Are you looking for a job that pays well but doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree and years of formal study?
If so, pursuing a certificate program could be the perfect solution. These training programs teach students all of the skills needed to land an entry-level position in their chosen field.
As the demand for skilled trades increases, technicians and trade workers stand to earn as much as (and often more than) university graduates.
Below, I’ll go over some of the highest-paying certificate programs in Canada so that you can fast-track your path to success!
Certificate Program vs University Degree: What’s Better?
Many high-paying jobs don’t require formal education. They simply require applicants to be certified in specific high-demand skills. In many cases, it’s easier for skilled technicians and trade workers to find work than university graduates.
Just ask all of the college and uni grads who are working for low-wage jobs outside of their field of study.
A certificate program is a focused educational program designed to provide you with specific skills or knowledge for your desired career, such as:
- Automotive repair
- Web/app development
- Digital marketing
- Digital art or music production
- Fitness/yoga instruction
- Information technology/cybersecurity
Aside from the more modern technical skills, certificate programs can also provide vital training and certification for time-tested trades such as:
- Electrical work
Most programs can be pursued at community colleges, technical schools, and vocational institutions. Private education platforms may also provide training for technical fields like web development, which may not require applicants to provide official certifications.
Certificates typically target skill-specific training for immediate application and often take less time to complete than a traditional degree. Earning a certificate can help you enter or advance in a particular career, prepare for higher education, or enhance your existing degree, making you a more valuable employee.
On the other hand, a traditional university degree, whether it’s an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral, requires several years of comprehensive study around a broader academic discipline.
During this time, you’ll need to commit to school full-time, which means you may need to put off work and take out student loans to cover the bills while you’re in school.
I’m not trying to down-talk university by any means. Degrees are still required for many professional careers.
However, the age-old belief that people need university degrees to be successful should be reevaluated.
- Related Reading: Student Loan Forgiveness Options In Canada
One-Year Certificate Programs And Jobs: No Degree Required
If a four-year degree sounds like more time than you’re willing to commit to pursuing a career, consider pursuing a one-year certificate program. These programs typically only require applicants to have a high school diploma and prepare students for entry-level career opportunities.
After obtaining their certificate and finding employment, many employees pursue further training and certifications to build on their skills and earn even more.
1. Web Designer
- Average Base Salary: $54,296
Most web development certificate programs can be completed within a year or less with part-time education. If you’re willing to commit to a full-time “boot camp” program, you could get certified in as little as three or four months.
While web design is a competitive field today, you can improve your chances of employment by specializing in difficult-to-learn languages, learning to use AI applications to your benefit, and networking with prospective employers.
2. Makeup Artist
- Average Base Salary: $61,652
How long do you spend looking in the mirror every day? Do you enjoy film, theatre, and dance? Canada’s film industry is huge (thanks to film tax credits), which means there are plenty of job opportunities in this field.
If so, then pursuing a career as a makeup artist could be both lucrative and fun.
The certification program required to become a makeup artist typically takes 10 to 12 months, depending on where you go. During your education, you’ll learn cosmetology foundations and the art of applying makeup.
3. Flight Attendant
- Average Base Salary: $39,469
If you don’t mind frequently changing time zones and the idea of travel excites you, then pursuing a career as a flight attendant might be right up your alley.
The Canadian Aviation College offers a 54-week flight attendant program that will teach you everything you need to know about airline safety, procedures, and customer service so that you can work for major airlines like Air Canada, WestJet, and others.
4. Dental Assistant
- Average Base Salary: $85,639
Dental assistants provide vital support for dentists, dental surgeons, and their technicians (which is a two-year program).
Although they don’t perform advanced dental procedures, dental assistants may help with cleanings, x-rays, and other simple procedures at dental offices or provide tools to the head dentist during major procedures.
5. Event Planner
- Average Base Salary: $53,563
Are you the party planner in your family or friend group? If it’s already something that you enjoy, then you can pursue certification as an event planner and manager in as little as eight months.
This will teach you everything that you need to know, from time management to marketing, so that you can host and plan parties that will be remembered.
6. Telecommunications Technician
- Average Base Salary: $66,226
Telecommunications technicians play a vital role in establishing and maintaining modern communication infrastructures for major companies like Bell and Rogers.
Their responsibilities involve repairing, installing, upgrading, and modifying telecommunications systems, which cover telephones, the internet, and cable connections.
7. CAD And Drafting Technician
- Average Base Salary: $72,578
Drafting technicians primarily use computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting equipment or traditional drafting stations, converting plans, diagrams, or layouts from sketches.
They often work within multidisciplinary engineering teams, supporting engineers, architects, or industrial designers.
Some technicians might work independently or in diverse establishments, such as consulting, construction, utility, manufacturing companies, and governmental bodies.
9. Computer Animator
- Average Base Salary: $48,007
From the latest Disney shows to cutting-edge CGI, video games, and more, computer animators use the latest technology to create immersive worlds and characters for use in film, gaming, and even education.
Most computer animation courses can be completed within one year, and advanced training is available for those who are passionate and want to earn more.
10. Music Producer
- Average Base Salary: $75,088
Music programs typically focus on teaching students how to work with digital-audio workstations (DAWs) such as ProTools, Logic, and others.
They’ll use these programs to learn how to record audio, produce full tracks, and mix tracks for musicians, film projects, and more.
11. Tax Preparation
- Average Base Salary: $46,875
If you’re looking for a quick certificate program, you can obtain your tax preparation certificate in under four weeks.
You’ll learn the basics of Canada’s tax law and help individuals prepare their tax returns, maximize their deductions, and file their returns with the CRA.
- Related Reading: How To Become A Tax Preparer In Canada
12. Human resources manager
- Average Base Salary: $81,297
Human resources managers are responsible for hiring, firing, and helping resolve employee disputes.
The certification program takes about a year and will teach you basic psychological principles and customer service and give you a crash course on labour laws, employee safety, and other topics that you’ll encounter on a daily basis as an HR manager.
13. Emergency medical tech (EMT)
- Average Base Salary: $48,365
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are first responders who work as part of ambulance teams to provide life-saving help and transportation to victims in need.
Although the pay isn’t very high, this career can segway into a career as a firefighter or police officer. The benefits can also be very good.
Trade Certificate Programs That Pay Well
If you’re more inclined toward hands-on labour, there’s a huge job market for skilled trades. Some of these certification programs also involve on-the-job apprenticeship programs so you can earn money and apply your book learning to real-world scenarios.
Some employers may even offer to help pay for good apprentices to earn their trade certifications.
- Average Base Salary: $73,851
Electricians are always in demand as cities continue to expand, new communities are built, and old communities are upgraded to modern systems.
Household electricians often perform simple home repairs, replacing outlets and lighting fixtures, while commercial electricians help build electrical networks for new buildings or work on city high-rises.
There are a lot of areas that you can specialize in as an electrician, and you can find work all over the country.
- Average Base Salary: $69,966
Some plumbing jobs can be as easy as replacing a broken faucet, while others can involve complex rooting work, digging up pipes, and replacing water main lines. It’s not always clean work, but it can pay well, is always in demand, and offers a lot of room for upward growth.
You can get certified in as little as a year. During your training, you can also earn as a plumber’s apprentice or a plumber’s helper, allowing you to gain valuable on-the-job experience.
16. Crane Operator
- Average Base Salary: $77,677
If you don’t mind heights, there are lots of job opportunities working as a crane operator for Canada’s busy ports, high-rise construction projects, or smaller independent crane trucks.
The length of the certification program depends on the type of crane that you’re getting certified for. Mobile crane operation courses can be as little as 25 weeks while working with large cranes can take between one and three years.
17. Automotive Technician
- Average Base Salary: $69,220
Automotive service technicians are trained to maintain and repair cars. During your training, you’ll learn basic automotive systems, such as suspension, drivetrains, brake systems, and electrical systems. Once you learn the basics, you can find employment with a general automotive repair centre.
If you want to make good money, though, you’ll want to specialize and learn how to work with specific makes and models, such as Mercedes-Benz, GM, or Toyota. With these certifications, you’ll be able to work with a dealership, which can provide better pay, benefits, and room for upward advancement.
What Is The National Average Salary In Canada?
The median hourly wage rate for Canadians between 25 and 54 is $32.50, according to the June 2023 wage report by Statistics Canada.
Excluding some of the country’s more expensive cities, that’s a decent living wage.
As you saw above, though, many of the certificate programs I mentioned lead to high-paying careers, allowing you to earn far more than the average national salary in Canada.
Are Training Programs Worth It?
If you’re unsure about pursuing a college degree, obtaining a training certification from one of these programs can be an excellent alternative. In many cases, trade workers and skilled technicians can earn as much or more than college graduates.
If you do decide to go back to school later, at least you will have had time to think about the field that you really want to work in and will have a certification that allows you to earn a better wage while you’re in school, which can make it more affordable.
Alternatively, you could also pursue a remote career and earn up to six figures while having the opportunity to travel the world. Keep on reading to see my list of the top-paying remote careers you can get in Canada!