Skilled Jobs vs. Unskilled Jobs: Wages, Demand, and Opportunity

When you enroll in courses with Coquitlam Continuing Education, it means you are taking the first steps along your new career path. Maybe you’re finally entering the field you’ve always meant to, and maybe you’re retraining for a new job because you need a shake-up in your day to day.

Along with a sense of accomplishment and a new exciting career to pursue, one of the best outcomes of being an adult learner and learning new skills is the higher salary your new job will command.

Why are we so certain you’ll start to earn more after studying at CCE? Simply because you will be classed as a “skilled worker.” That is, you will become specialized in your chosen field, and your skills will be sought after in the job market.

What is a “skilled worker”?

Every job involves a certain set of skills, so what are we talking about when we use the phrase “skilled worker” or “skilled labour”?

“Skilled labour” refers to workers who have been specially trained in a particular skill set, usually in a formal setting of training or education. “Unskilled labour,” in contrast, refers to jobs that do not require workers to have specialized skills, meaning that any training can be learned on the job.


How do you become a skilled worker?

To move yourself into the skilled worker category, you need to undertake some training, which means investing in the future of your career by going to school. Beginning with upgrading courses and English language classes and moving on to certificate and diploma programs or college degrees, the pathway to becoming a skilled worker starts at Coquitlam Continuing Education.


How much can I make as a skilled worker?

The bump in salary you will experience as a skilled worker means that all your education literally pays off in just a few years.


Due to the training and education skilled workers have invested in, they command higher hourly wages. Unskilled workers are paid lower wages, with unskilled jobs making up the lowest paid jobs in Canada.

Unskilled labour average hourly wages:

  • Gas station attendant: $13.05
  • Food prep assistant: $13.05
  • Restaurant host/hostess: $12.85
  • Food server: $11.85
  • Bartender: $11.50
  • Source: Statistics Canada

Skilled labour median hourly wages:

  • Make-up artist: $15.82
  • Administrative assistant: $16.88
  • Accounting clerk: $17.09
  • Building maintenance worker: $19.24
  • Dental receptionist: $19.77
  • Source:
Where can a skilled labour career take me?

In addition to providing you with a higher salary, training in a skilled field means more potential career paths open up to you. Your adult education courses are just step one of a multi-step career.

For example, entering CCE’s Administrative Assistant & Computerized Accounting Diploma puts you into a career field that earns a higher salary: administration and accounting. However, it also puts you at the start of a career path that could lead from admin assistant to a position as an office manager, an executive assistant, a bookkeeper, or an administrative coordinator.

Each step along the skilled labour pathway leads to even greater salaries, responsibilities, and opportunities to move into new positions.

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