What’s the Difference Between the Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades Classes?

The Express Entry program manages both the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Class and the Federal Skilled Trade (FST) Class. They are two distinct programs with separate eligibility conditions. Understanding the distinctions between each program is critical to selecting the ideal program for you.

Requirements for Becoming a Federal Skilled Worker

Candidates must meet all of the minimal requirements for skilled job experience, language proficiency, and education to apply for the Federal Skilled Worker Class. The application will subsequently be evaluated based on a variety of selection criteria to establish eligibility. Each of the six selection criteria will be assigned points, and you will be given a score out of 100. Age, education, work experience, English and/or French language abilities, settlement adaptability, and whether you have a valid employment offer. The current pass score is 67.

Federal Skilled Worker - Minimum Requirements

Applicants must have skilled work experience in one of the following National Occupational Classification (NOC) TEER categories:

  • TEER 0 – managerial jobs, such as restaurant managers, marketing and public relations, financial managers…etc.;

  • TEER 1 – professional jobs that usually require a university degree, such as doctors, dentists, engineers…etc.;

  • TEER 2 – occupations that require either a college diploma or apprenticeship training of 2 or more years, such as web technicians, medical laboratory technologists, heavy equipment operators …etc.;

  • TEER 3 – occupations that require either a college diploma, apprenticeship training of less than 2 years, or more than 6 months of on-the-job training, such as bakers, plumbers, clerks…etc.

Your employment must fall into one of the categories mentioned above, and you must demonstrate that you completed the duties outlined in the occupational description on the NOC website. You can use the Canadian government website's search function to discover if your work is listed in one of the suitable classification categories. The information given by the Government of Canada allows prospective applicants to filter by job title and skill classification. Once you've found the title, code, and skill type that correspond to your occupation, the NOC website specifies the principal duties and any other requirements that candidates must include in their occupational description.

The skilled work experience of an applicant must be in the same field as the major occupation listed in their application. It also had to have been obtained during the previous 10 years by at least a year of continuous, paid employment. This must come from a total of 1,560 hours (30 hours per week) of either full-time or part-time work, or both.


The necessary language proficiency for each language ability—writing, reading, speaking, and listening—must also be met by applicants. The Canadian government uses the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) to evaluate the varying language proficiency of citizens and prospective immigrants. There are tests for every language ability to ensure you are proficient. In each of the four ability categories, applicants must have a Canadian Language Benchmark of 7.


Applicants must have a certificate, diploma or degree from a secondary school institution (high school) or a post-secondary school institution (university or college). If you did not go to school in Canada then you must show that you have a certificate, diploma or degree issued upon completion of the program, as well as an educational credential assessment (ECA). An ECA is used to verify that your education is valid and equal to a Canadian one. You need to complete an assessment for immigration purposes through an organization or a professional body designated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Selection Factors

In order to determine your eligibility, your application will be assessed based on a number of selection criteria to determine if you satisfy the minimum requirements of the program. Your points will be calculated based on a variety of factors, including age, education, work experience, proficiency in English and/or French, ability to adapt to a new environment, and if you have a legitimate job offer. Although it is not necessary to have a job offer, a genuine job offer can increase a candidate's points. An applicant may qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker Class if they score 67 or above on the exam out of 100. Following the submission of your application for the Federal Skilled Worker Class, your score from the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) will be used to rank your profile in the Express Entry pool.

Point System

Selection Factor Minimum Points Maximum Points
Age 0 (those 18 and under, as well as 47 and older) 12 (between 18-35 years old)
Education 5 (High School Diploma) 25 (Doctorate)
Language Skills 16 (CLB level 7 in first official language) 28 (24 points for a CLB level 9 or higher in all 4 ability areas in an official language and 4 points for a CLB level 5 or higher in all 4 ability areas in another official language)
Settlement Adaptability 5 (relatives in Canada, past studies in Canada…etc.) 10 (past work experience in Canada
Valid Job Offer - 10 (job offer of at least 1 year from a Canadian employer)

Requirements for Becoming a Federal Skilled Trades Worker

Candidates for the Federal Skilled Trades Class must meet the minimum language proficiency and work experience requirements. They must also have a valid job offer and a certificate of qualification from a Canadian province, territory, or federal authority for their specialized trade.

Federal Trades Worker - Minimum Requirements

A candidate must have prior work experience in a skilled craft in one of the TEER 2 or TEER 3 National Occupational Classification (NOC) occupational categories.

  • Major Group 72, technical trades and transportation officers and controllers
    • excluding Sub-Major Group 726, transportation officers and controllers
  • Major Group 73, general trades
  • Major Group 82, supervisors in natural resources, agriculture and related production
  • Major Group 83, occupations in natural resources and related production
  • Major Group 92, processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors, and utilities operators and controllers
  • Major Group 93, central control and process operators and aircraft assembly assemblers and inspectors, excluding Sub-Major Group 932, aircraft assemblers and aircraft assembly inspectors
  • Minor Group 6320, cooks, butchers and bakers
  • Unit Group 62200, chefs

You must show that you completed the duties indicated in the occupational description on the NOC website and that your skilled trade falls into one of the categories. Only if you are already certified to practice the profession independently will your job experience be considered. Also, internships and apprenticeships do not count towards job experience.

You must have worked in a skilled trade for at least two years as a full-time employee, or the equivalent amount of time working part-time, within the previous five years. Every work experience must be compensated for, either through earned commission or paid wages.

Language Ability

You must also demonstrate competency in each language ability—writing, reading, speaking, and listening—as you did in the Federal Skilled Worker Class. The required minimum score is lower. Candidates must acquire a minimum score of 4 on the Canadian Language Benchmark in reading, writing, and speaking and hearing. The corresponding IELTS scores are 3.5 for reading, 4.0 for writing, 4.5 for hearing, and 4.0 for speaking.


In contrast to the Federal Skilled Worker Class, no education is required. However, having Canadian certifications or completing an educational program will boost your CRS score and help you rank better in the Express Entry pool.

Valid Job Offer

Candidates must have an accepted job offer. The job offer must be for a full-time role for a commitment of at least one-year. Candidates must be qualified and meet the standards for the skilled trade job.

Certificate of Qualification

As previously stated, candidates must hold a certification from a Canadian provincial, territorial, or federal government for their specialist trade. Before getting a certificate of qualification, you must take an exam to determine your qualification for employment in that province or territory in that specific skilled trade. More education or job experience may be required in some provinces or territories to be eligible.

Ontario offers a variety of services and programs to help talented individuals receive recognition for their abilities and make the transition to Canada. You can take the Trade Equivalency Assessment in Ontario. This program compares your job experience from abroad and skilled trade training to over 140 Ontario apprenticeship programs. If you complete all of the training requirements of your apprenticeship, you will be eligible to apply for trade certification. You must use the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials to locate the regulator for trades that are subject to federal regulations.

How Can We Help

The Immigration Law Firm of Matthew Jeffery has helped hundreds of clients become permanent residents of Canada through the Express Entry program. Use our free CRS Calculator to see if you qualify.