The process of becoming a skilled trades professional is very different from most other careers.
Skilled tradespersons don’t require university education – rather, most aspiring professionals take on an apprenticeship, where they develop and refine their technical skills.
Those interested in the skilled trades industry should know that their career path will not always be clearly marked, due to how incredibly diverse the industry is in its career offerings, training and programs. Nevertheless, we’ve come up with a 4-step guide that can help you hatch your career!
Choosing a trade
While this might seem like an obvious step, it can be one of the most difficult. There are well over 200 recognized skill trades across the country! The choices can be overwhelming, so here’s a few tips on how choose yours:
Research: Do you like fixing and tuning car or the odd-jobs repairing thing in your home? Are you a budding hairstylist or makeup artist? Learn about the types of jobs the skilled industry has to offer. Once you’ve got a sense of the trades you are interested in, narrow your choice to less than 5 so you can manage.
Observe a trade: There’s no better way of conducting research than observing a tradesperson at work through a youth apprenticeship program. Some schools offer “Observe a Trade” days – this is a great opportunity to see your trade of interest firsthand.
Talk to experienced professionals: If you can, talk to a skilled trade professional (journeyperson) who works in the skilled trade you’re interested in. Ask for advice, and try and get a sense of the work environment.
Finding an employer
Finding an employer is the biggest step in an apprenticeship. Not all skilled trade companies or firms have a formal apprenticeship program, but they might be interested in an apprentice who expresses interest in learning with them.
Many skilled trade workers find their apprenticeships through friends, family or even through trade unions, professional associations or training institutions. At the very least, try to secure information interviews with companies and employers in the industry for further advice.
After securing your apprenticeship, register through your local apprenticeship office. In doing so, your progress will be tracked and registered within the province/territory. Your local office with track the hours you work, and provide you with information about grants for your apprenticeships available to your employers.
Your regional office also offers as a great resource for questions about your skilled trade, certification, evaluating your time and progress and moving up.
There are several grants and related offerings available both federally and provincially. While the federal government’s grants are annual, the provincial grants vary from one province or territory to the next. In addition to apprentices, federal grants and supports are offered to journeypersons and employers.
Check out the federal government’s Trades and Apprenticeship website for federal grant offerings!