By Jacques Blais, Translation Portfolio Lead ( 

We often use the terms “qualification,” “requalification,” “certification,” and “recertification” in the Canadian Ski Patrol (CSP) interchangeably, without truly knowing the difference between them. 

“Qualification” is when a patroller acquires the knowledge, competence and abilities deemed necessary to meet our standards in any of our three disciplines: advanced first aid (AFA), on snow (OS) or avalanche (AV). 

“Certification” is the process which provides someone with a declaration that they have reached a higher level of competence. The CSP uses this term to apply to instructor and instructor trainer levels.

The prefix “re” is associated with a repetition, or a reiteration, so by adding “re” before “qualification” or “certification”, it is understood that a qualification or certification has already been achieved. Therefore, “requalification” or “recertification” implies that the individual had maintained their qualified or certified status. 

In other words, a person who has either never been qualified, such as a recruit or a former patroller who has not maintained their qualification, must initially become qualified, and only once qualified can the patroller subsequently undertake requalification to maintain their status. For example, AFA requalification is undertaken on an annual basis.

A similar logic applies to certification. To become an instructor you must first qualify as a patroller and also qualify in the discipline for which you want to become an instructor (AFA, OS or AV) and, according to the instructor certification program (ICP), have requalified at least once. Therefore, it is only after two consecutive years of patrolling that you may be invited to become an instructor.

Instructors must recertify every three years. There are other criteria (please refer the ICP documentation) that must also be met annually to enable recertification every three years.

In the translation portfolio, we are challenged. The main French dictionaries have not adopted the term “recertification”, but other lifesaving organizations use it. For consistency, if in English the CSP uses the terms “qualification” and “requalification” for patrollers and “certification” and “recertification” for instructors, we will do the same in French.

If you’re a new patroller and an instructor introduces you to the art of toboggan handling, they are preparing for your on snow (OS) qualification. If instructors spend time with you on snow (OS) after three consecutive years of patrolling, they are preparing you to requalify in that discipline. Once completed you will continue to retain your on snow qualification. All of your instructors hold an ICP certification.

Hopefully the above explains the differences in the terminology we use in each language.


Qualification or certification – what’s the difference?

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