Tips for Finding a Career in the Canadian Construction Industry

Construction in Canada is booming. If you love working with your hands, or in a career that centers around building/fixing physical structures, then there is no reason to wait and ponder your next steps. Get started now!

With unemployment at an all time low and media outlets proclaiming the severe shortage of skilled trades people in the construction industry, it can be frustrating and overwhelming for some people who still can’t find a position, or don’t know where to start. We’re here to help!

If you have the skills and experience (a journeyman or equivalent) in a specific field, but still can’t find a position in your area, it might mean that you may have to start looking elsewhere in your province for a well paying job (use our search function on workintrades.ca to help find jobs in your area). There are positions out there for you! You might just have to start expanding your geographical search.

If you’re starting from scratch, the all important first step is to get a sense for what kind of trade or skill you would most enjoy doing on a daily basis. Or conversely, you can look at the salary averages for common construction jobs, or current job openings in the area you want to live (although these things fluctuate). One way to get a sense of the day to day of a specific construction career is to read more of our featured career’s of the week, or to reach out to someone in the career you’re considering and ask about the pros and cons of their job.

Usually people who are passionate about their work are keen to share their experience, and people in the career that you’re interested in can save you a lot of time, energy and money by giving you advice.

After you’ve narrowed down your search into the specific field or trade that you’re interested in, we recommend researching about Government programs that are there to help you through your education and apprenticeships. The Canadian Government is very keen on helping people find jobs in the construction and skilled trades fields, so be sure to take advantage of these if they apply to you. Find out more here.

 

The next step is either to begin basic safety training and certificates such as WHMIS, diver training (if applicable) and other basic workplace safety training. More information on construction safety standards can be found here, and here.

Once basic safety training is completed, someone interested in looking for a position in the construction industry can either begin in classroom training and the formal apprenticeship process if something specific interested you, or if you’re still not sure about which skill you want to pursue then we would recommend pursuing a labourer position or something equivalent to begin the workplace experience.

Nothing will truly prepare you for what it’s like on a work site other than working on one daily. This will give you a first-hand look at the different trades and what kind of work they do. It will also help you get your foot in the door in the industry and gain experience that will help you if you decide to pursue another skilled trade. But above all, it will get you working and on your way to a successful career in construction!

As always, make sure to check in on workintrades.ca for the latest careers in your area!

 

What did we miss? Get in touch at hello@workintrades.ca to share your experience!

Featured Career of the Week: HVAC Technician!

This week’s featured job is one that will continue to offer reliable and high paying work in Canada: HVAC Technician!

This career is one that we take for granted, because the heating and cooling of a home is something a layman may not think about regularly. But let me tell you, when a component of the heating/cooling system of your home malfunctions — it is massively inconvenient, especially when you live in an more extreme environment.

 

HVAC technician is an umbrella term that includes a number of more specialized fields include: Installer, Service Technician, Energy Efficiency Specialist and many others. For our purposes today we will be going over the more general field of HVAC Technician.

Overview

HVAC, for those who don’t know, stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. Sometimes R (for refrigeration) is included, but for our purposes we’ll stick to typical HVAC for now. Essentially being an HVAC Technician is the maintenance and installation of the systems that maintain the quality of the air and the correct temperature of your home (the control systems). The air quality and temperature controls are obviously an integral part of any residential home, but are also important in any structure.

HVAC technology is in apartment buildings, hotels and senior living facilities, medium to large industrial and office buildings such as skyscrapers and hospitals, on ships and submarines, and in marine environments, where safe and healthy building conditions are regulated with respect to temperature and humidity, using fresh air from outdoors.

All of these structures need people with the expertise to install, maintain and replace the systems that control the air temperature and quality. It should be obvious now that this job isn’t going anywhere! The technology is changing, and the job requires an aptitude for constant learning and improvement. This career is great for people who love learning!

There are a number of components involved in HVAC systems, and if you enjoy the technical skills of mechanical engineering, you will appreciate the knowledge of HVAC technicians and possibly be interested in this line of work.

Being an HVAC Technician takes a deep knowledge of the laws of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and heat transfer. Someone who loves learning about mechanical systems and loves problem solving, will do well as an HVAC technician.

As mentioned before, HVAC technicians are paid well, the median salary in Canada is about $65,000 and salary can go above $100,000 for more specialized technicians. The career is a stable one. The technology will change and Technicians will have to adapt, but there will always be a need for skilled professionals to maintain HVAC systems.

An HVAC technician also is able to finish the day knowing that they made a significant impact in people’s lives, while also spending time in engaging and complex work. The sense of accomplishment is reported as part of this job that people love the most!

Educational resources

The standards of HVAC Technicians are extremely high. Certificate programs (which typically take one year or less) or diploma programs (which are usually two years long) can prepare you for an entry-level position as an HVAC installer or service technician.

I encourage you to visit trade-schools.net, which offers some great insights into the HVAC fields and many others.

Dalhousie University Certificate Program — Halifax

Pre-Apprenticeship Training — Toronto

BCIT — School of Energy

Durham College

VIU

Centennial College — Toronto

As always, check out Work In Trades for the latest careers in Skilled Trades, Project Management, Engineering and much more!

This Week’s Featured Career: Ironworker!

this week we feature another career that often flies under the radar. Being an Ironworker means that you are continuing a long legacy of hard working, highly skilled individuals who help build some of the most monumental structures that we see today.

We can thank Ironworkers for the structural integrity of skyscrapers, bridges and other infrastructure projects that we take for granted!

 

Overview:

Being an Ironworker means your help build structures that last for centuries.

As the name suggests, Ironworkers fabricate and erect (and dismantle) the structural steel framework for different reinforced building projects. Ironworkers are involved in everything from buildings, stadiums, arenas, hospitals, towers, wind turbines, bridges and many many other significant infrastructure projects.

Being an Ironworker is dangerous and involves many risks, so being safety is paramount on job sites. Ironworkers are often high above the ground using welding and other heavy tools for hours at a time. Even when they are grounded, Ironworkers are constantly moving heavy material (steel and equipment) and therefore are at risk.

Project coordinators and Ironworkers themselves are much more conscious of the risks than they were in the early years of structural Ironworking. In fact, in the early 1900’s, Ironworkers suffered the highest risk of on the job injury. To mitigate the ever present risk, In 1896, the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers was formed to improve work conditions. Things have changed, and risks now are now more related to over work, rather than lack of safety precautions. Conditions have improved and the union continues to support workers and improve conditions. It is one of the oldest trade associations in the world.

 

Ironwork is mostly defined using three categories:

Structural Ironwork: Structural Ironworkers are the tradespeople that position and install the massive steel girders and beams that make form the basis for massive projects such as bridges and skyscrapers

Reinforcement Ironwork: Using hand tools and cutting torches, the Reinforcement Ironworkers form and the inside of the concrete forms that make up the base and walls of structures. Their work is hidden, but without it structures would not stand as they do!

Ornamental Ironwork: The Ornamental Ironworker, or the “finishers’ form and install the steel that are used after the structure is complete — think handrails, curtain walls and other finishing touches.

Fabricating: Often called “Shop Ironworkers, these folks are the ones who mold and create the support beams and other premade components of a structure.

 

Pay scale:

Wages start at around minimum wage and can get up to $50 an hour for a journeyman Ironworker, with overtime pay higher. On an annual basis, wages range between $35,000 to well over $100,000 with more experienced journeyman ironworkers.

Education:

The term of apprenticeship for an ironworker-structural/ornamental tradesperson is either three or four years depending on the province. This included a minimum of 1500 hours of on-the-job training and 6 weeks of technical training each period.

Resources:

A great resource if you’re interested in becoming an Ironworker is the Union Website

Programs:

Trade Secrets Alberta

BCIT Ironworker Program

SAIT Ironworker Program

ITA B.C.

Ontario College of Trades

As always — check out workintrades.ca to find the most recent Ironworker jobs!

Featured Career of the Week: Machinist!

This week’s featured career is not one that is often talked about in today’s job market, or even promoted in trades schools. But we’re here to let you know about another high paying, in demand career: Machinist!

Overview:

The job of a Machinist has changed drastically over the past decade, but ultimately a Machinist takes large pieces of metal and makes precise parts by using a handful of tools.

Being a Machinist is truly about precision, and these days Machinists predominantly use computers in order to maintain accuracy in fabrication. However, the tools used can include, but aren’t limited too: lathes, grinders, lasers, millers, drill presses, and planers outfitted with sharp diamonds, borazon, tungsten carbide, and high speed steel to cut with proficiency and accuracy. These tools are some of the most state of the art expensive tools available, and Machinist operate them everyday!

All of the smaller parts of a metal fabricated system are made by technology controlled and operated by Machinists. Think airplanes, trains, cars and other metal systems like turbines and other metal spare parts.

 

Machinists must also understand the effects of heat treatment on metals and be skilled in the performance of various heat treatment processes.

The working conditions of a Machinist may not be what you think: it is largely clean and — like the skill — precise, as you are surrounded by very expensive, state of the art technology.

As was mentioned before, a Machinist relies largely on automated and computer controlled systems to produce an exact product. If the piece or part does not fit the exact specifications, then it can’t be used. We want our Machinists to be precise. I don’t know about you, but I want the next plane I fly in to be crafted by a precise Machinist!

 

Pay scale:

The job of a Machinist is well paid and highly skilled — which means they will always be in demand. Like any skilled trade, the salary of a Machinist varies depending on experience, but it typically falls between C$15.41 — C$33.95. With the overtime pay of a Machinist going C$21.79 — C$53.03 per hour.

Like most careers in the skilled trades, the level of experience matters a great deal to the salary of a Machinist, although the national average for a Machinist is C$51,000 annually.

Education:

The process of apprenticeship for a Machinist is typically 4 years long and requires a certain amount of hours. In Alberta it is 1560 hours to attain journeyman status.

Here is a great resource for those of you in Alberta looking to become a Machinist:

https://tradesecrets.alberta.ca/trades-occupations/profiles/015/

Other trades schools offering Machinist programs:

BCIT

College of Trades

SAIT

NAIT

ITA B.C.

Redseal.ca

As always: Check out workintrades.ca to find new Machinist careers!

Featured Career of the Week: Construction Project Manager

As everyone knows, or no doubt has heard, jobs in Canada’s booming construction and skilled trades sectors are in high demand. They are also well paid. So, we’ve decided to highlight different career choices that are not only highly in demand right now, but are also engaging and satisfying work.

 

We will do this on a weekly basis with the intention of helping people find fulfilling, high paying jobs. In each segment, we will discuss general work duties, pay range, and education requirements (see our trades school page to find resources there).

Good luck! We hope this helps you in your job search.

We’ll kick this segment off with one of the most in-demand and high paying careers the construction and building sector — Construction Project Manager.

General Description

The Project Manager of a job site — also called General Contractor, Construction Project Coordinator, Construction Site Manager, Construction Project Superintendent, Construction Superintendent or simply Project Manager — is tasked with the responsibility of seeing the project through to completion. Often for large job sites, Junior Project Managers will be in charge of a specific component of the build, and report to a Senior Project Managers.

The Project Manager is typically involved in almost every aspect of the build in a day-to-day management capacity, and are the “boots on the ground” for high level management that sees the project through to completion. This means that not only is the Project Manager responsible for the projects’ completion, they are also responsible for the safety of the crews, budget considerations and the legal requirements in the given area.

 

Some of the key components of a project are budgeting, logistics and personnel requirements, and the success of a build is largely dependent on the Project Manager making sure these components are running efficiently and effectively.

As well as directly managing skilled trades people, the Project Manager often works with Architects, Designers, Engineers, and any other professional who plays a role in the development of the building.

This position is suited for people who can delegate, keep people motivated and working effectively, and manage the inevitable issues that arise from managing complex projects with many unforeseeable variables. The Project Manager needs to be calm and logical under pressure, as well as a great communicator and team leader.

Pay Range

In Canada, the average salary for a Construction Project Manager is $92,140 per year or $47 per hour. Senior Project Managers with lots of experience managing large projects can make more than $129,000.

Education

Being a highly complex role, the Project Manager position requires a university degree in Civil Engineering or a college diploma in construction technology (or equivalent). Pay will increase as workers accumulate on the job training and skills. Some quality project management related programs/courses are:

UBC: Project and Construction Management (Department of Civil Engineering )

Algonquin College: Construction Project Management (College Graduate Certificate)

Centennial College: Construction Management

Interested in a career in Construction Project Management? Find recent openings here