Industry Profile: Plastics

Although the plastics processing industry is one of the most exciting sectors of the manufacturing industry in Canada , it is unknown to much of the general public. Plastics play an important role in everyday life and in many cutting-edge technologies. Plastics are used in the space program, prosthetic limbs, bulletproof vests and windows, computers, yachts, automotive parts, storage containers, toys, furniture, carpets, even clothing.

The Plastics Industry in Canada
The Canadian plastics processing industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the Canadian economy. It employs over 160,000 people in different types of manufacturing plants across the country and produces $44 billion in products every year.

The plastics industry is growing and the current workforce is aging, and so companies need to attract, train and re-train valuable workers. As a result, the plastics industry may be looking into a wider pool of talent for potential employees. Groups that have been under-represented may be given expanded roles over the next few years. This includes workers from a wide range of backgrounds and with varying levels of experience and abilities – entry-level, mid-level, professional and senior management. Many companies will supply on-the-job training and opportunities for professional development to assist their employees to remain on the cutting edge of technology, as this is a requirement for all companies in this industry.

Education for Work in the Plastics Industry
Educational requirements for jobs in the plastics industry range from little formal education to ten years of post-secondary education. Education can come from on-the-job training, apprenticeship, trade schools, colleges and universities.

Based on the results of a 2001 industry survey and previous Human Resource Development Canada research, the Canadian Plastics Sector Council (CPSC) has launched a major national project to develop competency-based standards. These standards will address the urgent need to increase the skills of workers identified by both of these organizations.

National standards will provide a clear benchmark for various occupations within this industry and can foster increased employee commitment since employees can use the standards to see a clear path of development from entry-level to advanced positions.

The CPSC Standards will be competency-based so the emphasis will be on improving the skills and knowledge that matter most in the workplace. As well, the emphasis will be on practical demonstration of skills so as to make possible the recognition of on-the-job training and prior accomplishments – ensuring the inclusion of more experienced, valued employees.

The process will begin by focussing on four sectors within the plastics industry:

  • Injection moulding
  • Blow moulding
  • Extrusion
  • Fabrication

Research will be done across the country to identify any common skills across these four sectors and the “core” or “essential” skills that are integral to each process.

After a draft set of standards has been created, on-the-job trials of the testing will be done to assure their usefulness and fairness. The CPSC Standards will only be adopted if the plastics industry and the employees see it as practical and valuable.

Job Titles, Educational Requirements and Compensation
(compensation varies from company to company and depending on years of experience)

Entry Level:

  • Machine Operator – grade 11 or 12 – $19,000 – $27,000
  • Set-up Technician – high school diploma – $21,000 – $37,000
  • Material Handler – high school diploma – $26,000 – $40,000
  • Plastic Parts Assembler – high school diploma – $26,000 – $40,000

Middle Level:

  • Maintenance Technician – 2-year college program – $27,000 – $47,000
  • Plastic Engineering Technician – 2-3 year college program – $28,000 – $60,000
  • Plastic Parts Designer – 2-3 college program – $40,000 – $60,000

Middle/Professional Level:

  • Mould Maker – 4-year apprenticeship – $30,000 – $90,000 (provincial Certification of Qualification is required)

Professional Level:

  • Engineer – Engineering Degree – $34,000 – $100,000

Engineers in the Plastics Industry 

There are many disciplines of engineering which are involved in the plastics industry including chemical, mechanical, process, manufacturing and materials. Engineers develop the concepts and create the designs for new products. They establish the production processes methods needed for high quality, reliable materials. Engineers review detailed drawings and models, interact with customers and provide project management skills for plastic industry production teams.

Who are the Employers?

  • Auto Industry
  • Mouldmaking Companies
  • Pharmaceutical / Medical Supplies and Equipment
  • Chemical Industry
  • Electronics Industry

Job Prospects
Job prospects in plastics manufacturing are good across the province.


Canadian Plastics Sector Council
Canadian Plastics Industry Association
Society of Plastics Engineers ( U.S. website)
Canadian Mouldmakers Association
Industries Canada
Plastics Technology

Career Related Links

Careers In PlasticsCommunications, Energy & Paperworkers Union of CanadaUnited Steelworkers (Canada)

Education, Training and Research Links

Canadian Plastics Training Centre, an affiliate of Humber College:

Certification in:

  • Injection moulding set-up technician
  • Set-up technician
  • Plastics engineering technician

Training services in:

  • Blown film
  • Pipe and profile extrusion
  • Foam processing
  • Materials

Mould design

Apprentice Search

Centre for Research in Earth and Space Technology

Communications and Information Technology Ontario

Industrial Research and Development Institute

Manufacturing Leadership Certificate Program

Materials and Manufacturing Ontario

Ontario Centres of Excellence Inc.

Photonics Research Ontario 

Durham College (Oshawa area)

Humber College ( Toronto area)

Fanshawe College ( London area)

Mohawk College (Hamilton area)

Seneca College ( Toronto area)

Sheridan College (Oakville area)

Sir Sandford Fleming College ( Peterborough area)

McMaster University (Hamilton)

Royal Military College (Kingston)

Ryerson University (Toronto)

University of Ottawa

University of Toronto

University of Western Ontario (London)

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