Picking a new career isn’t easy these days.
What IS a little easier is figuring out which skills are in demand in the job market.
If you get your credentials in engineering, the trades, or computer programming…most likely, you’re not going to struggle to land a job.
But how do those career paths stack up against each other?
We tracked down three BCIT students entering the job market to check out their prospects.
Engineering: Canadian Merchant Marine Service officer
“Anything to do with shipping is happening in Canada right now.”
Graham Meek is a fourth class engineering officer in the Canadian Merchant Marine Service, and he attended BCIT for four years.
He says even he wasn’t totally sure what marine engineering entailed when he started his education.
“Well I knew I wanted to get into some engineering. It was a small niche, and I thought maybe there was good prospects for jobs there. And I got my career job in first year of school so I haven’t looked back.”
But it felt like a good fit for the kind of work he wanted to do.
“So on a day to day basis we’re in charge of all the machinery in the engine room. and the engine room is about – depending on the size of the ship – it’s around 4 floors of equipment from pumps and boilers, generators, main engines. So we do all the plan maintenance, so we work on shift rotations in the control room and basically just maintaining the running operation of all the mechanical parts of the ship itself.
The starting salary for a marine engineer is a little more than $60,000, and you can earn more later in your career.
The travel and work schedule of marine engineering could be a pro or a con, depending on the type of lifestyle you want to lead.
For Graham, the travel is part of the perks of the job. But for those who want to stay close to families, that might not work.
“A 5 month stint where I spent 3 months in China working at a shipyard and then actually brought a new ship home to the Great Lakes from China so across the Pacific through the Panama Canal and up the Eastern seabord. It was awesome.”
Finally, the time off is pretty good, usually he spend two months at sea, and then 6 weeks off the job at home.
The Trades: Sheet Metal Worker
Daniel Mozher is just about to get his red seal in sheet metal work.
An average yearly income for a sheet metal worker is a bit over $40,000, and can rise to more than $60,000 with experience.
He installs heating and ventilation systems in buildings, and he says the work is more creative than it sounds.
“You can design what you’re doing. You can go to your shop and start from scratch. You start from blank metal. And then you use your drafting skills to actually form up complicated fittings and pieces of duct work and all that kind stuff from a flat piece to this 3D object. Then you can go install it and put it into place. It’s kind of this complete feeling.”
He works Monday to Friday, and he pretty much gets to pick his hours.
Mozher gets to avoid rush hour traffic every day.
“I prefer to start early because I live in Cloverdale. If I start at 6 somewhere then I can leave there at 2 and kind of beat traffic. That’s kind of my goal.”
“There’s a lot of jobs and definitely ones tailored to my own interests or to anyone else who’s interested in say game development, or web application development. It’s all very available in Vancouver right now, and desirable.”
Eva Yu is a student in computing at BCIT. She says working as a computer programmer is more than staring at your screen in a dark office.
With the rise of the tech sector in Vancouver, coding is a hot skill set.
“A lot of it is interaction with teams, interacting with managers if there’s a project manager, and a lot of it is planning stages as well. And I think the fun in all this is to be able to see something that you can imagine go through its process and then actualize itself.”
She says that even people who don’t consider themselves tech-savvy might surprise themselves if they set their minds to it.
“Honestly, I would say it’s determination. I think everyone has the ability. To me I’m convinced that computing and mathematics is a language to be learned. So as long as someone is dedicated and would like to learn it and is focused, anyone has the ability to do it.”
Depending on where you land a job, you could be working banker’s hours, or burning the midnight oil.
“Startups tend to require a bit more dedication and a bit more patience. It tends to be slightly under-resourced so not enough people working and therefore require longer hours, but it can be very rewarding to see a startup grow. There’s also such thing as flex time, so it really ranges from classic 8 hour days to anywhere from like 10 to 12 even.”
An average entry-level salary for a computer programmer in Vancouver is about $50,000, but that can range up or down depending on the company.
So if you’re looking for a skill set that won’t have you slinging lattes – engineering, coding and sheet metal work will all have employers knocking on your door.
But time off, salary, and travel could make the difference between a way to get a paycheque, or your dream job.