Highest-Paying Jobs in Canada Without a Degree
Fast-Growing Industries Offering the Most Opportunities
It's true—some of the highest-paying jobs in Canada without a degree can be found in today's labor market. There are many high-paying positions that are available across the country for aspiring professionals who have completed skilled trades training or one- or two-year post-secondary programs. Before you know it, you could be one of those people who have achieved some of the best jobs in Canada without a degree.
Canada has several strong and fast-growing segments of the economy in which you could find excellent employment prospects with little training from a career college or trade school. This article highlights some of those industries, along with the reasons that they are strong and possess a promising outlook. It also highlights the kind of earnings and careers that they offer. Check out the industries below and gain some inspiration to begin working toward a better career. After all, earning a degree is not for everyone!
Choose a Career Path That Requires Less Schooling
Skilled trades programs, as well as numerous certificate and diploma programs, are career-focused. They are designed to train you quickly and equip you with the skills that are desired in the workforce in order to help you secure a good job upon graduation. Depending on the type of occupation you desire, you could easily find a one- or two-year program that can lead you to a high-paying job.
So if short career training sounds like the path for you, then take a moment to continue reading. You'll discover some of Canada's top industries as well as the types of positions within them that you may be able to pursue without having to earn a university degree.
Unless otherwise noted, wage data is taken from the Government of Canada's Job Bank, based on the 2016-2017 reference period.1 Keep in mind that wages can vary greatly depending on which province and region you work in. Also, the lowest reported wages are usually those of individuals with little to no training and/or experience in a particular field.
Combined with advantageous tax rates, a skilled labour pool, and competitive labour costs, Canada's research and development capabilities make the country a preferred destination for many high-tech companies. Almost 40,000 companies operate in the ICT sector, and 89.6 percent of them are in the software and computer services sub-sector.2 These companies contribute a substantial amount of revenue to the Canadian economy and generate a large number of jobs.
From 2012 to 2017, ICT-industry revenues increased by 18 percent. During this same time, the software and computer services sub-sector's revenues increased by 35.8 percent. And in 2017, people working in the ICT industry accounted for 3.4 percent of the total Canadian workforce, which amounts to 623,000 jobs.2 Plus, this sector generates over 478,000 indirect jobs.3 So, there are numerous possible career tracks to choose from within the ICT industry. And many entry-level positions are accessible with a diploma, which can typically be completed in less than two years.
Earning Potential: On average, professionals in this sector earn $77,594 per year. So if you are technically inclined, beginning a career in the ICT sector could be a good way to find a high-paying position without having to earn a degree. In fact, employees working in ICT earn almost 53 percent more than the national average for all Canadian occupations.2
Career Possibilities: Training in the field of information technology can lead to a wide range of careers. Below are just a few of the many possibilities:
Construction makes up a large piece of the nation's economy. The industry accounts for more than seven percent of Canada's GDP (gross domestic product).4 There are more than 368,000 construction-related companies operating in Canada. And the sector employs close to 1.5 million Canadians.5 They work in sub-sectors related to areas like residential and non-residential construction, as well as road, bridge, and pipeline construction.
During the period from 2019 to 2028, it is estimated that more than 261,100 construction workers across the country will retire, which accounts for about 24 percent of the construction workforce. Roughly 91,100 workers could be retiring in Ontario alone.6
In the province of BC, it is expected that the construction workforce will experience strong growth, due to major projects like the development of LNG plants and pipelines. It is estimated that 14,600 new workers could be needed by 2021. Strong growth is also expected in Manitoba, Ontario, and Alberta.6
Other promising highlights of Canada's construction sector include the following:
Earning Potential: The industry offers a variety of opportunities. You may even be able to find some of the highest-paying jobs in Canada that don't require a degree. Those who are just starting out in entry-level helper or labourer positions report wages beginning at $13 per hour. But as experience is gained, those wages can climb to $32 per hour and higher. If you opt for a more specialized career, like an electrician or construction manager, your hourly wage could start around $16 to $24 and reach up to $60.58 or higher as you build your experience.1
Career Possibilities: From putting pipe into the ground to building roads to installing electrical systems, the career possibilities in the sector are plentiful and varied. Here are some of the careers that you can consider:
Canada is home to more than 52,820 business establishments in this sector.2 And it's possible to obtain a good-paying job in architectural and engineering services without becoming an architect or civil engineer, which can involve many years of schooling. In fact, as a cost-control measure, architectural and engineering firms tend to focus on hiring technicians and other support professionals to assist engineers and architects.
Earning Potential: By earning a certificate or diploma in the field in less than a year, you can go after positions—like architectural or civil engineering technician—that pay anywhere from $15 to $45 per hour or more. The median pay for drafters, technicians, and technologists is $25 per hour.
Career Possibilities: Completing an architecture, engineering, or drafting certificate or diploma program could prepare you for careers such as the ones listed below:
- Architectural drafter
- Architectural technologist
- Building designer
- CAD technologist
- Civil drafting technician
- Civil engineering drafter
- Civil engineering inspector
- Electrical drafter
- Mechanical drafter
- Municipal engineering assistant
- Structural drafter
Canada has emerged as a major animation market, and the sector is expected to continue growing. One of the key reasons that Canada has become an animation powerhouse is the low cost of production in the country. Canada has the lowest business costs in the G7 group of nations for digital entertainment development.2
Animation studios are finding that they can produce animated content cheaper in Canada than they can in the neighbouring U.S. And that is why several leading studios have set up offices here. In addition to the potential within the country, many talented Canadian animators are also recruited to major studios in the U.S.
If this sounds like an industry you want in on, then enrolling in a short training program is a great way to get started. Although there are bachelor's degree programs available, many schools offer diploma programs that only take between one and two years to complete. With a small amount of schooling, you could be on your way to securing a high-paying job.
Earning Potential: There are a lot of variables that determine your level of pay in the field of animation, such as the type of position and your level of experience. But within the occupational group that includes professional animators in Canada, wages range from $15 to $38.46 per hour and higher. The median wage is $23.50 per hour.
Career Possibilities: Computer animation training could help you pursue a position with production studios, game design and film companies, network and cable TV companies, and advertising agencies. Career possibilities could include the following:
- 3-D character animator
- Background painter
- Character designer
- Clean-up artist
- Digital illustrator
- Special effects artist
- Storyboard artist
- Video post-production artist
The number of older Canadians is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years. As a result, over 2.4 million seniors over the age of 65 could need continuing care by 2026. That's a 71-percent increase from 2011.8
Naturally, a growing demand for services and increased spending contributes to greater employment in the sector. So the number of jobs that focus on providing care for seniors will increase at a faster rate than the average for all careers through 2046. By that year, there could be 677,200 Canadians working in healthcare jobs related to continuing care.8
If a fulfilling career that involves offering essential care for seniors appeals to you, then this could be a great time to start working toward your goal. Enrolling in a short program can be a solid first step. You could find several certificate and diploma programs that focus on senior care, and many of them can be completed in less than one to two years.
Earning Potential: People who work with the elderly as personal support workers or health care aides report median wages of $15.80 or $20 an hour, respectively. However, it's possible to earn wages of $25 per hour or more.
Career Possibilities: A health care education focused on senior care could help you establish a career in a senior care facility, home care agency, recreation centre, hospital, group home, respite and palliative care centre, or any other establishment that focuses on caring for the elderly. The types of careers you may be able to pursue include the following:
This industry is comprised of companies that manufacture everything from utensils, screws, and hand tools to structural metal products, boilers, and shipping containers. It's an important sector of the economy that supports about 12,670 business establishments across Canada, with over 96 percent of them providing employment.2
It is projected that employment and revenue growth in the sector will remain strong for many years. Alberta alone is expected to spend more than $200 billion in construction and maintenance from 2014 to 2039. And most of this spending will go toward fabricated metal products.9 That could be considered good news for anyone that is considering a skilled trades career in metal manufacturing.
Many people opt for skilled trades careers because they enjoy working with their hands and don't want to spend a lot of time in school. The reality is that there are very few skilled trades positions that require degrees. So this could be a great field to choose if you want to secure a position in one of the highest-paying trades in Canada without a degree. When preparing to enter the field, most individuals opt for some training in welding. Program lengths can vary by institution, and the structure and length can depend on whether you want to become a journeyperson.
Earning Potential: Completing your training could lead to welding and machine operating positions in which workers report hourly wages starting at $16.50 and climbing up to $40 and higher. The median wage is $24.75 per hour.
Career Possibilities: An education in welding can lead to several career possibilities in the metal fabrication sector. Although welder positions are the most common, here are some other occupations you may find:
- Electric arc welder
- Gas shield arc welder
- Machine operator
- Metal fabricator
- Solderer and brazer
- Spot welder
The Canadian digital gaming industry is the world's third-largest producer of electronic games. And Canadian studios develop one in every six best-selling console games worldwide.10 Plus, according to the Entertainment Software Association of Canada:
It is clear that video game design and development is an ideal industry to break into. And this is especially true if you are looking for high-paying jobs that don't require a degree. In fact, most schools offer diploma programs that can be completed in less than two years.
Earning Potential: You can quickly become prepared to enter an industry that offers wages ranging from $15.25 to $40.24 an hour or more. The median wage is $22.60 per hour.
Career Possibilities: Obtaining an education in video game design and development could prepare you for the following careers:
- Assistant producer
- Gameplay designer
- Junior production designer
- Level designer
- Motion capture artist
- Video game animator
- Video game programmer
Canada is known to have one of the strongest banking and financial services sectors in the world. It's comprised of more than 215,600 business establishments, with about 97.5 percent of them offering employment.2 Plus, it's considered stable and secure by both domestic and foreign investors, which is one reason why the employment outlook is expected to remain strong.
If you are considering a career in the banking and financial services sector, then you may want to look into one of the many career schools offering accounting- and finance-focused certificate and diploma programs that can be completed in two years or less. A short education can lead to a number of different career tracks and high-paying positions in the banking and financial services sector.
Earning Potential: Individuals who are just starting out in this field with little to no education or experience—such as financial customer service representatives—have reported wages as low as $13.00 per hour. However, the wages of seasoned professionals—like financial managers—can climb to $72.12 per hour or higher. The average hourly wage within the entire finance sector is $31.08 per hour, according to 2018 data.4 So there is a lot of potential for you to secure a good-paying job without a degree.
Career Possibilities: Individuals with education and/or experience in accounting and finance can go after the following types of careers:
In 2018, the tourism and hospitality industry produced a total of $102 billion in revenue and directly supported about 1.8 million jobs. That meant that one in 11 Canadian workers were employed in the industry.11
This enormous industry is not expected to cool off any time soon. In fact, it is estimated that, by 2035, tourism and hospitality will provide 2.29 million jobs for Canadians (a 41 percent increase from 2010 employment levels). And it is expected that demand will outpace the growth in labour supply, thereby creating up to 240,000 unfilled jobs across the country.12 Right now could be your perfect time to get in on this booming sector.
Earning Potential: The tourism and hospitality industry offers many positions for individuals with little to no work experience or education. And that is why people in the industry—such as food and beverage servers—report wages as low as $11.06 an hour. But there are also good-paying jobs that you can attain without a degree. By completing a certificate or diploma program in under two years, you could find a position in an area like accommodation service management in which the median wage is $26.68 an hour. And accommodation service managers who have worked in the industry and built up their experience over the years report earnings of $48.08 an hour and higher.
Career Possibilities: Education and/or experience in tourism and hospitality can lead to many interesting and exciting job possibilities. You may be able to begin your career with employers such as airlines, hotels, restaurants, cruise lines, resorts, tour companies, travel agencies, event centres, and casinos. Positions you may be able to go after include:
Two Reasons Why a Degree Is Not For Everyone
Although obtaining some level of career training is important (and often required) for many of today's jobs, earning a four-year degree is not always necessary for achieving a successful career. And for many people, earning a four-year degree doesn't seem attainable anyway. After all, it requires a substantial time commitment, and for some individuals, it means incurring debt through student loans. So there is certainly nothing wrong with taking the time to consider your options before jumping into a degree program that you aren't sure about.
One study found that about 39 percent of university graduates aged 25 to 34 were employed in jobs that didn't require the level of education they had earned.13 That's partly due to a skills mismatch among the population, an issue that is on the rise across Canada. It happens when people are completing degree programs for areas in which there are not a lot of jobs available. So when they graduate, they end up having to take on jobs that are unrelated to their fields of study, and the jobs are often lower-paying as well. This highlights the importance of doing your research and making your best attempt to choose an educational path that could lead to relevant and better-paying career opportunities.
What's Your Next Step?
Are you feeling motivated to take your career in a new direction? Then why not take that first step toward a more promising future right now? Simply enter your postal code into the search box below so that you can start exploring the training options available near you. The opportunity for a bright career awaits you!
1 Government of Canada, Job Bank, website last visited on August 12, 2019.
2 Government of Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, website last visited on August 12, 2019.
3 Information Technology Association of Canada, website last visited on August 12, 2019.
4 Statistics Canada, website last visited on August 12, 2019.
5 BuildForce Canada, "Construction Industry Key Indicators," website last visited on January 21, 2020.
6 Construction Forecasts, website last visited on August 12, 2019.
7 Government of Canada, Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS), website last visited on August 12, 2019.
8 The Conference Board of Canada, Future Care for Canadian Seniors. A Status Quo Forecast, website last visited on January 24, 2020.
9 Government of Alberta, "Industrial Manufacturing," website last visited on August 13, 2019.
10 Canada Media Fund, "Canada's digital talent a hit in Hollywood," website last visited on August 13, 2019.
11 Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), Travel and Tourism Fast Facts, website last visited on August 13, 2019.
12 Tourism HR Canada, "Tourism Shortages: Jobs to Fill," website last visited on August 13, 2019.
13 Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Labour Market Assessment 2016, website last visited on August 13, 2019.