How Much Money Will I Make In Canada?

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If it’s just about the satisfaction of doing work that you enjoy and find meaningful, then who cares about salaries, right?
Most people working in a job anywhere on this planet, actually. That’s who cares about salaries.
So, given that you’re looking to upgrade your skills and competencies with some additional schooling or training, don’t you wish you knew what your new salary could be? Do you think you have a good idea of what your new degree, diploma, or certificate will help you earn? Let’s find out.

You’ve been accepted at a Canadian University and you’re planning your future. Or you’re looking to go back to school and try to move up the skills ladder and earn a better salary. Or you’re already working as a professional or in a rewarding career, but you need to add skills and competencies in order to get that promotion you so desperately want. And if it’s just about the satisfaction of doing work that you enjoy and find meaningful, then who cares about salaries, right?

Most people working in a job anywhere on this planet, actually. That’s who cares about salaries.

So, given that you’re looking to upgrade your skills and competencies with some additional schooling or training, don’t you wish you knew what your new salary could be? Do you think you have a good idea of what your new degree, diploma, or certificate will help you earn? Let’s find out. But first a little background.



What’s the Difference?

Diploma By Aurelio Escobar Castellanos (Aurelio Escobar Castellanos Archive) [CC BY 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

by Aurelio Escobar Castellanos / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.5

A Degree is a fairly universal and accepted standard of educational achievement. In Canada, Degrees are divided into:

  • Bachelor or Undergraduate Degree: Your basic undergraduate degree, usually taking 3 or 4 years to compete and offered across a wide variety of subjects. It’s the one of the more traditional educational qualifications.
  • Master’s Degree: Usually taking 1 to 2 years, it involves specializing and going deeper in whatever field you have already completed your undergraduate degree in. It’s more demanding and the workload is usually much heavier than in undergraduate courses.
  • Doctorate or PhD: What you take to become an academic or professor or recognized expert or authority in a particular field. Takes several years and involves original research produced by the PhD candidate, that must be published and also peer-reviewed. Both a Master’s Degree and a Doctorate are classified as post-graduate degrees.

A Diploma is a qualification that increasingly involves helping professionals add new skills to their knowledge without necessarily taking a Master’s Degree. It can also be awarded for specialized technical and career skills at the community college level, usually for tertiary courses of 1,2, or 3 years in length. It is often offered online – with occasional on-campus residency periods that last for a week or two.

A Certificate provides a focused and compact credential that professionals wishing to add to their skill set can find very useful. It can even be used by professionals who, for example, already have a Master’s Degree and are looking for certification in a new area of expertise. It can also be used by the trades to certify competencies, for example.


What’s the Pay Like?

Given the choice of types of post-graduate educational qualifications in Canada, which Degrees or Diplomas or Certificates do you think pay the best?

The data we used comes from PayScale which uses an online survey that motivates people to participate by offering reports on an individual level, comparing their pay to people with similar jobs. This gives them a rich crowd-sourced data set to work with. We used PayScale’s survey of Canadian workers with salaries given in Canadian dollars. Here’s what we found.

10 Degrees, Diplomas, or Certificates that Sound Great but Pay Lousy Wages

  1. Associate of Arts & Sciences: This qualification pays on average $17/Hour. Which will pay the rent. If you live in a basement apartment on the edge of town.
  2. Certificate Architectural Drafting: Sounds like an important job where you work for famous architects helping them design amazing buildings. Not really, and the pay is $21/Hour. It pays the rent and one night out a week, if you only drink cheap beer.
  3. Certificate Child & Youth Worker: This qualification sounds like an entry into an important field of social work and education, where you help children reach for the stars and develop their inner genius. Sure, why not but the average pay is $15/Hour. Ouch.
  4. Certificate Culinary Arts: Your ticket to international chefdom and celebrity status! As long as you realize that this is just the first rung on the ladder towards being an actual chef and that your pay will be $14/Hour. Careful you don’t get burnt!
  5. Certificate Early Childhood Education: You will change how we educate toddlers! You are the next Piaget! All you need is a real degree in Education like a Bachelor or Master’s and then you will no longer be earning $16/Hour.
  6. Certificate Health Care Administration: Your first step towards being a Hospital Administrator, right? Wrong. This is for clerical work and the pay reflects this: $18/Hour.
  7. Certificate Medical Laboratory Technology: Cutting edge Life Sciences! Inventing new medicines that will save the world! No, not until you have at least a Bachelor of Science or more likely a Master’s of Science or a PhD. With the Certificate, you earn $17/Hour.
  8. Certificate Oil & Gas Technology: Workers in the Energy area earn a fortune, right? Not all of them. This qualification gets you $21/Hour. And heating bills are not cheap out West.
  9. Graduate Certificate Child & Youth Worker: Ok, this has to be way better than the plain old certificate. We’re talking Post-Grad here! Your pay is a little higher than the Certificate, but only a touch: $16/Hour. You might want to hold off on buying a house.
  10. Post-Graduate Certificate Office Administration: You can now run the office of an important organization. Or more likely, work at the front end and earn $17/Hour.

Undergraduate or Post Graduate? 8 Choices

Is it worth it to go back to school and get that Master’s Degree? Will the time, money and energy you spend result in much better earnings? Let’s find out.


Bachelor of Business Administration vs Executive MBA

Bachelor of Business Administration Executive MBA
$56,000 annual salary $101,000 annual salary

This one’s easy. You almost double your salary if you can get in and stay in an Executive MBA program. Worth every penny. Worth every all-nighter. Worth every broken laptop smashed against the wall in frustration.

The winner? Executive MBA!


Bachelor Civil Engineering vs Master’s Civil Engineering

Bachelor Civil Engineering Master’s Civil Engineering
$67,000 annual salary $76,000 annual salary

$9,000 more per year is nothing to sneeze at but it works out to $750 more per month. Is it worth all the work and cost of going back to school?

This one we’ll have to call a tie. The decision is up to you!


Bachelor of Design vs Master’s of Design

Bachelor of Design Master’s of Design
$47,000 $66,000

While it might not be as much of an increase as you get going from a Bachelor of Business Administration to an Executive MBA, it’s still and increase of 40%. Nice!

The winner is … Master’s of Design!


Bachelor of Fine Arts vs Master’s of Fine Arts

Bachelor of Fine Arts Master’s of Fine Arts
$49,000 $51,000

Either the undergraduate degree in Fine Arts is great value for the money, or the post-graduate degree needs to upgrade itself a little and offer more value for those returning students who can’t get enough of art.

The winner here is definitely the Bachelor of Fine Arts!


Bachelor of Music vs Master’s of Music

Bachelor of Music Master’s of Music
$51,000 $45,000

Yes, you read that right. You go back to Fine Arts school and earn your Master’s so that you can learn LESS money. Maybe this result is a statistical anomaly but it certainly sounds a little out of tune.

The winner is Bachelor of Music!


Bachelor of Accounting vs Master’s of Accounting

Bachelor of Accounting Master’s of Accounting
$58,000 $70,000

In the world of accounting things balance out and credit is given where credit is due it seems. $12,000 more per year works out to $1,000 more per month and that’s a reasonable return on investment in time, money and effort, by any accounting standard.

The audit results are: Master’s of Accounting wins!


Bachelor of Science in Nursing vs Master’s of Science in Nursing

Bachelor of Science in Nursing Master’s of Science in Nursing
$32/Hour $87,000 annual salary

We have an emergency! This Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing Wage is on life support! Because while $32/Hour is nothing shabby, you would have to work about 57 hours a week to earn as much as someone with a Master’s. For a high-pressure, stressful job like Nursing, that’s not at all easy.

Our diagnosis? Master’s of Science in Nursing wins!


Bachelor of Technology vs Master’s of Technology

Bachelor of Technology Master’s of Technology
$66,000 $72,000

Not many Bachelor Degrees will earn you a salary of $66,000. Computing the results we get:

Def_monthly av=AS

 let  m = 12

 if    s1 = 72,000

 if    s2 = 66,000

     find_S = s1 – s2


       if AS < $501

       Return s2

Our algorithm has given us the result: Bachelor is the correct response!

8 Degrees That Sound Silly but Rock Your Salary

Be wary of fancy sounding titles. They sometimes can be deceiving. A degree is only worth what employers are willing to pay. But sometimes, a title can sound humble but yield rewarding returns. Where can you find these hidden gems of educational achievement? Let’s go digging.

  1. Certification Adult Education & Training: Given the low wages paid to Early Education and Youth workers as we saw above, one would expect that a Certification for Adult Education would earn you a minimal salary. Not at all the case. Try $64,000. Very nice! Continuous learning seems to be here to stay and those who can provide mature students with the skills and competencies they need will be well paid.
  2. Certificate Building & Construction: So, you have a certificate and you can supervise a building/construction site. How much could that be worth? A lot, actually. Would you have guessed an annual salary of $79,000?
  3. Certificate Dental Hygiene: Ok, this is a wage-based one, so it must be around $20/Hour right? Wrong. Try $36/Hour, which if you work over 40 hours a week, adds up to over 70K per year. Even just working 40 hours a week will gross you around $69,000 a year. Enough to make anyone smile.
  4. Certificate Law Enforcement: This means you’re a security guard at a store? No, actually it’s a wide range of employment opportunities, including police work and private investigative firms. The salary? $58,000. That’s pretty compelling evidence.
  5. Certificate Occupational Health & Safety: When you realize that this certificate course is designed for people already working in the field of Occupational Health & Safety – which generally requires a Bachelor of Applied Science – then maybe you won’t be surprised by the salary: $66,000.
  6. Certificate Purchasing Management: Purchasing Management and Supply Chain Management – no they’re not quite the same but they’re related, and people often work in both areas – are key in today’s just-in-time business world. Supply chains have to function properly and managing them is key to operational success. What’s that worth to a business? About $66,000 a year.
  7. Doctor of Philosophy: Is there anything more useless than this? Wasting years of your life to write a dissertation on some post-modern deconstructionist narrative about topics no one has even heard of? Not for someone who’s a Doctor of Philosophy and is assured an academic position at a good university. What is the semantic proposition behind a salary of $78,000? And long summer vacations? True happiness.
  8. Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management: Sounds a little dodgy doesn’t it? Who the heck would take this? Professionals, managers, students finishing up their Bachelor of Business Administration, or Bachelor of Human Resources Management. For example. Why take it? To upgrade their skills in human resource management. And to earn $77,000 a year.


Companies and workers are increasingly focused on competencies as compared to the traditional qualifications of the past. That doesn’t mean that a degree from a good university isn’t important. Rather, it means that when you have to upgrade your skills, there will be a world of choices awaiting you. Certificates? Master’s? Doctorate/PhD? Diploma?

Keep up to date if you can on what’s available in your field. And choose wisely. Salary matters.

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