
standards in Ontario, and across Canada. In addition, C of Q holders experience better employment
prospects, wages, mobility and advancement opportunities, as well as appear on the College’s Public

What is the C of Q exam format?
C of Q exam questions are multiple-choice. Exams have between 90 to 150 questions with each question
having four answer options to choose from. You will have up to four hours to write you C of Q exam.

What does the C of Q exam test?
Exam questions test your knowledge and competency related to the tasks in the Training Standard for
your trade. For Red Seal trades you are tested on your knowledge and competency related to the National
Occupational Analyses (NOA). Both the Training Standard and the NOA describe trade terminology and
concepts, and why and how a task is done.

What grade do I need to achieve to pass the C of Q exam?
You need to score at least 70 per cent to pass the C of Q exam.

How should I prepare for the C of Q exam?
The College has developed an Exam Preparation Guide to help you prepare for your C of Q exam. The
Exam Preparation Guide contains a wealth of information including specialized supports, exam
preparation resources, information on study plans, exam day tips and requirements, self-assessment
checklists, getting your results and more. Please use and refer to this guide as part of your C of Q exam

How do I schedule my C of Q exam?

  1. Contact the College at 1-855-299-0028 to confirm your eligibility to write the exam and to pay
    your $150+HST exam fee.
  2. Schedule your C of Q exam by contacting your local Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
    Apprenticeship Office.