Average Canadian Starting Salaries to Rise 3.1 Per Cent in 2017, According to Robert Half Research

New Salary Guides Reveal Hiring Trends and Hot Skills for More Than 500 Professional Occupations

Toronto, ON – Newly released 2017 Salary Guides from Robert Half show that national average starting salaries for Canadian professional occupations are expected to increase 3.1 per cent next year. The technology field leads with a projected 3.2 per cent increase in pay, followed by salaries for finance and accounting roles, which are expected to rise by 3.1 per cent. Workers in both the legal and creative fields can also anticipate average compensation increases of 3.1 per cent, while administrative professionals can expect average starting pay gains of 3 per cent in 2017.

“Companies continue to seek employees with increasingly specialized skills, most notably in finance and technology, and this demand is driving salary growth,” said Greg Scileppi, president of Robert Half, International Staffing Operations. “Professionals with expertise in tax, accounting, compliance, big data and network security, are in particularly short supply. Building and establishing a team with strength in these areas requires a hiring strategy of attractive, flexible compensation packages, and a nimble approach that ensures candidates don’t lose interest during a lengthy hiring process.”


The Robert Half Salary Guides track compensation levels for more than 500 positions. Here’s a quick look at the projected starting salary increases and trends taking shape in Canada for 2017:

+3.2% Technology
+3.1% Finance & Accounting
+3.1% Legal
+3.1% Creative & Marketing
+3% Administrative & Office Support
+3.1% Overall

Top Roles to Watch

These are some of the professionals who are in the greatest demand and shortest supply:*

+3.7% Chief compliance officer $154,750 - $200,000
+3.3% Data Scientist $99,500 - $132,000
+5.4% User Experience (UX) Specialist $74,000 - $131,750
+5.1% Network Security Engineer $110,750 - $150,250
+5% Big Data Engineer $123,000 - $158,000
+3.9% Investor Relations Professional $86,500 - $118,500
+3.5% Controller ($50 - $100M in revenue) $104,250 - $141,500
+3.6% Tax Manager ($250M + in revenue) $141,750 - $217,250
+3.5% Senior Law Clerk (7+ years’ exp., large law firm)** $70,000 - $101,000
+3.6% Executive Assistant $54,000 - $68,750

*Salaries listed are national starting salaries only. Calculate local figures and download the complete 2017 Salary Guides at roberthalf.ca/salary-guides.

**Large law firm, 75+ employees

Organizations compete heavily for specialized talent:

The most specialized workers possess college degrees, certifications and unique skill sets. Their roles often involve more than one function (e.g., technology and finance). Unemployment rates for these roles are as low as 2%. 2

Unemployment rate for Canadians aged 25-54 - 5.9% 3

General Canadian labour force — unemployment rate: 6.9%3


1. TIMING IS EVERYTHING Top candidates often have multiple offers within a week. When faced with a lengthy hiring process, 46 per cent of candidates lose interest and pursue other roles. 1

2. SHORTAGES OF THE HIGHLY SKILLED Big data, compliance and security roles continue to be among the most difficult to fill.

3. 3. COLLEGE DEGREE REQUIRED A four-year college degree is a must-have for most professional roles.

4. ONBOARDING IS CRITICAL Savvy firms help new hires integrate with the corporate culture. Employees who don’t feel like part of the team may soon leave for another role.


1 Robert Half Time to Hire Survey. More than 400 Canadian adults were surveyed by an independent research firm in Q2 2016. https://www.roberthalf.ca/en/research-and-insights/media-room/are-you-taking-too-long-to-hire

2 Statistics Canada – Cansim Table 282-0141 – July 2016 unemployment

3 Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey Report, July 2016, reported Aug. 5, 2016 https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/160805/dq160805a-eng.htm

© 2016 Robert Half International Inc.

Following is a summary of findings from the 2017 Salary Guides from Robert Half:

Technology. IT professionals can anticipate average starting salaries to rise 3.2 per cent next year. Upgrades and implementations, as well as big data, mobile and security initiatives, are top of mind for many organizations, and these business priorities are reflected in their hiring decisions. With a shortage of qualified technology candidates, in-demand positions, like data scientists, big data engineers and network security engineers, are projected to see even greater salary gains in the coming year.

Accounting and Finance. Accounting and finance professionals’ starting salaries are expected to increase 3.1 per cent in 2017. Positions in demand include tax managers, controllers, financial analysts and business analysts. Employers seek job candidates who are proficient in, and possess strong nontechnical skills and professional certifications.

Legal. In the legal field, starting salaries are expected to increase 3.1 per cent in 2017. Litigation support, real estate lawyers, and compliance managers are likely to see some of the largest starting salary increases. In addition, contract managers, lease assistants and litigation law-clerks are in high demand.

Creative and Marketing*. Average starting salaries for positions in the creative and marketing fields are expected to increase 3.1 per cen in 2017. As companies invest more in online initiatives, positions requiring digital expertise, such as user experience and mobile designers, are seeing the biggest pay gains. Creative professionals with diverse skills that complement each other, like web designers who are comfortable with front-end coding and copywriters who are proficient in search engine optimization, are in especially strong demand.

*Note: Creative and marketing results are reflective of Ontario salary and trend data only.

Administrative and Office Support. Starting salaries for administrative professionals are predicted to rise 3 per cent next year. Hiring for skilled support staff is becoming more competitive as companies capitalize on new opportunities. Document control and reception specialties are particularly strong areas for hiring, and businesses also seek executive and administrative assistants, as well as those in senior or management roles.

The latest Salary Guides can be accessed at: Robert Half Salary Guide

Robert Half has reported on salaries yearly since 1950. The company gathers data from its specialized recruiters throughout its Canadian offices to compile the Salary Guides. Information in the guides is based on the thousands of job searches, negotiations and placements managed by Robert Half’s staffing and recruiting managers, along with the company’s ongoing surveys of executives. Continuing or ongoing salaries are not reported because many external factors – such as seniority, work ethic, job performance and training – impact the salaries of full-time professionals as work histories develop.

About Robert Half
Founded in 1948, Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company has more than 325 staffing locations worldwide and offers online job search and management tools at roberthalf.ca. For career and management advice, follow our blog at https://www.roberthalf.ca/blog. Follow Robert Half Canada on Twitter at @RobertHalf_CAN for additional workplace advice and hiring trends.

For further information contact: Naz Araghian, (416) 865-2140, [email protected]