Do I Need to be an Apprentice to Get Into a Trade?
The short answer is yes!
The long answer is: according to Employment Ontario, you must complete an apprenticeship in order to work in the corresponding skilled trade. There are no shortcuts. Think about it: would you allow a surgeon to operate on you if he or she didn’t go through medical school?
There is a clear roadmap for individuals who want to work in the skilled trades. First, you become an apprentice. An apprentice is a student of a specific trade and he or she has a Registered Training Agreement with a sponsor (a person or organization who is training the apprentice).
The apprenticeship is your medical school. The regulatory body of tradespeople in Ontario is called the Ontario College of Trades, and it has developed two important documents: the Workplace Apprenticeship Training Standards and the Curriculum Training Standard. Both these documents ensure consistency and accountability in the education apprentices receive from their sponsors. Just as the medical school curriculum prepares its students to succeed as physicians, these training standards ensure apprentices follow set guidelines and similarly prepare its students to succeed.
Another way to think of the apprenticeship is getting your foot in the door. Not only will you receive hands-on education, you will be paid while you learn. You will be working with people who know the ins and outs of the trade—these will be valuable contacts when you go onto the next stage of your training, as a journeyperson (2).
A journeyperson is basically a working tradesperson. You have now been certified to work in the skilled trade you apprenticed in. Moreover, you can now take on apprentices of your own!
There are no shortcuts in becoming a tradesperson. Find a sponsor, become an apprentice, put in the work, earn your certification, and then you may call yourself a tradesperson.