Salaries of College / University Graduates – Research Tools

Planning is essential
Planning is essential

This isn’t about greed. It’s about the fastest, cheapest, best way to get where you really want to be and considering whether or not there is a reasonable possibility of getting there given what you are putting in.

This is a process to apply to an investment decision of your time, talent, and treasure towards a goal. If a strange man asked you for $100,000 and four years of your life, you would certainly want to research the inputs, outputs, risks, and alternatives, and not necessarily rely. The strange man just happens to be an attractive and charming recruiter standing behind a table at a college/university recruiting fair, a slick brochure, or a pretty university website.

1. Select a potential career

For example: registered nurse.

2. Investment – Time and money and best allocation of your time, talent, and treasure

Identify what paths can lead to the desired career. It could be via:

  • formal apprenticeship programs
  • direct entry, learning on the job, self-study, and promotion to desired position
  • networking and contacts getting you in
  • industry-recognized certifications
  • vocational college certificate and diploma programs (6 months to 3 years)
  • diploma-to-degree
  • university bachelor degree or more
  • dropping out

For a registered nurse, the only paths in Ontario are a university bachelor degree program, though you can study via a college-university hybrid program (e.g. Conestoga-McMaster Nursing BScN vs. McMaster-only Nursing BScN) that can save you on living and tuition costs.

Returns – Salary expectations and career span

Will you actually be able to get a job in the field? What is the level of competition (e.g. number of grads versus number of entry-level jobs)? Will you need social connections, skills, virtues, or physical/mental traits that are difficult to obtain and are you willing and able to obtain them? How much will be luck and/or waiting it out for others to drop out of the running in order to move up? Will you be fighting for scraps of work at a low wage? Do you expect to be doing this job until retirement? How long can you be reasonably sure the job or industry will exist? Will you personally work at it long enough for the investment to pay off compared to something with a quicker payback? Will you be able to take the job with you if you want to move? Will you be able to pass the job on to children via apprenticeship? Do you need this much money? More? Less?

  • EPRI-ESDC Tax Linkage Project – Wow! Good for an overall view, but does not deep dive into particular sub-fields (e.g. does not break “business” out into “accounting” and “marketing”).
  • – Gives nice graphs and overview of the field.
    • The best method I’ve found for Canadian users is to do a Google search like this: job_title canada
    • For example, do a Google search for: nurse canada
    • The top hit will be: Registered Nurse (RN) Salary (Canada)
    • When you visit the page, make sure to click “Show Annual Salary,” otherwise you might actually be seeing salary figures for the United States. Note that, by default, the graph on the top shows averages for workers of all experience levels.
    • If you scroll down, you will see a graph labelled “Pay by Experience Level for Registered Nurse (RN).” This will give you a good idea of the pay levels as you progress in the field. If you run your mouse along the curve, you will see the salary and “count” (number of survey respondents) at that experience level, which will give you an idea of how many people start and how many people have that same job title after twenty years. The others may have been promoted/transferred to related job title (there may be a graph for that on the career’s page), left the field entirely, or left the cash economy (perhaps to raise a family). Or the entire field may be very new or youth-oriented and have few gray-hairs. If your job title will change and that data will be elsewhere.
  • College graduate data –
  • University graduate data –