How to Enter the Trades & Complete Your Apprenticeship
1. Compulsory & Voluntary Trades
2. Optional: Complete a Pre-apprenticeship, or College Certificate, or OYAP Program
3. Find an employer and get your job
4. Register as an apprentice (MLSTD and Ontario College of Trades)
5. Complete an apprenticeship and complete required hours for on-the-job training
6. Complete your training standards and complete the Certificate of Qualifications Exam.
Choosing a Trade
Skilled trades fall into four categories. Some examples of trades in each category are listed below.
- Heavy Equipment Operator
- Automotive Service Technician
- Aviation Technician
- Auto Body Repair
- Fuel/Electrical Systems Technician
- Horticultural Technician
Manufacturing / Industrial
- Tool and Die Maker
- Precision Metal Fabricator
For a complete list of all skilled trades, visit the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development’s Skilled Trades page.
Compulsory vs. Voluntary Trades
Trades are divided into two groups: 1) compulsory, and 2) voluntary.
To work in a compulsory trade, you need to be registered with the Ontario College of Trades as one of the following membership classes: Apprentices Class, Journeyperson Candidates Class, Tradespersons Class, Journeypersons Class or Employers / Sponsors Class. As an apprentice working within a compulsory trade, you will need to complete the following steps: 1) register as a member of the Ontario College of Trades, 2) complete on-the-job training, 3) complete in-school training, and 4) pass a Certificate of Qualification exam.
There are 22 compulsory trades in Ontario. To work in one of these trades, you need to be an apprentice, journeyperson candidate, or journeyperson. You must be a registered member of the Ontario College of Trades to be employed in a compulsory trade.
Search compulsory trades job profiles (gov.on.ca). On this page, use the Apprenticeship filter to search for compulsory trades.
Voluntary trades are trades that do not require you to become an apprentice, journeyperson candidate, or journey person to work within the industry. To be employed in one of these trades, you do not need to complete a specific training program. Even in the voluntary trades, however, some industries or employers may request journey person status when hiring or request that someone become an apprentice.
Having qualifications or training in a specific trade shows that you have a certain level of experience and skill, and helps you market yourself to employers and clients.
Search voluntary trades job profiles (gov.on.ca). On this page, use the Apprenticeship filter to search for voluntary trades.
- Do you have the skills to be successful in the first two years of technical training? Find out with this free online assessment.
- You can also explore the construction trades specifically with this Career Finder.
Choose five skilled trades that interest you using the above tools, and find out more about them. You might want to ask yourself the following:
- What is the work environment like?
- What skills and personality traits are needed to succeed?
- Where and when does classroom training take place?
- What topics are covered?
- What is the rate of pay?
More information about specific trades is available on the following websites:
Construction Trades Organizations
Brick and Stone Mason (Bricklayer)
Ontario Masonry Contractors’ Association
Cement (Concrete) Finisher
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Canada
Ironworkers Local 765
Painters, Drywall Finishers, Glaziers, HAZMAT Workers, Stucco Workers
International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Ontario Council
Ontario Pipe Trades Council
Terrazzo Tile & Marble Guild of Ontario
Motive Power Sector Trades Organizations
Automotive Service Technician
Canadian Automotive Repair and Service Council
Motorcycle and Moped Industry Council
Motor Vehicle Body Repairer
Collision Industry Information Assistance
Service Sector Trades Organizations
Ontario Hairstyling Schools Association
Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association
Industrial Sector Trades Organizations
Local 93 Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario
Electric Motor Systems Technician
Electrical Apparatus Service Association
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario
Industrial Mechanic Millwright
Millwrights Regional Council of Ontario
Instrumentation and Control Technician
Ontario Power Generation
Metal Fabricator (Fitter)
Canadian Welding Bureau Group
Tool and Die Maker
Canadian Tooling and Machining Association