Career Tool - Frequently Asked Questions


How to use this tool

  • Enter a program of study in the search box and choose a level of study.
  • Home page
  • Keep in mind that many graduates have more than one postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree. The information in this tool is presented based on the highest credential held by 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 career and education options as you wish.
  • You can also select "High-Paying Programs" to see the programs whose graduates have the highest earnings for each level of study.

Data Sources

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

Employment outcomes

The information on the employment outcomes of college, university and apprenticeship graduates is based on data from:

  • Census 2016 (Statistics Canada)
  • National Graduates Survey 2013 (Statistics Canada)
  • National Apprenticeship Survey 2013 (Statistics Canada)

The three 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 their program of study). Unlike the Census, the National Graduates Survey does not include information on graduates of private postsecondary institutions.

Postsecondary institutions and programs

Information on where students can study a particular program comes from the Canadian Postsecondary Information Collection (CPIC). This database is maintained by Employment and Social Development Canada and includes 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 4 or 6-digit CIP do not appear in the tool (for example, some general programs).

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 Census are used to provide information on employment and earnings outcomes of graduates. The information is available for 75 postsecondary fields of study by level, that is:

  • College diploma/certificate
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Master's degree
  • 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.

Data may not be available for certain fields of study 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.



The earnings data in the tool are from the 2016 Census. These data reflect the annual earnings in 2015 of individuals who worked full-time for the full year. Earnings information has been adjusted to 2018 dollar values.

Median earnings: (shown in the green bar and by the green needle) is a "middle" earnings value. This means that 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 box) 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.

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.

Determination of the "five years after graduation" outcomes

The Census 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. The median age of graduation reported in the National Graduates Survey is 23 years for both college and university graduates. To estimate outcomes five years after graduation, the tool uses Census 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 master graduates, the median age of graduation is 29 and the age range selected from the Census was 32 to 36 years old.

For apprenticeship graduates, the median age of graduation was estimated using the Registered Apprenticeship Information System (Statistics Canada). The median age of graduation for apprentices is 28 years, so the age range selected from the Census was 31 to 35 years old.

Levels of study

Level of Study

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

  • 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.

Determination of the "employment," "unemployment," and "not looking" rates


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 for work as a percentage of the total population. 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 postsecondary studies?

The National Graduates Survey data include information about graduates' views on the match between their current job and their completed postsecondary 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 additional training or education?
  • Are graduate satisfied with job security?

Apprentices 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 of the category "very dissatisfied" and "dissatisfied" were merged. The category "don't know" also appears in the list of possible responses but was not included in the tool.

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