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Top Highest Paying Trade Jobs

top highest paying trade jobs

Have you just finished high school and are considering skipping university and finding a job right away?

Or did you recently lose a job, and you want to reinvent your career?

Either way, trade jobs could well be an excellent opportunity.

Not only will they allow you, in most cases, to start working without a traditional degree, but also some of them can help you earn much more than you’d probably expect.

Today I’ll take a look at the Top Highest Paying Trade Jobs and what you need to do to secure one…

What are Trade Jobs?

A trade job is any kind of job that requires specific skills that cannot usually be acquired through a formal four years college education.

If we think about the construction market, examples of trade jobs are carpenters, electricians, and plumbers.

How can you develop the necessary skills?

Historically, the only possible way was training on the job. Wanted to be a shoemaker? You had to start working for an expert shoemaker that would eventually teach you everything that he knew. The training process could take years before you would be able to open your own shop and start bringing in a decent amount of money.


Nowadays, other options can speed up the process. You can attend a technical school, a vocational or a community college, or you can complete an apprenticeship.

So, let’s discover the main differences between these alternatives…

Advantages and Disadvantages of Trade Jobs

There is no such thing as a perfect job. All of them come with their relative pros and cons, and trade jobs are no exception.

Let’s now consider the pros and cons of trade jobs.

Pros of a Trade Job

No Degree Required

Trade jobs don’t require a 4-year degree. This is true for almost any trade job. However, a degree can, in some cases, offer more opportunities for career advancement.

Job for Life

Once you acquire the necessary skills, you have a job for the rest of your life. Some of these professions will never disappear, and since the number of people willing to pursue trade careers is decreasing, the demand for skilled workers is higher than the supply.

top highest paying trade job

High Pay

The pay for trade jobs can be substantially higher than the median yearly wage. Most importantly, trade jobs are extremely fair: the more you’re willing to work and learn, the more you will earn.

Cons of a Trade Job

Hard Work

Trade jobs can be physically demanding. Even if not all of them include moving heavy items and working outdoors in all conditions, the reality is that most of them do. However, for many people, this can be seen as an advantage compared to being locked in an office, sitting on a chair all day.

Good Reputation Necessary

In the beginning, you will need to make a name for yourself. It’s unlikely that a company will permanently hire you, and your jobs will usually be on a fixed-term contract. When the contract ends, it’s time to find a new job. However, as soon as you show that you’re good at what you do, job offers will flood in, and you’ll be in the position to choose the better and higher-paying ones.

Negative Perceptions

Trade jobs are still negatively perceived in certain social contexts. This is something I wouldn’t personally worry about. But be prepared to notice some weird looks when you tell people that you’re planning to get into trade jobs.

What you Need to Get a Trade Job?

In order to get a trade job, the first step is to decide what you want to do. What are your interests? How much time will you be willing to invest before you are able to compete with skilled workers? What are your salary expectations?

Before choosing, consider carefully any aspect…

The wage is only worth it as long as you will enjoy what you’re doing. Otherwise, you might find out later that you spent two years of your life acquiring skills for a job you hate.

Working as a mechanic can be a dream job for somebody who’s passionate about cars, while it could be an absolute nightmare for somebody who isn’t.

the top highest paying trade jobs

Getting the edge…

Even if, in many cases, formal education is not required by law, attending classes at a technical school or getting an associate degree at a community/vocational college will give you an edge over other people.

However, you will also find companies that actually prefer to hire people without any experience and knowledge.

Why is that?

Because they prefer to train them on the job to do it the exact way they want, and they value practical experience more than any form of education.

Applying for a trade internship is another option you might want to consider. An internship is a combination of in-classroom activities and practical training on the job. The significant benefit of an internship is that you will get a certificate at the end of the training. This will commonly last for two years, but at the same time, you will be paid for your job.

The last factor to keep in mind is that some trades will require you to obtain a license to be able to work. Since the requirements are different for every job, it’s advisable to check them out before you choose your career.

The 7 Highest Paying Trade Jobs

Now that we know what trade jobs are and the steps that we have to take to apply for them, let’s dig into the main topic of this article.

What are the Top Highest Paying Trade Jobs?

Let’s find out…

Construction Manager

Median hourly wage: $55

This is obviously not a job that you can start without experience. However, if you have any interest or ability in the construction industry, you could see it as a goal to reach in your career.

A construction manager is one of the better-paid trade jobs that doesn’t legally require a bachelor’s degree. Many companies will be happy with an associate degree in a relevant field and, most importantly, years of practical experience. The managerial aspect is something that you will learn year after year as you progress with your career.

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What does a construction manager do?

He plans timelines and ensures that the team meets every deadline. He budgets costs, supervises, and directs the construction team. Additionally, he collaborates with engineers and architects, and he reports to clients.

It might be a really challenging and sometimes stressful job that comes with lots of responsibilities. Therefore, huge benefits and a high paycheck.

Radiation Therapy Technologist

Median hourly wage: $42

As a radiation therapy technologist, you will work in close contact with the oncologist to decide the optimal treatment for patients with cancer or other diseases.

The job can be highly rewarding. However, it’s essential to consider that you will have to deal with seriously ill people every day.


Most of us will eventually get used to the possibility of losing a patient, while for others, it’s almost impossible to detach from the emotional aspect that comes with the job.

A certification or an associate degree is required in most states and can be obtained in one or two years.

Elevator Technician

Median hourly wage: $37

Are you one of those people that are secretly scared every time you enter an elevator?

Learning how to install and repair them could help you overcome your fears and help you earn a decent salary.

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What do you need?

A high school diploma is all that you need to be able to apply for a paid internship, which is, however, not always necessary. Some companies prefer to hire people without any experience and train them by themselves.

Some states require a license that can be obtained with a written or oral exam.

The job might be physically demanding. Therefore, a good level of fitness is necessary if you don’t want to end up with chronic back pain.

Dental Hygienist

Median hourly wage: $36

Did you think that you needed countless years of studies to work in a dental practice?

This is not always the case. To qualify for a dental hygienist job, you’ll need an associate degree that will take only two years to complete and make getting the required license possible.

What will you be doing as a dental hygienist?

Your focus will be on the oral healthcare of the patient. You will perform cleanings, and you’ll advise patients on optimal oral care. You will also perform initial screenings, and you’ll assist the dentist during treatments.

Aircraft Mechanic

Median hourly wage: $35

This is a fantastic job where the learning process never ends. Suppose you’re the type of person that likes a profession that continuously evolves and requires ongoing education. In that case, an aircraft mechanic career should be on top of your list when you’re considering a trade job.

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How to get into this field?

Highly specialized training is obviously necessary, but most of the required skills will be learned with training on the job. A technical school certification or a vocational college degree will help you to land a job. However, any airline will provide you with additional specific training before you are able to work.

Exciting travel opportunities come with the job, especially if you’re employed by an international airline.

Do you like the sound of being based in a foreign country for six months? If so, this could be your dream job.

IT Support Specialist

Median hourly wage: $29

Are you the type of person that helps friends anytime they have an issue with their smartphone or laptop? Why not consider turning your skill and passion into a profitable career?

IT specialists are in high demand, and it’s unlikely that this is going to change any time soon.

Where to begin?

A bachelor’s degree in any related field will give you a clear edge over your competitors, but an associate degree is usually enough for most employers.

Something to keep in mind is that IT Support Specialists need to undergo continuous professional training to be able to stay in the market. Technology moves fast, and so should your knowledge and skills.

If you get that right…

A top IT Support Specialist can easily earn double the median wage. And the good news is that to reach that level is not a matter of years of experience. What makes the difference is how good and fast you are at solving people’s problems.


Median hourly wage: $29

When people think of trade jobs that pay well, a plumber is always one of the first that comes to mind. And for some good reasons.

Even if the average wage is lower than other jobs on this list, an expert plumber can earn close to a six-digit salary.

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The best part?

A high school diploma is often enough to get you started. However, if you want to speed up your training, you might want to consider completing an apprenticeship or a vocational college qualification.

A license is usually needed, and the requirements are different in each state. Moreover, plumbing is a perfect career if your goal is to become self-employed.

Is there any downside?

Be prepared to receive job calls at the weirdest hours. Sleeping in is not a luxury that you have when people need hot water on a cold winter evening.

Other Recommendations

If you’re serious about landing a high-paying job, you may want to look into other options, depending on your interests. Check out the Art of Commercial Morgage Brokering, 6 Hours to 6 Figures, Millionaire Real Estate Flippers, or perhaps How to Earn 6-7 Figures Selling Timeshares?

Just finished a sentence? Find out all about the Highest Paying Jobs for Felons!

And suppose you’re ever interviewing for a very high-paid position. In that case, you may want support Answering Tell Me About Yourself in Interview and responding professionally to Why Do You Want to Work Here or Why We Should Hire You.

If you’re planning to leave your current job to pursue your dream of a top-paying trade job, check out my article about How to Write a Resignation Letter. And for a bit of light reading through your transition, I highly recommend A Funny View of a Serious Problem as well as Good Luck Finding Awesome Coworkers Like Us Again!

Back to today’s topic…

Final Thoughts

Society keeps pushing everyone towards formal education as if this was the only way to be prosperous in life. But, the reality is that many people don’t have any idea of what they’re going to do when they choose their college. Nor when studying for four or more years to get a bachelor’s degree that they might never need.

Many successful people around the world have taken a different path, valuing experience and practical skills more than formal education.

If you’re also considering going that route, this list of the Top Highest Paying Trade Jobs should help you to make the right decision.

All the best for your chosen career!

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