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Your Working Life: Strategies for Selecting a Trade That Suits You

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It takes the skills of millions of professionally trained tradespersons to keep Canada humming. For anyone who sees meaning in skilled physical work and loves the idea of not being tied to a desk, picking a skilled trade as a career can make for a fulfilling life.

There’s more than emotional fulfillment to look forward to. The trades pay $60,000 a year, on average, and come with a promising jobs growth outlook. In many cases, demand for these jobs rises at a rate in excess of 5% a year.

Not long ago, the trades were treated as alternative careers — second or third choices that you took up when nothing else worked out. Today, there are people in white-collar jobs who switch, simply because they find skilled labor satisfying.

If it seems to you that the trades could be the right career for you, however, it can take time to narrow down the range of choice available. From manufacturing skills to home-building skills and repair skills, there are more than 200 different skilled trade specializations, and more than 100 different training options. You can have a hard time knowing which way to head.

If this is you, here are tips that can help you learn what you really want.



From brochures at local technology institutes to YouTube videos on the different kinds of trades, there’s a great deal of information available. These are great places to head for an introduction to the choices on hand.

In the beginning, however, you may find that you have dozens of different skilled trades that appeal to you (for instance, information on becoming a landscaping architect may fill you with visions of driving a RAM 2500 pick-up truck and getting to work on a beautiful landscape on a sunny day). But the idea of becoming a skilled metal fabricator or a construction crane operator can seem great, too.

It’s important to not jump the gun on any particular choice. Apprenticeships can be a way to try out different trades to see what they really feel like. At an apprenticeship, you may find, for example, that a manufacturing job isn’t for you, because the noises and smells give you a headache.

While some trades will accept people with nothing more than a will to learn, others require that apprentices come in with some training and education in place. Finding opportunities is easy. You simply need to contact your local employment office or try different employers in your area.


Try a pre-apprenticeship

Since not every trade comes with ready apprenticeship opportunities, many training institutes offer their own pre-apprenticeship arrangements. They either contract with local employers, or build programs themselves to give students the ability to audit different trades. Auditing is an excellent way to determine what works for you.


With some kinds of trade, you can train yourself

Training yourself is often the best way to learn anything. This can be difficult with some kinds of trade — such as ones that involve the use of heavy manufacturing equipment. With many others, however, there is a great deal that you can do to conduct an audit yourself. From auto repair to home repairs, cooking to landscaping, there are many fields where you can learn by working at home, by yourself. Not only does self-training help you find the right career to choose, it helps you prepare for the training ahead.

Kristopher Walsh works at a recruitment centre and likes to write articles to help a wider online audience choose, and get, the right job for them. His articles are published on career blogs, education sites and more.

We are always eager to hear from our readers. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions regarding CareerAlley content.

Good luck in your search,


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