Career training licence requirements

Understand licensing criteria for private career training programs in Alberta, and when a licence isn’t required.


Licensing requirements consider both industry need and the career college's ability to safely and effectively deliver that program to students.

Program requirements

The application and licensing process requires that private career colleges demonstrate labour market demand for the program and evidence that the industry supports the proposed curriculum.

Program details

Private career colleges must provide the following details about each program they are applying to licence:

  • a description of the program
  • a course outline including the number of hours for each component
  • length and cost of the program
  • mode of delivery
  • specific job outcomes for graduates

Labour market demand for graduates

Private career colleges must demonstrate satisfactory evidence of labour market demand in Alberta for qualified individuals in that field. The information you collect should include:

  • employment forecasts to determine if demand is predicted to increase, decrease or stay the same
  • total number of current job postings throughout the province
  • whether employment prospects are provincial or regional
  • if job openings are full or part-time
  • at least 5 examples of detailed job postings and descriptions that students will be qualified for after they graduate
  • estimated time it would take for graduates to find suitable work
  • problems or barriers (if any) that a graduate of this program may encounter in securing employment

Professional or regulatory bodies typically collect labour market demand information to inform their direction. If that is not an option for your program, you must gather this information on your own.

Use these links to get started:

Evidence of curriculum relevance

If the field has a professional or regulatory body, you must obtain that body’s approval of your proposed curriculum. If there is not a professional regulatory body for your profession, you'll need to conduct a program evaluation with at least 3 or more industry contacts. The evaluation should answer these questions:

  1. Program information
    • To what extent does the curriculum cover all subjects and test competence in areas necessary for job preparation? Note: if curriculum does not cover all subjects, please list specific components that should be included.
    • Do any areas of the curriculum require strengthening? Is there a proper balance between theory and practical work?
    • What type(s) of positions would be available and how long would it take for a graduate of this program to find employment? Please list job titles, whether positions would be entry level or above and indicate the type of establishment that would hire them.
    • Would your organization consider hiring a graduate of this program? What would their job title be?
    • What equipment must the institution have to successfully deliver this training?
  2. Student admission requirements
    • What level of formal education or training does a student need to ensure successful completion?
    • What experience, aptitude or expertise would a student need? How much?
  3. Instructor qualifications
    • What minimum level of formal education or training does an instructor need (a degree, diploma or certificate)?
    • How much industry experience does an instructor need?

Evidence of practicum availability (if required)

Practicums are delivered off-site and give students the opportunity to apply what they've learned in a safe, supervised job setting.

Where there is a compulsory practicum component to your program, please ensure there is ongoing evidence that practicum placement opportunities exist for enrolled students. Practicum agreements may be formal or informal between the institution, the student and the practicum provider. Government does not approve practicum agreements, however, an agreement must be available to be submitted to government upon request.

If there is a professional or regulatory body that monitors practicum availability, you will be asked to provide a copy of that body’s approval letter.

Business requirements

Before they can be approved for a licence to operate a career program, businesses must provide information that verifies their ownership structure and other legal considerations. They also need to confirm their facilities meet fire and health requirements.

Ownership structure

Private career colleges applying for a licence must provide information about:

  • legal claims pending against the applicant
  • the applicant’s previous or current ownership of career training colleges, or in the respect of the operation of other private career colleges
  • the individual responsible for the college's day-to-day operations

Private career colleges also submit a Declaration of Authority that includes:

  • legal entity registration
  • list of directors
  • list of shareholders indicating percentage of ownership for each party

Fire and health inspection

Private career colleges are required to provide evidence that the premises where training will be delivered complies with all applicable municipal requirements, such as:

  • fire
  • health

You will need to arrange for the proper authorities to inspect the premises. Contact your:

  • local fire department for fire inspections
  • Alberta Health Services in your community for health inspections

Financial requirements

Consumer protection for students is provided by requiring private career colleges to post security that protects tuition investments. This security is based on the amount of revenue the college earns, or is expected to earn, through licensed tuition revenue.

Post financial security when you apply

Confirming a private career college's financial security during the program licensing process protects the tuition students pay. You will post and maintain this security in the form of a letter of credit or surety bond.

You post your financial security through a surety bond or an irrevocable letter of credit in stage 3 of the licensing process:

  • the security you submit must remain in place for as long as you retain your licence
  • if at any time the PCC branch believes that the security is no longer sufficient, you will be required to provide additional security
  • you must obtain approval from the PCC branch before you make any changes to the amount or form of security posted

The amount of security you provide is determined based on the Projected Annual Tuition Revenue Statutory Declaration you complete as part of the application process.

Ongoing security requirements

Every year, private career colleges are required to submit:

  • an Annual Tuition Revenue Statutory Declaration for Licensed Programs
  • any required additional security

This must be completed within 6 months of the career college's financial year end date. Although financial statements are not required, they must be made available to government upon request.

Changes to security requirements

Although security must be maintained by the career college while they hold a career training licence, changes to the required amount can be made by obtaining riders or amendments to the posted security.

Claims on security

There are 2 ways security could be claimed as tuition refunds to students:

  1. Tuition refund is required and the licensee is either unable or refuses to issue the required refund.
  2. Licensee ceases to provide the complete licensed career training (this would be considered abandonment). All students would be entitled to a full refund of tuition paid. If the security held is inadequate in terms of providing full tuition refunds, the proceeds will be distributed to affected students on a pro rata basis.

Licensing exemptions

Some training choices are exempt from Alberta's Private Vocational Training Act and Regulation. Your training program does not need to be licensed if it meets any of the following criteria.

Training is not intended for employment

  • the training is intended to provide personal interest or enjoyment, or to update existing skills, rather than to provide a livelihood
  • tuition fee is less than $1,000

Training provided under other licences or professional groups

  • programs that lead to the granting of a degree under the Post-secondary Learning Act
  • career training provided by or on behalf of a(n):
    • public post-secondary institution under the Post-secondary Learning Act
    • private institution incorporated under a private Act of the Legislature, unless a licence is required for students to be eligible for financial assistance
    • institution authorized to conduct vocational training under a licence issued under an Act of Canada or Alberta other than the Private Vocational Training Act, unless a licence is required for the provision of student financial assistance
    • employer, an association of employers, or a labour union for the in-service training of its employees or members
    • professional association for members of that profession

Training funded by government

All the operating funds for the vocational training are provided by grants from:

  • the Government of Alberta or Canada
  • agency, board, council, or foundation of the Government of Alberta or Canada or
  • all the students registered in the vocational training have had their tuition paid by the Government of Alberta or Canada

All other career training programs offered in Alberta by private colleges require a licence.

Other considerations

Keep licensing records on file

Data and other evidence demonstrating how you met licensing requirements, including security, must be kept on file at your career college for the duration of your licensed program. It will also need to be regularly updated to ensure your licensed program continues to meet these requirements.

Operating without a licence

If you wish to offer training that meets the criteria for licensing, by law, you must obtain a private vocational training license prior to offering the training. Operating without a licence may result in compliance action.

Student aid eligibility

Many unlicensed career training programs are not designated for student aid funding. Visit Student Aid Alberta for more information about school and program eligibility.