The most common major field of study for adults aged 25 to 64 with either a college diploma or university degree in Canada was business, management, marketing and related support services, according to Statistics Canada.
Fewer young people aged 25 to 34 had a trades certificate or college diploma in ‘mechanic and repair technologies/technicians,’ ‘precision production’ and ‘construction trades’ compared with older adults aged 55 to 64. Examples of workers in ‘precision production’ are machinists, sheet metal workers and welders.
Other top areas of study include health-related subjects, education, and psychology. There’s good reason for the dominance of those fields — students see them as the quickest, clearest way forward to a decent career after graduation.
Statistics Canada estimates the average cost of an undergraduate degree in Canada to be $23,000. And this is just the price of tuition, it does not include other fees, books and supplies, or the cost of the years spent not working. With the rising cost of a university degree, students often make bets on the most popular majors with a track record of having a high return on investment.
But not everyone wants a conventional degree, or a conventional job. For people with a more unconventional career in mind, several Canadian schools offer hundreds of majors in highly specialized subjects, from aerospace engineering to jewelry design. According to CheatSheet, earning a degree in a narrowly focused field can be a smart move for people who have a clear vision for what they want to do with the rest of their life and the drive to succeed in what may be a very competitive environment. But picking a specialized major can backfire if you choose a field that later turns out not to be a good fit or is harder than you expected for finding work.
Yet those majors do exist, along with other “weird” and specialized courses of study. These weird college majors, which are only offered at a few schools, can lead to weird jobs that are highly specialized — and pay decent salaries, according to information from CheatSheet.
Offered at only a couple schools, this major (and master’s-level program) is extremely competitive, requiring not just an application but a portfolio and an audition. Humber College in Toronto as well as the University of Toronto and the Institute of Puppetry Arts in Nova Scotia offers programs for students.
Once you graduate, you can expect to earn around $40,000 a year with a degree in puppetry.
2. Bowling Industry Management
In the U.S. bowling is the nation’s No. 1 participatory sport, a US$10 billion industry that had four years of consecutive growth in 2011. More than 71 million people bowled between April 2009 and March 2010, the most ever. At the same time, the face of bowling has changed, with more youth and women frequenting the lanes. Since 2007, the number of adult women bowling per year has risen 12.9%, from 21.7 million to 24.5 million. In the past year, there has been a 16.7% increase in participation among 6-to-13-year-olds and a 5.8% increase among 14-to-17-year-olds. These demographic changes are also the same in Canada – indicating that there is growth and increased opportunities for those interested in pursuing a career in bowling.
Bowling alley managers earn between $39,000 and $56,000, according to CheatSheet. Bonus: You can finish this degree in two years.
3. Dutch studies
Area studies that focus on particular geographies or cultures are pretty common college majors. Many schools offer majors and concentrations in Latin American East Asian, or Middle Eastern studies. At least two schools in Canada, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Toronto, offer this major. Both offer courses on the language, literature, and culture of the Netherlands, a country of 16.8 million people that’s about twice the size of New Jersey. There are roughly over 500,000 native Dutch speakers in Canada.
What might be a future career for a Dutch studies student? Students might be able to pursue careers as diplomats, teachers, or translators. Interpreters and translators earn about $45,000 a year. Payscale doesn’t have data on salaries for Dutch studies majors, but it does provide information about the similar field of German studies, where graduates earn an average of $43,794 in entry-level positions.
4. Adventure education
For people who love the wild outdoors, a career in adventure education could be the path to a fulfilling career. Majors in adventure education and related fields, while hardly as common as those in business or English, are offered at a number of schools, including Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Thompson Rivers University, and Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. The major doesn’t just involve spending time scaling mountains and river rafting. At Plymouth State, the program combines technical courses like rock climbing and wilderness expedition with theoretical and philosophical studies.
After graduation, students may go on to jobs in outdoor education, environmental education, or adventure travel. Average salaries for outdoor education majors range from $28,000 to $37,382 depending on years of experience, according to Payscale, though the number of people reporting their earnings is small.
5. Racetrack management
Those who were more excited about the Kentucky Derby may find an educational home at Old’s College in Alberta, which offers the country’s only program in racetrack management. According to the website, students will have access to a variety of race horse breeds and Alberta A Track facilities to help them develop into professional gallop riders and/or jockeys. The program has been developed in conjunction with Horse Racing Alberta to provide the racing industry with qualified riders who will excel at the race track and at training centres. The instructors are experienced professionals, with North American and International experience to help students learn best practices and techniques with a focus on safety and continuous improvement. Olds College boasts an excellent range of equine amenities including the Canadian Equine Centre of Innovation (CECI), a state of the art multimillion dollar riding arena, and stables complex.
Entry-level salaries in the industry average $41,000, according to Payscale, increasing to $72,000 for those with two or more decades of experience.
Would you try any of these majors?