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Canada’s Best Jobs 2015: Industrial Technician

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Industrial Technician

(Chris Ryan/Getty)

Median Salary: $72,800.00
Change in Salary (2008–2014): +17%
Total Employees: 10,700
Change in Employees (2008–2014): +19%

Industrial technicians fall into two major categories. Industrial engineering and manufacturing technicians tend to take a more holistic view of the factoring process, designing production facilities, developing plant-management processes and building the applications that make the machines work. Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics focus on the tools of the trade, repairing and maintaining manufacturing equipment.

While the Canadian manufacturing sector has faced trying times of late, there’s still a need for skilled workers to keep factories up and running.

How to qualify: Industrial engineering and manufacturing technicians must undergo a 1–3 year college program in the technology related to the industry in which they wish to work. They must also complete two years of supervised work experience and receive certification via a provincial professional association. Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics must complete a 4–5 year apprenticeship program in industrial instrument repair or a two-year degree coupled with work experience. Certification is voluntary, and Red Seal certification applies across provincial lines.

Money: Apprentice technicians usually earn a progressively larger share of the journeyperson wage rate at their employer over the course of four years, although the exact percentage varies by province (e.g., at least 55% in the first year to 85% by the fourth for instrument technicians in Alberta). Once you’re fully qualified, income growth tends to be steady, if unspectacular. The $72,800 median salary puts industrial technicians below engineers, but above most other industrial workers without a post-secondary degree requirement.

Opportunity: The number of industrial technicians has grown rapidly in recent years, with a 28.9% increase in employment in the most recent year recorded. By 2022 there will be just over one open position per job-seeker in the profession. But with major companies abandoning Canadian factories in favour of cheaper overseas alternatives, the opportunities are less likely to come from industrial expansion than from a shortage of technically-qualified workers to fill positions. Despite the sector’s decline, the skills gap is alive and well in manufacturing.

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