The Trades: What you need to know
Are you interested in a career in the trades but don’t know where to begin? Have you ever wondered about the difference between an Apprentice and Journeyperson? What about the terms Red Seal Program, Red Seal Endorsement and RSE? If all this seems confusing, read on to learn more and find out how to prepare for your career.
What is an Apprentice?
As an Apprentice, you’re trained to become a Journeyperson through a 1 to 4 year apprenticeship, a post-secondary education program that combines on-the-job and technical training. Approximately 80% of your learning is done on the job, so you need to find an employer who is willing to hire you as an apprentice. The other 20% is through a college or technical training institution.
Your apprenticeship begins when you register with the apprenticeship authority at your province or territory and sign a Memorandum of Understanding with an employer who is also registered with the apprentice authority.
Typically, you’re paid 60% of the Journeyperson’s wage rate and the rate increases as you progress through the apprenticeship period until you receive your certification. You may also receive Employment Insurance benefits and federal, provincial or territorial grants.
What is a Journeyperson?
Once you satisfy all the requirements of the apprenticeship program, you’re eligible to write the Certificate of Qualification exam, and if successful, you become a certified Journeyperson for your province or territory and receive the wages and benefits associated with that trade.
As a Journeyperson, you can train and mentor a certified Apprentice, monitor their progress and sign off on whether the apprentice is achieving their key competencies on the job.
What is the Red Seal Program?
The Red Seal Program is the national standard of excellence for skilled trades. Its goal is to set common standards in training and certifying tradespersons across Canada.
You must meet the requirements of your province or territory to attempt the Interprovincial Red Seal exam. The examination determines whether apprentices and experienced tradespersons meet the national standard in a Red Seal trade. Typically, the exam contains 100 to 150 multiple-choice questions and can last up to 4 hours.
After passing the exam with 70% or higher, you receive a Red Seal Endorsement or RSE on your provincial or territorial Certificate of Qualification. The RSE recognizes the professionalism and the knowledge, skills and experience of tradespeople. With this endorsement, you can practise your trade as a Journeyperson anywhere in Canada, where it is designated, without having to attempt further examination.
How do I Prepare?
The first step you should take is to finish high school since the market is very competitive. Take courses related to the trade you’re interested in and participate in an entry-level training program if your high school offers one.
Need to Learn More?
Research the trade and speak with potential employers to learn about opportunities and find out what they look for when hiring an apprentice. By taking the steps to prepare, you’re on your way to entering an exciting career.
Giselle Mazurat is a resume writer living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She also writes technical and business content for government and private companies.
Department of Advanced Education and Skills – Newfoundland & Labrador
Information for Journeypersons
Information on the Red Seal Program
Overview of the Red Seal Examination
Red Seal Designated Trades
Red Seal Endorsement (RSE) Acronym
Red Seal Exam Preparation Checklist
What is an Apprenticeship?