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Starting Out in the Trades

Whether looking to become a carpenter, electrician, plumber, welder, or sheet metal worker, starting out in the trades can seem daunting at first.
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When picking up a toolbelt and stepping into steel toes for the first time, there is no need for anyone to feel nervous. All tradespeople have to start somewhere.

Choosing Your Trade

The trades world is full of a diversity of sectors, each with different skillsets. Some trades are significantly more physically demanding than others and while it is good to push boundaries, it is also important potential trades workers are aware of any physical limitations they may have. This goes beyond basic strength. Consider the daily work of a carpenter specializing in flooring. For someone with bad knees, this career path is going to be a painful one.

While some trades are certainly hard on the body, keep in mind many trades rely more on mental stamina than physical. When deciding on what route to take, those looking to the trades should consider their own interests along with physical capabilities and from there, begin to narrow things down. Talk to people working in the trades, do the research, and get a better understanding of what will be expected and what a new worker can expect from working in that trade years down the road.

Becoming an Apprentice

The apprenticeship process in the trades provides new workers the opportunity to learn and work in a professional environment alongside experienced workers. New workers can seek out a company to provide them an apprenticeship or they can rely on public apprenticeship programs including the Government of Alberta’s own Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AIT). During most apprenticeships, around 80% of the time will be spent participating in onsite learning while the remaining time goes toward technical training often provided through a university or college. Apprenticeship programs can range from one to four years depending on the industry.

Receiving Certification

A number of trades have certification programs that will help new workers learn the ins and outs of the job and create opportunities to land better jobs in the industry. For those looking to move around, obtaining an interprovincial Red Seal opens doors around the country and if a worker picks up shop and moves provinces, they will not need to go through any additional training as the Red Seal is recognized across Canada.

Getting to Work

It can take time to learn the ropes of a new trade but it is important to not become discouraged. Mastering a craft takes years of practice and no shortage of trial and error. With proper training and hands-on learning, the trades is an open opportunity to new workers around the province.