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Highest Paying Trades in 2024

Reviewed by Candace Bowers
Managing Editor
Finances
Written by Chanelle Garzon
Updated: June 26, 2024
8 min read
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Not everyone dreams of a traditional four-year college experience, and that's perfectly okay. Some people already know what they want to do and are eager to jump into their careers, and that's awesome!

But nothing comes without learning new skills, especially when it comes to trades. While some are focused on academia, others prefer learning practical skills they can use as their profession, and, if I’m being honest, both are great ways to kickstart your future. So, if you’re someone who is ready to join the professional world through a trade, you’ve come to the right place. This article is curated just for you!

Today is all about the highest-paying trades out there. If you’re not sure what a trade is, don’t worry. I cover what they are, their benefits, how you can find trade jobs, the crème of the crop, and what the highest-paying trade jobs are. Just remember, choosing the career vs. the educational path is the same. And with the right training and experience, it’s possible to get an education and advance in your skilled trade career. So, let’s not waste any more time and start exploring trades!

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What Are Trade Jobs?

There’s this misconception that trade jobs refer to the act of swapping jobs with a peer. Just kidding (haha!). Trade jobs are occupations that require specialized skills and training in a particular industry (i.e., plumbing, carpentry, electrical work, construction management, and welding are all trades).

Trade jobs involve hands-on training and require technical expertise in their respective fields. They are also essential for various industries and play a crucial role in construction projects and the building and maintenance of infrastructure, homes, and commercial buildings. However, the true lure of trade jobs is the security and employment stability they provide, as well as a rewarding career path for those who enjoy working with their hands and solving practical problems.

Training options for trades typically include:

welding trade job

Top Trades in Demand

Here is a list of the most popular top trades in demand based on 2024 data from Forbes and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

1. Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers

2. Boilermakers

3. Millwrights

4. Electricians

5. Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters

6. Industrial Machinery Mechanics

And the list goes on! If you’re not sure which way you want to go, make a list of careers that pique your interest and begin doing your own research on them to see what path best fits your interests. As always, just make sure that whatever you choose aligns with your career objectives and goals.

Top 10 Highest Paying Trades

While knowing what the career scope is for trades is great, knowing the pay grades is greater. Below are the highest-paying jobs in trades, according to Indeed.com, and believe me when I say they all talk money!

1. Respiratory Therapist

Median Annual Salary: $104,437

2. Ultrasonographer

Median Annual Salary: $101,480

3. Construction Managers

Median Annual Salary: $88,319

4. Aircraft Mechanic and Technician

Median Annual Salary: $82,470

5. Dental Hygienists

Median Annual Salary: $81,400

6. Cable Technician

Median Annual Salary: $70,714

7. Industrial Mechanic

Median Annual Salary: $69,637

8. Solar Installer

Median Annual Salary: $69,422

9. Property Appraisers and Assessors

Median Annual Salary: $64,075

10. Electricians

Median Annual Salary: $62,739

Can you say cha-ching! And these are just median salaries! So, though these aren’t starting base salaries, these trades show that they have a lot of room for growth and earning potential. Be sure to do more research on these trades to become familiar with their labor statistics.

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Benefits of Trade Jobs

Trade jobs have been known to interest people because, typically, they do not require a college degree. The benefits of this kind of job extend far past educational history. Let’s talk about some of the grander benefits of trade jobs.

  1. High Demand: Since there is a constant need for skilled workers in trade fields like construction and welding, the majority of available jobs are in high demand.
  2. Job Security: Trade jobs are less likely to be outsourced, which provides job security compared to other industries.
  3. Competitive Salaries: Skilled tradespeople have the potential to earn higher salaries, especially as they gain experience and expertise in their field.
  4. Hands-on Work: Trades involve hands-on work and problem-solving, which can be rewarding for individuals who enjoy working with their hands and seeing tangible results.
  5. Opportunities for Employment Growth and Advancement: Trade jobs offer opportunities for career growth and advancement through additional training, certifications, and experience.
  6. Flexibility: Many trade jobs offer flexible work hours, allowing individuals to choose a schedule that works best for them.

Trade jobs can provide a stable and fulfilling future for those who are interested in taking their career paths into their own hands. Don’t underestimate the impact of a good, high-paying trade job; you may be the one everyone calls for help!

Trade School vs College/University

As I previously stated, the majority of skilled trades now don’t require college degrees but will typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and include on-the-job training. That’s not to say you shouldn’t get a degree and have a trade if that’s what you want—that decision is yours!—but the choice between trade school and college/university depends on individual career goals, interests, and preferences. Let’s go over the differences between these two types of schooling:

  1. Duration:
    • Trade school programs are typically shorter in duration compared to traditional college or university programs, which range from a few months to two years.
    • College/university programs often take four years or more.
  2. Cost:
    • Trade school programs are generally more affordable than college/university programs, which are dependent on the trade school and college/university.
  3. Focus:
    • Trade schools provide focused training in a specific skill.
    • College/University programs offer a broader educational spectrum with individualized focus on multiple academic subjects at a time.
  4. Practical Training:
    • Trade school programs focus on hands-on training and skill development, which provides students with real-world experience.
    • College/University programs may offer hands-on experience through internships or co-op programs but often focus more on theoretical knowledge.
  5. Job Placement:
    • Trade schools often have strong connections with industry partners and offer job placement to graduates.
    • College/University programs may also provide job placement services, but the focus is mainly on preparing students for a wide range of career options.

Now, I’d like to say that either path is just as beneficial as the other, but trade school can be a valuable option for students looking to gain quick practical skills and enter the workforce. College/University may be more suitable for those seeking a broader education and long-term career opportunities. Whichever way you sway, make sure that your choice in schooling supports your goals.

job search
Image courtesy Indeed.com. Screenshot of job search for "hair stylist." June 26, 2024.

How to Find Trade Jobs

Now that you have an idea of what the trade job market and job outlook and their respective pay scales look like, it’s time to prepare yourself for the next steps, one being how to find a job in your chosen trade field. Here are some tips on how to find a trade job:

  1. Research Trade Industries: You will always want to start by researching different trade industries to identify the specific trade job that interests you. Consider factors like job demand, salary potential, required skills, etc. when applying.
  2. Network with Industry Professionals: Network with professionals in the trade industry who may be able to help you with job opportunities. Attend trade fairs, workshops, and any industry event that will help you connect with people.
  3. Use Online Job Boards and Websites: Use online job boards and websites that specialize in trade jobs to search for job openings in your area. Websites like Indeed and Monster can be useful resources for finding high-paying trade jobs and job listings.
  4. Contact Trade Unions and Associations: Reach out to local trade unions and associations to inquire about job opportunities and apprenticeship programs as they often have job placement services for those seeking jobs.
  5. Apply for Trade Job Openings: Once you’ve found job openings that match your skills, it’s time to apply, apply, apply.

Nothing easy comes overnight, so be diligent, stay focused, and be ahead of the game to increase your chances of finding a rewarding career in the trade industry. What you are looking for is looking for you, too!

Related: How to Find a Job You Love

Tips for Career Advancement

Career advancement in any job is important, but progression with trade jobs can be extra rewarding. Career advancement and skilled trade jobs can have many faces. For instance, additional training and/or certifications can help push your knowledge and skills further than someone without extra training.

Finding your career path is one of the most fulfilling moments in your adult life. It means you found your niche, and you’re able to give it your all. But nothing stays the same, right? Knowing what you want out of your career also means knowing one day you will either grow with it or grow out of it, so how can you accomplish the former without ending up at the latter? Here are some tips on how you can achieve career advancement in the workplace.

  1. Continuous learning: Stay ahead of the game by keeping up with the latest industry trends and technologies, attending workshops and training programs, and obtaining relevant certifications.
  2. Networking: And this is KEY. Build strong professional networks by connecting with colleagues, mentors, and industry professionals. Networking can help you learn about new opportunities and gain valuable perspectives about your field.
  3. Seek mentorship: Find a mentor who can provide guidance, advice, and support as you navigate your career path.
  4. Take on new challenges: Step out of your comfort zone and volunteer for projects that will help you grow and expand your skills.
  5. Develop soft skills: On top of technical skills, focus on developing soft skills like communication, problem-solving, and leadership.
  6. Set goals: Define your career goals and create a plan to achieve them.

Follow these tips, stay proactive in your career development, and watch how quickly you progress in your career. Above all, make sure that you’re doing what you love because then it won’t feel like work. Good luck on your journey!

construction workers

Frequently Asked Questions About the Highest Paying Trades

Do trade jobs pay well?

While trade jobs are lucrative, they can vary in terms of pay depending on the specific job, location, level of experience, and industry. However, trade jobs can offer more competitive salaries and opportunities for advancement. Make sure to research specific trade jobs in your area to get a better understanding of the earning potential.

What is the quickest trade to learn?

The quickest trade to learn depends on your skills and the job's needs. Some of the fastest options include truck driving, nursing assistant, and pharmacy technician. Training for these jobs usually takes a few weeks to less than a year.

Can you attend online trade school programs?

Yes, you can attend trade school online! Many schools offer online programs where you can do most of your coursework remotely. These programs often mix online learning with hands-on practice, which you can do at local facilities.

Interested to learn more about trade school and college? Visit our Scholarship Blog to stay up-to-date with all college-related information from me and other writers on the team!

Chanelle Garzon
Content Writer

About Chanelle

Chanelle is a dedicated and seasoned writer, editor, and researcher. She’s familiar with college admissions, finding and applying for scholarships, and the financial aid process.

She graduated from the University of South Florida with a major in English, Creative Writing with a specialization in Technical Writing.

Experience

Chanelle has over a decade of experience in the writing industry, specializing in blog writing, SEO writing, editing, translations, corporate writing, and various forms of creative writing. She founded and operated Femme Feature Magazine, an online and print publication dedicated to celebrating women in all corners of the creative field. An avid reader, Chanelle is constantly seeking refined and innovative ways to tell her stories. Writing is her foremost passion, and she is always on the lookout for her next narrative adventure.

Since joining the Bold.org team as a Content Writer in 2023, Chanelle has brought her enthusiasm for merging the writing and digital worlds. She is dedicated to assisting students and young adults in navigating their educational and professional journeys.

Chanelle's unwavering commitment to her craft and her dedication to helping others shine through in her work. Leveraging her personal and professional experiences, she provides invaluable support to students, empowering them to achieve their goals and realize their potential.

Quote from Chanelle

“There is always a way to say the same thing over and over again. You just have to be creative and think outside the box.”


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