Why smart people want a job in skilled trades

Quiz time. Which of these statements do you agree with? 

  • You learn best by doing 
  • You enjoy working with your hands 
  • You have a strong work ethic 
  • You want a lifelong career which you will enjoy and pays well 

If you agreed to all these statements, then you should consider a career in the skilled trades! 

The skilled trades are often overlooked because they have a stigma against them. These careers can be rewarding lifelong careers which pay well and offer endless opportunities. Let’s dispel some of the myths around this topic by learning more. 

What is a skilled trade? 

A skilled trade is an occupation that requires a special skill, knowledge or ability which can be obtained at a college, technical school or through specialized training.  

In Canada there are over 300 designated skilled trades but not all these certifications are available in each province. Ontario has 144 different skilled trades which generally fall in the categories of: 


includes electricians, carpenters, plumbers and more 


includes service technicians, painters and heavy-duty equipment mechanics 


includes trades such as tool & die cutters, millwrights, precision metal fabricators 


includes butchers, cooks, landscapers 

One misconception about skilled trades is that they are only for people that don’t do well in school. Well, this isn’t the case. Skill based jobs aren’t about brute forcing everything. Sometimes you need to diagnose a problem for a sophisticated piece of equipment or computer software. As we continue into the fast-moving technological age. More traditional trades are evolving to be technologically advanced jobs which combine math and computer programming with manual skills like CNC machining, mechatronics, mobile robotics, and precision machining. Even working in a factory have evolved. Many facilities are highly sophisticated, and you are required to understand electro-mechanics. In short – you have to critically think and work with your hands.  

What skilled trades are in demand in Ontario? 

By the end 2021 it is believed that one in five new jobs in Ontario are expected to be trades-related occupations. This is because of the aging workforce, employers are looking for skilled tradespeople who can take these jobs when this generation retires. Although there are many in-demand jobs across industries because this is Taste Your Future we want to focus on the Food and Beverage industry. So let’s focus on some in-demand jobs within this sector.  

Industrial Millwright 

A millwright is a professional that installs, maintains, repairs and troubleshoots industrial equipment in factories and production plants. Throughout the process they are focused on adhering to food safety standards. They also design and fabricate equipment to improve how well factories are running.  

Automation Service Specialist 

Automation service technicians repair and maintain computer-controlled systems and robotic devices used food facilities. This work includes designing software and hardware on equipment such as packaging lines and ovens.  

Licensed Electrician 

A journeyman electrician is responsible for the skilled tasks such as installing, maintaining, troubleshooting, repairing and modifying complex industrial equipment, processes and system. They perform preventative and corrective or equipment failures. 

Packaging Machine Mechanic 

These mechanics repair, maintain and monitor packaging line equipment so that products get sent out on time. They install the proper equipment for the packaging line and troubleshoot issues that arise while monitoring the process. 

Process Operator Food Manufacturing 

These professionals control and supervise process operations in factories. They typically work on production lines using a range of equipment and carrying out basic troubleshooting of the equipment they work with.   

Agricultural equipment technician

These professionals specialize in repairing and maintaining farm machinery such as tractors, combines, balers, seeders and mowers. Agricultural equipment varies, so this trade can overlap with welding, refrigeration, auto mechanics, and heavy-duty equipment maintenance 

Do skilled trades make good money? 

Another misconception is that skilled tradesmen don’t make enough money because they require a college education. Many entry-level jobs however can pay upwards of $20 dollars an hour and will continue to go up as you gain experience. Salaries will vary between provinces and companies’ skills trades can be well paying jobs.  

For example, according to Red Seal Recruiting a Millwright at Redpath Sugar Ltd in Belleville Ontario makes $33.87/hr while an electrician at TWI Foods makes $30.00/hr. 

Another benefit is that skilled trades pay you as learn the trade. Although a skilled tradesperson does generally need to spend some time in class this is followed by work experience where you get on-the-job training from other senior tradespeople. This process is known as an apprenticeship and is often followed by more in-class work or additional work. To complete your apprenticeship you need to successfully complete a certain amount of hours based on the program. During the periods of work even though you are learning you still get paid! Allowing you to pay off student debt quickly.  

How do I get certified in a skilled trade? 

The first step to becoming certified in a skilled trade is first deciding what you want to do! Once you do than you will have to enter pre-apprenticeship training this might include getting training from a college or community agency. If you are in high school, you can earn co-op education through work placements. Once you have figured that part you can enter an apprenticeship. Generally, the steps include  

  1. Find out if you qualify for an apprenticeship 
  1. Find an employer or sponsor who will provide you with apprenticeship training 
  1. Apply for your apprenticeship 
  1. Sign a training agreement between you and your sponsor 
  1. Register with the Ontario Colleges of Trades  

This is just a brief breakdown. For a full breakdown check out Ontario- Start an Apprenticeship  

Places to learn more apprenticeships 

Fortunately, there are a lot of resources which are out there which can help you get a career as an skilled tradesmen. Remember that each sector and job has a specific set of requirements but these resources should get you tight on track! 

Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP)  

OYAP is a school to work program that opens the door for students to explore and work in apprenticeship occupations starting in Grade 11 or 12 through co-op education. Through the program you have the chance to become a registered apprentice! Check their website for a full list of careers and what you can do 

Apprenticeship in Ontario 

The Ontario website is a great place to start and learn more about apprenticeships in Canada (You might even be apply to grants and incentives!). Have your questions answered by getting in touch via telephone, email and live chat. 

Ontario Colleges 

If you are ready to explore different apprenticeships and where you can go to school for them then you can check out OntarioColleges.ca 

Skills Ontario 

This organized is looking to champion Ontario’s skilled trades and technologies workforce. They offer many engagement options like skills competitions, summer camps and workshops. Skills Ontario focus offers a ton of fun hands on and fun introduction to careers in skilled trades.  

Ontario College of Trades  

is a industry-driven, professional regulatory body that protects the public by regulating and promoting the skilled trades. If you become a skilled tradesperson you must register with them. Check you their website to get familiar with them! 

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