8. Senior government manager
Median Salary: $95,992
Change in salary (2006–2012): +23%
Total employees: 11,600
Top-level government bureaucrats translate legislation—whether provincial, federal or municipal—into actual practice. Directors, deputy ministers and managers control the non-partisan public servants that make governments work, in fields as diverse as fisheries, advanced education and municipal garbage collection.
How to qualify: To enter the bureaucracy, you usually need a university degree. At the federal level, it helps to be bilingual. A graduate degree—in public administration, or a similar field—can be a good way to jump up several rungs.
Money: Entry-level government workers can earn between $30,000 and $60,000 a year, depending on experience, education and location. By the time employees reach a senior position, though, the money can be impressive. In Ontario, the number of public servants making more than $100,000 a year climbed 11% in 2013 to more than 88,000, and some make $500,000 a year or more.
Outlook: The winds of austerity are blowing across Canada, and the good times for government workers may not last long. Cutbacks are looming in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Ottawa. And, as the private sector moves away from defined benefit pensions, the pressure to curb public-sector benefits will likely increase.
What it’s like: Simon Farbrother, the city manager in Edmonton, says civil service is no longer a nine-to-five world. “I’m at my desk by 7:30 in the morning. I don’t have lunches and coffee breaks,” he says. “And I have evening work as well.”
The reward for all that work is a chance to build a great city. The downside, however, is that everything you do is in the public eye. “Our decision-making is not behind closed doors.” That means everyone is your boss—and not everyone is nice about it.