Planning & Education


Is a career in the trades right for me?
Are you creative? Do you enjoy working with your hands? Do you enjoy a flexible work style, or the idea of traveling across the country for work? If so, then a career in the trades may be right for you. This page will provide you with some general information and resources on how to kick-start your journey.

There over 200 trades to choose from, including 55 Red Seal designated trades. There’s sure to be a trade that speaks to you.

In construction there are an enormous number of occupational choices that directly feed into and support each other throughout the development and completion of a project. For example:

Cooks and bakers who work in construction camps
Carpenters, insulators, etc., who build the structures
Sheet metal workers, painters, etc., who clad and finish the structures
Mechanics, electricians, etc., who provide mechanical systems

Do I need to graduate high school?

You can only register as an apprentice once you have graduated high school, but that does not mean you can’t explore trades and gain experience through high school courses, co-op programs or a youth apprenticeship program in your province.

What high school courses do I need?

Because requirements for apprenticeships vary by the trade, you can visit your local apprenticeship office for more specific details. Generally speaking, courses in math, science, communications, computers and any shop courses related to your trade would be helpful.

The Government of Canada and other organizations have compiled a list of nine key essentials skills for the workplace. Many of these skills are essential for success as a tradesperson.

How physically demanding are these careers?

Simply put: trade work does require physical strength, but some trades are more physical than others. In many cases, it’s all about working smarter and not harder.

Cranes, forklifts, and chainsaws are all available to make our jobs easier. The technology available today is truly limitless, allowing tradespersons to rely less on physical strength and more on technology.

Working smarter means using your brain to see what technological resources are available to you so you don’t injure yourself. Workplace safety is every trades employer’s obligation.

What trades are in demand now?

BuildForce Canada offers an industry forecast featuring a nine-year scenario of workforce supply and demand in the construction industry, organized by region, province and trade. Their forecast suggests that approximately 210,000 workers will be retiring between 2013 and 2021.

 The opportunity for new tradespersons has never been more enormous:

  • The national labour force increases by 42,000 following the 2013-2021 scenario, but 210,000 workers are expected to leave due to retirement.
  • As estimated 152,000 first-time entrants (aged 30 or younger) will help meet the needs caused by retirement, but this still leaves a gap of 100,000 workers to be recruited from outside the trade industry to compensate for retirees and growing industry demands.

There has never been more opportunity or a better time to consider a career in the trades. The jobs are available, and in many cases skilled workers are in high demand!


Your education as an apprentice can begin as soon as you’ve graduated high school. Apprenticeships are regulated at the provincial and territorial level, which creates 13 unique systems that are designed to industry standards of that particular region.

For those of you looking to expand your career options, consider an apprenticeship in one of the 55 trades recognized by the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. This program makes it easier to work in different provinces or territories. It also makes you eligible for grants at the federal level.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is the ultimate earn-while-you-learn experience. You’re paid to learn! The majority of your time is spent working under a certified journeyperson on a job site, learning the standards of practice and applying your knowledge. The rest of your time is spent in a recognized apprenticeship college or vocational school.

When you’re finished your apprenticeship and certification exams, you’re ready to begin your career as a certified journeyperson in your trade.

How can I enter into an apprenticeship?

Entering into an apprenticeship training program can be a 2- to 5-year commitment. If you’re still in high school, you can consider a provincial youth apprenticeship program to see if the career is right for you.

A pre-apprenticeship program is also available if you’re unsure about committing fully to an apprenticeship, or you want more preparation or academic upgrading.

If you’re ready to begin, look into joining one of our unions. They will:

  • Make sure you are registered as an apprentice
  • Help you manage your apprenticeship
  • Help you find a job
Can I get financial help?

Financial assistance varies among the provinces and territories, but there are grants and other funding options available. Consult with your local apprenticeship office for information.

The Federal Government and some provinces also support apprentices who pursue an apprenticeship in one of the 55 trades recognized through the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program.

The Apprenticeship Incentive Grant is a taxable cash grant of $1,000 per year or level, up to a maximum of $2,000.

The Apprenticeship Completion Grant is a taxable cash grant of $2,000. You may qualify for this grant if you’re a registered apprentice who has completed their training to become a certified journeyperson.

Your union will also be able to assist you in finding financial assistance.

What are the different kinds of certification and how can I get certified?

If you apprentice in one of the 55 Red Seal trades, you can be certified to work in more than one province. As a Red Seal certified journeyperson, you can practice your trade across the country without obtaining individual provincial certifications.

Each province or territory regulates what trades are eligible for apprenticeship programs. Many provinces and territories require a formal Certification of Qualification. The process to obtain this certification varies depending where you are an apprentice.

Can I work anywhere in Canada once I am certified?

Not every apprentice can be certified to work in any province or territory, as apprenticeships are not federally regulated. If you apprentice in one of the 55 Red Seal trades, you can be certified to work in more than one province, depending on the individual trade.

Where can I get info specific to my province?

For the most up to date information of the Apprenticeship Systems across Canada, check out The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum. Just click on the province you live in and this resource will take you to the provincial website with the latest info.