I must say I agree with ATANG
, in that, higher education is paramount. You clearly have a head on your shoulders, and your line of questioning exhibits an analytical mind; I'd hate to see it wasted in a kitchen. Sounds like food is a curiosity; more of an avocation as to occupation. Carpentry & Industrial Design... that sounds like a lucrative passion. A career in Engineering and/or Architecture... has that entered your mind? Irrespective of your ultimate career, has a general higher education degree, like Business Administration entered your mind? Food is simple chit; no need for University. You can learn food afterwards or during real school to support yourself through it. I imagine you'd want to own your own business even if you wanted to cook for a living, and I feel book education is more suited to that focus. I just can't help but think the experience of true higher education will elude you if you waste your government credits on culinary. Culinary school is not higher education; it's half-ass on-the-job training that you pay for... $4k a year or not. But again, to each their own... if your mind's made up, no talking sense into a teenager.
Good luck in whatever you do; bigger mistakes have been made, for sure.
Regarding your salary reference, as are you not familiar with my locale(s), nor am I with Toronto. I am based out of South Florida, and kitchen help is fungible and compensated commensurately. After working 24 years in food service, all over the world I will add, I've come to recognize that as pretty universal... maybe Toronto is the anomaly. I used a $40,000 USD benchmark as I reckon working two jobs at an entry level salary 5 days a week - preferably with an overlap so you work 6 to 7 days a week allowing doubles at the better restaurant of the two - would garner you about 75 hours a week. Entry level prep cooks or line cooks are going to earn between $8 - $10 an hour. As your experience grows and you are no longer clueless, salaries rise to $12 an hour. Well experienced cooks, in my area, that have years under their belts can make up to as much as $15-18 an hour... $20 an hour being a VERY VERY VERY rare phenomenon and typically reserved for someone who was a Chef but is just filling in to cook part-time. Regionally, that can rise to mid-20's in mecca areas like NYC, Vegas, Chicago, etc... but to my knowledge, the high-ends of these ranges are just that... HIGH.. and uncommon.
Now, let's look at salaried Chefs as opposed to the cooks above, and mind you... salary equates to you working inordinate amounts of hours w/o fair compensation (e.g., I am salaried, and after averaging out all my time cards for 2013, I calculated a mean of 80.2 hours. 80.2 hour week MEAN! AND that is with about six weeks vacation).
Sous Chefs make in the $700-$900 range though up to $1200 is not unheard of, and Executive Chefs are going to make in the $65,000 - $90,000 a year range. Again, the high end of that range being high and only at high-end busy establishments, clubs, hotels. Yes, six-figure incomes are absolutely out there, but they are not commonplace and again only at high grossing businesses. At the top it depends on a lot of factors such as bonus structure.
So back to my rambling, 75 hours @$10 an hour entry equals $750 a week gross. FYI: here in the States, that will net after tax about $600 a week. And let's also be realistic, with seasonal variabilities, you'll probably get between 60 & 75 hours a week. So lets average that out to, let's say, a mode of 70 hours... to be generous. That brings you to $700gross/$560 net. Therefore, my $40,000 reference, per annum, was generous as you would end up @$36,400, but if we up your salary to $12.50, then that total rises to $45,500. Thus, my original off-the-cuff estimate was in fact, the mean... give or take.
Anyhow, food service sucks as a profession. Period. Low pay, long hours, often poor work environments, nights/weekends/holidays gone, drugs run rampant, social interaction is limited to mostly those in your profession - the nightwalkers. Look, I share this from experience. I am 24 years deep & yes, I have made a comfortable place for myself via the Kitchen, but I left home @14 & dropped out of school at the same age. I made due with what was available to me, but you have SO MUCH MORE available. The Kitchen is often a place for sociological rejects, the black-balls of society such as myself, It's often a place for those who are funneled by the family business, It's even a place for the child proteges, like the Rocco Dispiritos of the culinary world, but even with all the different walks of life present in one slice of the pie... it still amounts to a poor profession in the grand scheme of things. I don't mean to offend anyone, but tough chit. Yes, there is a fractional subset of Chefs like the Charlie Trotters of the culinary world, an established attorney IIRC, who find themselves ITK due to supernatural ability paired with exceptional business acumen, but even the best like Thomas Keller - of which Im not calling a reject - ended up ITK as summer work, coincidentally in my city, after having grown up in a family restaurant. Eric Ripert grew up studying his family's food. The earlier referenced Rocco Dispirito, grew up studying his family's food.
I would just hate to see another life wasted...