Health Care Assistant Certificate

Learn the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to work as direct client care providers in any level of continuing care, including home support, adult day care, assisted living, private care, complex care and acute care. The program consists of theoretical and laboratory components in the classroom, as well as a supervised practicum in long-term care and community settings.


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  • Kelowna
  • Vernon
  • Penticton
  • Salmon Arm
  • Revelstoke
View schedule and campus details
  • Full program offered
  • Partial program offered



Delivery options


Tuition and fees

2023-24: $3,642.41 (Kelowna, Salmon Arm, Penticton), $3,769.06 (Vernon)

Program details

The 745-hour program is approximately a 25-week or six-month program (based on a typical 30-hour instruction week) designed to provide students with opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to function effectively as direct client care providers and respected members of the health-care team, in community and facility settings. Under the direction and supervision of a health professional, graduates provide person-centred care aimed at promoting and maintaining the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social well-being of clients/residents. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates are prepared to work in any level of continuing care, including: home support, adult day care, assisted living, complex care (including dementia care units) and acute care.

Health Care Assistants (also referred to as HCAs) are direct care providers who are important and respected members of British Columbia health care teams. They play a critical role in helping B.C. residents receive quality, person-centred care. They provide services in various health care settings, including acute care, assisted living, continuing care, and community care.

B.C.'s Health Human Resources Strategy  has identified the need for skilled health care assistants to support long-term care, assisted living and home health services. The Health Career Access Program provides a path for applicants with no health care experience to get hired and receive paid employer-sponsored health care assistant training as part of their employment. New hires typically start work as a Health Care Support Worker (HCSW) and receive paid training that leads to full qualification as a Health Care Assistant (HCA). Okanagan College delivers the structured educational component of the HCAP program in several locations with variable start-dates and end-dates.

For additional information, discover your eligibility and start your application for Health Career Access Program online.

Notes to applicants:

  1. Review the qualifications and submit an expression of interest to the Ministry of Health. 
  2. As an applicant, engage with local recruiters/employers to secure an HCSW position.
  3. Complete basic training and onboarding with your employer and start working.
  4. Follow your employers instructions to apply for the structured education program offered by Okanagan College. 

Contact for further information and assistance.

Do you need to upgrade? Contact adult upgrading.

Campus Start date Schedule
Salmon Arm Apr. 22, 2024
Kelowna Apr. 22, 2024
Revelstoke Jul. 2024

This offering is subject to renewed HCAP funding.

Kelowna Sep. 03, 2024
Vernon Oct. 21, 2024
Penticton Oct. 21, 2024
Kelowna Jan. 06, 2025
Salmon Arm Apr. 28, 2025
Kelowna Apr. 28, 2025

Admission requirements

  • B.C. secondary school graduation or equivalent, or

  • 19 years of age and out of secondary school for one year as of the first day of classes.

English requirements:

  • All HCA program applicants are required to demonstrate English language proficiency (English Competency Self Declaration Form). Domestic and/or international applicants who are non-native English speakers will need to take a standardized proficiency assessment to confirm communicative competency in all four language skills areas (speaking, listening, reading and writing).

  • Domestic and/or international applicants:
    • Applicants for whom English is their first language requirement:
      • English 10 or equivalent;
      • Evidence of one of the following:
        • Proof of completion of Grade 10 English; or
        • College courses determined to be equivalent to completion of Grade 10 English (or higher) by post-secondary institutions. Applicants must produce transcripts as evidence of completion. A minimum of a C grade is acceptable.
        • Canadian Adult Achievement Test (CAAT): Reading Comprehension 35/50, Spelling 23/32
        • Accuplacer: Grade 10 level or higher Recommended Cut Scores*: Reading Comprehension 60, Sentences Skill 55, Writeplacer 4
    • Applicants for whom English is not their first language requirement:
      • Evidence of one of the following test scores:
        • The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): test must be within the last two years, IBT only -- Overall score of 76 with no score lower than 20 in Speaking and Listening and no score lower than 18 in Reading and Writing
        • International English Language Testing System (IELTS): Academic or General -- test must be within the last two years: Overall score of 6 with a minimum of 6 in Speaking and Listening and no score lower than 5.5 in Reading and Writing
        • Canadian Language Benchmark Placement Test (CLB PT): test must be within the last year : Listening 7, Speaking 7, Reading 6 and Writing 6 - Note: a CLB Report Card from a LINC Program may also be accepted.
        • Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP): Academic or General -- Academic: Aggregate score of 4L or better, with 4L or better in Speaking and Listening and 3H or better in Reading and Writing. General: CELPIP 7 or better in Speaking and Listening and CELPIP 6 in Reading and Writing
        • Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL): Overall Score of 60, with no section less than 50
        • *Educational institutions may conduct their own predictive validity studies to confirm appropriate cut scores
  • Other admission and program pre-practice requirements:
    • It is recommended that students also complete a Grade 11 Science or ABE Science at the 70 or 80 Level.

    • Applicants must provide evidence of successful completion of a Red Cross Standard First Aid or St. John Ambulance Standard First Aid that includes Basic Life Support, CPR Level C no more than 12 months before admission.

    • A criminal record check clearance from the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General's Criminal Records Review Office. Okanagan College's admission offices will provide applicants with instructions and forms for applicants to submit to the Solicitor General's Office and a deadline for the College to receive the clearance letter. Applicants should only initiate their criminal record check when instructed by Admissions. Failure to provide a clearance letter by the deadline will result in a cancellation of the applicant's admission application.

    • Applicants must provide evidence of a negative tuberculin test, taken no more than six months before the date of application (or evidence of appropriate follow-up if the test was positive.)

    • Applicants must have successfully completed the provincially-approved FOODSAFE training program.

    • Successful completion of all the B.C. Provincial Violence Prevention Curriculum (PVPC) including the 8-hour in-person classroom course.
    • Proof of meeting current immunizations I vaccinations as per health care organization policies I guidelines (or signed vaccination exemption form, except TB). Applicants are advised that, if they are unable to provide proof of immunization or immunity they may be restricted or even excluded from practice settings based on the Health Facility or Health Authority policies and procedures for non-immunized students on placement. This information will be collected on the first day of class by the instructor.
    • Attendance at a program orientation day is strongly recommended. Applicants will be notified of the exact date.

    • Applicants are advised that students in this program engage actively in laboratory practice, acting both as patient/client and as caregiver in simulated situations. Notwithstanding all specific program prerequisites, Okanagan College reserves the right to deny admission to any applicant when, in the opinion of OC, there is sufficient and substantiated evidence, medical or otherwise, to conclude that by granting admission OC would jeopardize the safety of clients under student care or would otherwise be negligent in providing for the safety and well-being of clients, agency staff or other students.

Note: There may be additional fees associated with other admission and program pre-practice requirements. These requirements are usually completed outside of regular class time. Students are responsible for submitting appropriate documentation by the due dates provided. The admissions office and/or department chair will provide further instructions. Students may proceed into clinical practice education experiences only after successful completion of ALL the program pre-practice requirements.

Program outline

HCA 101 - Interpersonal Communications
HCA 102 - Health: Concepts for Practice
HCA 103 - Personal Care and Assistance
HCA 104 - Healing: Common Health Challenges
HCA 105 - Home Support/Assisted Living
HCA 106 - Cognitive/Mental Health Care
HCA 107 - Clinical Practice
A minimum passing grade (P) for HCA 103 and HCA 107; and a minimum grade of 70% in all other courses in the program outline.
Additional information

View the official Calendar details and policies
Learn more about the department
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