Obtaining credit for the nine courses in the Health Care Aide program involves a high degree of independent study. You will work at your own pace and can take up to 18 months to complete the program. The process involves taking both lab exams and online theory exams.


Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) checklist

  1. Apply for the Health Care Aide PLAR Program in-person at the Registrar’s Office on the first floor of the South Campus. Please bring the following:
  • $65 application fee (for domestic students)
  1. Once you are accepted, you will meet with the program coordinator and develop an individualized plan.
  2. Complete the PLAR self-assessment checklist. 
  3. Challenge the Health Care Aide courses after completing the mandatory course.


The Health Care Aide Certificate (HCA) Program is a provincial curriculum.  The curriculum is being updated and will impact all program delivery formats. The program is currently offered in a full and part time delivery format as well as PLAR; all program offerings will be impacted.

  • Why is the HCA Curriculum being updated?
    The HCA Curriculum must be updated to align with the new Alberta Health Care Aide Competency Profile, 2018 and to remain current with health care trends and standards. 

  • How long is the new HCA Curriculum?
    The new HCA Curriculum or program will be 2 terms or 8 months in length if taken full time. It will be longer when taken part-time. 

  • What are the new program entrance requirements?
    The new entry requirement will be a minimum of 60% in English Language Arts 20-2 (or equivalent). 

  • When will these changes take effect?
    The new HCA Curriculum will be implemented/communicated in January 2020. More information will be communicated as it becomes available.

  • How will this impact current HCA learners?
    All current learners, or learners taking the HCA program in 2019, will have to complete their program by June 30, 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions

In order to challenge the Health Care Aide (HCA) program, you must complete the Health Care Aide Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) program.  This involves challenging all the courses / exams in the HCA program, except for the mandatory “Working as a Health Care Aide” course which must be completed in an online delivery format. Note: This is a good option for a learner who has completed a nursing program in another country, who wants to get a certificate so they can start working while they take steps towards completing their LPN/RN regisration in Canada.

The Health Care Aide (PLAR) program takes a minimum of 4 to 6 months to complete.  There is a large amount of independent study involved.  Once accepted into the program, all components of the program must be completed within 18 months

This is highly individual and depends on education and work background, and study habits.

If you are accepted into the program, you will meet with a program coordinator and complete a self-assessment to determine your learning outcomes and use the results as a study guide.  You will then study independently using the textbook, learner guides, and online materials, and you will attend scheduled labs to practice skills.

There are 8 courses to challenge and 1 mandatory course to take.  The exams are either lab exams (hands-on skills) or online multiple choice theory exams.  You must achieve at least 70% to pass on each challenge exam to progress to the next course.

If you are unsuccessful on a challenge exam, you will then have to take that course, either online or in class.

Graduates of a provincially-recognized Health Care Aide program may qualify for advanced credit in the Practical Nurse diploma program.  To be considered for transfer credit learners must have completed the Health Care Aide certificate program and must have completed 1,900 hours of work experience as a recognized Health Care Aide.  Graduates of the Health Care Aide Certificate program may be eligible to receive credit for 3 nursing courses.  For more information, visit the Transfer Credit page.

Book lists and costs can be found on the Bow Valley College Bookstore website.

The Bow Valley College Health Care Aide program follows the Alberta Health curriculum.  Bow Valley College has an excellent reputation with the provincial government and our graduates are preferred when applying for HCA jobs because they are work-ready, and have met our high standards.

Health Care Aides are currently in high demand, especially in home care.  For the employment outlook for this profession, visit the Alberta government’s Albert Occupational Profile (OCCinfo) page.

Contact us

School of Health and Wellness

345 - 6 Avenue SE

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