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Canada: Career Prospects - Must read

Top five graduate jobs in Canada

We investigate the top graduate jobs for international students in Canada, including what you can expect to be paid, where you’ll work and crucially how you qualify to work in Canada.

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International students consistently register their interest in studying and working in Canada. The primary reasons cited for this is the reputation of the higher education sector and the quality of Canadian institutions, combined with the high quality of life and work prospects. What’s important to know when choosing what you may study in the country, and if you intend to work there, is what the in-demand jobs in Canada are. This includes the best jobs for graduates, some of highest paying work you can get and how you can qualify to work in Canada. We take a closer look.


Job opportunities in Canada


As a starting point it’s useful to take a look at the general landscape of the Canadian economy and employment in the country. Overall the economy is robust and has shown a relatively low unemployment rate over the last five years, usually dipping just below seven per cent.  This has naturally changed slightly in recent times, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but still sits just below eight per cent.  Let’s take a look at couple of the key statistics:


  • Average hourly rate of earnings – CAD 30 per hour
  • Minimum wage – CAD 11 per hour
  • Wage growth (2020) – 5.9 per cent
  • Average retirement age – 65
  • Employment rate – 59 per cent


Some of the sectors of the economy which employ the highest number of people include:



Remember that wages and job opportunities will differ between various sectors of the economy as well as geographical location. For example, there is quite a big difference between the job opportunities in British Columbia and Canada’s northern most province, Nunavut.


If you want to discover more about the different provinces and universities in the country, read our guide to the top universities in Canada.


What are the best jobs for graduates in Canada?


If you are looking for the best chance to find employment in Canada after you have graduated then there are certain disciplines which you should definitely investigate. Some also make the top list of high paying jobs in Canada and include:


1. Doctor and physician


If you are an aspiring healthcare professional, then you do significantly increase your potential of getting a job in Canada. In fact, becoming a doctor or physician tops the list of the best jobs for graduates in Canada. You also get paid pretty well with the average salary for a doctor being between CAD 120,000 and CAD 150,00 per year.


2. Nurse

Another profession in the healthcare sector that is an in-demand job in Canada is nursing. Hospitals and healthcare are a very significant part of the Canadian economy and so pursuing a nursing qualification will lead to good graduate prospects and a potential salary of up to CAD 100,000 per year.  


3. Dentist


A job that sits in the top five professions most coveted in the Canada is that of practicing as a dentist. It offers good job security and is a service-oriented job that comes with its own rewards. The general salary benchmark for dentists in Canada is between CAD 85,000 and CAD 95,000 per year.


4. Engineer


As a country with a huge number of natural resources and renewable energy requirements, Canada most certainly needs and values engineers. Being able to solve complex issues and come up with innovative and elegant solutions brings its rewards, including a salary of between CAD 75,000 and CAD 100,000 per year, depending on the sector you work in and your experience. Qualifying in an engineering discipline such as electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and civil engineering will all stand you in good stead.


5. Pharmaceutical professional


Pharmaceutical science has seen increased investment in Canada over the last couple of years. As a field closely allied to healthcare and medicine, studying a pharmaceutical science degree is a good option if you’re planning on staying in Canada to work. The sector is considered to be one of the top ten in Canada and is still growing. The country is also home to some of the big-name pharmaceutical companies, like Pfizer and AstraZeneca. Pharmaceutical science graduates enjoy a 95 per cent employment rate in Canada and can expect to earn on average CAD 95,000 per year.


Can I work and study in Canada?


The short answer to this question is yes, but with very clear requirements. If you are studying at a university in Canada you are allowed to work off-campus as an international student without a work permit if you are registered at a designated learning institution. In addition, your programme of study has to be longer than six months and lead to the award of a recognised qualification.


When you have registered and enrolled as a student in Canada you will need to get a social insurance number (SIN) in order to work. The SIN gives you access to workplace opportunities, government programmes and benefits. There is also an application process that you must undertake in order to get a SIN.


Very importantly, once and if you have all of the above in place, you can only work 20 hours a week during term time. However, you can work full-time during holidays, as long as you are a permanent student before and after.


Find out more about applying for a Canadian student visa.


How to get a work permit in Canada


The first criteria that you have to meet to get a work permit in Canada once you have graduated is that your degree comes from a government accredited institution. Make sure that your university and programme are eligible for the granting of post-graduation work permit (PGWP). You also need to meet the following criteria to qualify:


  • You are a full-time student at a DLI
  • You are authorised to work off-campus with no work-permit
  • You do not exceed the allowable work hours
  • You have studied a programme of longer than eight months


Don’t forget to make sure that your passport and study permit are up to date when applying for a PGWP. A PGWP will give you the chance to stay in Canada after you have graduated, but this will also depend on the length of the course you have studied:


  • Eight months but less than two years qualifies you for the same length of time that you studied.
  • A two year or more study programme will get you a three-year PGWP.
  • Studying more than one programme can allow you to combine your study time for the equivalent PGWP period, but each course must be longer than eight months.


For a more in depth look at how to get a work permit in Canada, take a look at our guide to the PGWP in Canada.


Top universities for graduate employment in Canada


When you’re evaluating a prospective university you’re probably going to consider what sort of employment prospects there are for graduates, especially when you go looking for job opportunities in Canada. According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020 the top universities for graduate employability is Canada are:


  1. University of Toronto
  2. McGill University
  3. University of British Columbia
  4. University of Montreal
  5. McMaster University
  6. University of Alberta
  7. University of Victoria
  8. Dalhousie University
  9. University of Waterloo


Planning your studies abroad requires a lot of research and good job prospects post-graduation are always important. Understanding what’s on offer in Canada and the best jobs for graduates will help you make better choices. You may also want to explore Canada further and see what makes it so unique for international students and the top five things to do as a student in Canada.