In a skilled trades apprenticeship program, students have the opportunity to earn while they learn. Instead of coming out of college or university with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, you can start your career with money in the bank.
Work with your hands, demonstrate your skills and see the results.
Move into training, management, or even start your own business.
A career in the skilled trades can be very lucrative. Some tradespeople make more than $60,000 right out of trades school, and many established skilled tradespeople make more than $100,000 per year.
An apprentice is someone who is learning a trade and has a formal training contract with a sponsor. The contract is called a Registered Training Agreement. A sponsor is the person, group, or organization responsible for providing the apprentice with training experiences.
A journeyperson is someone who is fully certified in their trade, can perform all the work in that trade without supervision, and can train new apprentices.
You should start by doing some research about what trades you are interested in. There are many skilled trades in Ontario, so there is a trade for you no matter what you’re into.
The next step is to find a sponsor. A sponsor is a person, group, or organization that takes responsibility for ensuring that you are getting opportunities to learn all of the skills required for you to complete your apprenticeship in accordance with the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009. Most often, a sponsor will be your direct employer, but they do not have to be as long as they are able to meet their responsibilities as a sponsor.
After you find a sponsor, you’ll have to sign a Registered Training Agreement with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development and your sponsor that outlines your responsibilities as an apprentice and the responsibilities of your sponsor.
Once you’ve signed your Registered Training Agreement, you officially become a registered apprentice. At this point, you’ll have 90 days to register as a member of the Ontario College of Trades. To do this, you need to send a member application form with your annual membership fee of $60+HST ($67.80) to the Ontario College of Trades.
The total cost for doing an apprenticeship is around $2,000. Here is a breakdown of the fees you will have to pay:
Some trades may require that you provide your own tools and equipment. Make sure to factor this into your budget. These costs vary by sector, but interest-free loans are available for apprentices. Click here for financial resources available for apprentices.
Remember that you will be earning money on the job while you are learning the trade.
There is no set length of an apprenticeship, as it depends on a number of factors, like the availability of work and in-class spaces for training programs, and the requirements of the trade. Each trade has different requirements, ranging from 4000-9000 workplace hours and 2 to 3 levels of in-class training. Normally you should expect to finish within two to five years.
If you have not signed a Registered Training Agreement with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, and are not a member of the Ontario College of Trades, you are not an apprentice. Without a signed agreement, you are not eligible for the financial supports that are available to registered apprentices, and you are not allowed to engage in the activities of a compulsory trade. Also, your employer is not eligible to claim tax credits on your wages for apprentice training, or to receive the $1,000 Apprentice Completion Bonus. If you want to become an apprentice, speak to your employer about signing a Registered Training Agreement.