Don't bother chasing the highest paying degrees

One career trait they don’t teach in school

If you’re searching for highest-paying degrees, you’re looking for the wrong thing


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Introducing our new column, A Rich Life, by Caird Urquhart. Caird is the founder and president of New Road Coaching. She will provide advice and analysis on careers, education and our quest for wealth.

We have come to expect that the more letters we have behind our name the higher the wage. That just isn’t the case. A formal education can be valuable, and some university graduates will garner a healthy salary, but how you show up for the job is a bigger determining factor in your climb up the ladder of success. In other words; be the employee you would want to hire.

When I was in school, getting a Bachelor of Arts meant you were ahead of the pack. Now you need a masters or a PhD to be considered well-educated. We have become an over-schooled society and, as a result, have watered down the “education = money” equation. So how do you thicken your chances?

Answer: Do what you love.

When you are on the right path you will feel it. It won’t seem like work. You’ll gladly participate knowing you can add value and will be eager to learn more. Your strengths will rise to the foreground with little effort. You will become a great employee.

When the market crashed in 2008 and a sea of well-educated Bay Street suits were walked to the curb, I watched the story of one man. He had a family of four to support, so the option of being unemployed wasn’t a consideration. He immediately picked up a hammer and started working in the trades. This white collar dad had learned some skills in his youth, which as his story unfolded turned out to be the “education” that not only provided for his family but allowed him to surpass his previous career success. He’s still in the trade today, working with a reputable Toronto construction firm, and he says he’s happier than ever. What was his winning formula? Practical skills, initiative and working at something he loved doing. Being a broker was on trend for his generation but it wasn’t what he was born to do.

Be careful not to put too much stock in job trends and lists of highest paying degrees. They may lead to more cash, but your lack of passion for the gig, regardless of your education, will come through and hinder your success. Do what you love and what fulfills you and the money will follow. Money doesn’t reward education. It rewards desire.

When coaching my clients I always leave them with a question, something to do or to think about. I’ve decided to end my MoneySense columns the same way. Feel free to share your thoughts, comments and experiences below. Here’s my question for you:

Does your career path match your education and does your education match your desire?

Caird Urquhart is a personal and business coach and founder of New Road Coaching.