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
View schedule and campus details
  • Full program offered
  • Partial program offered



Delivery options


Tuition and fees

2024-25: $3,788.65 (Kelowna, Salmon Arm, Penticton), $3,838.15 (Vernon)

  • Fees include all mandatory fees: Activity fee, Health & Dental, Student Association fee, Education Technology fee, Development fee.

  • All amounts are approximate and are subject to change.

  • Detailed domestic tuition and fees information

Program details

Program Description

The 745-hour program designed to provide students with opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to function effectively as front-line caregivers and respected members of the health care team. Under the direction and supervision of a regulated health professional, graduates provide person-centred care aimed at promoting and maintaining the physical, psychological, cognitive, social, and spiritual health and well-being of clients and families. Upon completion of the HCA program, graduates are prepared to work in a variety of practice settings including home support, assisted living, group homes, complex care, special care units, other home and community care settings, 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   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, .

Notes to applicants:

  1. Review the qualifications and submit an 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 HCAPOC@okanagan.bc.ca 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
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

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 applicants are required meet the HCA Program Entry Requirements <> for English Language Competency as outlined below".

  • Applicants who provide evidence of three years of full-time instruction in English must also provide proof of one of the following:
    • Accuplacer Next Generation Test Result: Reading 230, Writing 230 and Writeplacer 4
  • Applicants who cannot provide evidence of three years of full-time instruction in English are required to provide proof of one of the following standardized proficiency tests from an authorized assessment agency.

*Defined as three (3) years of full-time secondary and/or post-secondary education at a recognized institution on the list of Approved English Speaking Countries <>. Secondary education will be considered starting from grade 8. English as a Second Language (ESL) courses will not be considered.

    • Canadian Language Benchmark Placement Test (CLBPT or CLBPT Remote). Test within the last year. Scores: Listening 7, Speaking 7, Reading 6 and Writing 6.
    • Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP General or CELPIP Online). Test within the last two years. Scores: Listening 7, Speaking 7, Reading 6 and Writing 6.
    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic, IELTS General or IELTS Academic Online). Test 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 Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL or CAEL Online). Test within the last two years. Overall Score of 60, with no section less than 50.
    • The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT or TOEFL iBT Home Edition). Test within the last two years. Overall score of 76 with no score lower than 20 in Speaking and Listening and no score lower than 18 in Reading and Writing.

Other admission and program pre-practice requirements:

    • Criminal record check clearance to work with vulnerable adults and children from the Criminal Records Review Program. Applicants must follow instructions provided to them by OC admissions to complete this requirement.
    • Standard First Aid Certification.
    • CPR Level “C” Certification or “Basic Life Support (BLS)” Certification.
    • Foodsafe Level 1 Certification (or equivalent).
    • Evidence of a negative tuberculin screening test (TB test), taken no more than six months before the date of application (and evidence of appropriate follow-up tests, if necessary)
    • Proof of meeting current provincial immunization policies and guidelines by completing the Okanagan College Immunization Record Form. Applicants are advised that, if they are unable to provide proof of immunization they may be restricted and/or excluded from clinical practice.
    • Workplace Hazardous Materials (WHMIS) provincial course completion.
    • All the B.C. Provincial Violence Prevention Curriculum (PVPC) including the 8-hour in-person classroom course completion.
    • Health Care Assistant Practice in BC E-Learning Modules completion.
    • Recognizing and Responding to Adult Abuse course completion.
    • Student Practice Education Core Orientation (SPECO) checklist completion.

Other information and recommendations:

  • It is recommended that students also complete a Grade 11 Science or an ABE Science at the 70 or 80 Level.
  • Applicants are advised that students in this program engage actively in laboratory practice, acting both as patient/client and as caregiver in simulated health care 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.
  • Several of the program pre-practice requirements are available on the provincial online LearningHub and will become available to students once enrolled in the program. Student will be provided with guidance for how to complete those requirements as part of the program orientation on the first day of classes.
  • There may be additional fees associated with other admission and program pre-practice requirements. These requirements are usually completed outside of regular class time. ɫɫɫƬ are responsible for submitting appropriate documentation by the due dates provided. OC admissions and/or HCA department chair will provide further instructions.
  • ɫɫɫƬ may proceed into clinical practice only after successful completion of ALL the program pre-practice requirements.

Program outline

Complete All of the following:
HCA 120 - Introduction to Practice
HCA 122 - Lifestyle and Choices
HCA 124 - Concepts for Practice
HCA 126 - Interpersonal Communications
HCA 128 - Common Health Challenges
HCA 134 - Practice Experience A: Multi-Level and/or Complex Care
HCA 136 - Practice Experience B: Home Support, Assisted Living, and/or Group Home Setting
HCA 130 - Cognitive and/or Mental Health Challenges
HCA 132 - Personal Care and Assistance
A minimum of 70% in each of the following courses HCA 120, HCA 122, HCA 124, HCA 126, HCA 128, and HCA 130 and a passing grade (P) in each of HCA 132, HCA 134, and HCA 136.
Additional information

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