Graduate survey shows stark differences in salaries

Several years after graduation, majors—and genders—matter


Thanks to Statistics Canada’s National Graduate Survey 2010, we already knew that the vast majority of university graduates were employed and earning decent incomes three years after graduating.

Considering that, it’s not surprising that a new survey of 21,000 bachelor’s graduates from 41 universities, which was filled out six years or seven after their 2006 and 2007 convocations, reveals much the same: a 96 per cent employment rate, little variation in employment rates between disciplines, and a median income of $63,000.

It’s also not surprising (however disappointing) that a gender gap presents itself. Women reported median incomes of $60,000 compared to $70,000 for men.

What’s really striking is the big range of reported earnings by degree. A report on the survey (from the Canadian University Baccalaureate Graduate Outcomes Project) offers more proof that, while most graduates find work, those from certain degree programs are much more likely to get high-paying jobs. It includes a chart (copied below) that shows earnings for the 25th to 75th percentile of students by degree type. At the bottom are humanities graduates, who tended to make $40,000 to $65,000. At the top are engineering graduates, who tended to earn between $65,000 and $100,000. Business graduates were in between, at $55,000 to $90,000.

The Canadian University Baccalaureate Graduate Outcomes Project

The survey also showed that more than 10 per cent of humanities and education graduates were working part-time, while nearly all engineering and business graduates reported full-time work. That could hint at “underemployment” for humanities and education grads.

Also interesting is that the survey found employment rates are similar regardless of whether graduates are visible minorities, first-generation students (first in the family to attend college or university), living in certain regions or speak French. The survey did, however, find that disabled graduates were less likely to be employed: 90 per cent were, compared 96 per cent overall.

As for that gender gap in earnings, we already knew that young women who are good at math in high school are half as likely as young men who excel in the subject to choose math-heavy STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computer science). Here we’re reminded that STEM graduates often earn more.


Graduate survey shows stark differences in salaries

  1. People who only have bachelor’s degrees…..in any subject….earn less than people with master’s and PhDs…in any subject.

    Why are we playing these games?

    • I think the jest is if a STEM graduate you are more likely to get jobs. If you have a fluffy degree, your incomes and job prospects will not be as good.

      But I agree, not all is kosher in above. I know lots of disabled with degrees, even in STEM, and the unemployment is much higher than 10%, its closer to 90% for legally disabled people. Also, for every 5 with a PhD, only one has a job requiring and teaching as a PhD, 4 in 5 are employed in positions not needed a PhD.

      Society need productive professions. If you look at the job market and education, we are graduating far too many consumption degrees and not enough production degrees.

      A consumption degree like a teacher is about 1 in 4 actually get a teachers job. High pay, low hours, summers off….but the market is flooded with teachers.

      Meanwhile production jobs go unfilled. But it is changing, production wages are now gaining on consumption jobs outside of government.

  2. I was a graduate of STEM before it was called STEM.

    Good way to go. Best part is the skills are often portable, I worked outside of Canada for 12 years living in 4 countries and visited 30+ more, made good money and enjoyed the career.

    Society has jobs for STEM graduates, no so with fluffy degrees in arts, basket weaving, sexology and civil services….

    Lots of productive jobs, just a shortage of consumption jobs.

    • Riiiight….which is why you’re always on here talking about how poor and downtrodden you are.

      • Envious that I am here not because I am unemployed, but because I already saved and invested enough that work is option for me?

        Never said I was poor, tell that to my accountant. Question is who is your daddy?

        • Dave if you actually had any money an accountant wouldn’t be looking after it. Nor would you spend all your time complaining about taxes.
          You’re middle-class retired, with a disability pension and some investments…..which is fine…but stop trying to squeeze money out of everyone else because you want more. That’s not how you get it.

  3. Why is this even newsworthy?

    It is pretty obvious that folks with an education in fields that actually generate something people want/need, are going to do better than those with an education in a useless degree such as womyn’s studies.

    • Ahhh James is back….still fussing about women’s studies.

      Women are 52% of the population, Jimmy. So it’s kind of an important field of study.

      Also, if you’re looking for fame and fortune, don’t go into STEM fields.

      • True, women make up the majority of the population, but of that 52% I’m sure a great many of them have the same views on such a useless field of study as I do. If a business looks at a persons credentials, and sees “Women’s studies” as the field of study…..there is a good chance the person is not qualified. Unless of course it is STARBUCKS, or some lesbian activist organization who thinks a degree in victimhood is a real profession capable of providing a profitable service.

        Emily….please enlighted the readers of which businesses (Real businesses, not an NGO, or school) actually value such a degree; and what qualifications it brings.

        • Where do you get the idea that most other people agree with you….even though you’ve had life-long evidence that they don’t?

          PS Since women are 52% of the population, they are also 52% of everything else. Finance, education, science, business…..and knowledge about women….their history, progress etc….is invaluable in an employee.

          PPS In any case James….why do YOU care? It sounds like you take personal offense over the matter, and it’s nothing to do with you.

          We’ve learned men’s history for thousands of years….time to learn about the majority.

          • I agree with him and I work in Human Resources. Any university degree that ends in ‘studies’ – women, gender, media, Indian, communications etc is generally a worthless degree. At one time graduates of those programs could at least write and do some critical thinking, but those skills are non-existent. Employers have to do too much work to just get them up to speed on thinking and writing – it is easier to hire a high school graduate and work with them – they at least don’t demand huge salaries because “they have a degree”

        • Maureen/Richard/James….you ARE him.

  4. Shocking – NOT!

    The difference in female earnings is that most females go into the humanities not because they can’t do math or science (but I sometimes wonder about that) but because they don’t want to spend the hours required to do the work. For years women have been encouraged to enter into STEM programs and have chosen not to do so. So no complaints about how women earn less than men – do the time and you will earn the money.

    • So….astronauts, theoretical physicists, engineers etc make more than writers, musicians, directors, actors, professors, administrators etc in your world eh?

      Tell Dick and Jim.

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