Vocational education in Canada is delivered through vocational colleges, career colleges, community colleges, institutes of technology or science, technical schools, colleges of applied arts or applied technology, and in Quebec through collèges d’enseignement général et professionnel. Though it is cheaper in terms of tuition, less competitive to get into, and not as prestigious as going to a four-year university, vocational schools are another post-secondary option for students seeking to enter the realm of Canadian higher education. Admissions to vocational schools in Canada have requirements that are less stringent than a university and vary more significantly, but unlike universities, vocational institutions do not have admission cut-offs and as long as students meet the minimum average requirements and have the required courses, they can gain admission to most vocational institutions across the country. Many vocational institutes such as George Brown College and Mohawk College accept a very high proportion of students with averages above 70 percent, although they may place no limiting minimum for acceptance, and consequently take students with averages below 60 percent.
The typical Canadian vocational institute is similar to that of an American junior college or community college where it offers specialized vocational oriented certifications in an area of training. However, there are some institutions in Canada that offer both vocational training as well as undergraduate university degrees such as Seneca College, Sheridan College, Centennial College of Applied Arts and Technology, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Vancouver Island University, and Thompson Rivers University. There are over 200 community colleges in Canada. They are less competitive to get into compared with universities and are generally found in remote and rural parts of the country.
Postsecondary vocational institutions in Canada offer apprenticeships, certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees. These are programs that offer specialized vocational education in specific employment fields related to the skilled trades and technical careers which generally last two years.
In studying at a vocational school, a student can take the necessary courses needed to earn a certification that will allow for entry into jobs (such as becoming a beautician, licensed practical nurse, drafter, web developer, computer network support specialist, paralegal, medical laboratory technician, cardiovascular technologist, optician, or diagnostic medical sonographer, healthcare assistant etc.) requiring some level of tertiary education but not a full four-year university degree. After graduating from a vocational institution, some students continue their education by transferring to a university to complete a bachelor's degree, while others choose to enter the workforce. Apprenticeships are another form of post-secondary vocational education training in Canada, as students combine in class instruction with practical workforce training for careers related to the skilled trades. In addition, a series of exams have to be passed before the student is certified as a journeyperson. Skilled trades programs in Canada typically take four years to complete and by finishing the last level, the person is granted a trades certificate and can work anywhere in Canada if a set known as the Red Seal exams are passed.