Apprenticeships 101

A student wearing a protective mask performs a weld with sparks flying
Ever wonder how apprenticeships and pre-employment programs work? We’re connecting the wires.

“I wired that house.”

“I installed the heating for the homes in that community.”

“I built custom cabinets for the person who lives there.”

- [insert your name here] 

As a tradesperson, you could be pointing out your own work all over the city. And if you think of SAIT when someone says ‘trades,’ you’re not wrong.

Take a walk through the Aldred Centre on campus and you will be surrounded by future builders. That is, students likely wearing steel-toed boots, maybe medium-wear jackets (perfect for a variety of outdoor conditions), and other practical clothing familiar with a bit of dust or dirt for a job well done.

With apprenticeships, you don’t start with school and hope to end up with a job. Instead, you begin with the job, work towards hours of gained experience, and pair that with learning in a classroom setting. The number of hours and in-class sessions can change depending on the trade, but once you complete them and pass the provincial exams, that’s when you become a journeyperson.

To meet the national standard in your trade, it’s a matter of accumulating enough hours for a Red Seal Certification for 50 different trades, the Canadian stamp of approval allowing you to work outside of Alberta. Not all trades are Red Seal endorsed.

Step one: Find a mentor (an employer or journeyperson).

To begin as an apprentice, your employer will need a journeyperson available to teach you the ways. When you first interview at a job in a trade, ask about mentorship opportunities. It’s common to start at a trade without any experience at all. That being said, not all employers will necessarily have a mentor available to you.

Step two: Register at SAIT.

You can register at SAIT as an apprentice without an employer, but on-the-job experience helps for in-class success, so it’s not recommended. Instead, consider the pre-employment programs SAIT offers as a good option to learn the basics.  

What’s in a name?

Journeyperson: someone fully qualified in their trade and a potential mentor to a newbie.

Apprentice: The first step for every journeyperson — a.k.a. the newbie. Not yet fully qualified, but working towards that goal.

An education at SAIT is a key component on the path to becoming a journeyperson.

Depending on the trade and your employer, you’ll participate in a number of rotations between in-class learning (including tests and exams) and on-the-job training. Hours you log on the job site matter, because experience is a big part of proving you’re qualified to take on any task associated with your given trade.

Follow the flow of current below to determine whether an apprenticeship might be worth the journey for you! 

Infographic that outlines questions and steps to take in order to find the right apprenticeship program for you.

Apprenticeships and Trades

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