Apprenticeship is the entry point and the path to a rewarding career in a skilled trade. New apprentices see their skills and income grow because of the on-the-job and in-school technical training they receive. They create real value for their employer and opportunities for themselves.
Apprentices who complete program requirements and pass the required exam(s) receive a Certificate of Qualification* and journeyperson status.
While they are apprentices, they earn while they learn in a partnership with their employer or sponsor and the provincial/territorial government.
More than 200 different trades offer apprenticeship training in Canada. These trades address a wide variety of interests. For example, some trades may involve work indoors while others work outdoors. All trades offer training with the latest technologies, and will give you the skills that you need for a rewarding career.
How to get started in an apprenticeship
If you wish to explore apprenticeship training and a career in the skilled trades, there are certain recommended steps to follow to get started. However, the exact order of those steps depends upon 2 major things:
1. The province/territory in which you plan to work
2. The trade that you select.
The first steps
When you want to obtain a certificate as a skilled tradesperson, you first need to decide in which province/territory you will work because the requirements for obtaining your trade certificate in one province/territory may be slightly different than the requirements for obtaining your trade certificate in another province/territory.
Next, before you can begin apprenticeship training, you need to decide which trade you wish to learn. This is because the requirements for obtaining a trade certificate as an Electrician may be different from the requirements for obtaining a trade certificate as a Cook, or an Automotive Service Technician.
The Cost of Apprenticeship
Apprenticeship is one of the lowest cost routes to a productive career. Other forms of post-secondary training can be expensive and may leave graduates with debt and uncertain job prospects. Apprenticeship is different. Employers or sponsors enter formal agreements with apprentices so that apprentices earn an income while learning their trade.
Programs are designed so that apprentices work for an extended period, learn on the job, and then attend a session in school. The in-school technical training portion of apprenticeship is often a six to eight week session at a technical institute, community college, training centre, or other accredited training delivery agent. Some programs offer the in-school technical training sessions in other formats, such as weekend or evening classes, or distance learning.
When you enter an apprenticeship, your costs are minimal:
- Tuition costs for each in-school technical training session depend on the trade and province/territory, but are typically $200-$800 per session. These costs may vary among jurisdictions and trades/years. Your employer or sponsor may cover some or all of these costs.
- Your wages may increase each year, rising to full journeyperson rates upon successful completion of the apprenticeship program.
- You may qualify for EI benefits during your in-school technical training session. A two-week waiting period is required at the start of your first session.
- However, books and some equipment may be needed, usually at your expense.
- If you have to travel to the school or training location, you may face transportation and accommodation costs.
Your earnings can cover these costs, and you may be eligible for loans, grants, or scholarships (availability varies by trade and province/territory).
People who have skills and training in new technologies can find challenging and satisfying careers. This is a good time to be training as an apprentice.