AT RANDOM: Off to work we go

Columnist examines Canada's top and hottest jobs. Hers isn't one of them, but Cara Brady still enjoys being a newspaper reporter

Work — paid or unpaid, praised or damned, love it or hate it, everybody does it. Some people work in careers they’ve dreamed of since childhood — others change careers, not just jobs, on average, three to seven times over their work lives.

People who are starting or changing careers have a lot to think about. Do they go for the highest paying jobs, the jobs that are most in demand, or what they really want to do?

The top 10 jobs in Canada that pay more than $100,000 a year, not surprisingly, take at least a bachelor degree, sometimes as long as 10 or more years of post-secondary education, and a lot of experience to reach peak earning potential. According to Statistics Canada, these jobs are:

10. banking, credit and investment manager: $101,845 per year average (degree in business administration to start)

9. engineering manager: $113,403 (degree in engineering)

8. lawyer: $123,632: bachelor degree plus three years law school

7. senior manager of trade, broadcasting and other services: $124,000 (bachelor degree)

6. dentist $131,552: bachelor degree and four years dental school

5. general practitioner and family physician: $132,615 (bachelor degree plus four years medical school plus residency of two or more years)

4. senior manager of goods production, utilities, transportation and construction: $160,947 (bachelor degree)

3. senior manager of financial, communications and other business services: $162,376 (bachelor degree)

2. judge: $178,053 (lawyer with at least 10 years experience)

1. specialist physician: $179,514 (bachelor degree, medical school, up to six more years residency in specialty)

Do high pay and high demand ever coincide? Sometimes. Note: average annual income in Canada 2009, Statistics Canada: family (two or more people) $74,700; single male $37,900; single female $33,800.

Canadian Living hottest jobs:

1. financial manager; 2. skilled tradesperson (pays above national average) 40 per cent of new jobs in the next 20 years will be in the skilled trades; 3. college or vocational school instructor (new technology or skilled trades most in demand). Number of openings exceed number of qualified candidates; 4. dentist or dental hygienist. More job openings than qualified candidates; 5. computer information systems manager, wages double that of national average; 6. university professor; demand expected to grow with demand for an educated work force; 7. human resource specialist or manager; business degree, demand expected to stay strong; 8. pharmacist, requires B.Sc. plus pharmacy degree, growing demand, good pay with many pharmacists owning their businesses; 9. registered nurse, bachelor degree, in high demand in Canada and internationally; 10. retail manager; flexible hours, pay above average, needs good people skills but does not require post secondary education.

With all this in mind, I wondered what I would do if I had to do it all over again. When I was in high school, guidance counselors presented three choices for the girls who weren’t getting married right after graduation — teacher, secretary or nurse. I tried teacher for a number of years.

I found the quiz, Find Your Perfect Job, on I approached it skeptically, remembering a job suitability survey I did many years ago that suggested my peculiar skills equipped me to be a crossword puzzle creator, cartoonist or editor.

The perfect jobs for my personality according to the recent quiz: artist, historian, banker, novelist, university professor….  The comment was, “You are quiet, private, practical and think things through. You are creative and like to learn new things, like to listen to others, avoid attention and are concerned about how what you do affects others, like to be behind the scenes.”

All good work choices and the comment seemed reasonable. With the right education, I think I might have liked any one of the jobs. But I think I did something that was for me more interesting and enjoyable — if not more profitable. As a long-time newspaper reporter, I have combined aspects of many of these jobs. I meet a lot of admirable people and have learned and written about their lives, causes and concerns. And, I like to think that in my own quiet, behind-the-scenes way, I am doing some good.

—Cara Brady is a reporter for The Morning Star…