Earning a living working with your hands, solving problems on the fly, and being the only person on-site who can fix things are some of the most rewarding jobs you can have. Now, as more people opt for a career behind a desk, the demand for skilled tradespeople has skyrocketed, as have their salaries and potential for growth. The trades have rebounded from the initial pandemic fallout, with two per cent more people currently employed than were prior to March 2020.
Using current salary data from Indeed.com, CourseCompare has compiled a list of the top 20 highest paying skilled trades in Canada (last updated in January 2023).
|Skilled Trade||Average Base Salary|
|Plumber / Steamfitter||$90,109|
|Industrial Mechanic (Millwright)||$84,489|
|Fabricator / Welder||$81,867|
|Senior HVAC Technician||$78,863|
|Plumber / Pipefitter||$75,160|
|Heavy Equipment Operator||$72,228|
If you want to pursue any of the lucrative careers outlined below, make sure to check out CourseCompare’s ranking of the best trade schools in Canada.
Senior Electrician – $91,258
Senior Electricians are responsible for overseeing and directing electrical work in large industrial, commercial, or residential settings. They typically have a good understanding of electrical principles and the capacity to plan, design, and install complex electrical systems. They also have an in-depth knowledge of relevant codes and regulations related to electrical work.
Senior Electricians are expected to have a high level of technical skills, and must be able to analyze and troubleshoot complex electrical systems. Additionally, they must be able to read and interpret blueprints and schematics, and be able to communicate effectively with other members of the team. As Senior Electricians are responsible for the safety of their team, they must have a good understanding of safety procedures and be able to identify and mitigate potential risks. As leaders, Senior Electricians must be able to guide and motivate their teams and ensure that all work is completed on time and to the highest standards.
In Canada, Electricians generally require trade certification and completion of a four- to five-year apprenticeship program. Canada Job Bank has an overview and directory of Electrician licensing requirements by province.
Senior Plumber – $90,700
Senior Plumbers are responsible for supervising, training, and leading teams of Plumbers in large industrial, commercial, or residential settings. They must have a deep understanding of plumbing systems and the capacity to design, install, and repair complex systems. Additionally, they must be proficient in reading and interpreting blueprints and schematics, and be able to identify and troubleshoot problems in plumbing systems. Senior Plumbers should be familiar with relevant codes and regulations related to plumbing work, and be able to ensure that all work is done in compliance. They should have a good understanding of safety procedures, be able to identify and mitigate potential risks, and be able to communicate effectively with other members of the team. Finally, Senior Plumbers need to be able to motivate and guide their teams, and ensure that all work is completed on time and to the highest standards. Plumbers are in high demand due to the regular construction of new buildings and homes.
In Canada, Plumbers sometimes require trade certification and completion of a four- to five-year apprenticeship program, or a combination of over five years of work experience in the trade and some high school, college or industry courses. Canada Job Bank has an overview and directory of Plumber licensing requirements by province.
Plumber / Steamfitter – $90,109
Plumber Steamfitters are tradespeople who specialize in the installation and repair of piping systems that transport hot and cold water, steam, and other liquids. They are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing piping systems in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. Plumber Steamfitters must have an in-depth understanding of plumbing principles, as well as an understanding of relevant codes and regulations related to plumbing work. They must also be able to read and interpret blueprints and schematics, and be able to identify and troubleshoot problems in plumbing systems. In addition, Plumber Steamfitters should be familiar with safety procedures and be able to identify and mitigate potential risks.
Being a Plumber Steamfitter in Canada is a rewarding career that offers job security, competitive salaries, and the potential for high earnings.
Industrial Electrician – $85,115
Industrial Electricians are responsible for designing layouts, repairing and maintaining, inspecting, and installing electrical systems. They often have to squeeze themselves into tight spots to fit wiring together, as well as carry several tools with them such as pliers, screw drivers, wire strippers and pipe reamers.
These tradespeople also work with motors, generators, and power-distribution systems, which send electricity to different parts of a building. With an increase in green energy, even industrial batteries are maintained by Industrial Electricians. Some electric car manufacturers offer large batteries for home use that can charge cars and power other aspects of a home, if needed, but professional Electricians are required to get them installed in a garage.
Refrigeration Technician (HVAC) – $84,530
A Refrigeration Technician is responsible for the installation, maintenance, and repair of commercial and residential refrigeration systems. This includes inspecting, testing, and calibrating the systems to ensure they are functioning correctly. With the proper training and certification, Refrigeration Technicians can work in a variety of settings, from food and beverage processing plants to industrial manufacturing facilities.
HVAC Technicians must possess a wide range of technical skills, such as knowledge of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, as well as the ability to install, maintain, and repair these systems. Additionally, HVAC Technicians must possess strong problem-solving and troubleshooting skills, and must be familiar with local codes and regulations. They must also be able to use a variety of tools, such as wrenches, saws, and pipe cutters, and must be able to work independently and as part of a team.
In Canada, Refrigeration and HVAC Technicians sometimes require trade certification and completion of a three- to five-year apprenticeship program, or a combination of over five years of work experience in the trade and some high school, college or industry courses. Canada Job Bank has an overview and directory of Refrigeration and HVAC Technician licensing requirements by province.
Industrial Mechanic (Millwright) – $84,489
Working on machine components such as cooling, hydraulics, fuelling, and lubrication, Millwrights essentially keep equipment moving. They’re experts in the use of lathes, milling machines, fabricating with punches, welding gear, and power threaders. They also assist engineers and construction managers to decide the best spot to put the machines required for a job.
Installation of compressed air, water and exhaust ducts, and all manners of pumps, turbines, presses, and gearboxes are just some of their additional responsibilities, which really does keep things in motion. From the name, you might wonder what the difference between a Millwright and a standard Industrial Mechanic is. Simply, Millwrights typically assemble and set up the machinery, while Industrial Mechanics take care of maintenance and repairs on those machines.
In Canada, Millwright trade certification is only required in Quebec. Canada Job Bank has an overview and directory of Millwright licensing requirements by province.
HVAC Installer – $83,766
An HVAC Installer in Canada is responsible for the installation, maintenance and repair of residential and commercial heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Working as an HVAC Installer requires knowledge of a range of topics, including ductwork, electrical wiring, cooling and heating systems and energy efficiency. Installers must be able to understand blueprints, diagrams and technical documents, and be able to troubleshoot and repair any issues that arise with the systems they install. They must also be able to work with customers and other professionals, such as architects and engineers, to ensure that all HVAC needs are met. Working as an HVAC Installer in Canada provides job security and the potential for high earnings.
Fabricator / Welder – $81,867
A Fabricator Welder in Canada is responsible for fabricating, welding, and fitting metal components and structures. They must be able to read and understand blueprints, technical drawings, and specifications to determine the specific welding requirements for each job. Fabricator Welders should be knowledgeable in a variety of welding techniques and materials, including arc welding, MIG welding, TIG welding, and oxy-acetylene welding. Additionally, they must be able to use various tools and equipment, such as welders, cutters, and grinders. Fabricator Welders must be able to work safely and efficiently, and have the ability to work on their own or as part of a team. With the right training and experience, Fabricator Welders can work in a variety of settings, from construction sites to shipyards.
In Canada, Welder trade certification is only required in Alberta. Canada Job Bank has an overview and directory of Welder licensing requirements by province.
Senior Welder – $80,802
A Senior Welder is an experienced professional who specializes in welding and metal fabrication. They are responsible for ensuring accuracy and precision in the welding process, and for creating high-quality welds that meet safety and industry standards. Senior Welders oversee the entire welding process from start to finish, including cutting materials, prepping surfaces, operating welding equipment, and inspecting finished welds. They need to be very knowledgeable in all aspects of welding, including welding techniques, safety precautions, and the properties of different metals and alloys. Senior Welders must be able to work independently and efficiently, and must be able to maintain the highest levels of accuracy and quality.
Mechanic – $80,329, Automotive Technician – $73,730
An Automotive Mechanic is a skilled professional who repairs and maintains cars and other motor vehicles. They can diagnose and troubleshoot mechanical and electrical problems, perform routine servicing and maintenance, and replace and repair damaged parts. Automotive Mechanics must possess a thorough knowledge of vehicle components, systems, and procedures, and must be proficient in the use of diagnostic tools and equipment. They must also be able to read and understand service manuals and other technical documents, and be able to communicate effectively with customers and colleagues.
Commercial trucks, emergency vehicles and coach busses are all repaired and maintained by Truck and Transport Mechanics. That includes everything from the transmission, clutches, drive shaft, suspension, and steering to the electrical workings on the on-board computer and communication systems as well as standard wheel maintenance. Essentially, a truck and transport mechanic is required to understand how a big rig works and how to fix it. These mechanics are also responsible for keeping the vehicle’s cabin in working and comfortable order for the driver.
A Heavy Equipment Mechanic is responsible for maintaining, troubleshooting, and repairing heavy machinery and equipment. These technicians work on some of the largest machinery on job sites, ensuring it’s safe for other operators. Wheels, tires, undercarriages of large vehicles, drive-shaft axles, structural elements, and more require their seal of approval before being used. They work in industries such as mining, construction, forestry, transportation, and material handling. The Mechanic must be able to identify and diagnose mechanical and electrical problems with the equipment, and perform repairs as necessary. The Mechanic must also be knowledgeable in safety procedures, and must be able to use hand tools, power tools, and diagnostic tools.
Canada Job Bank has an overview and directory of the varying Mechanic licensing requirements by province.
Service Technician – $80,041
A Service Technician is responsible for installing, repairing, and maintaining a variety of equipment and appliances. The technician must be able to diagnose and troubleshoot problems with the equipment, and must possess a working knowledge of industry standards and safety regulations. The technician must be able to use hand tools, power tools, and diagnostic tools, in addition to having excellent communication and customer service skills. Service Technicians must be able to accurately document maintenance activities and any repairs performed, as well as keep detailed records of all service and maintenance activities.
In Canada, appliance Service Technician trade certification is only required in Alberta. Canada Job Bank has an overview and directory of Service Technician licensing requirements by province.
Carpenter Foreman – $79,195
A Carpenter Foreman is responsible for leading and supervising a team of carpenters in the construction of a variety of projects. The Foreman must be able to read and interpret blueprints and plans, as well as plan and assign tasks to the team. They must also be able to identify and address any issues that may arise during the construction process. The must be knowledgeable in the proper use of power tools, hand tools, and other construction tools, in addition to having a strong understanding of safety protocols. The Foreman will have to maintain accurate records of project progress, materials used, and construction costs. The Foreman must also have excellent communication and organizational skills in order to effectively manage the team and ensure that projects are completed in a timely and efficient manner.
In Canada, Carpenter trade certification is only required in Quebec. Canada Job Bank has an overview and directory of Carpenter licensing requirements by province.
Senior HVAC Technician – $78,863
HVAC Technicians work on the machines that make the summer months bearable, in both commercial and residential settings. The work includes everything from the planning and layout stages to pipefitting and full on installation and repairs. In addition, they must maintain these systems to ensure they continue to operate properly. Commercial refrigeration and deep freezers, such as the ones in meat-packing plants and grocery stores are some of the more large-scale examples of refrigeration that this trade is involved with. Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics are required to work in various settings from industrial plants to install cooling systems, to standard homes with outdoor air-conditioning units.
Truck Driver – $77,064
A Truck Driver is responsible for safely operating a commercial vehicle to transport goods and materials from one location to another. The driver must be able to inspect and maintain their truck and ensure that all safety and maintenance measures are taken. The driver must also be able to read maps and use GPS navigation systems, in addition to possessing excellent communication, organizational, and customer service skills. The driver will need to accurately document their deliveries and any issues that arise during the course of their duties.
In Canada, truck drivers must possess a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate a commercial vehicle. Depending on the type and size of the vehicle, drivers may need to possess additional endorsements or qualifications. For example, drivers of large trucks may need to possess a Class 1, 2, or 3 license, while drivers of smaller vehicles may need to possess a Class 4 or 5 license. Drivers who wish to transport hazardous materials must also possess an appropriate endorsement. Additionally, truck drivers must also possess a valid medical certificate, which must be renewed every 2-3 years. Lastly, truck drivers must also have valid motor vehicle insurance which meets the requirements of their province.
An AZ Truck License in Ontario is a special type of CDL that is required to operate a commercial vehicle in the province of Ontario. To obtain an AZ Truck License, applicants must pass a written and skills test, and must have a valid medical certificate. And for help, you can check out Canada’s best truck driving schools.
Canada Job Bank has an overview and directory of the varying Truck Driver licensing requirements by province.
Plumber / Pipefitter – $75,260
Pipefitters are responsible for the design, assembly, maintenance, and repair of pipes that carry water, steam, and other liquids or gasses. That means Pipefitters must be well versed in safety protocols, design systems, pipe assembly, heating and cooling systems as well as some elements of welding, rigging, and hoisting.
These systems could be implemented in furnaces thanks to the use of natural gas or propane. More specifically, at-home examples include fireplaces and barbecues that have gas lines connected to the house.
Safety is perhaps the most important aspect of being a steamfitter; it’s a dangerous trade because of the pressurized systems they work with.
Electrician – $74,067
An electrician is a tradesperson who specializes in installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical systems and equipment. They are responsible for wiring the electrical systems of buildings, setting up lighting and power outlets, and troubleshooting any electrical issues that may arise. Electricians are also responsible for testing electrical systems for safety and compliance with local codes and regulations. They may also install and repair electrical appliances, such as air conditioning units, refrigerators, and washing machines. Electricians often work as part of a team and may collaborate with other professionals, such as engineers and architects, to ensure that the project is completed safely and efficiently.
Carpenter – $73,762
A carpenter is a tradesperson who specializes in constructing, erecting, and repairing structures made of wood and other materials. They are responsible for cutting, shaping, and joining wood and other materials to create structures such as houses, furniture, and other wooden products. Carpenters also install and repair windows, doors, and other fixtures, as well as lay flooring, install cabinets, and build stairs. In addition to working with wood, carpenters may also work with metal, plaster, and other materials. Carpenters may work independently or as part of a team, depending on the job.
Heavy Equipment Operator – $72,228
A Heavy Equipment Operator is a skilled tradesperson who specializes in operating and maintaining large construction equipment, such as bulldozers, cranes, and excavators. They are responsible for operating these machines to construct roads, buildings, and other large structures, as well as performing maintenance and repair work on the equipment. Heavy Equipment Operators must possess strong physical stamina and manual dexterity, as well as good problem-solving skills. They must be able to work independently and as part of a team, and must be able to follow safety regulations and standard operating procedures. Heavy Equipment Operators must have a strong knowledge of the construction industry, as well as local laws and regulations. They need to also be able to read and interpret blueprints and other technical documents.
In Canada, Heavy Equipment Operator trade certification is only required in Quebec. Canada Job Bank has an overview and directory of Heavy Equipment Operator licensing requirements by province.
Plumber – $68,847
Plumbers install, maintain, design, and repair pipes in commercial and residential buildings. They decide on efficient layouts for piping, where drains run, whether the drainage system will need work down the line and much more. Essentially, if a job deals with water and pipes, a Plumber is required to do it.
Even for operations where a Plumber is not designing the system, it’s imperative that they can understand the manufacturer’s instructions so that pre-designed systems are safe to use.
Trades are among the most important jobs in our society, as they help to keep us all moving, safe, housed, and comfortable. Those who undertake these tasks can make competitive wages and find fulfilling careers working with their hands.
Anyone starting a career, or looking for change, should consider a trade due to the high demand and potential for wage growth. As construction is booming, demand continues to grow.