Apprenticeships are a type of post-secondary education that combines paid, work-based training with technical training in a classroom or shop setting. Apprentices learn technical theory about 20% of the time, with the rest being on the job site. Successful completion of these, along with examinations, is required to earn a certificate and become a certified tradesperson. Typically, theory training ranges from 4 to 10 weeks per year depending on the trade, and takes approximately four years to complete.
People in skilled trades are rewarded for their efforts with good pay. In fact, as an apprentice, you can start making money right away because you “earn while you learn”. Skilled construction workers in BC earn $65,000 per year on average. The number of BC construction workers over 40 years of age is rising, and many are approaching retirement. It’s a good time to enter the skilled construction trades. A new apprentice who enters construction today and continues to learn may well be earning more than $100,000 per year in 4 years.
There are several way you can start your apprenticeship training:
- An employer sponsors you and assists with registering your apprenticeship
- Via a Pre-Apprenticeship Foundation program at a post secondary institution
- Previous training or experience may be accepted as credit towards certification
- Secondary school apprenticeship programs
Completion of your apprenticeship will provide you with a Certificate of Qualification (often called a ‘Ticket’) which is recognized across BC. Approximately 50 trades also offer a certification seal which is accepted across Canada – these are called Red Seal trades.
The requirements for each trade vary, but the process of work experience, classroom training, reporting and examination is similar. The Industry Training Authority has detailed information on each of the available apprenticeship programs.