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Certification Versus Licensure

What is the difference between being certified, and being licensed?

Great question, and one directly relevant to our pre-hospital care courses!  In simple terms….


Certification demonstrates that you have successfully completed a program of instruction in a given subject matter.  In terms of the Red Cross First Aid Programs, your certificate demonstrates that you have completed a course taught to the national standards.


Virtually all “professionals” requiring licensing.  Lawyers, Health Care providers, Teachers, etc.

Licensure, usually obtained via exam through an industry specific regulatory body, ensures that the license holder is competent to perform their trade.  It is an additional level of due diligence, if you will.

In Canada, emergency service workers within the 911 system are usually obligated by law to be licensed.   Each Province is responsible for determining the standard of care provided by licensed emergency service workers.   In BC, these exams are conducted by the Emergency Medical Assistants Licensing Board (the EMALB).   Successful completion of EMALB licensing exams provides official permission to employ FR or EMR skills as an emergency services worker when working for an employer within the system.   If you move from one province to the next and wish to continue working within their 911 system you would be required to become licensed within your new province also.


Do I need to be licensed?

It can be a bit confusing, as it all depends on what your goal is.  There are times where you only need to be certified, and times where you may need to be licensed too.  For example:

I wish to work in the 911 system as an FR or EMR:


I want to obtain my EMR as a pre-requisite to attend PCP training:

NOT USUALLY.  Training institutions usually require a certificate to show proof of pre-requisite, not a license.

I want my EMR to provide medical coverage at an event:

IT DEPENDS.  This would be entirely based on the needs of the company you are working for.


How do I become licensed in BC as a First Responder?

All of Priority Care First Aid’s First Responder courses INCLUDE the EMALB practical licensing exams at no extra charge.  When you are complete in the course you simply complete the license application process through the EMALB’s website.


How do I become licensed in BC as an EMR?

The exams for all levels of pre-hospital care beyond First Responder (EMR, PCP, ACP, CCP) are conducted directly by the EMALB, who have examination sites throughout the province.

They charge an additional fee for these exams, which is separate and distinct from the course you took from your training provider.

The Red Cross currently has two programs recognized by the EMALB to send EMR Students to Exam:

The full EMR course.

The EMR Bridging Course.

Students who complete either of the above two programs are eligible for EMALB licensing exams.

The process for EMR students who have successfully been certified in an EMR program recognized by the EMALB is to obtain their certificate, apply online for an exam date, then complete the EMALB exam process.

To learn more about the EMR Bridge course click HERE.

And, to view upcoming course dates, you can click HERE.