72 Trades To Learn for a Successful Trade Career

Updated June 30, 2023

Learning a trade is one of the best ways to pursue a lucrative and fulfilling career path. If this sounds appealing to you, there are many different trades that you can consider in a wide variety of industries. By examining the many trade options available, you can find the best possible trade career for you. In this article, we discuss what trades are and share some of the most popular trades across various industries.

What are trades?

Trades are industries that call for one or more highly specialized skills. Often, trade professionals attend a vocational or trade school where they receive focused education in their chosen field to learn these skills. Apprenticeships and on-the-job training are other popular methods of learning a new trade.

Trades exist across a broad range of industries. This means that a professional can seek a trade that they find appealing to have a career that is both financially and professionally satisfying.

What are the benefits of learning a trade?

If you're considering a career in a trade field, knowing some of the best reasons to pursue a trade can help you determine if it's the right path for you. The top benefits of learning a trade include:

Lower costs

Because most trades do not require a college degree, trade professionals can often enter into their careers without collecting much student loan debt. By studying at a less-expensive trade school or progressing directly into a career out of high school, trade professionals can save a significant amount of money compared to individuals who pursue careers that require college degrees.

Start earning young

Entering into the workforce without debt isn't the only financial benefit of not attending a college or university. Most trades allow workers to begin straight after high school or after a trade program that usually lasts for less than two years. This allows trade professionals to begin earning full-time wages at an age where their peers are still attending school.

High earning potential

Although trade professions often do not require a degree, many still have earning potentials that equal or exceed the average salaries of individuals who earn higher education like a bachelor's degree. Many trade industries are also backed by unions that fight for high salaries. You may even be able to start your own company someday when you have more experience, which could be extremely lucrative.

Fulfilling careers

Most trades involve working with your hands to build, install or create, and this makes for a career that many trade professionals find to be highly satisfying. Many trades are also held in high esteem, allowing individuals who work in them to feel a great deal of pride in their work.

Job security

Although advancing technology is leading to enhanced automation in many industries, the majority of trade jobs project strong prospects in the future. By mastering a trade, you learn skills that will be useful for the entirety of your professional career.

11 skilled medical trades

While the first medical jobs most people think of all require extensive education in college and graduate school, many of the crucial roles in medical facilities are carried out by trade professionals. The medical industry is an excellent field with career options that can be both financially rewarding and personally fulfilling since your job is to provide important medical care that has a tangible effect on your patients' lives. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the national average salary link for each job title below.

Popular medical trade careers include:

Emergency medical technician

National average salary: $17.98 per hour

Primary duties: An emergency medical technician responds to calls for emergency healthcare. An EMT arrives at the scene of medical emergencies to stabilize and treat individuals and transport them to the hospital if further treatment is required.

Occupational therapist

National average salary: $44.95 per hour

Primary duties: An occupational therapist works with individuals who have diminished physical capabilities. These therapists create and oversee treatment plans that use exercises to help patients build their motor skills so that they can perform more basic life skills without assistance.

Read more: Learn About Being an Occupational Therapist

Additional skilled medical trades

If you're interested in pursuing a medical trade, other options include:

  1. Cardiovascular technician

  2. Dental hygienist

  3. Licensed practical nurse

  4. Medical lab technician

  5. Physical therapist

  6. Radiation therapist

  7. Registered nurse

  8. Respiratory therapist

  9. Ultrasonographer

14 skilled residential trades

One of the safest routes for pursuing a career is to pick a trade skill that applies to a residential setting. Because homeowners need experts to deliver the quality work their homes require, residential trades are rated well for prospects. Residential trades are typically hands-on jobs that provide a great deal of satisfaction when properly executed. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the national average salary link for each job title below.

Top residential trade skills include:


National average salary: $23.76 per hour

Primary duties: An electrician installs and repairs electrical systems in buildings. In addition to interpreting technical documents and ensuring that complex electrical systems are created accurately, electricians may be tasked with planning out new electrical installations in a building.

Read more: Learn About Being an Electrician

2. Plumber

National average salary: $24.23 per hour

Primary duties: Plumbers are responsible for the installation and maintenance of plumbing systems in homes. Plumbers primarily work with the pipes in a building that transport water, but they may also provide repairs to the outlets and fixtures in a home's plumbing system.

Read more: Learn About Being a Plumber

Additional skilled residential trades

For more options in residential fields, consider one of these trades:

  1. Carpenter

  2. Carpet installer

  3. Construction worker

  4. Drafter

  5. Framer

  6. Home inspector

  7. Housecleaner

  8. Mason

  9. Mechanical installer

  10. Mechanical insulator

  11. Painter

  12. Roofer

18 skilled energy and industrial trades

If you're interested in a career where you get to perform a lot of hands-on physical work, then energy and industrial jobs may be a great fit. Many trades in these fields allow you to spend most of your day doing manual labor in an outdoor setting. Although the shape of the energy industry is changing, there is still a need for energy jobs, making it a secure sector to pursue work in. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the national average salary link for each job title below.

Top energy and industrial jobs include:


National average salary: $18.35 per hour

Primary duties: A mechanic is responsible for maintaining cars, trucks and other automobiles. Mechanics are responsible for examining vehicles to identify potential problems and repairing any issues they discover. Many mechanics work on a broad range of vehicles, but they may also opt to specialize in a specific manufacturer or vehicle style to gain enhanced mastery in their trade.

Read more: Learn About Being an Auto Mechanic

Solar installer

National average salary: $20.84 per hour

Primary duties: A solar installer is responsible for the installation and maintenance of solar panel systems. In addition to caring for panels, a solar installer may be responsible for meeting with property owners to discuss solar options and ensuring that all installations follow safety and local zoning regulations.

Additional skilled energy and industrial trades

Here are more industrial and energy field trades you can pursue:

  1. Auto service technician

  2. Boilermaker

  3. CNC machine tool programmer

  4. Diesel mechanic

  5. Electrical power-line technician

  6. Extraction worker

  7. HVAC mechanic

  8. Heavy machine operator

  9. Ironworker

  10. Marine mechanic

  11. Pipefitter

  12. Rotary drill operator

  13. Steamfitter

  14. Steelworker

  15. Welder

  16. Wind energy technician

8 skilled cosmetic trades

The beauty industry has a longstanding trade tradition, with specialized skill sets that allow clients to receive the best possible styling care. Whether you prefer working with skin, hair or nails, there are many different routes to pursuing a cosmetic trade. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the national average salary link for each job title below.

Top cosmetic trade skills include:


National average salary: $18.66 per hour

Primary duties: An aesthetician is a skincare professional who specializes in helping clients achieve cleaner and clearer skin with fewer blemishes. Aestheticians perform a variety of skincare procedures on clients, including applying cleansers, clearing blocked pores and using lotions to promote healthy skin. An aesthetician also gives recommendations to clients for home skincare plans to maintain their skin between appointments.

Read more: Learn About Being an Aesthetician

Hair color specialist

National average salary: $19.27 per hour

Primary duties: A hair color specialist helps customers achieve the hair looks they desire by applying bleaches and dyes. To succeed as a hair color specialist, an individual should master many different types of coloring to create a range of looks, from single-color dyes to gradient-style effects.

Additional skilled cosmetic trades

If helping others look and feel great appeals to you, here are more trades to consider:

  1. Barber

  2. Eyebrow threader

  3. Eyebrow waxer

  4. Hair removal specialist

  5. Hairstylist

  6. Nail technician

8 skilled technology trades

The technology industry is one of the fastest-growing markets, and that remains true for trade positions as well. Technological trade professionals possess skills that allow them to excel in a variety of critical technology jobs. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the national average salary link for each job title below.

If you are fond of working with modern technology, one of these modern tech trades may be the right fit for you:

Graphic designer

National average salary: $3,351 per month

Primary duties: A graphic designer is responsible for creating visual art for branding, marketing and other commercial purposes. They often use computer software to design graphics that appeal to their clients. Graphic designers might create things like magazines, advertisements, websites, brochures and logos.

Read more: Learn About Being a Graphic Designer

Web developer

National average salary: $77,166 per year

Primary duties: A web developer uses code to build websites and other online platforms in a user-friendly way. In addition to working on current projects, a web developer is also tasked with remaining up to date on new online coding languages and maintaining websites to ensure they perform optimally.

Read more: Learn About Being a Web Developer

Additional skilled technology trades

Technologically inclined professionals may excel in one of these tech trades:

  1. App developer

  2. Database administrator

  3. Game developer

  4. Search engine optimization specialist

  5. Software developer

  6. Tech support specialist

13 additional skilled trades

The value of mastering a trade skill is not confined to a select group of industries because trade talents are needed in countless fields. Each of these trade skills requires expertise in a specific craft and provides the opportunity for a successful and rewarding career. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the national average salary link for each job title below.

Additional skilled trades to consider include:


National average salary: $33,439 per year

Primary duties: A locksmith is responsible for installing new locks and replacing old locks that no longer function. A locksmith may also be called by a client who has lost the key or combination to a lock or has locked their keys inside of a building or vehicle. The locksmith uses specialized tools to open locks without the proper key or code.

Truck driver

National average salary: $60,954 per year

Primary duties: A commercial truck driver is responsible for safely transporting shipments from one place to another. To be hired as a commercial trucker, a driver must first learn the specialized skills required to drive a large truck and then earn the appropriate type of license. Truck driving often requires long hours to meet delivery targets.

Read more: Learn About Being a Truck Driver

Additional skilled trades

There are many excellent trade options to consider as a career, including:

  1. Air traffic controller

  2. Commercial driver

  3. Elevator installer

  4. Interior design

  5. Landscaper

  6. Massage therapist

  7. Millwright

  8. Paralegal

  9. Pet groomer

  10. Photographer

  11. Potter

Frequently asked questions

Are trades a viable long-term career option?

Trades can be a rewarding career option for many people long-term. Skilled tradespeople are in demand in various industries, and these jobs frequently offer competitive salaries and opportunities for advancement. Starting a career in the trades can lead to long-term stability and the potential to establish your own business.

How long does it take to learn a trade?

The duration of learning a trade can vary depending on the specific trade and the educational path you choose. It may complete several years of training to complete some trades, while others may take only a few months. For example, an apprenticeship program typically lasts between two and five years. Trade school programs often vary in the intensity and depth of training you complete.

Can I transition into a trade from a different career?

Many trade programs and apprenticeships welcome people from different professional backgrounds. Your prior experience and skills can also give you a unique advantage in certain fields. Be sure to research the requirements for your chosen trade and explore any bridge or gap programs that can help facilitate your career transition.

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