Highest Paid Skilled Trades Jobs In 2019
Going to college and being burdened by seemingly insurmountable debt isn’t for everyone. Even without debt, college isn’t for everyone. And that’s OK, because there are so many different careers out there, and many of them take only a few months to be trained and work-ready. Find out what some of the highest paying skilled trades jobs are for 2019 and beyond.
What Are The Highest Paying Skilled Trades Jobs In 2019?
Air Traffic Controller—$124,540 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.
Electronic Engineer Technician—$64,330 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.
Construction Manager—$93,370 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—$82,330 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.
Elevator Mechanics—$79,780 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.
Logistics Manager—74,600 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.
Dental Hygienist—$74,820 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.
Find a dental hygiene program near you.
Multimedia Artists and Animators—$72,520 median salary
- Education: Your portfolio is going to be the No.1 thing that gets you in the door of any studio. Having an associate or bachelor’s degree isn’t too bad of an idea, either. But, put together a killer portfolio, and your degree, or lack thereof, won’t matter.
- Job Outlook: There are 6,300 new positions projected to open through 2026.
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer—$67,080 median salary
- Education: You will need a certificate or degree from a trade school or community college. Shortly after you begin working, your employer may require you to get professional certifications. These can be obtained through American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, Cardiovascular Credentialing International, and American Registry of Radiologic Technology.
- Job Outlook: There will be 21,100 new jobs opening through 2026.
Electric Powerline Installer and Repairer—$70,910 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.
Web Developer—$69,430 median salary
- Education: Web developers do not have strict educational requirements. The most common degree is an associate in web design. In some instances, a bachelor’s degree in programming or computer science is expected. You may also need a background in graphic design.
- Job Outlook: There are 24,400 web developer jobs expected to be available through 2026.
Cardiovascular Technologist—$56,850 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.
Boilermaker—$62,150 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
Aircraft Mechanic—$62,920 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.
Find aircraft mechanic and maintenance programs near you.
Avionics Technician—$64,120 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.
Film Editor—$54,570 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—$60,280 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.
Occupational Therapy Assistant—$60,220 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.
Radiologic Technologist—$71,670 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.
Find a radiologic technology program near you.
Geological and Petroleum Technician—$53,300 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.
Electrician—$55,190 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.
Find electrician training programs near you.
Plumber—$53,910 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.
Find plumbing training programs near you.
HVAC Technician—$47,610 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.
Find HVAC training programs near you.
Welder—$41,380 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.
Find a welding program near you.
How Much Do Trade Schools Cost?
Let’s first start with looking at the cost of traditional college. Four years in, and you’ll have spent somewhere in the vicinity of six figures. And, for most students, college will take about five years to complete. Now, imagine if you had to take loans out in order to pay for your education, the way the majority of the student body has to. That all has to be paid back. Some loans demand payment to start immediately, and some require it to start six months after graduation. Regardless, that’s a lot of money, compounded with interest, that has to be repaid.
Vocational/trade schools, on the other hand, average in the $30Ks. For the entire program. Community colleges are a little over $5,000K per year. This means going into a trade sets you up at an immediate advantage. Not only will the amount of loans needing payback be less, but with most trade careers, you’re working immediately upon graduation—if not sooner.
Can I Learn My Trade Online?
There are some hybrid courses out there where you take online classes mixed with a hands-on curriculum. Many trades have components that will need you to either work in a lab environment, in a classroom, or in the field. You’ll learn better by actually performing those work-related tasks, as opposed to watching them done in an online video.
Sure, there are some skilled trades that are have complete online learning. Healthcare and nursing can be, for example. It’s not uncommon for registered nurses to go from their associate degree to bachelor’s degree through web-based schooling.
Certifications associated with particular trades can also be done completely online. But, you need to already be working in that field before you are eligible to earn certifications. That’s not to say you won’t find an online course in the field of your choice. Just make sure that whatever you do, all the courses are through an accredited program. If not, then you run the risk of not being eligible for any licensing or certifications that may be necessary to that trade.