Most people think that to get a decent career a university degree is a must.  However, for those who drop out of school, or are languishing in a dead end, tedious, paper-pushing job it might not have been the best way to go, especially if they’re stuck with a huge student loan to repay.

University teaches critical thinking which is an important skill when employees need to adapt to a constantly changing environment.  But you don’t always need to have a Bachelor’s degree or better to survive and thrive in this economy.  Just be smart about the field you choose and the training you get.

Make sure you get some skills.  A job that requires only a short period of training will have a lot of competition for the positions, which will keep the pay low.  By contrast any job that requires a one-or two-year certificate or diploma together with extensive on-the-job training can pay considerably more.

Consider a college or technical institute

Both are typically less expensive than university, and a diploma or certificate can be obtained in just two years.  There are huge varieties of training and educational programs that are definitely worth checking into and the employment opportunities pay off quite quickly in higher earnings.

Online degree programs are another option that can save you money. When taking your courses online, you can save on tuition, transportation, and other university costs. You will have access to your coursework at all times, so you can set your own schedule.

It is also worth noting that many students are now earning advanced degrees like the MA in Strategic Communication and the MS in Nutrition Education online, giving you more options when looking to further your education.  When going for one of these degrees, you can continue working as you complete your online courses, since these programs are completely flexible, giving you an advance over your competition.

What about a trade?

TV’s construction expert, Mike Holmes, has often lamented the current lack of interest in specialized trades.  If you like hands-on work you can go through a combined education of apprenticeship and classes – earning as you learn.

In four years, as a journeyman, you can earn very good wages in a booming housing market or (especially) in the oil patch, for example.  With experience, those with an entrepreneurial bent can easily start their own lucrative businesses.

If you’re motivated you can go to night school (or try distance learning) and get a degree while working a full-time job.

Give some thought to the future prospects of the career you choose.  Any job that can be automated or outsourced overseas probably will be, whether the position is high paid or low.

A job is at risk if there is little actual skill involved, if the work is skilled but technical, and face-to-face contact with customers isn’t necessary.  (It surprises me that banks still employ a full complement of tellers more than twenty years after the introduction of the first ABM’s, and online and mobile banking.)

Go to www.hrsdc.gc.ca for the 10-year Canadian employment forecast for various occupations and industries.


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