he latest Canadian labour-force report landed with a thud on the first Friday of April. Fifty-five thousand Canadians found themselves out of work in March, pushing the national unemployment rate up 0.2 percentage points to 7.2%. That’s more than one million able-bodied Canadians looking for work. Numbers like these are enough to make anyone simply thankful for having a job, any job, let alone one that pays a decent wage.
But before you shy away from asking for that raise or taking a leap of faith to pursue that dream job, consider this: most of the jobs lost in March were a few specific sectors: accommodations and food services, public administration and manufacturing. All but public administration are sectors that have been shedding jobs for the past decade. Employment in all other industries was relatively unchanged, and in some sectors, there is still plenty of growth.
In these sectors, employers are hiring, workers are treated well and the pay is getting higher and higher. These are the jobs you’ll find listed in this, our 2013 edition of Canada’s Top 50 Jobs.
To create this year’s list, we started by combing through data provided by Statistics Canada on more than 600 job categories. Jobs earning less than $60,000 a year are dropped off our list. From there, we look for the top-paying jobs that have had steady growth in both the number of people employed, and in wages, since 2006. After all, a high-paying job is only useful if you can actually land it.
With that in mind, we also account for how much competition there will be for these jobs in the future using data from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, which projects future labour supply and demand to 2020. Not surprisingly, several of the top jobs on our list are in Alberta’s oilpatch, where the gap between openings and eligible candidates has already begun driving up salaries. Unemployment sits at less than 5% in the province and below 4% the closer you get to the oil-rich areas near Fort McMurray, which are experiencing huge demand for three of our 10 best jobs: oil & gas supervisors, petroleum engineers and chemical engineers. What’s more, each of these jobs carries a median annual salary of $75,000 and up. And the best news for job-seekers is that demand for these positions isn’t expected to drop off anytime soon.
Still, the oilpatch isn’t the only place to find a good job. In fact, the highest-paying jobs aren’t even in the private sector. They’re in government. Almost all of the public-sector jobs on our list have median salaries of $95,000 and higher. A recent study out of the Fraser Institute backs this up. The authors of the study found public-sector employees on average enjoy a 12% wage premium over their private-sector counterparts. And while you could argue that the public sector is a risky place to hold down a job, in terms of size it’s been relatively unchanged since the late 1990s, and accounts for about 20% of all employment in Canada.
If a career that’s always threatening cuts doesn’t appeal to you but you still want a job that offers increasingly better pay, then prepare to get your hands dirty. Construction workers’ earnings jumped 6% over the past year, which is nearly double the national average pay increase. Construction managers, pipefitters and electricians are some of the top jobs on our list that offer great salaries, so long as you have the skills and you’re willing to put in a little elbow grease.
An aging population will certainly open up space for jobs in all categories in the years to come, but that change will have a double impact on the health-care sector. By 2020, nearly 9,000 nurses with a median wage of $72,000 will be retiring annually, as the demands of an aging population become more acute. It’s one of the main reasons health-care jobs feature prominently in our list.
By Mark Brown, Sarah Barmak, Jeff Beer, Joe Castaldo, John Lorinc, Alexandra Posadzki, Tim Shufelt and Richard Warnica. Photo in header by David Jones/Getty.
The top jobs in Canada, ranked by demand and recent salary growth. Go here for the full list, sortable by salary, openings, growth and income.
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