Becoming an Apprentice

Highly skilled workers are in demand. Employers need workers with up-to-date technical skills to help them compete and profit in a global market. Apprenticeship training is an opportunity for workers to learn the skills employers need.

What is Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship is a recognized system of training which combines on-the-job training with technical training. Apprentices (who are employees) learn the knowledge and skills of the trade from a certified journeyperson (a skilled worker in the trade) while working on the job. This workplace training is reinforced with periods of technical training at a technical institute. There are over 40 designated trades and subtrades to choose from in Saskatchewan. See a complete list of all designated trades in Saskatchewan and the respective technical training.

Apprenticeship involves a formal agreement between an employee who wants to learn skills and an employer who needs a skilled worker. This formal apprenticeship agreement is registered with the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission. The apprenticeship agreement describes the responsibilities and obligations of the employer and the apprentice.

The employee learns the skills of a trade while employed in the trade and while building a career. Apprenticeship combines on the job training with technical training. Apprentices spend approximately 85% of their time working on the job. There they learn the knowledge and skills of the trade from a certified journeyperson. This practical training is then reinforced with periods of technical training, usually at a technical institute. Terms of apprenticeship range from two to four years, depending on the trade. Apprentices generally complete one technical training level per year.

Some trades training takes place in other provinces. Technical training usually occurs in blocks that are six to ten weeks in length, although alternate delivery formats, such as online, are becoming more common. Apprentices are eligible to write the journeyperson trade examination when they have: experienced the broad range of skills in the trade; worked the prescribed number of hours and years in the trade; and completed all levels of technical training successfully.

For a full list of apprenticeship training partners please see the website at www.saskapprenticeship.ca under Resources.

What are the steps to become an apprentice?

  1. Find an employer willing to provide the necessary on-the-job training and supervision.
  2. Sign an apprenticeship contract with the employer and register it with the SATCC.
  3. Work and learn on the job for the required period of time.
  4. Submit your hours of work – trade time - to the SATCC at least every six months.
  5. When notified by the SATCC, attend technical training for the required number of weeks each year.
  6. Pass your technical training.
  7. Upon successfully completing the apprenticeship program and passing the certification examination, the apprentice receives a Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship and a Journeyperson Certificate of Qualification! You are a certified Journeyperson.

What education do I need to become an apprentice?

Your grade twelve transcript (with no modified classes) or GED 12 is your guarantee that you meet the educational entrance requirements for apprenticeship in Saskatchewan. In fact, employers prefer apprentices who have completed high school. This ensures the individual has all of the necessary skills required to successfully complete the apprenticeship program, and receive journeyperson certification.  Individuals with ABE 10, “modified” or “general” classes are required to take an entrance assessment prescribed by the SATCC.

For specific requirements, visit www.saskapprenticeship.ca "Designated Trades", select the trade and look at "Trade Information."

Can previous work experience or training count toward my apprenticeship?

The Saskatchewan Youth Apprenticeship (SYA) Program provides high school students with a head start in a trades career. If you have been involved in the SYA Program, other trades programs through your high school, or another program of training through another educational institute (such as pre-employment) you may receive advance standing in that trade when you register as an apprentice. Previous on-the-job work experience may be eligible too. 

Are there other ways to achieve trade certification?

Yes, if eligible, as a trades qualifier. Tradespeople who work in non-compulsory trades—like Carpenter and Automotive Service Technician—have learned their skills on the job over many years, but not through an apprenticeship. Depending on the number of on-the-job hours they’ve completed, tradespeople may be eligible to challenge the journeyperson certification exam—the same certification exam apprentices take once they’ve successfully completed all of their required technical training—as trade qualifiers.

However, there are four compulsory trades in Saskatchewan you must be a registered apprentice to work in. Those compulsory trades are:  Construction Electrician, Plumber, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic, and Sheet Metal Worker.

Once a tradesperson in a non-compulsory trade is accepted as a trade qualifier, they can apply for upgrading training to refresh their knowledge and prepare for the journeyperson certification exam. Although this training is mandatory for the Insulator and Powerline Technician trades, voluntary upgrading training is available in a variety of other trades, including Automotive Service Technician, Carpenter, Industrial Mechanic, Mobile Crane Operator and Welder. Depending on the trade, training might be available online or in a classroom setting (or both).

Learn about the Trade Qualifier application process.

What are the benefits of trade certification?

Certification benefits both employers and employees.

Employees achieve a designation that is recognized as the standard of excellence across Canada. It is a credential proving they have honed the necessary skills in their designated trade.

Journeypersons play a key role in training and overseeing a company’s next generation of workers. They can also help sustain and enhance a company’s reputation. 

Some clients may inquire about how many journeypersons are on staff, or even demand that a journeyperson be on site while work is being performed. Employing journeypersons can help guarantee a company’s long-term competitiveness, since certification demonstrates to potential clients that staff members possess the skills and abilities to do skillful, high-quality work.

Certifying existing tradespeople also has the potential to increase employee satisfaction and engagement, which could boost productivity and reduce turnover. Businesses and organizations that are committed to the growth of their employees are often viewed as desirable places to work. By encouraging trade qualifiers to challenge the certification examination, employers are cultivating a supportive environment, one that will make it easier to recruit and retain staff members in the long run. 

A certified workforce is a reputable workforce.  The Interprovincial Red Seal recognizes tradespeople’s proven skills and abilities. And it instills confidence in clients—that a business’s staff members have the know-how and experience to complete a job effectively and efficiently.

For more information on apprenticeship training, visit www.saskapprenticeship.ca, or contact a SATCC office.