Is schooling matching real world requirements?

While the number of degree holders in North America continues to grow, over-educated prospective employees are being forced to settle for work either below their level of education, for less money or in unrelated fields. Should this problem be entirely blamed on job market saturation or are university students simply choosing the wrong majors?

Recently, Workopolis conducted a study on the matter. They surveyed Canadians about their thoughts and experiences with university education and matched it up with information from Statistics Canada. The study found that nearly 75% of working university graduates have jobs in areas unrelated to their primary field of study. Their findings indicate that only a handful of degrees yield valuable returns in the current job market. Among these high-return fields of study are: Engineering, Law, Math, Computer Science, Pharmacy, Human Resources, and Nursing.

What job seekers can expect from a degree in Engineering?

From the data collected, it would seem that pursuing an engineering degree results in the highest starting salary on average. Of these fields the average starting annual salary of an Engineering grad is the highest at $76,000.

  1. Engineering ($76,000)
  2. Healthcare ($69,600)
  3. Computer Science ($68,000)
  4. Math ($67,600)
  5. Law ($67,600)

Within Engineering, Workopolis also breaks down the most common jobs in Engineering and the average annual salary a new graduate can expect.

  1. Software Engineer ($80,000)
  2. Electrical Engineer ($79,000)
  3. Project Engineer ($75,000)
  4. Design Engineer ($73,000)
  5. Mechanical Engineer ($73,000)

Along with the highest average starting salary, Engineering graduates can feel comfortable knowing they can expect a higher level of job opportunities related to what they actually studied.

Degrees most likely to lead to a directly-related job:

  1. Nursing (97%)
  2. Pharmacy (94%)
  3. Computer Science (91%)
  4. Engineering (90%)
  5. Human Resources (88%)

(Percentage of graduates at bachelors, masters and PhD level with jobs directly related to their field of study.)

Transferable Skills Put Engineering Degrees Ahead

Prospective students need to know that they should pursue their passions, but the chance of immediate employment for a recent graduate greatly depends on their choice of major. Much like the other high-return programs, engineering offers more of the hands-on experience and transferrable skills that employers yearn for.

Paying off student loans is a long-term undertaking. Workopolis notes that, on average, an undergraduate degree costs $23,000. Education should be an investment, not a burden. It should prepare a student for the real world and increase their likelihood of success. When Boomers retire, there is little doubt that the demand for healthcare professionals will climax, but the job market will also open up across the board. In the meantime, a degree in Engineering arguably has the most to offer prospective students. At the least, prospective students should educate themselves about the current job market before choosing a field of study. This will ensure that their intended career meets the requirements of the real world.