12 High-Paying Skilled Trade Jobs In Demand

By Chris Kolmar - Jan. 13, 2021

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Becoming a skilled trade worker provides the benefits of an action-oriented job and a sizable paycheck. Many people associate the highest paying jobs with careers that require eight or more years and $200,000 in education costs before being eligible to receive a job. This isn’t always the case.

There are a variety of skilled trade jobs that offer fast-growing opportunities and a competitive salary for expertise in the field.

What Are Trade Jobs?

A trade is a profession that doesn’t require a four-year degree from an accredited university but does involve specialized training or certification courses. There are many areas available for a trade specialist to focus on, depending on their passions and interests.

The skills associated with careers in a trade field are learned through attending a trade school, becoming an apprentice, or specialized training offered by an employer.

The Benefits of Working at a Trade Job

  1. Lots of available jobs. Working in a trade job is appealing to a lot of recent high school graduates who are new to the workforce because there are so many great jobs available. More people retire from their trade positions every day, and somebody needs to fill their spot. That person could be you.

  2. Trade school costs less money and time. Getting a bachelor’s or master’s degree takes many years and a lot of money to complete. It is tempting to skip this constraint altogether and opt for vocational school to gain employable skills because it takes about half the time with a much lower price tag.

  3. A high salary. Many people mistakenly believe that working in a trade position earns a lower paycheck than other careers. The reality is that this is far from the truth. The median average salary for skilled trade positions overall is actually slightly higher than that of other jobs.

    The closeness of average salary, in addition to the decreased cost of schooling and wide availability of jobs, leads many people to work towards a trade career.

12 Examples Of High-Paying Trade Jobs

  1. Automotive service technician. If you’re a person who enjoys working on cars, then being an automotive service technician might be the right trade for you. Their job is to perform repairs and maintenance on vehicles to keep them driving for years to come. A position as an automotive service technician requires an in-depth knowledge of car mechanics and the ability to work well with others.

    Job Responsibilities for an Automotive Service Technician are:

    • Perform vehicle maintenance according to a schedule, such as oil changes and tire rotations

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    • Diagnosing car problems

    • Coming up with plans for car repairs

    • Doing car inspections in accordance with state law

    • Maintain company records of services performed

    Average Salary: $45,000

  2. Heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) technician. An HVAC technician specializes in mechanically maintaining heating and cooling systems within a home, business, or industrial complex.

    Job Responsibilities for an HVAC Technician are:

    • Installing heating, venting, and air-conditioning systems

    • Repairing equipment

    • Learning and using HVAC codes on the job

    • Working with the customer to provide exceptional service

    Average Salary: $50,000

  3. Welder. There are many specialty niches that welders work in, but generally, their job responsibilities include creating structures from metal using welding, cutting, and shaping tools.

    It can be a very dangerous vocation without the proper training because most of a welder’s duties are handling metal at extremely high temperatures for conjoining purposes. Achieving advancement in a welding career often involves earning a certification through the American Welding Society.

    Job Responsibilities for a Welder are:

    • Understanding construction drawings and blueprints

    • Installing the piping and similar mechanical systems

    • Deciding on an appropriate welding method

    • Welding components together using the proper equipment

    • Inspecting welding jobs for mistakes and completion

    Average Salary: $50,000

  4. Electrician. An electrician’s duties are similar to the job tasks of an HVAC technician in that they handle the installation, repair, and maintenance of complicated systems. However, an electrician works with electrical communication, control, and lighting systems, as opposed to heating.

    Their skills are required to keep every building, organization, and home in working order.

    Job Responsibilities for an Electrician are:

    • Installing electrical systems

    • Performing routine maintenance and repairs on electrical systems

    • Determine the cause for electrical issues

    • Use testing devices and tools to fix electrical issues

    • Adhering to safety protocol as determined by the National Electrical Code

    Average Salary: $55,000

  5. Plumber. For every appliance that people rely on daily, there’s a skilled trade professional who handles its maintenance and installation. For water systems, these people are plumbers. Plumbers do most of their work in residential and commercial properties by identifying water system-related issues and formulating a plan of action to fix them.

    Job Responsibilities for a Plumber are:

    • Gathering floorplan information about buildings and water system structure

    • Assemble pipes and tubing to upgrade or repair systems without damaging them

    • Installing and maintaining water systems

    • Continue learning about the most up-to-date plumbing techniques

    Average Salary: $58,000

  6. Cardiovascular technologist. A cardiovascular technologist is a healthcare professional who works specifically with matters of the heart. They work cohesively with doctors to diagnose, treat, and monitor heart diseases.

    Their job largely takes place in a laboratory setting where they perform medical procedures involving cardiac and vascular health, such as placing pacemakers.

    Job Responsibilities for a Cardiovascular Technologist are:

    • Preparing patients for cardiac procedures under the supervision of a doctor

    • Helps the doctor perform difficult cardiac procedures

    • Handles cleaning tasks in the laboratory

    • Use cardiac monitoring systems to monitor patients and rely on important events to the physician

    • Explaining procedures and how they can improve their heart healthwise in layman’s terms to patients

    Average Salary: $59,000

  7. Carpenter. The trading medium of choice for carpenters is wood, which they use in addition to other materials to construct everything from a home’s framework to the furniture in its living room. A big part of a carpenter’s job is repairing wooden items or foundations in the client’s houses.

    Being a carpenter requires planning and organizational skills, as they’ll often need to create a blueprint to complete projects.

    Job Responsibilities for a Carpenter are:

    • Installing wooden fixtures such as foundations, walls, floors, windows, and ceilings

    • Communicating with clients about their carpentry needs

    • Follow blueprints to complete projects promptly according to client preference

    • Inspecting workspaces for safety considerations

    • Using tools to shape materials to the needed size

    • Building and fixing wooden structures, such as doors, house foundation, and cabinets

    Average Salary: $60,000

  8. Landscape design architect. When contentedly strolling through a beautiful park or playground, few people stop to consider who made the place possible. The answer, in part, is landscape architects. A landscape architect takes stock of a location and outlines a blueprint for designing pleasant features to enhance quality.

    Landscape design architects handle the plans and execution for walkways, buildings, gardens, and roads.

    Job Responsibilities for a Landscape design architect are:

    • Consulting with clients to determine their landscaping goals

    • Preparing cost estimates for design projects

    • Deciding upon materials to use for design construction

    • Drawing up landscaping design blueprints

    • Consider the properties of the land they’re working on

    • Following city and community guidelines

    Average Salary: $68,000

  9. Dental hygienist. A dental hygienist is the right-hand man of a dentist during oral care. They often act as the connection between a busy dentist and their patients to help them accomplish their daily goals. Much of the work that a dental hygienist does is performing teeth cleaning routines and examinations to evaluate mouth health.

    In addition to helping dentists in their responsibilities, dental hygienists work directly with patients to educate them on the best ways to keep a healthy mouth and handle recovery after procedures.

    Job Responsibilities for a Dental hygienist are:

    • Doing preliminary examinations on new patients to establish a baseline

    • Cleaning teeth procedures and applying tooth protectant, like fluoride

    • Taking dental X-rays

    • Documenting exams, procedures, and treatment plans of all patients

    • Communicating well with both the dentist and patients

    Average Salary: $70,000

  10. Aircraft mechanic. Aircraft mechanics serve a vital role in making sure that planes are secure and safe before taking off. Their job is to inspect aircraft systems and repair any broken or malfunctioning pieces using various hand tools.

    People who work as aircraft mechanics are usually required to be certified in their craft through a credible organization, like the Federal Aviation Administration because their expertise ensures the safety of every flight.

    Job Responsibilities for an Aircraft mechanic are:

    • Consulting with aircraft manuals and blueprints for proper functioning and system layouts

    • Inspecting aircraft for malfunctions and determining issues

    • Repairing aircraft malfunctions

    • Assembling various aircraft systems

    • Running follow-up tests to ensure that their maintenance worked

    Average Salary: $70,000

  11. Diagnostic medical sonographer. There are many different reasons that a person could need an ultrasound on a particular part of their body. Most commonly, this is done on pregnant women to monitor the developmental status of a fetus. The person who performs this medical practice is called a diagnostic medical sonographer.

    Sonography produces high-frequency waves through a patient’s body to see a picture of internal functionings and diagnose conditions. The bulk of a diagnostic medical sonographer’s duties are practicing this specific procedure.

    Job Responsibilities for a Diagnostic medical sonographer are:

    • Communicating effectively with patients about the sonography process

    • Performing the sonography properly to produce a clear image to work from

    • Examining the results of sonography for irregularities or diagnosis

    • Sharing results and working directly with doctors

    • Cleaning and maintaining sonography equipment properly

    • Keeping records of patient interactions, diagnosis, and treatments

    Average Salary: $80,000

  12. Air traffic controller. The responsibilities of an air-traffic controller are three parts safety concerns and one part managing efficiency. They control the flow of various aircraft through a landing station by coordinating both between on-land and in-sky travelers.

    This skilled trade position is hectic because air traffic controllers handle direction for multiple planes at once.

    Job Responsibilities for an Air traffic controller are:

    • Monitoring aircraft that are flying and on the ground

    • Managing movement of all aircraft on the ground

    • Communicating landing and take-off instructions with the pilots

    • Providing information about weather and closures to aircraft staff

    Average Salary: $90,000+

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Chris Kolmar


Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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