What is a Skilled Trade and the Red Seal?

This article will answer many of the questions about skilled trades and what type of career the trades could offer you along with what the Red Seal is.

What is a Skilled Trade?

A “Skilled trades” refers to a wide variety of occupations in a number of industries which include construction, transportation, manufacturing and service.

What is the Red Seal?

The Red Seal is an interprovincial standards program that was established to harmonize training and certification requirements across Canada thereby providing greater mobility for skilled workers across the country. The Red Seal has become the national standard of excellence for skilled trades in Canada and allows qualified trades people to work in their trade anywhere in the country where the trade is designated without having to write further exams.  

These trades are governed by regulations under the Provincial and Territorial Apprenticeship Acts and the regulations generally outline the standards and conditions of training for the specific trade.  This can include how to register apprentices, skills and knowledge requirements, accreditation, and certification.

To date there are 55 trades (see list below) included in the Red Seal program and this accounts for almost 90% of all apprentices and more than 80% of the total trades workforce in Canada.  In many cases achieving a certificate of qualification in a Red Seal trade is equal in value to the completion of college certification in terms of trade knowledge and skill.

Why Choose a Skilled Trade as a Career?

There are a number of reasons why you should consider a career in skilled trades:

  • Skilled trades are generally in high demand in many industries
  • You learn your trade by apprenticeship, which is a combination of paid on the job training and in school training
  • By earning while you learn, you can begin your career without incurring the type of education debt load that many students have to take on
  • There are several loans and other support available from the federal government and additional ones by the provinces and territories for apprentices who complete various stages within an apprenticeship program for a designated Red Seal trade

Here is a list of the Skilled Trades designated by Red Seal:

  • Agricultural Equipment Technician
  • Appliance Service Technician
  • Automotive Painter
  • Automotive Service Technician
  • Baker
  • Boilermaker
  • Bricklayer
  • Cabinetmaker
  • Carpenter
  • Concrete Finisher
  • Construction Craft Worker
  • Construction Electrician
  • Cook
  • Drywall Finisher and Plasterer
  • Electric Motor System Technician
  • Floor Covering Installer
  • Gasfitter — Class A
  • Gasfitter — Class B
  • Glazier
  • Hairstylist
  • Heavy Duty Equipment Technician
  • Heavy Equipment Operator (Dozer)
  • Heavy Equipment Operator (Excavator)
  • Heavy Equipment Operator (Tractor-Loader-Backhoe)
  • Industrial Electrician
  • Industrial Mechanic (Millwright)
  • Instrumentation and Control Technician
  • Insulator (Heat and Frost)
  • Ironworker (Generalist)
  • Ironworker (Reinforcing)
  • Ironworker (Structural/Ornamental)
  • Landscape Horticulturist
  • Lather (Interior Systems Mechanic)
  • Machinist
  • Metal Fabricator (Fitter)
  • Mobile Crane Operator
  • Mobile Crane Operator (Hydraulic)
  • Motor Vehicle Body Repairer (Metal and Paint)
  • Motorcycle Mechanic
  • Oil Heat System Technician
  • Painter and Decorator
  • Parts Person
  • Plumber
  • Powerline Technician
  • Recreation Vehicle Service Technician
  • Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic
  • Rig Technician
  • Roofer
  • Sheet Metal Worker
  • Sprinkler System Installer
  • Steamfitter/Pipe Fitter
  • Tile Setter
  • Tool and Die Maker
  • Tower Crane Operator
  • Transport Trailer Technician
  • Truck and Transport Mechanic
  • Welder