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Real apprentices tell it how it is.

Did you know?

CANDU technology is a unique Canadian-designed system that uses deuterium oxide, or “heavy water” as both a moderator and coolant and uranium as fuel.


Clay - Electrical Forester Apprentice
Tracy - Control Technician Apprentice
Morgan - Power Line Technician Apprentice
Tracy - Authorized Nuclear Operator

Utility Arborist Journeyperson
Hydro One

When I finished my career as an Olympic athlete racing luge, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work outside and do something physical that required skill and training, but I wasn’t entirely sure of what that would be. I also knew I wanted to work in the woods, hopefully near my hometown. When I became aware of a career as an Electrical Forester with Hydro One, it sounded perfect.

Every day of my apprenticeship I get to learn something new, work with a great team and earn a good living. This was important to me, because after years as an athlete, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time paying money to go to school before I could start getting paid.

For every year of my apprenticeship I complete, I get another raise. By the time I finish my apprenticeship, I’ll not only have a job I know and like waiting for me with a great company, but I’ll be qualified to work as a forester on any electrical system in Canada.

In some aspects, working as a forester is quite similar to my career as a luge racer. The respect for safety is exactly the same. You’ve got to be focused every day, every second, because there is zero margin for error. It’s an exhilarating job when you’re up an 80-foot tree. You’re counting on the person on the ground to work with you and watch your back. Speed, like electricity, doesn’t discriminate. If you make a mistake it can be incredibly costly.

The biggest difference between what I do now and what I did on the luge track is that this isn’t a race. We’re not in the business of taking chances.

Every day is different, depending on what we’re doing on that particular day. Some days we work on maintaining the clearance around the lines, other days we get called in to help with restoring power after a storm. People are pretty happy to see the folks who put the lights back on so it feels good to be part of that team.

Second-year Control Technician Apprentice
Ontario Power Generation

I'd always loved math, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do for a career. My counsellor at Northern College suggested the Instrumentation Program at the Haileybury School of Mines since it offered a greater variety of careers to choose from, with the potential for higher earning power compared to the other courses I first considered. She also said that as a woman, I would have an advantage working in a traditionally male profession.

After graduation from the Instrumentation Engineering Technicians program at Northern College, I applied for, and got a temporary position with, the Power Workers’ Union as a Control Technician with OPG. I continued to apply for full-time positions externally at because my experience at Darlington positively emphasized the career choice I had made.

At the beginning of an average day, our supervisor briefs my co- workers and me on any events concerning safety of the plant or personnel from the previous day and then assigns jobs. Typically, my partner and I would begin gathering and verifying documents like electrical diagrams and flowsheets that are essential to the day's task.

After we gather the tools we need for the day's job, the supervisor does a ‘pre-job’ brief. We identify and discuss any hazards that might be encountered during the task, the work necessary needed to do the job safely and correctly, as well as "back-out conditions" that would cause us to stop the job. After performing the work, we enter reports into a computer program and discuss any difficulties encountered during a "post-job brief."

OPG is seriously committed to safety and everyone's health and wellbeing. It is reassuring to know safety is the number one priority for the company you work for. In the time ahead, I will rotate through a variety of different work groups and gain experience with different systems and equipment. I'll also be able to attend scheduled training sessions that will assist me in preparing for the apprenticeship examination, as well as becoming a fully qualified Control Technician.

What’s the best part about my job? The experienced Control Technicians I get to work with and the variety of tasks I do on a daily basis. I work with some of the most intelligent, skillful, knowledgeable tradespeople who go out of their way to educate me. Because of their expertise, I will also have the opportunity to learn more about my chosen career.

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3rd Term Apprentice Working in Northwest Ontario
Hydro One, Kenora

Like many people, I came out of high school without much of an idea of how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. With the thousands of career options out there, finding the one for you seems rather overwhelming — especially when you have a wide range of interests.

Most educators recommend post-secondary education as the only way to go. But, once again, you are faced with more pressures than directions, trying to choose courses you may need for a chance at what you might want.

This is an extremely difficult, and with the cost of tuition, a somewhat expensive decision. Many people for the lack of any better idea, simply take a loan and give it a shot. It works sometimes, but a lot of other people find they’re barking up the wrong tree. Or they go all the way through with a diploma or degree and still can’t find the job they were looking for when they started. The thing is, we can’t all be academics, nor does everyone want to, but that is all we’re being taught in school. I like doing things and am a very hands-on person and finally realized I should look into the skilled trades.

There seems to be a stigma about skilled trades being more of a dummy type of job, which is completely undeserved. Technological advances mean an increasingly high level of training and education is required for skilled trades.

One position that caught my eye was Power Line Technician, a.k.a a Lineman. It requires a combination of physicality and know-how because of the potential danger of working around electricity. You need a grasp of physics and electricity theory to perform the job safely and you also need to apply those skills while strapped to the top of a hydro pole or being over 30 metres up on a tower.

I am currently enrolled in an apprenticeship program with Hydro One and have never had more fun learning. I get to do an important job with a good wage and benefits as part of one of the largest and most diverse utilities in the province, with even further opportunity for advancement.

The job is a challenging one that sends you to many different areas and changes daily. You get to be part of various groups of great individuals who are both highly trained, safety conscious and yet fun to work with.

Good luck finding what you’re looking for, and remember to check out the skilled trades. They might be right for you too.

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Authorized Nuclear Operator
Bruce Power

I chose my career as an Authorized Nuclear Operator because I discovered I was more technical than I thought I was. I was in university studying History and Religious Studies when a course in Computer Science caught my eye. I not only really enjoyed it but I got very high marks and ended up with a job as a tutor for my co-op terms.

My typical work day involves turnover at around 7 or 7:30, either in the morning or night since I work 12-hour shifts. Once the outgoing ANO tells me what’s happening on the unit, we do a panel walkdown together to make note of any changes since my last shift. In the first two hours of my shift I must complete panel checks of all the safety systems to check for impairments, and organize the work for the field based on the priority of management and the manpower complement.

Every shift, I perform many safety system tests as well as routines, call-ups and maintenance checks. A large part of my day on a running nuclear unit involves keeping it up and running by fuelling the unit regularly and ensuring all parameters are responding accordingly. When the unit is down, my efforts focus more on maintenance issues.

The most important part of my job every single day is to monitor everything that happens on the unit, keeping foremost in my mind, my commitment to control reactor power, cool the fuel and contain radioactivity. By doing that I can ensure personnel, plant, environment and public safety will not be compromised.

What I like best about my work is it is always interesting and always challenging. Every day brings something different I’ve never seen before. I get to work with amazingly talented people and learn from them all the time. There are also many opportunities for further learning offered to me as a result of my position.

The biggest challenge to becoming an Authorized Nuclear Operator is the intense training process. The program is a long, arduous journey that requires you to put your life on hold for a while in order to allow enough time for study and a successful outcome.

What I like best about Bruce Power’s culture is the pride I can take in my workplace. Being very involved in my community it is with pride that I can say I work for Bruce Power, the company that gives so much to those things I care about, women’s issues, aboriginal programs and the arts. I also really appreciate that Bruce Power recognizes and values my work and celebrates the diversity I bring to the workplace being a native woman.

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