From researching the trades to becoming a certified journeyperson, there are many important steps along your path in a designated skilled trade. Review the steps below to identify where you are on your journey and how you can develop your career in the trades. Also check out the Workit: Guide to Youth Apprenticeship to learn more about how you can get a head start on a career in the trades.

1) Get Information about the Skilled Trades
Navigating this website is the first step to increasing your awareness of the skilled trades. Do you know what a journeyperson is? Have you ever wondered, for example, what being an electrician is all about? Do you know anyone who works in one of the 61 designated skilled trades? If so, ask the person a few questions about how they got started, why they enjoy their trade, or even if their company is looking for apprentices. This is a quick way to identify if a certain skilled trade is right for you. You can also check out the Designated Trades Guide for trade descriptions and work life information.

2) Explore the Designated Skilled Trades
Here's where you get a chance to "try out" a designated trade. It could involve:

  • a workplace tour (meeting people in an industry)
  • job shadowing (following a tradesperson through a typical workday)
  • test drives (arranging to see skilled tradespeople, instructors and students in action at the Nova Scotia Community College). These "try out" sessions are an excellent way to see what skilled tradespeople do everyday.

You can use these experiences to help make decisions about your own career path. Ask your teacher or guidance counselor about these opportunities, or contact your local NSCC  or Youth Apprenticeship Coordinator. You may decide to take certain courses to enhance your interest in a trade, or you may decide that a specific trade is not for you. Either way, you learn a lot!

3) Experience a Designated Skilled Trade
Maybe you've decided to pursue a particular designated trade. You've spoken to tradespeople, toured a few workplaces, even experienced a typical workday -- and you liked it! So now's the time to start gaining real experience, and here are two ways to do it:

• If you're in Grade 11 or 12, 16 years of age or older, and enrolled in Co-operative Education, you can be matched with a local employer and start your hands-on experience in a particular career.  After completing 25 hours of in-class training, you enter into a voluntary placement of approximately 100 hours with an employer.  This means you start working and gaining experience right away! You are monitored by a co-op teacher and the employer through a self-assessment and evaluations. If you complete a placement in a designated trade, you are eligible to count your hours towards an actual apprenticeship if you decide to pursue that career path.

•Since its inception in 2006, a select number of high schools across Nova Scotia have been offering the Options and Opportunities (O2) program. O2 offers on-the-job training through work placements and in-school learning through six occupational streams. Students will follow regular core programming and also be able to specialize in : Business,  Trades and Technologies,  Health and Human Services,  Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sports,  Information Technology, or Hospitality and Tourism. Check with your local high school to see if they offer O2.  Do it early because selection starts in grade 9.

• If you are not in school, there are various community programs available that will match you to an employer in the designated skilled trades. By enrolling in such a program, you will be able to count your practical hours toward a future apprenticeship. Contact your local Career Resource Centre for more information.

4) Become a Youth Apprentice.....Pathways to Apprenticeship English (PDF);  French (PDF)
Want to "earn while you learn"?  If you are between the ages of 16-19 and you've decided that a designated trade matches your specific goals, then youth apprenticeship might be for you.  First, you must find an employer who is willing to pay and train you as a youth apprentice and has a certified journeyperson available to be your mentor. After doing so, a contract is signed between you and your employer. For youth apprentices, this contract usually involves part-time work in which you gain hours and valuable real-life experience.  If you have an employer and are ready to become a youth apprentice, complete and send in the Expression of Interest form. This is the first step toward registration.

5) Decide on Post-Secondary Options....After Graduating High School
After high school you have two training options open to you:

(1) attend a community college to upgrade your skills and gain more confidence.

(2) continue on as an apprentice.

There are advantages to both options. If you decide to go to community college, you'll receive some credit for your apprenticeship when you complete your program. If you decide to continue on with your apprenticeship, you'll continue to "earn while you learn" and count hours toward your technical training. Which training option is right for you?

6) Work full-time as an Apprentice
By this stage, you're committed to becoming a journeyperson, which means that your career is well underway!  As a youth apprentice all your hours of work experience and skills acquired are transferred into the post-secondary apprenticeship program.

If you are over the age of 19 and have an employer willing to hire you full-time in a designated trade, it's not too late to register as an apprentice. Apprentices earn a salary while they learn the practical aspects of their trade and participate in theory training each year. To begin the registration process, contact an Industrial Training and Certification Officer with Apprenticeship Training and Skill Development in your local area.

Various incentives are also provided to registered apprentices throughout their training, including:

•  HRSDC's Apprenticeship Incentive Grant (AIG) for apprentices who complete their first and second year of training;

•  the Nova Scotia provincial government's Progression Award to apprenticeship who complete their third and fourth your of training;

• HRSDC's Apprenticeship Completion Grant (ACG) for apprentices who successfully complete their apprenticeship training and obtain journeyperson certification in a designated Red Seal trade; and

• the Tradesperson's Tools Deduction - available to employed tradespersons with an annual deduction of up to $500 to help cover the cost of new tools necessary to their trade.

7) Life as a certified journeyperson
Congratulations!! At this stage you've successfully completed your apprenticeship and passed your certification exam; you're now a journeyperson.  Maybe you will be asked to mentor the next apprentice at your worksite.

back to top