Exemptions from registration for career colleges
Learn about the current exemptions for institutions and vocational programs not required to register with the Superintendent of Career Colleges.
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Notification of name change
We’re updating content to show the name change of Private Career Colleges Act, 2005 to the Ontario Career Colleges Act, 2005 effective January 1, 2024. Read more about other terms related to the change of name.
Exemptions can be determined at the institution or program level.
Institutions that do not meet the definition of a career college will qualify for an exemption at the institution level.
Programs that do not meet the definition of a vocational program will qualify for an exemption at the program level.
Before they can deliver programs, all institutions and vocational programs that are not exempt must:
- register with the Superintendent of Career Colleges
- be approved by the Superintendent of Career Colleges
Under the Ontario Career Colleges Act, 2005 a "career college" is defined as an educational institution or other institution, agency or entity that provides one or more vocational programs to students, for a fee and having individual contracts with students.
The following are not defined as career colleges:
- colleges of applied arts and technology
- a university established under any Act
- elementary or secondary schools
- Indigenous Institutes as defined in the Indigenous Institutes Act, 2017
- certain institutions, agencies and entities classified for special exemption under the Ontario Career Colleges Act, 2005 (for example, the Hospital for Sick Children, the Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences and the Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture)
Institutions are not considered career colleges if they:
- provide vocational training (deliver programming) free of charge
- exclusively receive payment from a third-party organization (such as an employer or charitable organization)
If institutions do not have a physical presence in Ontario, they are exempt from registration and not subject to the provisions of the Ontario Career Colleges Act, 2005.
Physical presence is:
- physical property where training is delivered
- a head office with a phone number, fax number or postal address
- an employee in Ontario, such as a manager, agent, administrator, instructor or examination invigilator
A vocational program is defined as a program that provides instruction in the skills and knowledge required to obtain employment in a prescribed vocation (Ontario Career Colleges Act, 2005.)
Prescribed vocations are those included in the National Occupational Classification 2016 stipulated in Ontario Regulation 415/06.
National Occupational Classification (NOC)
The Government of Canada uses the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system to classify jobs or occupations. Jobs are grouped based on the type of work a person does and the types of job duties involved.
Most occupations included in the classification system are considered a vocation under the Ontario Career Colleges Act, 2005.
The following occupations are specifically exempt as vocations in Section 7 of Ontario Regulation 415/06:
- professional occupations in health diagnosing and treating (NOC Code 3125)
- practitioners of natural healing (NOC Code 3232 – acupuncturist and herbalist)
- performers (NOC Code 5232 – acrobat, busker, model and magician)
- athletes, coaches, referees and related occupations (NOC Codes 5251, 5252, 5253 and 5254)
- personal services occupations (NOC Code 6564 – astrologer and dating consultant)
Other exempt programs
The following types and classes of programs do not require the superintendent's approval based on the definitions and provisions provided in the Ontario Career Colleges Act, 2005.
Programs that provide one or some of the skills and knowledge required to work in a vocation but are not considered comprehensive training. If a program is characterized as training in a vocation, it must offer all the skills and knowledge required for employment and obtain the superintendent's approval. For example, keyboard skills and first aid.
Corporate and third-party training
Programs that are contracted exclusively to a third-party organization and not to individual fee-paying members. This includes private training programs provided exclusively to businesses for the purpose of employee training. For example, building high performance teams and sales training.
These are programs that provide instruction for work in a religious vocation. This exemption is applicable regardless of whether the program is provided by a religious organization. For example, religious studies and bible studies.
Programs that are less than 40 hours in duration.
Programs that charge fees less than $2,000.
Programs that are offered exclusively to people under 18 years old. For example, coding for teens and leadership camp for kids.
Protected by other legislation
These are programs that are adequately regulated under another Act of the Legislature of Canada or Ontario. If that Act contains protections like those in the Ontario Career Colleges Act, 2005 relating to program quality and student interests, the program is exempt from the superintendent's approval. For example, the Life License Qualification Program.
Qualifying examination preparation courses
These are programs that prepare students specifically and only to write qualifying examinations, for example, the Law School Admission Test preparation and Medical College Admission Test preparation.
Professional development and skill upgrading
These are programs designed solely for individuals who are currently or recently employed in the same vocation as the program's focus. All students in the program must have some experience in the profession and intend to upgrade or maintain skills to remain employed in the same vocation as categorized in the National Occupation Classification. For example, the Advanced Routing for Network Engineers and Estate Planning for Paralegals.
Principal qualification programs
Programs leading to employment as a school principal or school administrator. These programs are offered exclusively to educators with prior experience with the Ontario College of Teachers, a school board outside of Ontario or a band, band council or education authority which provides education to First Nation pupils. This includes Parts 1 and 2 of the principal's qualification programs and the supervisory officer's qualification program.
These are programs which exclusively provide language instruction. However, programs intended to provide the skills and knowledge required to teach a language are not exempt from the superintendent's approval.
Personal interest or hobby courses
These are programs and courses that do not provide training at the postsecondary level. To be exempt, these programs must not be intended to prepare a student for employment in a specific profession. For example, acrylic painting and creative writing.
Find out if you're exempt
The ministry's Career Colleges Branch will help you pre-screen your institution and its programs to see whether:
- you are subject to the Ontario Career Colleges Act, 2005
- you are required to register with the Superintendent of Career Colleges
- your institution or vocational program(s) are exempt
Log-in to the Program Approval and Registration Information System (PARIS) for pre-screening applications. If you do not have a log-in to PARIS, contact: