Becoming a Carpenter in Ontario: Training, Certification & Career Outlook

becoming a carpenter in Ontario

General carpenters build, renovate, and repair structures made of wood, steel, concrete, (and more) for residential, commercial, and industrial projects. They have solid math skills, are excellent problem-solvers, good team players, and have a natural aptitude for precision work. Employment prospects for general carpenters in Ontario are encouraging, opening the door for newcomers to begin training, secure an apprenticeship, and apply for certification. What exactly do these steps entail, and how long do they take?

This post outlines the training and steps involved in becoming a carpenter in Ontario, plus the latest news on demand for this trade throughout the province.

Carpenter Pre-apprenticeship Training: Key Areas of Study

In order to build a foundation of theoretical knowledge and practical skills, many people choose to begin their carpentry career path with pre-apprenticeship training. Pre-apprenticeship carpentry training in Ontario takes an average of 4-6 months to complete, and covers a range of key study areas, such as:

Safety: essential on-the-job safety procedures, and safety requirements relevant to carpentry under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)

Production methods and techniques: identifying and selecting appropriate materials; applying interior and exterior finishes; learning servicing and installation methods; using relevant hand and power tools

Interpreting blueprints: identifying and analyzing various types of specifications, diagrams, drawings, and building plans

Completing a Carpentry Apprenticeship

Generally, a carpentry apprenticeship takes a total of 7, 200 hours (three to four years) to complete, and consists of on-the-job training and in-class instruction. The in-school portion typically takes 720 hours to complete, while the on-site component lasts for 6,480 hours, and is supervised by an experienced journeyperson.

Some pre-apprenticeship programs help students secure apprenticeships with local employers. Reputable Ontario carpentry programs have partnerships with associations and organizations (such as the CLAC Union and Merit Ontario) to help graduates connect directly with potential employers, or access exclusive job boards and search tools.

It is important to note that in order to complete a general carpenter apprenticeship, you must be registered with (become a member of) the Ontario College of Trades. You must remain an active member of the OCOT throughout your apprenticeship. More on this next.

General Carpenter Certification with the Ontario College of Trades

The Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) was formed in 2009 to oversee the skilled trades in Ontario.  Its mission is to “protect the public by regulating and promoting the skilled trades.” The OCOT enforces certain training and professional standards, investigates complaints made against members, and can levy charges, tickets, and other penalties if public-reported offenses are proven legitimate.

The College regulates trades by deciding which are “compulsory” (and require certification), and which are “voluntary” (need no certification). There are currently 23 compulsory trades in Ontario, including general carpenter. General carpenters must register with the OCOT as an apprentice, journeyperson candidate, tradesperson, or journeyperson. The annual registration fee for members varies according to “membership class”:

becoming a carpenter

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Once you have completed your apprenticeship, you’ll be eligible to challenge the OCOT’s Certificate of Qualification ( C of Q) exam.  The exam is not optional; general carpenters must earn a C of Q in order to work in Ontario. Exams consist of 90-150 questions, all multiple choice, and students are allowed up to four hours to complete it. A passing grade is 70%, and earns you entry into the journeyperson class.

Career Outlook & Options for Carpenters in Ontario

According to the latest data released by the Government of Canada Job Bank, demand for carpenters in Ontario is expected to hold steady over the next several years. This trade earned a 2/3 star rating from the Job Bank for employment prospects, which indicates a steady job market with a healthy number of new positions opening up for apprentices.

What is driving job opportunities for carpenters in the province? As of 2016, 85% of carpenters in Ontario work in construction, primarily residential projects. Government stats show an increase in residential building permits and projects over the last few years—a trend that is expected to continue and create employment for carpenters. The Job Bank also cites rising demand for home renovations and repairs (due in part to overall economic growth in Ontario), which is encouraging news for anyone considering becoming a carpenter.

Where specifically might you work during an apprenticeship or after earning certification? Options include:

  • construction companies
  • carpentry contractors
  • residential and/or commercial building developers
  • maintenance departments of plants or factories
  • self-employed

Interested in learning more about carpentry training in Ontario? Looking for a comprehensive pre-apprenticeship school?

Consider the Pre-apprenticeship Training (PAT) Institute. PAT’s Carpentry Training Program takes just 18 weeks to complete, covers a comprehensive range of theory and hands-on skills, and connects graduates with local organizations who hire apprentices. Visit the program page for more details, and to chat live with a knowledgeable advisor. We’re here to help!

Click Here to Learn More About Carpentry Training at PAT

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