Opt Sexual Health Educator Certification program (SHEC) Frequently Asked Questions

Q.) What are the benefits of attaining certification?

A.) If you wish to develop a career in sexual health education, Opt's SHEC program is the only one of its kind in Canada. Those who are currently teaching sexual health will feel more comfortable and confident in their skills and knowledge.

Q.) How many students are accepted into the program?

A.) Each cohort is a maximum of 12 students to ensure that the highest level of attention is given to participants. We are not able to accept all qualified applicants and must occasionally turn away applicants who meet all standards.

Q.) Can I apply if I don't have an undergraduate degree in education or health sciences?

A.) SHEC is an academically challenging program. While we are willing to consider applicants who do not have a related undergraduate degree, please recognize that SHEC will be more challenging for those without an education or health sciences background. Historically we have accepted 1-3 such students in each cohort of 12.

Q.) Is the program recognized or accredited?

A.) Currently, there is no formal process in Canada for teachers or health professionals to specialize in teaching sexual health. As the largest non-profit provider of sexual health services in Canada, Opt has created a comprehensive training program for those who wish to teach sexual health to a variety of audiences. Graduates of the SHEC program will be eligible to say they are an Opt Certified Sexual Health Educator.

Q.) How are students selected for the SHEC program?

A.) The selection committee carefully considers all aspects of the application with particular emphasis on the letter of intent. A workable, well considered plan for how the certification will be used is looked upon most favorably. In particular, Opt hopes to support the training and development of rural sexual health educators.

Q.) Can anyone in Canada apply?

A.) Yes. While Opt is an provincial organization, the SHEC program has accepted and certified students from all over Canada.

Q.) What are the payment options? Can I pay for each course separately?

A.) You can pay for the course in full or spread it out over three payments:

  • payment 1: $1800 for Modules 1, 2 and 3, due 30 days prior to Module 1 and after acceptance to the program
  • payment 2: $1200 for Modules 4 and 5, due two weeks prior to Module 4
  • payment 3: $600 for the practicum component, due upon completion of Module 5

Q.) Are tuition payments tax-deductible?

A.) At this time, SHEC tuition fees are not eligible as a tuition tax credit. If you are self-employed, the cost of the program may be a tax-deductible expense; please see your accountant for assistance.

Q.) What can I do once I am certified?

A.) You will be an Opt Certified Sexual Health Educator and will have the skills and knowledge to market to, and teach school aged youth, adults, and parents.

Q.) How long is the entire program from start to finish, including Multi-day CAVE/SAR as the prerequisite?

A.) The entire program consists of five modules, the practicum component and the prerequisite, if needed. Multi-day CAVE/SAR will usually be offered two months prior to the first module. Usually, a module will be offered each month for five months. Students will then have a year to complete the practicum component (extensions available if needed). 

Q.) Is the course offered during the day or evening? Which days?

A.) Each module is three days long--Friday through Sunday. Multi-day CAVE/SAR begins on a Thursday evening and continues all-day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  

Q.) Is there any way to complete SHEC in portions or online?

A.) No. The SHEC program is completed in person and in cohorts, giving graduates an opportunity to develop knowledge at a reasonable pace, with a supportive peer group.

Q.) Can I still apply for SHEC if I have not yet completed the prerequisite?

A.) You must have attended a previous SAR or Multi-day CAVE/SAR, or be registered and payment submitted for Multi-day CAVE/SAR in order to apply for SHEC.

Q.) What is the total cost for the program?

A.) The total cost for the SHEC program is $3600. This includes all five modules, the practicum component and materials but does not include text books. Multi-day CAVE/SAR is not included in this cost.

Q.) Is there any financial assistance for the program?

A.) At this time, there are no scholarship opportunities for outside applicants. Existing Opt employees may apply to their manager for professional development.

Q.) After completion, what opportunities exist to be a sexual health educator?

A.) You will be able to market yourself as an Opt Certified Sexual Health Educator to schools, parents, adult groups, and other groups. Some recently certified graduates are now employed as sexual health educators, while other graduates have used their SHEC education to improve their skills in their current jobs as teachers, nurses, counsellors, social workers and other professionals.

Q.) When is the next SHEC offered?

A.) SHEC 2017 will begin in May 2017.

Q.) Are there other places in the US or Canada that offer the same program?

A.) Opt is the only organization that offers a Sexual Health Educator Certification program in Canada. AASECT in the US provides information about continuing education courses and is a certifying body for sexual health educators. Some Canadian and US institutions offer degrees or minors in sexual health or related fields, but currently there is no program in Canada that trains AND certifies graduates to teach sexual health education.

Q.) Is SHEC only offered in Vancouver?

A.) SHEC has been offered in Vancouver and Prince George, BC. SHEC 2017 will most likely take place in Vancouver, BC. 

Q.) Can I complete my practicum outside of Vancouver?

A.) Yes, practicums can be completed anywhere a suitable preceptor and placement is found. Please contact us prior to applying if you are interested in remote practicum experience.