The average American makes around $50,000 a year, but with the cost of living going up, that’s often not enough to support a family — and those without a college degree may struggle to even get there. This article can help you navigate the highest paying trade jobs to pursue!
However, with your high school diploma, there are a number of trade jobs open to you to pursue. Some of them pay much higher than even jobs that require a college degree or attendance at a community college.
If you’re curious to learn more, let’s take a look at the highest-paying trade jobs to see if there’s one suitable for you.
1. Boilermaker: $41,967
At an average salary of $41,967, a boilermaker is a good starting point for working your way up and gaining years of experience. The highest earns can get up to $55-60k.
The job is exactly what it sounds like. Boilermakers make, restore, and repair boilers, both commercially and residentially.
How to Become a Boilermaker
All you really need is a high school diploma before you start gaining experience, although a welding certification can certainly help. Many schools offer this.
2. Cable Technician: $45,215
A cable technician can make around $45k a year or even higher once they gain some years of experience. They install the necessary equipment for cabled devices in homes and businesses, such as TVs.
How to Become a Cable Technician
Becoming a cable technician usually involves getting your high school diploma, attending a trade school, and then getting an apprenticeship. Unlike with a four-year college degree, this means you can start earning money soon, as you can do so through your apprenticeship.
3. HVAC Technician: $46,767
Another technician you might want to consider is dealing with HVAC units. At an average salary of $46,767, it can be easier to work your way up higher, much like being an electrician. You could end up starting your own business.
Being an HVAC technician can involve installation, repair, and diagnosis of problems. Some HVAC companies choose to specialize in commercial or residential, and some cover both.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
The fastest way to become an HVAC technician is to get a high school diploma and go on to complete a certification program. These can be finished in as quick as six months and are usually fairly cheap to complete.
After that, you can go on to find a job with a company and work your way up to get more experience. As well as good mechanical skills and attention to detail, this job also requires some level of people skills.
4. IT Support Specialist: $55,655
An IT support specialist for a company can earn an average of $55,655. They generally work across all departments, providing both support for the hardware of IT systems and the software. If you’re looking for a job that presents different challenges every day and gives you some variety, then it might be the career for you.
How to Become an IT Support Specialist
While becoming an IT support specialist requires some education, it doesn’t have to be a degree. You can attend courses and earn certifications, working your way up to the career.
This job requires intense problem-solving skills and often people skills, as you’re usually dealing with those frustrated by computer problems. You’ll often have to explain things to them to prevent the problem from happening again.
5. Plumber: $59,900
A plumber is perhaps the trade job that everyone has heard of. Work your way up, and you could be making an average of $60k or more. They deal with coming out to houses and businesses and handling problems that have occurred in the pipes or installing new plumbing systems to make things run more smoothly.
How to Become a Plumber
The path to becoming a plumber can vary wildly. It could involve going to a trade school or finding an apprenticeship with a company willing to take you on, where you’ll learn about all the technical aspects and develop good customer service techniques.
6. Electrician: $62,060
Of all the trade school jobs, becoming an electrician is one of the most popular. They have an average salary of $62,060 and install and maintain the wiring and electrical circuits within a building. This is another very varied job, as they often come up against large problems they have to solve by finding the missing piece — and for that reason, it can be very rewarding.
How to Become an Electrician
Job training to become an electrician usually involves attending a trade school or finding an apprenticeship. You can start by working under a company and, if it’s your goal, eventually work your way up to become your own boss — which is usually what results in earning more money.
7. Power Plant Operator: $67,357
With an average salary of $67,357, being a power plant operator in the United States can pay quite a decent amount of money. The upper levels can even go as high as $100,000.
They are responsible for electrical systems that run across the country and give us power. They may have to work various shift patterns, however, so it may not be the job for you if you want a strict routine every single day or to work a regular 9-5. However, they get paid well for it, and they’re absolutely essential for the running of the country.
How to Become a Power Plant Operator
At a minimum, you must have a high school diploma. Vocational training can also help, and you will have to pass exams and a medical test to ensure you’re fit for the job.
In terms of soft skills, you will need to be good with machinery and pay extremely close attention to detail.
8. Respiratory Therapist: $72,838
At an average salary of $72,838, respiratory therapists are fortunate enough to make a lot of money with no degree necessary. They care for patients who have trouble breathing and help them out, whether this is due to asthma or potentially more serious conditions.
How to Become a Respiratory Therapist
While the good news is that no college degree is necessary, the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) has strict requirements for becoming a respiratory therapist you’ll have to meet. This involves a years-long program, but it’s worth it to get the qualification.
Respiratory therapists not only need to be good at their job, but they need to be good with people to keep them relaxed during their therapy.
9. Elevator Mechanic: $75,414
An elevator mechanic’s average salary in the US is $75,414, making it one of the highest-paid trade jobs.
Elevator mechanics are responsible for both installing and repairing elevators across the US. When you consider how crucial elevators are in certain places to provide accessibilities (and for extremely tall buildings that would be impossible for anyone to climb), it’s hard to imagine how the country would get along without them.
How to Become an Elevator Mechanic
Typically, you’ll be expected to complete a four-year apprenticeship before you qualify as an elevator mechanic. As with most trade jobs, you don’t need a college degree, but you do need a high school diploma.
You may have to work long hours out of regular times if you work primarily on repairs, as these can happen at any time.
10. Solar Energy System Installer: $76,530
A solar energy system installer can make almost $80k on average and with more and more people willing to pay for eco-friendly practices, they’re in high demand now more than ever. Their job is to install solar energy systems on residences and businesses and repair them when need be.
How to Become a Solar Energy System Installer
Typically you’ll need a high school diploma and can then go on to take a course on how to install solar systems. This varies wildly, as you may be able to learn on the job by getting hired by a company willing to teach as you go.
11. Dental Hygienist: $78,525
Dental hygienists are the people who clean your teeth under the supervision of a dentist, though the more complex work tends to be left to the dentist themselves. They make an average of $78,525 and it’s a great job for those who want a fairly predictable 9-5 schedule, as they don’t have to work odd hours — unlike many trade school jobs.
Although this is often stereotyped as a trade job for women, this is a great job for any gender!
How to Become a Dental Hygienist
Although this doesn’t require a four-year college degree, you do often have to get a two-year degree and become licensed in your state to be a dental hygienist. As this is one of the higher-paying jobs here, however, it’s worth it.
You should have good people skills and be willing to educate people on how to take care of their teeth as well as clean them for them.
12. Radiation Therapist: $82,433
Coming in with an average salary of $82,433, radiation therapists operate machines that try to get rid of medical patients’ tumors. As you can imagine, this is a very rewarding job where you make a huge difference in people’s lives — and, as a result, you get paid well for it.
How to Become a Radiation Therapist
For the most part, you can enroll in a radiation therapy training program with a high school diploma. State licensing requirements vary, but you don’t usually require a four-year college to degree to embark on this profession.
13. Construction Manager: $90,026
Construction managers make an average of $90,026. They oversee the building process, supervise construction workers, and meet with architects to ensure that everything is going smoothly. This can range from residential buildings to commercial, though construction managers often have a specialty.
How to Become a Construction Manager
While many people do have a college degree before going on to become a construction manager, the beauty of this job is that there’s no one path to it. You can start at an entry-level construction job and work your way up, earning years of experience in the field to get to a high-paying job.
You’ll need good project management and people skills for this one, as well as extreme attention to detail.
14. Aircraft Technician: $90,589
Aircraft technicians (or aircraft mechanics) also come close to making 100k, with an average salary of $90,589. They’re the people who repair airplanes, making sure everything is running smoothly for the success of the flight and the safety of the passengers.
How to Become an Aircraft Technician
You’ll usually have to attend an Aviation Maintenance Technician school and get some on-the-job experience, though requirements vary from state to state. It can be a tough job to have, as you often need to be outside in all weathers, but it’s very rewarding.
15. Ultrasound Technologist: $100,425
If you’re wondering, “What trade jobs make over 100k?”, then ultrasound technologist is a good answer. They assist doctors in hospitals with identifying and diagnosing patient conditions, although they usually work more in the background than with the patient themselves. Still, it’s a very rewarding career path that does not require a college degree.
How to Become an Ultrasound Technologist
Although you don’t need a four-year college degree for this job, many states do require you to complete a two-year associate’s degree. However, considering the job pays six figures and most of these opportunities provide a lot of job stability, many see this as well worth it.
What Trade Jobs Make Over 100k?
Of course, there aren’t the only trade jobs that pay well, and it’s also important to remember that the pay varies by state and years of experience. The average is just that — the average, and it by no means says that you’re stuck at that number for life.
Many people are aiming for 100k or more so they can take care of their family comfortably. While a job requiring a degree like civil engineering may pay that more quickly, it also requires paying for college which can be extremely expensive. Trade jobs can get you there in almost the same amount of time as you build experience, and you can get the money quicker.
These Are the Highest-Paying Trade Jobs
Although many people mistakenly believe that trade jobs don’t pay a lot, these are the highest-paying trade jobs that could set you up comfortably to take care of yourself and your family. You’re by no means limited by these — the sky is the limit, and there are some amazing fun trade jobs that will also give you a fulfilling work-life balance.
Ready to make the leap? Why not embark on a plumbing career with Energy One? We can help you out!