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Highest Paid Skilled Trades Jobs

Highest-paying trade careers 2019

There are so many different skilled trade careers out there, and many of them take only a few months to a couple years to get trained and be work-ready. We've included some medical and healthcare jobs in this article because many of these programs can be found at trade and technical schools. Read on to learn about some of the highest paying skilled trades jobs.

Training Takes 2 Years Or Less

Schooling or training for these careers normally takes under 2 years though some apprenticeships take longer than that. But if you're an apprentice you'll be on the job making money while you train.

HVAC Technician—$51,420 median salary

  • Education: You will need to get your high school diploma or GED before enrolling in an HVAC tech program. These are available through trade schools or community colleges. You may also learn the trade through an apprenticeship. Licensing is required of anyone handling refrigerants, so there are tests you will have to pass once you finish your training.
  • Job Outlook: There are an expected 48,800 HVAC technician positions opening through 2026.

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Welder—$45,190 median salary

  • Education: To become a welder, you must have your high school diploma or GED. You’ll either learn welding through a trade school program, or through on-the-job training. Many employers will pay for the cost of any certifications they may need you to get.
  • Job Outlook: There’s a need for 22,500 welders through 2026.

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Aircraft Mechanic—$67,110 median salary

  • Education: You must have your high school diploma or GED. First, can either go through an FAA-approved training program, or receive on the job training. You will need to pass certification exams, which needs to be retaken every two years.
  • Job Outlook: There will be 6,400 new aircraft mechanic jobs available through 2026.

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Electrician—$60,370 median salary

  • Education: You will need your high school diploma or GED. Electricians usually learn through apprenticeships. These take 4-5 years to complete. You can also go to a trade school to start your electrician training. Once your education is finished, you’ll be required to get licensed.
  • Job Outlook: There will be a need for 60,000 electricians through 2026.

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Avionics Technician—$66,970 median salary

  • Education: An associate degree is typically what you’ll need to start working. You’ll learn most of the necessary hard skills on the job. You’ll need to get your certification through the FAA. There are continuing education requirements, and licensing renewals every two years.
  • Job Outlook: There will be 1,100 new avionics technician jobs available through 2026.

Electronic Engineer Technician—$66,240 median salary

  • Education: Associate degree in electronic or electrical engineering through a community college or vocational school. Certifications are available and are optional but recommended.
  • Job Outlook: There will be 2,700 new positions opening through 2026.

Dental Hygienist—$77,230 median salary

  • Education: Dental hygienists typically need an associate degree in dental hygiene. Community colleges, trade schools, and colleges all offer dental hygiene programs. They take three years to complete. The program you attend must be accredited through the Commission on Dental Accreditation, which is an arm of the American Dental Association.
  • Job Outlook: There will be 40,900 new dental hygiene positions available through 2026.

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Elevator Mechanics—$83,250 median salary

  • Education: You’ll need a high school diploma or GED first. You’ll need to get into an apprenticeship program through a union, association, or contractor. You will receive 144 hours of instruction, and 2,000 hours of on-the-job paid training per year. Most states require elevator mechanics to have a license.
  • Job Outlook: There will be 2,700 new jobs available through 2026.

Cardiovascular Technologist—$59,600 median salary

  • Education: There are one-year certificates available through trade schools and some hospitals. You can also choose to get an associate degree. Professional certifications are available, and most employers will expect you to get yours.
  • Job Outlook: There are 5,500 new positions projected through 2026.

Plumber—$59,800 median salary

  • Education: You’ll need your high school diploma or GED first. Then, you’ll typically get into an apprenticeship which will take 4-5 years to complete. Most states will require you to get your license once your training is finished.
  • Job Outlook: There will be a need for 75,200 new plumbers through 2026.

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Boilermaker—$65,040 median salary

  • Education: You will need your high school diploma or GED. Typically, you’ll learn to be a boilermaker through a four-year apprenticeship. Once you complete your training, you’ll be considered a journeyman boilermaker and will be qualified to work without constant supervision.
  • Job Outlook: There will be 1,500 new positions available through 2026

Occupational Therapy Assistant—$61,880 median salary

  • Education: You’ll need an associate degree from an accredited occupational therapy assistant program. Occupational therapy programs are available in most community colleges and trade schools. Most states will require you to have a license to practice. If you decide to become an occupational therapist once you’ve worked as an assistant, there are bridge programs available.
  • Job Outlook: Some 11,400 new occupational therapy assistant positions will be available through 2026.

Electric Powerline Installer and Repairer—$71,960 median salary

  • Education: You’ll need your high school diploma or GED. There are one year diplomas through trade schools, as well as associate degrees through community colleges available. You will have to complete a training period which typically lasts three years, and it will be through your employer. Certifications, although not mandatory, are available.
  • Job Outlook: There is predicted to be 18,400 new jobs available through 2026.

Training Takes Over 2 Years

You may find that some of these jobs can be trained for by taking an associate's degree program. Though, generally these career programs do take about 4 years to complete. You'll notice many of the average salaries are higher than those listed above.

Construction Manager—$105,000 median salary

  • Education: The most common way to enter this field is through a bachelor’s degree program in a construction-related field, with construction experience. Although, it’s not uncommon to get into a construction management career if you have an associate degree and years in the construction industry.
  • Job Outlook: There are 44,800 new positions opening through 2026.

Radiation Therapy—$91,620 median salary

  • Education: Complete an associate or bachelor’s degree program in radiation therapy. Most states will require you to have a license to practice. You must pass a national certification exam.
  • Job Outlook: There will be 2,400 new jobs opening through 2026.

Logisticians—$78,680 median salary

  • Education: An associate degree in a business-related field may be suitable. But, most companies will feel more comfortable hiring someone with a bachelor’s degree. However, getting hired based on work experience isn’t all that uncommon in this industry. There are certifications available, but they are not mandatory.
  • Job Outlook: There are 10,300 new jobs available through 2026.

Film & Video Editors—$87,300 median salary

  • Education: A film-related bachelor’s degree is the first step toward becoming a film editor. You will likely receive more training from your employer. Certifications through related software vendors will be available, but they are usually not mandatory.
  • Job Outlook: There will be 7,600 new positions open through 2026.

Respiratory Therapist—$63,950 median salary

  • Education: An associate degree is the typical route for respiratory therapy. There are bachelor degree programs available, but these are less common than associate degrees. All states, except Alaska, will require you to be licensed and certified.
  • Job Outlook: There will be 30,500 open positions available through 2026.

Radiologic Technologist—$63,120 median salary

  • Education: Getting an associate degree is the typical path most will take. Certificate programs, as well as bachelor degrees, are also available. Licensing is required in most states, so check with your state board. Although not mandatory in all states, employers will prefer it if you have certifications.
  • Job Outlook: There will be 25,300 radiologic technologist positions opening through 2026.

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Geological Technician—$60,800 median salary

  • Education: You will need a science-related associate degree. Some employers prefer hiring candidates with bachelor’s degrees. Internships and co-ops are often available through the college programs, and those help you gain working experience, which can be necessary to get a job. Once you’re hired, there will be a training period where you’ll get even more hands-on experience.
  • Job Outlook: There will be 2,500 available positions through 2026.

Air Traffic Controller—$120,140 median salary

  • Education: Three years of excellent and responsible work experience, a bachelor’s degree, and a degree from the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative program, which must be approved through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Job Outlook: There will be 900 new air traffic control positions opening through 2026.

Reference & More Reading:

Top Paying Jobs With Least Time in School

Highest Paying Trade and Technical Careers

Bureau of Labor Statistics