What are the myths you’ve heard about university? You might not even know they’re not true!
Well-meaning teachers, guidance counsellors, parents, siblings, friends, acquaintances may all share what they know about university with you. But it may be very subjective, or opinion-based, or just plain incorrect!
Below, I’m sharing two of the beliefs that I have heard from students over the years, and deconstructing them. These are both about post-bachelor’s degree employment: Will you make enough money, and will you find a job?
Myth #1: You’ll never make any money if you study something you like
Your degree and major will impact how much you earn after graduation, this is true. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t make any money studying something you enjoy! I’ve pulled some information from Statistics Canada (StatsCan) below showing median salaries for different types of degree a few years after graduation. The amounts vary quite a bit so I encourage you to do specific research for your area of study (you can use the links in the Resources section at the bottom of the page).
My purpose here is just really to show that you have options, and that it’s necessary to do some research. You might want to think about what “any” money means. Yes, there are certain degrees that make more money. But if you hate studying those subjects, is it worth it to struggle through your degree and then end up working in that area for many years? Maybe it is for you, but maybe it’s not.
We make lots of assumptions about what majors will result in the highest income. If you look below, the sciences are not that far ahead of social sciences, and there are other fields like business and management that earn more than the sciences. Yes, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) degrees are the highest paid, but the social sciences are not that far behind, comparatively. Also, health subjects are way up there, even for an undergraduate degree.
Check out how much students are earning five years after getting their undergraduate degree (these numbers median incomes for students who graduated in 2014, how much they were earning in 2019, according to StatsCan). Remember that these are median salaries, so that means they are just the mid-range (not the average).
|Field of Study||Annual Salary|
|Social & Behavioural Sciences & Law||$52,600|
|Physical and Life Sciences & Technologies||$58,800|
|Business, Management & Public Administration||$63,200|
|Mathematics, Computer & Information Sciences||$74,200|
|Architecture, Engineering & Related Technologies||$76,800|
StatsCan actually has a really cool tool where you can see the comparative median incomes of the class of 2014 both two and five years after graduation. Click the image to head the website, and you can filter more specifically. If you’re looking for more detail on a particular area of study, click the image below to visit the site and use the filters to see different subjects.
You can also filter by province to get the most accurate information for where you plan to live and work.
So now when somebody tells you that you’ll never make any money with a Bachelor of Arts or Education, you can give them an actual number of the amount previous grads are earning!
Remember, you should also be doing your own career research before and throughout university so you have the most up-to-date information.
Myth #2: You’re never going to get a job with a degree in THAT!
Again, the best way around this is doing career research before you start university and then while you’re a student. You can read more about this here:
But if you’re looking for some general data about post-degree employability, once again we can turn to the 2016 census. This table shows the employment rates of people aged 25-34 with bachelors degrees at that time. You can also head to the link in the Resources section below to see more specific information.
|Degree||Total in Workforce||Employed (%)||Unemployed (%)|
|Any||1,018,275||960,565 (94.3%)||57,710 (5.7%)|
|STEM||240,510||225,215 (93.6%)||15,290 (6.4%)|
|non-STEM||777,765||735,350 (94.5%)||42,415 (5.5%)|
Additionally, those numbers are from 2016. However, the national unemployment rate in 2016 was 7%, and in 2021 it was 7.5%, so we can assume the numbers might be similar while we wait for the 2021 census data to be published.
Unfortunately, the table above only shows those who were participating in the workforce, and it doesn’t show how much they are working or whether they are working in a field related to their studies. This data can be found for British Columbia (resource #4 below) where they indicate that 75% of those with bachelor’s degrees are working in an area related to their studies, but there is not a lot of detail on how far out from graduation these folks are. I’ll keep searching and update this page if I find more information.
What should you do with this information?
My goal with providing this information is to arm students against some of the myths about university degrees that are out there. We hear things that are stated as facts by people we trust: parents, teachers, counsellors, but we need to check that they really are facts before we believe them.
You should still be researching specific jobs and careers that may be of interest to you after graduation, because the statistics above are very broad and don’t give a lot of information about the types of jobs these students end up with or the salary ranges.
But hopefully deconstructing these myths about university has been helpful for you to see how necessary it is to do your research!