25+ Best Highest Paying Trade Jobs Is It Hard to Find Trade School Jobs? Top 25+ Trade Jobs That Pay Well How to Apply for the Best Paying Trade Jobs Final Thoughts
25+ Best Highest Paying Trade Jobs Is It Hard to Find Trade School Jobs? Top 25+ Trade Jobs That Pay Well How to Apply for the Best Paying Trade Jobs Final Thoughts
Updated 30/09/2020

25+ Best Highest Paying Trade Jobs

Do you think it's impossible to get a high salary without a bachelor’s degree? Learn more about the best trade careers offering good pay.

Do you think it's impossible to get a high salary without a bachelor’s degree? Learn more about the best trade careers offering good pay.

A trade job is a manual labor job that requires advanced training and practical skills, but not necessarily earning a college degree. Some professions offer on-the-job training, while to get hired for other positions, you will need to go to a vocational school. But the main advantage of a trade job is that you can start working in less than two years. You can choose from different industries, such as construction, healthcare, manufacturing, informational technologies, design, etc.

In recent years, the demand for skilled workers has increased, and it will continue to grow. If you choose this route for your career, our article will help you answer the questions: What are the best paying trade jobs? What will my duties include? And How can I apply for a trade job?

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Is It Hard to Find Trade School Jobs?

The short answer is: “Not always” because the trade job market offers plenty of job opportunities. Some industries are even having trouble finding qualified workers. For instance, 62% of firms cannot hire skilled tradespeople due to the labor market’s lack of professionals.

And the shortage of skilled trade workers could get worse because of the aging population. Given that most trade jobs employ baby boomers, companies will need to fill even more positions with new professionals once they retire.

The US Department of Education reported that there would be 68% more infrastructure trade jobs than people trained to fill them. It shows that the gap between demand and supply is growing.

However, there can’t be an answer without a “but.” Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the United States unemployment rate reached 14.7% in May 2020, the highest level since the Great Depression.

About 20 million jobs were wiped out. Even though they were mainly in the hospitality and foodservice sectors, some trade jobs were also affected, among them manufacturing and non-essential healthcare. But by August 2020, the national unemployment rate was back down to 8.4%. The situation is gradually improving, but the country is still far from a full recovery from this crisis.

Nevertheless, the recent US Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that the number of jobs, including trade ones, will continue to grow. Thus, choosing this sector can be an excellent strategy to get hired in the American labor market.

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Top 25+ Trade Jobs That Pay Well

Today, by giving preference to trade jobs, candidates have an opportunity to improve their qualifications continuously. Moreover, while performing their professional duties, they can improve their education level, gain more experience, and apply for leadership positions later.

Although some people may think that blue-collar job seekers cannot claim high wages, we will try to prove the opposite. We’ve analyzed the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook and created a list of popular and well-paying trade careers to show that skilled labor professions can be no less lucrative than white-collar jobs.

1. Air Traffic Controller

Average annual salary: $123,000

The air traffic controller role is one of the highest paying trade jobs. It includes controlling aircraft movement using radio communications, radar, and light systems to provide the necessary information on flights.

As a part of their duties, air traffic controllers:

  • control aircraft movements in and out of the airport;
  • research and approve flight plans;
  • inform the crew and aircraft personnel about weather conditions, equipment operation, flight plans, and aircraft movements.

Air traffic controllers’ employment is projected to grow 1% by 2029, which is slower than the average for other professions. Competition in this position will be extreme due to a relatively small number of vacancies.

2. Computer Network Architect

Average annual salary: $112,700

Computer network architects develop local and wide-area communication networks. They need an in-depth knowledge of a company’s business plan to design a network that can help achieve company goals.

Along with the design of computer network systems, network architects complete various tasks, including:

  • maintaining documentation during the network installation and implementation;
  • managing staff;
  • troubleshooting computer network issues;
  • monitoring networking systems and making necessary adjustments.

Computer network architects’ employment is expected to grow by 5% by 2029. Given that companies continue to expand their IT networks, the demand for such specialists will increase.

3. Electrical Engineer

Average annual salary: $101,250

Electrical engineers develop and test different electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar, navigation and communication systems, power generators, etc. They also build electrical systems for cars and aircraft.

Electrical engineers’ duties vary in every company, but core responsibilities include:

  • designing electrical systems for residential, commercial, and industrial projects;
  • researching new ways to use electrical power to build and improve products;
  • creating installation standards and specifications;
  • investigating complaints, evaluating problems, and recommending solutions.

Electrical engineers’ employment will grow by 3% by 2029, mainly in professional, scientific, and technical services firms.

4. Construction Manager

Average annual salary: $95,300

Construction managers are responsible for residential, commercial, or federal construction projects, ensuring compliance with construction requirements, budget, and timely completion.

Some of the construction manager’s duties include:

  • scheduling construction project activities;
  • inspecting projects to track compliance with building and safety regulations;
  • obtaining necessary construction permits and licenses;
  • investigating damage and accidents at construction sites;
  • ordering and purchasing supplies and materials to complete construction projects.

The employment of construction managers will grow by 8% by 2029. These professionals will be in demand due to an anticipated increase in construction activities.

5. Computer Programmer

Average annual salary: $86,550

Computer programmers are also known as software engineers. Their main task is to write the code that makes up computer software. They turn software projects into instructions that a computer can follow.

Typically, computer programmer duties include:

  • writing programs using different computer programming languages, such as C++ or Java;
  • updating and expanding existing programs;
  • testing programs and fixing errors in code;
  • testing code in an integrated development environment.

IT employment is expected to grow by 11% by 2029 due to great emphasis on cloud computing, big data collection and storage, and information security.

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6. Radiation Therapist

Average annual salary: $85,600

A radiation therapist is a physician who is proficient in radiological diagnostics and provides radiation therapy for malignant and benign tumors. This doctor also treats metastases, benign neoplasms, lymphogranulomatosis, lymphomas, hidradenitis, etc.

Among others, the radiation therapist’s duties include:

  • selection and implementation of the most gentle treatment methods;
  • drawing up a course of therapy;
  • adjustment of radiation doses;
  • measuring the total radiation load on the body.

Radiation therapists’ employment is expected to grow by 7% by 2029, faster than the average. The high demand for radiation therapists may due to the aging population and progress in radiation therapies.

7. Elevator Mechanic

Average annual salary: $85,000

Elevator Mechanics install, maintain, and fix elevators, escalators, and moving walkways. They make sure that elevator machinery complies with building safety codes and equipment safety regulations.

Their primary duties include:

  • testing and adjusting general operating and safety features of elevators and escalators;
  • maintaining and repairing electronic control panels, switches, relays, and generators;
  • oiling and greasing moving parts;
  • conducting safety checks.

Elevator mechanics’ employment will grow by 7% by 2029 due to the increasing number of elevators and escalators in stores and residential and commercial buildings.

8. Nuclear Technician

Average annual salary: $82,100

Usually, nuclear technicians work in nuclear energy production. They help physicists and engineers conduct nuclear research, operate special equipment, and monitor radiation levels.

The primary duties of nuclear technicians are:

  • monitoring the equipment used in nuclear experiments and power generation;
  • measuring types of radiation produced by nuclear experiments;
  • collecting samples of air, water, and soil to test for radioactive contamination;
  • instructing staff on radiation safety procedures.

The employment of nuclear technicians will not change in the near future. Still, these specialists will be needed to maintain and upgrade existing nuclear power plants.

9. Dental Hygienist

Average annual salary: $76,200

Dental hygienists work both independently and assist dentists, orthodontists, periodontists, etc. Their main task is to prevent diseases of the oral cavity and teeth.

Core duties include:

  • developing an individual program of complex oral care;
  • explaining the technique of brushing teeth;
  • polishing dental fillings;
  • remineralizing dental enamel;
  • removing dental calculus;
  • treating periodontitis.

Dental hygienists’ employment will grow by 6% by 2029 due to the high demand for dental services caused by population aging and a trend towards preventive care. Dental hygienists who will work in underserved areas and are open to part-time jobs will have the best employment opportunities.

10. Web Developer

Average annual salary: $73,800

A web developer is an IT worker who builds and maintains websites and online applications. Most web developers specialize in one of two areas: front-end focuses on the visual part of the project; back-end works with server technology.

Web developers perform duties, such as:

  • creating and testing applications for the site;
  • writing code for a website using HTML or XML;
  • working with graphic designers to define how the site will look;
  • tracking website traffic;
  • preparing technical documentation.

Web developers’ employment is expected to grow by 8% by 2029, which is much faster than the average, due to the increasing popularity of mobile devices and eCommerce.

11. Landscape Architect

Average annual salary: $69,400

Landscape architects, also known as landscape designers, design parks, gardens, and other outdoor spaces. Their main task is to create a harmonious space that combines beauty and convenience.

Typically, landscape architects are responsible for:

  • territory research, including making measurements, checking the condition of reservoirs and soil, and clarifying the features of the relief;
  • creation of a sketch and its approval;
  • planning of communications: water supply, sewerage, drainage systems, and sedimentation tanks;
  • coordination of the construction process.

Landscape architects’ employment is expected to remain the same by 2029. However, environmental concerns and efforts to conserve water and prevent waterway pollution may increase demand for these specialists and even raise this profession’s position on the list of well-paid trade jobs.

12. Medical Sonographer

Average annual salary: $68,750

Medical sonographers use ultrasound high-frequency sound waves to research body tissues. The primary purpose of ultrasound images is to help diagnose and monitor heart disease, pregnancy, and cancer.

Their duties include:

  • preparing patients for procedures and answering their questions;
  • maintaining diagnostic equipment;
  • reviewing images and testing results;
  • recording findings and keeping track of patients’ records.

Diagnostic medical sonographers’ employment is expected to grow by 12% by 2029. In the future, good diagnostic medical sonographers may be needed to offer alternative techniques that involve radiation.

13. Power Line Technician

Average annual salary: $65,700

Usually, power line technicians install and repair electrical power systems, telecommunications cables, fiber optics, etc.

Along with installing, maintaining, and repairing power lines, their core duties include:

  • identifying defective voltage regulators, transformers, switches, etc.;
  • inspecting and testing power lines;
  • stringing power lines between poles, towers, and buildings;
  • operating power equipment;
  • following safety standards and procedures.

Power line technicians’ employment won’t face massive changes in the next decade. However, skilled professionals will remain in demand due to the growing population and expanding cities requiring a connection to electric networks.

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14. Aircraft Mechanic

Average annual salary: $64,300

An aircraft mechanic is a tradesperson who repairs aircraft and their engines. The primary responsibility is to maintain airplane and helicopter airworthiness.

Job responsibilities include:

  • inspecting aircraft components;
  • reading blueprints, maintenance manuals, and service bulletins to troubleshoot;
  • performing hourly, daily, and monthly inspections;
  • promoting safety within the workplace;
  • ordering supplies, equipment, and materials for repairs and general maintenance;
  • keeping records of the checks, repairs, and maintenance procedures.

Aircraft mechanics’ employment will increase by 5% by 2029 due to air traffic growth and the need for additional maintenance of new aircraft.

15. Boilermaker

Average annual salary: $63,100

A boilermaker manufactures, installs, and maintains boilers, tanks, closed vats, etc., used for housing gases and liquids.

Primary responsibilities include:

  • welding boiler sections together;
  • studying designs and drawings to produce boilers;
  • building tanks and vats to store chemicals, oil, etc.;
  • maintaining boilers after installation and repairing when needed.

Boilermakers’ employment won’t grow much by 2029. However, these specialists will be needed to replace and maintain boiler parts, including tubes, heating elements, and ductwork.

16. MRI Technologist

Average annual salary: $62,300

MRI technologists use magnetic resonance imaging equipment to produce a cross-sectional image that helps doctors diagnose.

In addition to administering MRI scanners on patients to produce quality images of the body, typical job duties include:

  • adjusting and maintaining imaging equipment;
  • preparing patients for procedures;
  • protecting the patient by shielding exposed areas;
  • working with physicians to evaluate the images;
  • keeping patient records.

MRI technologists’ employment is expected to grow by 7% by 2029 because of an increase in various medical conditions that require imaging as a tool for making diagnoses, such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.

17. Respiratory Therapist

Average annual salary: $61,300

Respiratory therapists help patients with troubled breathing. They also provide emergency care during heart attacks, drowning, or shock.

Their primary duties include:

  • examining patients with cardiopulmonary or breathing disorders;
  • consulting with physicians to create a treatment plan;
  • measuring lung capacity;
  • monitoring and recording patients’ progress.

Respiratory therapists’ employment will grow by 19% by 2029. It can be explained by the increase in respiratory conditions such as pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other disorders that damage the lungs or their functions.

18. Construction Inspector

Average annual salary: $60,700

A construction or building inspector checks construction structures before, during, and after projects to ensure structural soundness, safety, and compliance with regulations.

The primary duties include:

  • approving building plans;
  • monitoring construction sites;
  • using survey instruments, metering devices, and test equipment to conduct checks;
  • inspecting plumbing, electrical, and other systems;
  • issuing violation notices and stop-work orders;
  • providing written documentation of inspections.

Construction inspectors’ employment is expected to grow by 3% by 2029 due to public interest in safety and the desire to improve construction quality.

19. Camera Operator

Average annual salary: $59,800

Usually, camera operators are hired by television, cable, and film production companies. They work with different technical equipment, including portable, remote-control, and electronic cameras, cranes, and mobile mountings.

Their duties include:

  • setting up equipment;
  • planning and preparing scenes;
  • following camera scripts;
  • framing and capturing action;
  • cooperating with lighting and technical staff.

Camera operators’ employment will grow by 15% by 2029 since the number of Internet platforms and shows produced for these platforms will increase, creating more work for camera operators.

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20. Occupational Therapy Assistant

Average annual salary: $59,200

Occupational therapy assistants help occupational therapists treat patients with illnesses, injuries, and disabilities that make their daily living and work activities difficult.

Usually, the candidates for this position need to perform duties, such as:

  • treating patients using therapeutic and self-care activities;
  • monitoring patients activities;
  • documenting patients progress;
  • maintaining treatment areas and equipment;
  • instructing patients in treatment programs.

Occupational therapy assistants’ employment is expected to grow by 35% by 2029, making it one of the most in-demand trade jobs in the next few years. One of the reasons for this is the health needs of a growing elderly population.

21. Plumber

Average annual salary: $55,200

Plumbers install and repair internal central heating, water supply, sewerage, and gas supply systems.

Usually, plumbers perform duties, such as:

  • preparing cost estimates of plumbing projects;
  • reading blueprints;
  • choosing materials and equipment for a job;
  • installing pipes and fixtures;
  • inspecting installed pipe systems;
  • repairing plumbing systems.

Plumbers’ employment will grow by 4% by 2029. This demand for plumbers will be due to new constructions and the need to maintain plumbing systems in existing buildings.

22. Legal Assistant

Average annual salary: $52,000

Legal assistants help lawyers by maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and drafting documents.

Their primary duties include:

  • gathering the facts of a case;
  • researching relevant laws and regulations;
  • maintaining documents in filing systems;
  • arranging evidence for case preparation;
  • writing reports helping lawyers prepare for trials;
  • drafting legal documents.

Legal assistants’ employment is expected to grow by 10% by 2029. Given that most law firms want to increase their efficiency, legal assistants and their services will be in high demand.

23. Petroleum Technician

Average annual salary: $51,100

Petroleum technicians help scientists and engineers explore and extract natural resources, such as oil and natural gas, and refine them into a usable product. They are responsible for the technical aspects of working with petroleum.

Their typical duties include:

  • maintaining field and laboratory equipment;
  • gathering samples in the field and preparing them for laboratory analysis;
  • conducting scientific tests;
  • preparing maps to identify the geological characteristics of areas that may have valuable resources.

Petroleum technicians’ employment will grow by 5% by 2029 due to the demand for petroleum, natural gas, metals, and minerals.

24. Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning Technician

Average annual salary: $48,800

HVAC technicians install, maintain, and repair heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems controlling the temperature and air quality in buildings.

Along with installing, cleaning, and maintaining HVAC systems, the core duties of these specialists include:

  • installing electrical components and wiring;
  • inspecting and testing HVAC systems;
  • repairing or replacing defective parts;
  • keeping records of HVAC systems maintenance.

HVAC technicians’ employment will grow by 4% by 2029. The growing number of new climate-control systems is expected to increase the demand for qualified HVAC technicians.

25. Carpenter

Average annual salary: $48,300

Carpenter is one of the most common construction trades. This specialist works with wood and produces various parts, products, and building structures using it.

Carpenter’s duties mainly include:

  • reading blueprints and building plans to meet the client’s needs;
  • installing structures, such as windows and molding;
  • measuring, cutting, and shaping wood;
  • constructing and installing walls, floors, and doorframes;
  • inspecting damaged frameworks.

Сarpenters’ employment won’t show significant changes soon. However, new-home construction, one of the largest segments employing carpenters, will create some demand for these professionals.

26. Licensed Practical Nurse

Average annual salary: $47,500

Usually, licensed practical nurses work in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, and nursing homes, under registered nurses’ supervision.

Their primary duties include:

  • monitoring patients’ health;
  • checking patients’ blood pressure;
  • changing bandages and inserting catheters;
  • providing for the basic comfort of patients;
  • reporting patients’ status to registered nurses;
  • keeping records on patients’ health.

Licensed practical nurses’ employment will grow by 9% by 2029 due to the baby-boom population aging. These specialists will be in high demand in residential care facilities and in-home health environments.


How to Apply for the Best Paying Trade Jobs

If your job search was successful, and you found the perfect trade position, it’s time to think about the application package. As the first thing that presents you to a potential employer, it should be prepared correctly.


A resume describes your professional experience, skills, knowledge, and information about your education and training. This document’s primary purpose is to attract the recruiter’s attention, create an excellent first impression, and convince your potential employer to invite you for an interview.

Resume writing starts with reading a job listing carefully. It’s one of the most important information sources providing you with job requirements, duties, working conditions, etc. You can use this information when tailoring your resume for a specific position and adapting your paper to the applicant tracking system.

One of the keys to a winning resume is to present your previous experience and skills in a way that adds value to the position to which you are applying.

Besides, you should maintain a well-organized structure of your document and choose simple but consistent formatting. Divide the text into sections, highlight the headings with a bold font, and don’t forget about margins.

Cover Letter

A cover letter is a starting point for your introduction to the employer. This relatively short application document, which you should send along with your resume, is the first information the employer reads about you. The purpose is to make you stand out, explain your motivation, and attract attention to your resume.

This document requires a creative approach and customization for every single position to which you apply. Before writing your cover letter, try to understand what exactly the employer is looking for. Focus on your skills that match the job requirements. Additionally, try to use “keywords” when writing your text. These are specific terms the employer uses to describe the position.

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Follow Up After Applying

If you applied for a job and didn’t get feedback, we recommend following up with the recruiter. It can show your interest in the position and encourage them to give your resume a closer look.

You can do a follow-up in several ways, such as sending an email, writing a letter, or making a phone call.


Final Thoughts

We’ve presented only a shortlist of trade jobs that can offer good money for living. The labor market provides a big pool of positions both for entry-level and experienced candidates to choose.

If you are sure that a trade-oriented career is what you want, you can enroll in a trade school to get specific skills, hands-on education, and relevant training. Moreover, some trade schools have job placement services that can help you find the first job. All you need is to deepen your knowledge, develop your skills, learn how to present them properly to hiring managers, and you will succeed.

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