Skilled Trades Programs and Careers in the Trades

Hands-on experience leads to a rewarding, in-demand career

Think you know what a career in trades is all about? Time to think again.

While plumbing, mechanics, construction and welding immediately come to mind, skilled trades career paths are so much more diverse – think everything from hairstyling and esthetics to chef training, photography, robotics and countless other opportunities that lead to rewarding, lucrative careers.

Something else to think about are the many benefits of skilled trades programs, and where they can take you after graduation. Trades programs offer industry-driven, hands-on training and provide a solid foundation of business and technical skills that will help you throughout your career. When you’re ready to look for a job, Skills Canada research is showing workers in the trades are not only in high demand, but also see a lower rate of unemployment, making a career in the trades even more appealing.

Stronger Than a Stereotype: Women in Skilled Trades

As more and more women pursue careers in the trades, misconceptions about the opportunities and nature of skilled trades work continue to diminish.

It’s now widely known – and widely demonstrated – that women are capable of holding physically demanding positions. But it’s also important to note that physical strength is only a small aspect of a skilled trades career. According to Skills Canada, dexterity, balance, stamina and good coordination are all equally as important for the majority of positions and careers, and none of those skills are limited by a person’s gender.

Apprenticeship Programs

Many individuals interested in the trades choose to enrol in an apprenticeship program. Apprenticeships allow students to conduct the majority of their training right in the workplace, requiring them to complete a set number of hours under the guidance and supervision of a mentor.

Securing an apprenticeship requires initiative, as students are responsible for finding an employer who will train them and meet industry certification requirements. But there is a payoff for the investment. With exposure to both the practical and technical sides of a chosen trade, other important, lifelong skills are developed, including (but not limited to) client and customer relations, problem-solving, teamwork, leadership, and entrepreneurship. Apprenticeships also help students build valuable connections in their industry, and many employers choose to hire their apprentices full-time when they are done their training.

Trades Preparation and Certification

For those interested in pursuing a career in the skilled trades, it’s important to check the recommendations and requirements of individual programs. For those studying as apprentices, the end goal of skills training is to become certified, so understanding the certification process and the expectations of each program can help you both choose your program and secure a placement.

Once the apprenticeship hours are completed and required courses are successfully finished, an apprentice must go through the certification process. The process varies by job but ensures the apprentice has the technical and hands-on skills to prove they meet industry standards.

Tools for the Trade, Skills for Life

The expertise of skilled trades workers will always be needed, and with the demand for workers only increasing, more and more men and women are choosing a career in the trades. If you’re looking for a career that allows you to work hands-on and build the necessary skills to be successful for years and decades to come, think beyond the hard hat or welder’s helmet and explore all that the skilled trades programs have to offer.

Did you know?

In Ontario, there are 156 different skilled trades in 4 main categories:

Explore more skilled trades programs with our Find a Program tool.