Vocational Training Programs

Since vocational training programs are designed to help students acquire career-specific skills for a broad range of career paths, there are a number of learning formats designed to accommodate the needs of each occupation.

Whether they are called vocational colleges, technical schools, career colleges, or even collèges d'enseignement général et professionnel (as they are referred to in Quebec), career-oriented educational institutions provide an array of options for those who are interested.

At a vocational school, you can enroll in a degree, diploma, certificate, apprenticeship, or pre-apprenticeship program, which may be made up of one or more of the following components:

  • In-class instruction
  • Lab-based training
  • Practicums/clinical rotations
  • Internships/externships

Some programs are even available via online learning, which can be beneficial for anyone needing a flexible and convenient training option.

But the best thing about vocational training might be the selection of possible careers you can develop skills for. Can you picture working in an occupation that you enjoy, has good income potential, and is an essential part of the Canadian economy? That's what you have the opportunity to work toward.

Plus, each of the following vocational sectors is closely tied to the country's growing population. As Canadians rise in number, so do the opportunities for people with truly marketable abilities. And did you know that, by 2063, Canada could have between 40 million and 63.5 million residents—up from about 35 million in 2013?1 That's a lot of vocational potential.

So have a look at some of the most popular careers that vocational training programs can lead to. But keep this in mind as you do: The examples below represent only a fraction of the many possibilities. To find even more options around where you live, be sure to enter your postal code into our free and easy search tool.

Skilled Trades

These vocations can keep you active and highly engaged. And they don't require you to spend much, if any, time in an office. You can be out and about doing something important every day while earning a reliable living.

Plus, chances are pretty good that your skills will be in high demand. Many employers across Canada are looking for qualified tradespeople to fill existing and expected job openings.

Consider the construction industry, for example. Already, about one out of every 14 Canadian workers is employed in the sector, which consists of more than 300,000 employers. And, in 2013 alone, employment within Canada's construction trades rose by 4.4 percent—over three times the nation's overall rate of employment growth.2 Everyone from electricians to HVAC technicians to carpenters can find ongoing success.

Want another example? Look at the automotive service industry. According to one labour market study, the automotive aftermarket in Canada had more than 11,800 positions go unfilled in 2013.3 Many of those openings were for auto mechanics and auto body repair technicians.

Health Care

What could be better than knowing you've helped people in your community stay well, recover from illness or injury, or receive answers about what might be ailing them? As someone in a health care vocation, you could get that chance on a daily basis. And you would be working in one of Canada's most stable and high-growth occupational sectors. The facts speak for themselves:

  • Between 2009 and 2013, employment in the Canadian health care and social assistance sector increased by close to nine percent.1
  • Older Canadians tend to require more health care services than young or working-age Canadians. And the country's population of seniors is growing significantly. In 2014, seniors aged 65 and above represented about 15 percent of the nation's population. But by 2030, that could rise as high as 25 percent.4

Of course, one of the other great things about choosing health care is the enormous variety of different roles you can train for. Take a look at just a small sampling of what you could become:

Human Services

Whether due to disability, mental illness, substance abuse, or behavioral addictions, many Canadians require professional home or social support. This community-oriented field is deep with opportunities to positively impact the lives of people who have a lot to offer but need help overcoming or coping with their challenges. Just consider these facts:

  • In 2012, nearly 14 percent of Canadian adults—including over one-third of the country's seniors—were limited by disability.1
  • In 2011, almost 25 percent of Canada's seniors lived alone.1
  • The number of Canadians living with dementia is expected to grow from 663,000 in 2020 to about 987,000 by 2033.5
  • During any given year, about 20 percent of all Canadians experience a problem with addiction or mental health.6

Having a career as an addictions worker, health care aide, or personal support worker isn't just rewarding. It can also mean having the extra stability that comes from being part of one of the nation's fastest-growing vocational sectors.


Canada is home to millions of businesses operating across a broad range of industries. In fact, more than 1.1 million of them employed Canadians in 2012. And over 97,600 of those operated in the financial and real estate sector.7

So business administration professionals, accounting specialists, and administrative assistants can find a lot of compelling opportunities all over the nation. But many other career possibilities fall under the business category as well.

For instance, consider the travel and tourism industry, which employs many different types of professionals—from hospitality managers to booking agents to event planners. In 2011 alone, the sector generated more than 603,000 direct jobs in Canada.8

Beauty and Cosmetology

Who doesn't like to look good or receive a little pampering from time to time? Regardless of what the economy is doing, most of us spend money on staying well-groomed. In just one year, between 2011 and 2012, Canadians increased their spending on personal care by over 10 percent.1

That means professionals in the beauty and cosmetology industry—including hair stylists, estheticians, and nail technicians—are generally in good demand. In 2012, almost 13,700 businesses employed such pros.7

Culinary Services

Canadians love dining out with friends and family. It's one of our favourite forms of entertainment. Besides, this country produces some of the best food on the planet. That's what makes Canada such a great place to be a chef or culinary manager. The nation is home to over 88,000 restaurant locations.9 And culinary opportunities can also be found among more than 8,000 hotels.10

Art, Design, and the Media Arts

Canada has incredibly vibrant creative industries and is well-known for having some of the most talented artists, designers, and entertainers in the world. In 2017 alone, Canada's cultural sector supported over 715,000 jobs and accounted for nearly $59 billion of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP).11 But those numbers don't even necessarily include pros like interior designers or graphic designers.

In fact, the creative sector now incorporates more exciting areas than ever. For example:

  • Canada has more fashion designers than you might think. In 2011, the country's apparel manufacturing industry employed about 35,700 people across 3,000 establishments.12
  • Video game design and development is big in Canada. In 2013, the industry employed about 16,500 Canadians who earned, on average, more than $72,000 per year.13
  • Filmmakers, audio engineers, animators, and other related creative pros can do very well in Canada. From 2011 to 2012 alone, about 132,500 people were employed in the country's film and television production industry. And the audio-visual sector receives over $600 million from the Government of Canada every year.14

Legal Services and Criminal Justice

People in these fields continue to be in strong demand across the country. One reason that paralegals and legal assistants are in demand is because of the growing number of lawyers in Canada. Since 2000, the number of practicing lawyers has increased at a higher rate than the growth of the overall Canadian population.15

Employment in the security and law enforcement has also been growing. For instance, from 2009 to 2013, the number of police officers in Canada rose by more than three percent.1


From networking specialists to IT administrators to mobile app and web developers, Canada's technology sector is filled with well-paid professionals. In fact, the whole information and communication technologies (ICT) sector employed more than 521,700 Canadians in 2011. That same year, the software and computer services industry increased its revenues by over 23 percent. Plus, ICT pros tend to earn salaries that are roughly 50 percent higher than the average Canadian worker.7

Teaching and Early Childhood Education

Almost everyone understands how important education is for maintaining the vitality and progress of our communities. That's why the education services sector in Canada is so large. In 2013, it employed nearly 1.3 million people.1

But one area of this sector stands out for its extra significance. From 2001 to 2006, the early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce grew by 7.7 percent to more than 322,400 workers. Over 170,300 of them had careers as early childhood educators or assistants. And about 49,600 of them worked with kids under the age of 12 as teaching assistants.16

Main Sources

1 Statistics Canada, website last accessed on November 24, 2014.

2 BuildForce Canada, website last accessed on April 7, 2017.

3 Automotive Industries Association of Canada, website last accessed on November 24, 2014.

4 Canadian Medical Association, website last accessed on July 5, 2017.

5 Alzheimer Society of Canada, website last accessed on October 14, 2020.

6 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, website last accessed on May 7, 2018.

7 Industry Canada, website last accessed on April 7, 2017.

8 Tourism Industry Association of Canada, website last accessed on September 13, 2017.

9 Restaurants Canada, website last accessed on November 24, 2014.

10 Hotel Association of Canada, website last accessed on November 24, 2014.

11 Statistics Canada, "Culture and sports indicators by domain and subdomain, by province and territory, industry perspective," website last accessed on May 6, 2019.

12 Canadian Apparel Federation, website last accessed on November 24, 2014.

13 Entertainment Software Association of Canada, website last accessed on November 24, 2014.

14 Canadian Heritage, Government of Canada, website last accessed on April 7, 2017.

15 CBA Legal Futures Initiative, website last accessed on March 12, 2018.

16 Child Care Human Resources Sector Council, website last accessed on November 24, 2014.

Careers in Trades, website last accessed on June 10, 2019.

Services for Youth, Government of Canada, website last accessed on April 10, 2017.