What Are Trade Qualifications?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2019
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Trade qualifications indicate that an individual meets the standards for practice in a given trade, as determined by a regulatory organization. These certifications may be required to work in some fields, depending on regional laws. In regions where they are not strictly necessary, they may be strongly recommended, and can also entitle people to better wages and benefits because they reflect advanced training. People moving to new locations who wish to continue their chosen trade may need to submit documentation and apply for new trade qualifications.

Standards for trade qualifications can include several requirements, depending on the trade. Many have educational expectations; attorneys, for example, need to attend law school in order to practice in many nations. Others may have hours requirements for actual practice in trade, as seen with people like builders. In addition, it may be necessary to pass a written examination to demonstrate knowledge and competence.

These requirements are designed to ensure that people receive adequate training and practice under supervision to work safely and appropriately. Patients going to see a doctor, for instance, expect to see someone who has attended medical school and completed residency to learn the trade. In addition, trade qualifications may involve character assessments and background checks. These can be common for professions where a high degree of integrity is needed.


Typically, trade qualifications can be used as a license to practice only in a limited area. Some regions may have reciprocal agreements because their requirements are identical. For example, attorneys in one US state may be entitled to bar reciprocity with another state that maintains the same standards for practicing attorneys. In other cases, people may need to submit the documentation they used to obtain their trade qualifications for review.

A specialist can examine the material to determine if someone is fit to practice. Some may require an examination to confirm that someone is eligible for a license to practice. They can issue a second set of trade qualifications, indicating that the subject is allowed to practice a given trade in both the home region and the new one. For immigrants, preference may be given to people with certain trade qualifications, often in nations where there is a shortage of trained professionals. Nurses, for example, may be able to take their qualifications to different locations, and may enjoy fast-tracked immigration applications and other benefits designed to act as incentives for immigrants.


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