Careers in the Building Trades

Interested in a career in the Building Trades? Below you will find descriptions and salary expectations for 13 different skilled trades. For more information on a specific trade, please visit our Affiliated Unions page where you will find links to each of their respective websites and contact information for their Business Managers.


Boilermakers build, erect, repair, test and maintain boilers, tanks, pressure vessels, and tightly sealed containers for liquids, gases and powders. The name originated from craftsmen who would fabricate boilers, but they may work on projects as diverse as bridges to blast furnaces to the construction of mining equipment. Many boilermakers are employed in repairing, re-piping, and re-tubing commercial steam and hot water boilers used for heating and domestic hot water in commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings.


Bricklayers & Allied Craftsworkers include Bricklayers, Pointers/Cleaners/Caulkers, Stone and Marble Masons, Cement Masons, Plasterers, Tilesetters, Terrazzo, Mosaic Workers and Finishers.

Bricklayers are responsible to build, maintain and repair walls, floors, pavings, and other structures that involve brick, natural stone, manufactured stone, masonry panels, glass and concrete blocks, lightweight insulated panels, insulation, membranes, and other masonry units.

People involved in this trade specialize in stone work, restoration and ornamental work, install refractory material in high-temperature environments, and install corrosion-resistant materials to protect against corrosion in tanks and vessels. Bricklayers might also line or reline furnaces, kilns, boilers, and similar installations, make and install prefabricated masonry units.


Carpenters are responsible to make, renovate and repair structures made of materials like wood, steel and concrete. They may work for construction firms, building owners, developers, or government departments. Many specialize in forming, framing, finishing, interior systems, or renovation on commercial and industrial sites. They work in every part of building construction, which provides them with an advantage when applying for supervisory positions.

Carpenters use blueprints, drawings and sketches to determine project requirements, lay out projects in conformance with building codes, and measure, cut, shape, assemble and join wood, wood substitutes, steel studs, and other materials.


Electricians install, repair and maintain electrical systems that provide heat, light, power, communications, and building monitoring, control, security and alarm systems. Electricians may be employed in the installation of new electrical components or the maintenance and repair of existing electrical infrastructure. Electricians may also specialize in wiring ships, airplanes and other mobile platforms as well as data and cable.


Elevator Constructors and Mechanics assemble, install, maintain and repair freight and passenger elevators, escalators, moving walkways and other related equipment.

They read and interpret blueprints to determine the layout of system components and perform preparatory construction work including steel work, wiring and piping. Elevator Constructors and Mechanics test the operation of newly installed equipment and troubleshoot electrical or mechanical systems failures.


Heat and Frost Insulators are responsible to work with different insulation material to prevent the passage of heat, cold, moisture, vapour, sound and fire. They not only maintain these materials once they are installed, but also have the job of interpreting design specifications to determine what initially must be installed. Sometimes, Insulators will layout and fabricate parts on the job, or be called upon to seal off or remove older insulation and reduce health risks to adjacent workers or the general public.

The structures and systems they might be required to work on include: plumbing, air-handling, heating, cooling and refrigeration, piping and pressure vessels, walls, flooring, and ceiling.


Ironworkers are broken down into three categories: Generalists, Structural/Ornamental, and Reinforcing. Generalists perform all of the same tasks as Structural/Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers. They conduct installations of structural and ornamental steel components and precast concrete pieces, place reinforcing steel in commercial, institutional, and residential buildings, and erect pre-engineered buildings and ornamental ironwork.

Structural/Ornamental Ironworkers will install structural and ornamental components, precast concrete pieces, and glued laminated wood products. Using blueprints, they erect pre-engineered buildings and ornamental ironwork, including catwalks and railings, and raise scaffolding, cranes, hoists for materials, and derricks.

Those who work as Reinforcing Ironworkers will cut, bend, lay, place, and weld reinforcing rods, welded wire fabrics, and composite materials. They work in a variety of settings, from buildings to highways, bridges, stadiums, towers, and parking garages.They also place and stress various post-tensioning systems in structures such as parking garages, bridges and stadiums where longer unsupported spans are required.


Construction labourers assist skilled tradespersons and perform tasks such as preparing and cleaning up construction sites, moving construction materials and equipment, and performing demolition and excavation activities. They may also install and remove hoarding and concrete forms, mix, pour and spread concrete or asphalt, perform basic maintenance on motorized equipment, clean up debris and contaminants, and direct traffic. Construction labourers are employed on residential, commercial, industrial and civil engineering projects.


A millwright is a tradesperson who installs, maintains and repairs stationary industrial machinery and mechanical equipment by interpreting drawings, performing layouts and assembling parts until they are in perfect working order.

While the majority of millwrights in Canada are known as either Industrial Mechanics or Construction Millwrights, several other job titles can be applied to the trade.

Construction Millwrights and Industrial Mechanics work in a variety of industries, and can pursue complementary training and develop additional skills in steel fabrication, welding, machining, electronics, hydraulics or pneumatics.


Painters are responsible to apply finishes in residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial construction projects. In doing so, they prepare surfaces such as wood, drywall, stucco and metal, etc., for paint, high performance coatings, waterproofing, and fireproofing.

Painters will read job specifications to determine the amount of materials that they need to complete a project. They clean surfaces through scraping, sanding, sandblasting, hydro-blasting and steaming. Painters remove old wallpaper and paint, repair cracks and other holes in walls, and apply sealer as necessary.


Plumbers and Pipefitters are commonly known as a multi-craft union whose members are engaged in the fabrication, installation and servicing of piping systems.

Plumbers install, maintain and repair pipes, fixtures and other equipment used to distribute domestic water or dispose of wastewater in residential, commercial and industrial buildings.

Pipefitters lay out and either fabricate or assemble piping systems that carry water, steam, chemicals and fuel. These systems may be used in heating, cooling, lubricating and other industrial processes. Steamfitters also clean, maintain and repair these systems.


Roofers are responsible to install, repair and replace roofs, working with a variety of materials and methods. As part of a roofer’s job, they will also inspect existing roofs for repair areas, weatherproof, waterproof, and damp-proof roofing surfaces, foundation surfaces, floor slabs, and bridge decks. At times, roofers may install sheet metal flashings, roof vent flashings, anchor bolt flashings, drain inserts, and clamps, and provide estimates.

Roofers use materials such as asphalt, saturated felts and gravel on built-up roofing systems, and modified plastics, elastomeric and other asphalt compositions on single-ply roofing systems.


Sheet Metal Workers are responsible to design, layout, measure, fabricate, assemble, or repair sheet metal products. They work with tools such as power shears, press brakes, drill presses, and even computerized cutting equipment. They use materials like black iron, galvanized steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, brass, nickel, tin, and also use other alloys and metal substitutes.

Sheet Metal Workers fabricate and install ductwork, coping and flashing, metal roofs, rain gutters, downspouts, siding, and skylights. Some people working in this trade choose to specialize in areas such as installation, shop manufacturing, or servicing and maintenance.

Myths and facts about the trades

Salary Expectations


Annual Salary Range


$63,000 – $92,000


$58,000 – $80,000


$61,000 – $82,000


$49,000 – $84,000

Elevator Constructor

$67,000 – $75,000


$67,000 – $80,000


$57,000 – $78,000


$48,000 – $73,000


$65,000 – $77,000


$34,000 – $75,000


$48,000 – $81,000


$52,000 – $75,000

Sheet Metal Worker

$49,000 – $78,000

Based on a 40 hour week at current collective agreement rates for journeypersons.