Want to set yourself apart in a packed job market? Specialize

When training or searching for a job, people often want to cast the widest possible net. If your skill sets have a little of everything, then surely you’ll be hired somewhere. But that logic is flawed for a couple reasons. First, you have to compete with a large number of fellow job seekers with similar resumés, and it’s hard to stand out in a crowd. Second, when the niche skills are needed, the talent is difficult to find.

And that talent is well-compensated. According to official statistics, specialty trades contractors who perform highly skilled activities for construction, renovation, and repairs were paid an average hourly wage of $31.62 in 2018, which had risen steadily over the previous five years. Now, in 2021, job sites are busy and projects are back on schedule after a difficult 2020.

The StrongerBC initiative was launched by the provincial government to create opportunities in high-priority sectors, so there’s never been a better time to find a career that hones your greatest aptitudes and sets you apart from the pack. BC needs specialists, and BCIT offers a range of programs to satisfy that need and fill those job postings. Here are seven offerings that students, professionals, and employers are paying attention to today.


1. Boilermaker Foundation

Ever heard of boilermaking? It’s not what it sounds like. Far from only building boilers—vessels that vaporize water to provide everything from central heating to electric power—boilermakers also assemble, install, and maintain a variety of metal and fibreglass structures. These apparatuses support the boilers and enable them to function in whatever space they’re needed, whether it’s a refinery, a mill, or a hydro-electric project.

BCIT offers a full-time Boilermaker Foundation certificate program that provides the best of both worlds—flexible online courses and hands-on training at the campus—to prepare you for this much-needed field. One caveat, though: boilermakers need to be able to work with towers and hoists, so think twice if you’re afraid of heights.

2. Ironworker – Reinforcing

Work crews build all sorts of concrete structures—but in order for them to stay standing, they need someone who knows how to secure rebar, regardless of what form it takes. That’s why BCIT offers the Ironworker – Reinforcing apprenticeship, providing the hands-on training needed to be a trusted specialist who keeps foundations, walls, slabs, and columns up to code.

The program blends in-person and online courses designed with input from industry leaders to prepare you for this field—but bear in mind that this isn’t a foundational curriculum. It’s made for current apprentices so that you can pivot your career toward a more interesting and lucrative field.

3. Motor Vehicle Body Repair Technician Foundation

People depend on their cars—and that means they depend on qualified professionals who have the know-how to fix them when they’re damaged, inside and out. A typical workday for a motor vehicle repair technician might include straightening bent frames and surfaces, replacing interior hardware, and working with an impressive array of specialty tools, from aluminum dent pullers to pulse welders. If you love variety, then the full-time Motor Vehicle Body Repair Technician Foundation certificate at BCIT may be your speed. 

The program counts as Level 1 of your Red Seal apprenticeship training, so as soon as you pass your foundation exam at the end of your final term, you’ll be ready to find an employer to sponsor you as you pursue Level 2 and Level 3. BCIT is also currently working with the Industry Training Authority (ITA) on the Pan-Canadian Harmonization Initiative to ensure credentials earned at the institute are applicable nationwide—and as a result, this program will soon be rebranded and relaunched as the Automotive Collision and Refinishing Foundation at BCIT.

4. Motorcycle and Power Equipment Technician Foundation

Motorcycles are collectors’ items almost as much as they are a mode of transportation. These sleek, beautiful machines are highly coveted, and a much rarer sight on the roadways when compared to ordinary cars. Therefore, technicians who understand their inner and outer workings have a truly unique skill set to offer, whether building or repairing.

At BCIT, you can complete the Motorcycle and Power Equipment Technician Foundation in just 20 weeks, receiving 300 work-based hours in the process—as well as credit for the first level of technical training required in the provincial apprenticeship program. As a bonus, you can take an extra course and exam to obtain the YTA Bronze level. This is an official endorsement from Yamaha’s Technical Academy that will help your resumé stand out with employers, or serve as an entryway to future work with one of the world’s most acclaimed motorcycle makers.

5. Telecommunications Systems Technician

The skilled professionals who keep our telecommunications systems connected are indispensable in today’s increasingly networked world. And since there are so many different types of telecommunications, this is an ideal field for specialization.

In the Telecommunications Systems Technician program at BCIT, the entire cohort takes the same courses in the first year in order to build foundational skills—but after that, you separate into one of two specialty programs. If you opt to focus on Telecommunications Networks, you’ll hone your expertise in areas such as fiber optics, data communications, and Voice over IP, helping to keep our society’s digital infrastructure online. If you concentrate on Radio Systems, you’ll be joining the only program of its kind in BC to become skilled on all communications equipment that rely on radio frequency.

6. Trades Discovery General and Trades Discovery for Women

Sometimes, you’re only prepared to specialize in a field once you have some training or are a qualified apprentice. So how can you find a niche career path if you’re just starting out? The simple answer is to try lots and lots of different things—but obviously, you don’t want to be stuck in school indefinitely.

That’s why BCIT offers a full-time associate certificate in Trades Discovery General. This industry-designed curriculum gives you a chance to try your hand at approximately 15 different disciplines, so that in the future you can focus more intensively on the one you’re most passionate about. BCIT also offers the Trades Discovery for Women program to create a collaborative, supportive, and empowering environment for women to explore 15 different trades disciplines. 

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7. Welder Foundation

Welding is one of those skills that can be both widely applicable and highly specialized, based on your level of expertise. Joining metal is essential on every building site, as well as in the manufacture of many mechanical devices and appliances, and several of the specialty trades contractor jobs mentioned earlier involve the ability to weld.

Start your training in this industry with the full-time Welder Foundation certificate at BCIT. In order to graduate, you need on-the-job training, so work experience is guaranteed. The program has also been fully retooled for socially distanced in-person delivery that exceeds the province’s health and safety guidelines.

Students of specialty trades and other high-skills programs have great prospects post-grad, which are further boosted by StrongerBC and the government’s commitment to creating new jobs across the province.

If you’re looking forward to a career as an accomplished and sought-after specialist, talk to our advisors to see which program is best for you.

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