Best Jobs in Canada for the Future: 39 Happening Careers
What will be the best jobs in Canada for the future? How will the economy, the job market, and the very nature of work change and evolve over time? And how can we prepare to take advantage of future opportunities?
There are no easy answers to these questions. When it comes to predicting future job trends in Canada, all anyone can do is make best guesses based on current patterns. And given the rapid pace of scientific and technological change, it's safe to say that many of the occupations of the future have not even been imagined yet. In fact, by one estimate, a full 65 percent of kids starting school today will end up in jobs that do not yet exist.1
That said, it's worth pointing out that many present jobs will still be around. However, they'll likely change and evolve as they become future jobs. Canada, like many other countries, is going through technological, demographic, environmental, and social changes that will affect the way we work and interact in the years ahead. So while many of today's jobs will still be here tomorrow, they may have a different focus or require different skills.
No one can say for certain how all these variables will play out. But the currently existing and yet-to-emerge careers listed below could be good options for the future because of:
Best Jobs Due to Technological Advances, Smarter Machines, and the Rise of Robots
With developments in artificial intelligence, augmented reality, 3D printing, and computer technologies, it may not be long before the stuff of science fiction becomes a fact of life in Canada. One report says about 42 percent of Canadian jobs are at high risk of being automated over the next two decades.2 Yet, even as automation becomes more widespread and machines take over many tasks formerly reserved for humans, the country will still need people to develop, program, and maintain the technologies that enable progress—and grapple with the ethical questions that will inevitably arise. That's why you may want to consider these careers for the future:
1. Aerospace engineer
Canada is already dealing with a shortage of aerospace engineers, and the need for professionals who can design and build the flying vehicles that take us around the globe or deep into space will continue to grow. In addition to airplanes, spacecraft, and satellites, aerospace engineers can focus on developing unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e., drones) for defence, agricultural uses, land surveying, or other purposes.
- Current median salary: $89,9183
2. Computer systems analyst
Those who can bridge the gap between technological possibilities and business needs will have a big role to play in Canada's future. Computer systems analysts evaluate a company's technology systems and come up with ways to improve or optimize them. It's a job that will become even more important as computing technology grows ever more complex and artificial intelligence becomes more widespread.
- Current median salary: $79,9973
3. Mechanical engineer
Without mechanical engineers, we wouldn't have automation equipment, manufacturing robots, 3D printers, or a myriad of other machines that make our lives easier or more efficient. These engineers design and develop devices involving motion, from cars and compressors to sensors and turbines. So their job is to push the boundaries of a wide range of emerging technologies.
- Current median salary: $81,4943
4. Software developer
As Canadians increasingly rely on digital tools like smartphones, tablets, wearable devices, and even robots to run their lives, software developers will be needed to design and program the applications that keep these computers functioning. Those who specialize in mobile apps may find especially good opportunities.
- Current median salary: $75,0053
5. Information security analyst
Keeping personal and sensitive information safe from hackers will be one of the most essential jobs of the future. Canada recently ranked ninth out of 195 countries for its commitment to cybersecurity, but there will continually be new challenges to overcome.4 Information security analysts who can assess risks, identify vulnerabilities, and develop policies to secure confidential data will find their skills in demand.
- Current median salary: $68,4115
6. Augmented or virtual reality developer
Creating immersive 3D environments will be increasingly popular in the years to come. Whether you focus on virtual reality (where you create an alternate world that seems real) or augmented reality (where you overlay virtual elements into real-life environments), your work could be used in industries ranging from gaming and health care to retail and real estate. It will help to have skills in computer programming, animation, or video game design.
7. Robot mediator
As human-like robots become more common in the workplace, actual humans may need a bit of help adapting to the realities of working alongside cyborgs. Counsellors and mental health professionals with experience in industrial and organizational psychology may find new opportunities helping employees cope with their non-human coworkers.
8. Drone traffic controller
The market for unmanned aerial vehicles (also known as drones) is set to take off, with one report estimating that consumer drone sales will total almost 68 million units by 2021.6 In the future, all those drones in the skies will need to be monitored and coordinated in much the same way as airplanes are now. Some futurists believe that drone traffic controllers will become commonplace.
9. Human-tech integration specialist
With the overwhelming array of digital devices and technologies available to us today, can you imagine what new developments might emerge over the coming decades? It's possible that we'll need human-tech integration specialists to evaluate all available technologies and recommend the platforms, implants, or devices that will best serve our individual needs at work or even at home. These specialists could also focus on training clients in the optimal use of each device.
10. Building system technician
The Canadian government is pushing for the increased adoption of smart-building technology in homes and offices, which allows for a building's core systems (such as heating, lighting, and air conditioning) to be monitored and controlled by a single automated network. The HVAC technicians of today will still be needed in the future, but their focus will likely shift toward installing and maintaining smart-building systems.
11. 3D printing technician
We probably aren't too far off from a day when 3D printers become as common in homes and offices as refrigerators and copiers. They're already being used to manufacture things like food, jewellery, prosthetics, musical instruments, and automotive parts. Someone will have to maintain and repair these sophisticated machines, so 3D printing technicians may find themselves in demand.
12. Privacy manager
Maintaining privacy is no small feat in a world where technology reaches into so many facets of our lives. Professional privacy managers who can help people find the line between maintaining a digital presence and keeping personal information out of the public eye will likely find a big demand for their services.
13. Sci-tech ethicist
With humanity's rush to push the boundaries of science and develop technologies that could not have been imagined by our ancestors, sci-tech ethicists will play a key role in assessing the potential consequences of such developments. They will be responsible for asking the tough questions and making us question whether we should just because we can.
14. Emotional interface designer
As society strives to make robots more like humans, we'll need highly skilled people to design the systems that will allow machines to respond to human emotions. Some futurists believe we're well on our way toward a time when machines will be capable of understanding emotional reactions and adapting their responses accordingly. But we'll need actual humans to create such systems.
Best Jobs Due to an Aging Population
It's no secret that Canada as a whole is getting older. Statistics Canada projections reveal that by 2036, more than a quarter of the country's people will be over 65, and almost eight percent of the population will be over the age of 80.7 Caring for Canada's seniors will generate demand for many health care specialists, but there will also be opportunities in fields like financial and recreation services. Some of these careers exist today but will become increasingly important as the population ages; others are possibilities that may develop as time goes on. Check them out:
1. Remote surgeon
Canadian surgeons have already begun using sensing technologies and robotic tools to operate on patients who are hundreds of kilometres away. This trend will likely accelerate in the future and could open new possibilities for health care in remote areas of the country, particularly in the Arctic. More and more surgeons may soon be able to offer hands-on treatment to patients without ever being in the same room with them.
- Current median salary: $195,3725
2. Biomedical engineer
As the bridge between engineering and medicine, biomedical engineers are at the forefront of the development of new ways to diagnose and treat diseases and injuries. They design and create pacemakers, artificial organs, surgical lasers, medical imaging systems, and all kinds of other products and devices that contribute to longer lives and better health.
- Current median salary: $85,3423
3. Nurse practitioner
Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with an extra level of training who can examine patients, order lab tests, prescribe medications, and manage chronic illnesses. Nurses of all kinds are in great demand across Canada, but nurse practitioners in particular will increasingly be called upon to take some of the load off of the country's overstretched doctors.
- Current median salary: $93,6003
Restoring physical function will become an increasingly important specialty as the senior population continues to grow and people require help with mobility or pain management. Physiotherapists and the assistants who help them will likely find themselves in great demand.
- Current median salary: $75,9203
5. Dental hygienist
Helping older adults take proper care of teeth and gums can go a long way toward maintaining their overall health. As people age, they become more prone to developing a range of dental problems, from root decay to tooth loss. By cleaning people's teeth, keeping watch for signs of disease, and explaining the basics of oral care, dental hygienists will have important roles to play in the decades ahead.
- Current median salary: $72,8003
6. Financial planner
How will people pay for their ever-lengthening lives after retirement? The job of financial planners is to help people develop and implement plans that serve their long-term financial goals. Those who are knowledgeable about reverse mortgages, retirement savings plans, pensions, and estate planning may be particularly busy in the years to come.
- Current median salary: $64,4803
7. Recreation manager
As more people move out of their own homes and into assisted living facilities, there will be more call for recreation managers to add enjoyment to residents' lives through fun social activities. That might mean leading a round of bingo, planning a special holiday party, or organizing field trips or outings. The idea is to help people live full and fulfilling lives.
- Current median salary: $65,0003
8. Health care aide
Supporting people who need either short-term or ongoing assistance with daily living tasks will become ever more important as people live longer lives. Health care aides help clients with activities like eating, bathing, dressing, and using the toilet. They also help clients take medications and perform therapeutic exercises.
- Current median salary: $41,6003
9. Brain implant surgeon
There may soon come a time when people opt to get special computer chips implanted right into their brains, providing a seamless connection between their minds and the technology around them. For instance, these chips could be used to enhance a person's memory or give a stroke victim regained control over a paralyzed hand. So brain implant surgeons have a promising future.
10. Pharma-genetics specialist
As the process of sequencing human genomes becomes quicker and easier, those who are thoroughly schooled in pharmacogenomics (i.e., the study of how a person's genes affect their response to different drugs) could be called upon to recommend medications based on each patient's individual genetic makeup. It could be that the pharmacists and pharmacy technicians of the future will be able to personalize dosages based on a person's genes instead of only his or her age and weight.
11. Body organ manufacturer
Why wait for a donated organ from another human when you can have one custom-made using your own stem cells? We're getting closer to the day when that may be routine. Skin, hearts, livers, and kidneys are just a few of the human organs that have already been produced in labs. As the technology advances, custom body parts may become commonplace.
Medical professionals may soon be able to use sub-atomic procedures and devices to diagnose and treat a wide range of health conditions. For example, nanoscale devices could be implanted in people to monitor their blood chemistry or brain-wave activity. Tiny nanorobots could even be used to repair damaged cells or correct genetic deficiencies.
13. End-of-life manager
With more people living into their 80s, 90s, and even beyond, it's not unreasonable to think that old age will lose its mystery. Soon, planning for the end of life may be as common as planning for the retirement years. Long before their time comes, people may call on an end-of-life manager to help them make a plan for how to spend their last days.
Best Jobs Due to Environmental and Energy Challenges
Utilizing the earth's resources in a responsible and sustainable way will be a major theme of the future. Finding ways to combat the effects of climate change and generate renewable energy to meet the needs of a growing Canadian population will emphasize the importance of some existing careers and lead to the emergence of others. Here are some examples:
1. Wind turbine technician
Did you know that wind power already generates enough electricity to power over three million homes in Canada? More than 250 wind farms are already in operation across the country.8 It's a rapidly growing industry that offers plenty of opportunities for technicians who can install, inspect, maintain, and repair large wind turbines.
- Current median salary: $61,4635
2. Solar technician
Harnessing the power of the sun is another way to generate clean energy. According to one estimate, installing solar panels on home roofs could produce roughly half of Canada's residential electricity needs.9 To keep pace with this developing industry, the country will need more solar technicians with the skills to install and maintain such panels.
- Current median salary: $41,6003
3. Urban farmer
With growing concerns about the environmental impact of factory farming practices as well as the financial and health costs of shipping food thousands of kilometres to reach consumers, the farms of the future may well be in the middle the city. Urban farmers who use sustainable ways of growing food in climate-controlled vertical high-rises could be in demand.
4. Convertible waste energy expert
Turning waste into a source of energy could be big business in the years to come. For instance, a group in Toronto is in the process of establishing a biogas plant that will convert manure and food waste into fertilizer, electricity, and heat. Canada will need plenty of high-skilled experts to push technologies like this forward and find new ways of converting all sorts of waste into usable energy.
Bringing damaged nature areas back to their original state could be a hot career in the future. As vertical farms catch on and agriculture moves from the country to the city, vast tracts of formerly cultivated land could be converted into wilderness areas. Rewilders could replace roads with forests and provide new habitats for birds and other animals.
6. Weather control engineer
Countries like Russia and China already use cloud seeding techniques to try to control when rain will fall so that the weather will be dry for special outdoor events like national celebrations and sporting competitions. Future advances in climate science may bring us to a time when engineers will be able to manipulate weather patterns and perhaps mitigate some of the effects of global warming.
7. Carbon capture specialist
Systems that trap and remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere have been touted as one possible way to reduce the harmful effects of greenhouse gases. But many aspects of the technology have yet to be developed. That's where carbon capture specialists could come in. They could focus on designing, building, and maintaining the systems to remove and safely store carbon dioxide.
8. Wave energy producer
The earth's oceans have enormous potential to generate renewable energy, though the current industry is small and a number of barriers to development remain. Canada already has tidal current energy projects in Nova Scotia and British Columbia, and many more could follow if the technology continues to develop.
9. Extinction revivalist
Can we bring back plants or animals that were previously thought to be extinct forever due to human actions? Scientific advances may eventually make that possible. And since many animals are vital to the health of the earth's ecosystems, and long-defunct plants could hold the key to new pharmaceutical advances, extinction revivalists could play an important role in the future.
Best Jobs Due to the Ongoing Need to Educate and Support People
Training the workforce of the future will require adapting to the realities of personalized instruction and the need for continual skill development. And with low birth rates and an aging population, Canada's economic health will increasingly depend on its ability to attract and support skilled professionals from other countries. That means there will be growing career opportunities that focus on sharing knowledge and fostering community connections. Check out the following possibilities:
Libraries are much more than storage places for books. They are learning centres that offer access to advanced electronic resources. As information professionals, librarians will be needed to help people sort through and analyze the vast amount of data available. They will also take on important roles as community connectors, designing and leading specialized learning programs for seniors, children, and new immigrants.
- Current median salary: $60,0083
2. Instructional designer
As the focus of education and training shifts more to personalized learning, instructional designers could be called upon to design and build interactive experiences that allow people to acquire knowledge and skills in real time. They will use their understanding of how people learn to create effective training experiences.
- Current median salary: $62,7425
The government estimates that by 2036, immigrants could make up 30 percent of the Canadian population (up from 22 percent in 2016).11 That means there may be more demand for immigration consultants to guide people through the complicated process of relocating to Canada. They provide advice on government immigration policies, help with paperwork, and represent clients at tribunal hearings. Consultants must be members of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.
- Current median salary: $46,4695
Get Set for the Jobs of Tomorrow
As you can see, many of the best jobs in Canada for the future already exist, while others are just beginning to emerge. Now is the time to expand your skill set and prepare for the opportunities to come. It's easy to explore the wide range of job-driven training programs offered by vocational schools, technical institutes, and trade schools in your area. Just put your postal code into the following school finder to get started!