We’re taught to follow our passions, but what happens when doing what you love doesn’t pay the bills?  A post-secondary degree is almost essential to get a decent job in Canada, but there’s a significant earnings gap for graduates depending on their chosen field of study.

Related: What If You’re Not University Material?

A CIBC World Markets report revealed that a large number of University graduates in Canada earn less than the national median income.  The study suggests that Canada has an excess supply of post-secondary graduates, mainly due to the relatively high number of graduates in less financially advantageous fields like social sciences and fine arts.

The cost of obtaining a diploma or degree has increased 20 percent since the late 2000’s, all the more reason for students to consider the return on their investment in education and understand the impact on future earnings.

The best jobs, according to this American study, definitely fall into the specialized and professional fields:

  1. Actuary
  2. Biomedical engineer
  3. Software engineer
  4. Audiologist
  5. Financial planner
  6. Dental hygienist
  7. Occupational therapist
  8. Optometrist
  9. Physical therapist
  10. Computer systems analyst

Not everyone has it in them to be a doctor or an engineer.  But the stakes are much too high to go into massive debt to get a history degree with minimal job prospects.

Related: How Fast Should You Pay Off Your Student Loans?

The other side of the coin is that parents are counted on even more today to help pay for their children’s education.  So if mom and dad are paying the bills, should they have a say in what their kids study at University?

That awkward question was posed by a student in the latest edition of MoneySense.  The second-year English major said her parents thought her degree was a waste of time and they were refusing to give her any more RESP money unless she switched disciplines.

My take is that if parents were more selective in the types of degrees they were willing to pay for then we’d have far less career students and fluff majors in University today.

I’d strongly encourage my kids to take something more useful in school and explore their interests on the side.  That’s not to say I’d discourage an entrepreneurial spirit – many business owners just aren’t cut out for higher education and traditional employment – but I’d want to see a well thought out plan for the future.

Related: The Best Way To Start Your Very Small Side Business

I work for a University and one of the benefits is that our kids can go to school here for free (tuition is free; you still pay for other fees and books).

So, if my kids attend the local University they’ll save at least $20,000 to $25,000 versus studying elsewhere.  Should I demand they attend local University?

How much say should parents have in what their child studies in University?  Can you afford to “do what you love”, or should you take a more practical approach to education and employment?


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