Career Tool - Frequently Asked Questions

There is a whole world of opportunity out there, but you need to get the right skills and knowledge to take advantage of it. When choosing what program of study or what career to pursue, make an informed decision. Get started today with the information available in this tool!

The Career Tool answers questions like:

The experiences of recent graduates will give you an idea about what you might expect after completing the same field of study through an apprenticeship program, at a public college or institute, polytechnic, private college, or university. To get started, enter a field of study in the search box.

You can also combine the information in this tool with information and advice from guidance counsellors, family members and others you trust, people working in different jobs, other career tools and visits to colleges and universities to help you make more informed education and career choices.

Below you will find more detail about the information found in the Career Tool, as well as some frequently asked questions (FAQs).

ABOUT THIS TOOL

Key Data Sources: Additional data sources

The tool uses the most current, available data in Canada, and will be updated as new data become available.

The information on the employment outcomes of college and university graduates is based on data from the 2011 National Household Survey and the 2013 National Graduates Survey. Both surveys are conducted by Statistics Canada, and provide a wide range of information about graduates and their employment experience after graduating (for example, annual earnings, occupations, satisfaction with programs of study). Unlike the National Household Survey, information from the National Graduates Survey does not include information on the graduates of private post-secondary institutions.

Information on where students can study a particular program comes from the Canadian Postsecondary Information Collection (CPIC), which includes information on both public and private institutions. Efforts to incorporate additional information from private institutions through CPIC updates and to include more comprehensive and up-to-date information on public institutions from the Postsecondary Student Information System are already underway.

Information on available jobs and wages is drawn from the Job Bank.

Fields of study

Field of study refers to an area of learning or training a student can study at a post-secondary institution. The tool will accept either a general field of study or a more specific education program in the search box.

Data from the National Household Survey are used to provide information on employment and earnings outcomes of graduates of up to 75 post-secondary fields of study by level (that is, diploma/certificate, bachelor's degree, master's degree and registered apprenticeship trade).

The National Graduates Survey, which reports on things like graduates' satisfaction, provides information on 13 broadly defined fields. These 13 fields group together similar programs. This should be noted when you use the tool.

For example, if you select "Electrical Engineering," the National Graduates Survey results on student satisfaction will be shown for the broader category "Architecture and Engineering," which includes electrical engineering and other fields of engineering (for example, mechanical, civil).

Here is a sample of the groupings in the National Graduates Survey.

  • "Architecture and engineering" includes:
    • Electrical engineering
    • Mechanical engineering
    • Chemical engineering and related studies
    • Civil engineering and related studies
    • Computer engineering
    • Industrial and manufacturing engineering
    • Other engineering related field
    • Architecture and related science
  • "Social and behavioural sciences" includes:
    • Communication, journalism and related programs
    • Psychology
    • Anthropology and archeology
    • Criminology
    • Economics
    • Political science and government
    • Geography, cartography, demography and population studies and urban studies/affaires
    • Sociology
    • Other social sciences
    • Family and consumer sciences/human sciences
    • Law, legal services and legal studies

For a more detailed description of the fields of study used in the tool, please consult the Classification of Instructional Programs at the Statistics Canada website:

Earnings

Earnings

The earnings data in the tool are from the 2011 National Household Survey. These data reflect the annual median earnings in 2010 of individuals who worked full-time for the full year.

Median earnings: (shown in the green bar and by the green needle) is a "middle" earnings value - half of people earn more than this amount, and half earn less.

Earnings range: (shown by the red information bar and the red area around the earnings dial/gauge) is an estimated range in which a quarter of all graduates earn less than the lower end of the earnings range, and another quarter earn more than the higher end of the range.

Earnings information has been adjusted to 2013 dollar values. It may capture earnings from multiple jobs in cases where a person worked in more than one job over the calendar year; however, it does not indicate whether multiple jobs are in the same employment field.

Factors that influence earnings

When you think about which education programs you might pick and how much you might earn, remember that many factors influence earnings, including:

  • where a person works;
  • the number of hours worked weekly; and
  • the number and types of degrees or diplomas completed over time.

This version of the tool shows an estimate of the earnings outcomes of graduates approximately five years after graduating. It does not present outcomes over the course of a person's working life. Earnings typically increase over time, as people gain work experience, build skills and benefit from new opportunities.

Presentation of earnings information

Where sufficient data are available, full earnings data are displayed (that is, median earnings and earnings range). Fields of study for which limited data exist do not appear in the tool or show only partial earnings data (that is, only the median earnings may be displayed). For the fields that show only partial earnings information, users can still view current wages in related occupations by going to the "What jobs do graduates have?" section of the tool.

Levels of study

Level of Study

The tool shows information on graduates' outcomes by level and field of study. These levels include:

Diploma/Certificate:
  • Prepares students for employment in a particular occupation or for a related group of occupations.
  • Requires that students study full-time between one and two years at a college or technical institute. Universities also offer some certificate or diploma programs.
Bachelor's Degree:
  • Is offered by universities, as well as by many colleges and polytechnics.
  • Typically involves the equivalent of three to four years of full-time study.
Master's Degree:
  • Ranges in number of years, but typically requires one or two years of full-time university study beyond the bachelor's level.
  • Normally requires a completed bachelor's degree for admission. Applicants who have a three-year undergraduate (bachelor's) degree are generally required to complete an additional qualifying year.
  • May require completion of a thesis or a course-based (non-thesis) program of study.
Registered trade apprenticeship:
  • Combines workplace training under the supervision of a qualified trades worker with in-school technical training.
  • Requires that students wanting to become apprentices find an employer willing to enter into an agreement with them to provide the required workplace training, and then register that agreement with a provincial or territorial apprenticeship authority.

How "employment," "unemployment," and "not looking" rates are calculated in the tool

Employment

Employment rate: the number of people who are employed (that is, who have a job or business) as a percentage of the total population. It is calculated by dividing the number of people employed by the total number of people both in and out of the labour force.

Unemployment rate: the number of people who are unemployed (that is, who are not employed but are actively looking for work) as a percentage of the total number of people in the labour force. It is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed by the total number of workers in the labour force (that is, those working or looking for work).

Not looking rate: the number of people who were not looking as a percentage of the total number of people in the labour force and out of the labour force. It is calculated by dividing the number of people who are not in the labour force (including those who are unwilling or unable to work, as well as full-time students who are currently attending school) by the total number of people in and out of the labour force.

National Graduates Survey indicators

The National Graduates Survey (Statistics Canada) was used in the tool to provide information about the opinions of college and university graduates, specifically:

  • Are graduates in jobs related to their field of study?
  • Would graduates choose the same field of study again?
  • Did graduates decide to pursue further post-secondary studies?

The National Graduates Survey data also include information about graduates' views on the match between their current job and their completed post-secondary field of study. Students were asked if their jobs were closely related, somewhat related or not related at all. Although the category "don't know" appears in the list of possible responses, "don't know" responses were not included in the tool.

National Apprenticeship Survey indicators

The National Apprenticeship Survey (Statistics Canada) was used in the tool to provide information about the opinions of apprenticeship/trades graduates, specifically:

  • Are graduates satisfied with their job earnings?
  • Did graduates pursue addiontional training or education?
  • Are graduate satisfied with job security?

Apprenticeships were asked if they were very satisfied, satisfied or dissatisfied with their earnings and job security. Due to the low numbers of respondents for some occupations the outcomes for the category "very disstisfied" and "dissatisfied" were merged. The cateory "don't know" also appears in the list of possible respoinses, however it was not included in the tool.


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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q1: How do I use this tool?
A: Enter a program of study in the search box.
Home Page Choose a level of study.
Keep in mind that many graduates have more than one post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree. The information in this tool is presented based on the highest credential held by many graduates. For example, to get an idea of how Bachelor's students do when they get a Master's degree, you would select the "Master's" button in the tool.
Use the tool to explore as many different education and career options as you wish!
You can also select "High-Paying Programs" to see the programs whose graduates have the highest earnings.

Q2: Are there more up-to-date data available for the tool?
A: The tool shows the most recent, valid and comparable national data available at the time of development. New information will be added as it becomes available.

Q3: How reliable and relevant is the information in the tool?
A: The data provided by Statistics Canada, as well as the ways in which the tool presents this information, have been validated by academics and technical experts to ensure the tool is relevant and of high quality.

Q4: How many fields of study are included in the tool?
A: Up to 75 fields of study broken down by educational level (for example, diploma, bachelor's ) are available. Information on these more detailed fields is drawn from the National Household Survey. Data from the National Graduates Survey (for example, about student satisfaction or further studies) provide information for 13 broader fields of study. For more detail, see description under Fields of study.

Q5: How do you define "high-paying" programs?
A: The high-paying programs list is a ranking, provided for each level of study, of the 25 fields whose graduates have the highest median earnings.

Q6: The tool provides measures of employment, unemployment, and not looking. How are they calculated?
A: Please see the descriptions provided in How "employment," "unemployment," and "not looking" rates are calculated in the Tool above.

Q7: What is the difference between a certificate/diploma, a registered trade, a bachelor's degree and a master's degree?
A: Please see the descriptions provided in Levels of Study above.

Q8: How are graduate outcomes "five years after graduation" calculated for the tool?
A: The National Household Survey does not report graduation dates. Information on five-year outcomes had to be estimated in the tool.

For college and university graduates, the median age of graduates reported in the National Graduates Survey was used to estimate the relevant post-graduation age range of respondents to the National Household Survey that best represents what a graduate might earn five years after graduation. For example, for bachelor's graduates, the median age of graduation reported in the National Graduates Survey is 23 years. To estimate outcomes five years after graduation, the tool uses National Household Survey data on 28 year olds, and combines this with data on individuals who are one or two years younger, or older, than age 28.

For apprenticeship graduates, the same process was used to determine the post-graduation age range in the National Household Survey (that is, 5 years +/- 2 years from the median age of graduation), except that the median age of graduation was estimated using the Registered Apprenticeship Information Survey (Statistics Canada) instead of the National Graduates Survey. The median age of graduation for apprentices is 28 years, so the age range selected from the National Household Survey was 31 to 35 years old.

Q9: Why do some programs/institutions not appear in the tool?
A: The information in the tool is based on data from the Canadian Postsecondary Information Collection (CPIC). The CPIC provides information on both public and private institutions. The program information is based on information available on institutions' websites, which is then classified according to the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP). Programs that cannot be classified at the more detailed 4 or 6-digit CIP do not appear in the tool (for example, some general programs). Efforts to incorporate additional information from private institutions through CPIC updates and to include more comprehensive and up-to-date information on public institutions from the Postsecondary Student Information System are already underway.

You should contact an institution directly if you have specific questions about its programs.

Post-Secondary institutions wanting to update their information in the CPIC can contact info@canlearn.ca for assistance. More information about the CIP is available at the Statistics Canada website.

Q10: Where in the tool can I find information about programs offered by private institutions?
A: Some information on programs offered by private institutions from the Canadian Postsecondary Information Collection (CPIC) is currently available in the tool and Employment and Social Development Canada is exploring how to get more comprehensive information on these programs. The National Household Survey data include graduates of both public and private institutions, but it is not possible to report this data separately for graduates of these two types of institutions.

Post-Secondary institutions wanting to update their information in the CPIC can contact info@canlearn.ca for assistance.

Q11: Can I find information about program satisfaction and job relatedness for trades graduates in the tool?
A: Although the National Graduates Survey provides good information about program satisfaction and job relatedness for college and university-level studies, information of comparable quality is not available for the trades. The tool currently includes links to videos to provide users with more information opportunities in the skilled trades. Work is underway to obtain and add new indicators from the National Apprenticeship Survey to address whether graduates pursued additional training or education programs, and their satisfaction with job security and earnings.

Q12: Why doesn't information about my chosen program of study appear in the tool?
A: For some programs of study there were not enough respondents to the survey to allow us to generate reliable information. As a result, graduate outcomes for these programs are not shown.

Q13: Why are some fields of study missing data?
A: Data that are missing and/or not available for certain fields of study reflect cases where there were not enough data to provide reliable estimates. Statistics Canada suppresses these estimates to ensure the quality of the data and/or anonymity of survey respondents.

Q14: Are there plans to add information on the costs of post-secondary education?
A: Employment and Social Development Canada is currently exploring other sources of information available in Canada on tuition costs. You may contact post-secondary institutions directly to find out about program costs.

Q15: Are there plans to present information at the provincial/territorial level?
A: Employment and Social Development Canada is exploring how best to provide information at the provincial/territorial level. Information is not currently shown due to the low number of respondents in smaller jurisdictions. Note that in most provinces and territories, there are periodic surveys of graduates that can provide you with additional information on graduate outcomes. In addition, provincial/territorial wage data is prepared by Employment and Social Development Canada and is available both on the Job Bank website and through the "What jobs do graduates have?" section of the tool.

Q16: What are the future plans for the tool?

A: Proposed future plans include:
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