Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM)

Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM)

Specialist High Skills Major in Arts and Culture Focus

A ministry-approved specialized program that allows students to focus their learning on a specific economic sector while meeting the requirements to graduate from secondary school. It also assists in their transition after graduation to apprenticeship training, college, university or the workplace.

Focus grade 11 and 12 studies in an area that reflects their strengths and interests.

  • Specialize, gain qualifications, plan a career pathway in various areas of Arts & Culture sector
  • Gives students a “leg-up” to pursue post-secondary opportunities

This program is an excellent opportunity for students to build their skill base, acquire valuable certifications and to network within the arts and culture industry.

There are several components that must be completed to qualify for the red SHSM seal on your diploma.

1. Guided Course Selection

In grade 11 and 12 you will choose courses from a pool related to the arts and culture industry.

  • 4 major credits
    • Sector-specific knowledge and skills: drama, art, music, fashion
  • 2 other required credits (Ont. Curriculum)
    • English
    • Business Studies or Canadian History
  •  2 Co-op credits related to sector
    • During school year or during summer

2. Sector-recognized certifications and/or training

Three Compulsory:

  • CPR (Level A)
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
  • Standard First Aid

Three Electives:

  • Curatorial techniques
  • Customer service
  • Electrical safety
  • Elevated work platforms
  • Fall protection
  • Framing and matting
  • Health and safety – basic
  • Instructor certification
  • Lighting and sound equip. maintenance
  • Makeup/cosmetology
  • Musical instrument repair
  • Portfolio development
  • Proper lifting and carrying techniques
  • Pyrotechnics
  • Recording equipment
  • Sewing
  • Software – animation
  • Software – graphic arts
  • Software – photography
  • Stage combat
  • Taping for dance performance (injury protection)
  • Technical staging
  • Training in an art form (mime, tap, improv, belly dancing)
  • Training in a technique (figure drawing, conducting, special effects makeup)

Delivery Methods:

  • Industry Delivered
  • Online Training
  • In-school (teacher certified as instructor)

3. Learning and career exploration activities

  • Job twinning at placement in sector
  • Job shadowing
  • Work experience
  • Career talk by sector representative
  • Participate in local/provincial/national competition focused on one of the arts (MSS writing contest, ArtTastic Fusion, OMA video contest)
  • Attendance at a sector trade show, conference, symposium, job fair
  • Tour of local theatre, museum, studio, art gallery

4. Essential skills and work habits and the OSP

Develop skills and work habits required in the sector and document them using the Ontario Skills Passport

Jobs in the Arts and Culture Sector


  • Entertainment Industry Power Technician
  • Gem Setter/Goldsmith
  • Native Clothing and Crafts Artisan
  • Painter and Decorator
  • Patternmaker – Textile, Leather, and Fur Products


  • Actor or Comedian
  • Animator – Graphic Design and Illustration
  • Announcer and Other Broadcasters
  • Apparel Production Supervisor
  • Artisan or Craftsperson
  • Broadcast Technician
  • Film or Video Camera Operator
  • Graphic Arts Technician
  • Graphic Designer or Illustrator
  • Interior Designer
  • Other Performers
  • Other Technical and Coordinating Occupations in Motion Pictures, Broadcasting, and the Performing Arts
  • Photographer
  • Technical Occupations Related to Museums and Art Galleries
  • Theatre, Fashion, Exhibit and Other Creative Designers
  • Video Recording Technician


  • Author or Writer
  • Conductor, Composer, or Arranger
  • Conservator or Curator
  • Dancer
  • Painters, Sculptors, and Other Visual Artists
  • Producer, Director, Choreographer, and Related Occupations
  • Professional Occupations in Public Relations and Communications


  • Camera, Platemaking, or Other Pre-Press Operations
  • Desktop Publishing Operator and Related Occupations
  • Entertainer
  • Graphic Artist or Illustrator
  • Musician or Singer
  • Photographic and Film Processor
  • Sign Maker
  • Textile Colourist
  • Weaver, Knitter, and Other Fabric-Making Occupations