12 of the Highest-Paying Trade Jobs

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 23, 2022 | Published October 7, 2019

Updated June 23, 2022

Published October 7, 2019

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: Tips to Find Trade Jobs In 2022 (No Degree Needed!)

Sinead will let you know about various trade jobs and the best tactics to step into the trade industry.

A trade job can be a great option if you enjoy challenging, hands-on work. Jobs in this field require vocational schooling or training and often pay well for the specialized skill set they require. Whether you are in the process of applying to trade schools or researching trade jobs in your area, learning about the wide variety of high-paying trade careers available can help you choose a career that best suits your interests.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the highest-paying trade jobs and the special skills needed for each position.

Highest-paying trade careers

Here are some of the top-paying trade jobs on the market listed from lowest to highest salary (please click on the salary link for the most updated salary):

1. Licensed practical nurse

National average salary: $32.19 per hour

Primary duties: Licensed practical nurses work under the direction of doctors and registered nurses. They take detailed notes to update patients’ charts and inform their supervising doctor and nurse of any changes.

LPNs can work in a variety of different settings including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and residential homes. LPNs may be required to work longer than eight-hour workdays and be physically fit to be able to provide patients with hands-on care.

An LPN’s duties include:

  • Monitoring patients’ vital signs

  • Administering medication

  • Bathing and dressing patients

Companies with this position: Aurora Health Care, Green Acres Nursing Home, State of Florida

Related: Learn About Being a Licensed Practice Nurse (LPN)

2. HVAC technician

National average salary: $25.02 per hour

Primary duties: HVAC technicians install, repair and maintain heating, ventilation, refrigeration and air-conditioning systems. Technicians can perform all of these services or specialize in a type of service (e.g. installation) and type of system (e.g. heating and air-conditioning). HVAC technicians can perform repairs on larger industrial units and smaller residential units.

HVAC technicians can make a positive impact on the environment by installing equipment that saves both energy and their clients’ money. Their services improve the air quality and thermal comfort of their clients’ homes.

An HVAC technician’s duties include:

  • Changing old filters

  • Installing heat pumps that reduce carbon emissions

  • Upgrading equipment

  • Performing routine maintenance

Companies with this position: Ontario Refrigeration Service, Inc., AAA Heating & Air Conditioning, 128 Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electric

Read more: How To Become HVAC Technician

3. Home inspector

National average salary: $26.19 per hour

Primary duties: Home inspectors do a thorough inspection of the exterior and interior of a newly built or previously owned home to make sure it is safe to live in. They train to become familiar with heating, plumbing, electrical and structural systems in the home.

They also need to be familiar with different construction methods and know the strengths and weaknesses of different types of homes. Home inspectors need to be physically fit to climb ladders and move through crawlspace areas.

Home inspectors find and assess a variety of issues, including:

  • Cracks in foundation walls

  • Leaking gas lines

  • Rotten wood and termites

  • Structural issues with the roof, flooring, foundation and attached garages

Companies with this position: Pillar to Post, BPG Inspections, NextDay Inspect

4. Plumber

National average salary: $26.16 per hour

Primary duties: Plumbers install and repair water and gas supply lines. They also install appliances that connect to water supply lines, including bathtubs, sinks, toilets, dishwashers and washing machines. Plumbers need critical-thinking skills to weigh the pros and cons of different solutions available. They also need to be physically strong to lift equipment and tools.

Besides installing and maintaining pipes and appliances, plumbers also:

  • Clear obstructions from sinks and drains

  • Test water pressure

  • Estimate repair costs and communicate with clients

Companies with this position: Pool Construction, Applewood Plumbing, Heating & Electric, Zekelman Industries

Related: Learn About Being a Plumber

5. Electrician

National average salary: $26.11 per hour

Primary duties: Electricians install and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses and factories. On the job, electricians practice critical thinking skills when diagnosing problems. They often work with people and need good customer service skills. The job is physical and requires them to be on their feet and move around a lot.

An electrician’s duties include:

  • Reading blueprints

  • Troubleshooting problems with electrical systems

  • Repairing and replacing components of an electrical system

  • Complying with local regulations

Companies with this position: Robertson Electric, Eldeco, Department of Homeland Security

Read more: Learn About Being an Electrician

6. Landscape designer

National average salary: $20.48 per hour

Primary duties: Landscape designers work on outdoor residential or garden design projects. Their goal is to select plants and other features that suit the environment and beautify the outdoor space. Their designs change depending on the environment and may include vegetation, water features, pathways or sculptures.

For example, landscape designers working in drier climates may use native plants, pebbles and rocks, while designers working in temperate climates may primarily use trees, shrubs and other plants.

A landscape designer’s duties include:

  • Consulting with clients to assess their needs and budgets

  • Creating and presenting different possible design ideas to clients

  • Compiling information about sites, such as vegetation, soil and purpose

  • Ensuring there is proper drainage and advising on how to maintain the space

Companies with this position: AIA Group Limited, American Fence Company, MESA Design Group

Related: Learn About Being a Landscape Architect

7. Boilermaker

National average salary: $25.43 per hour

Primary duties: Boilermakers assemble and install boilers, tanks and vats that contain liquids or gases, such as oil and other various chemicals. They may also operate machines, such as robotic welders. Boilermakers’ work is physically demanding, and they may work outside in a variety of weather conditions.

A boilermaker’s duties include:

  • Reading blueprints that indicate the size of the boiler and how the parts fit together

  • Installing smaller, premade boilers

  • Overseeing installation and assembling large boilers by welding, riveting and bolting parts together

  • Ensuring that boilers don’t have any leaks or defects

  • Maintaining boilers by repairing and replacing existing parts

Companies with this position: Brown and Root Industrial Services, Worley, Zachry Group

8. Respiratory therapist

National average salary: $56.74 per hour

Primary duties: Respiratory therapists work with patients who have difficulty breathing. They assess and treat dysfunction of the lungs and provide patient care for all ages. They may also provide emergency care in cases of drowning, heart attack or shock.

A respiratory therapist’s duties include:

  • Connecting patients who can’t breathe on their own to ventilators, and ensuring patients are receiving the proper amount and flow of oxygen

  • Assessing patients’ respiratory needs by administering diagnostic tests, such as measuring patients’ lung capacity or analyzing blood samples to determine oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

  • Performing appropriate treatments and teaching breathing exercises to help patients breathe easier

Companies with this position: U.S. Army, Bradford Regional Medical Center, Novant Health

Read more: Learn About Being a Respiratory Therapist

9. Construction manager

National average salary: $46.09 per hour

Primary duties: Construction managers work with architects and engineers on residential, commercial or federal construction projects. The main responsibility of the construction manager is to assess what building materials will be necessary to complete a project and then secure the needed materials.

Construction managers use analytical and problem-solving skills to evaluate blueprints and provide time and cost estimates for project completion. They need to have exemplary leadership skills to manage construction teams and have excellent customer service skills to form strong relationships with clients.

They are also responsible for:

  • Hiring a team of construction workers

  • Overseeing the construction crew throughout the construction process

  • Getting the necessary building permits

  • Making sure that everything complies with building codes and regulations

Companies with this position: Acciona, RockSol Consulting Group, Inc., DESCCO Design & Construction, Inc.

Related: Learn About Being a Construction Manager

10. Dental hygienist

National average salary: $42.12 per hour

Primary duties: Dental hygienists clean teeth and provide patients with preventative dental care. They also help educate patients on good oral hygiene, including how to properly brush and floss to prevent dental problems, such as cavities.

A dental hygienist’s duties include:

  • Cleaning and polishing patients’ teeth

  • Taking X-rays as needed to diagnose dental issues

  • Updating patients’ medical records

Companies with this position: University of Texas Medical Branch, Department of Veterans Affairs, East Carolina University

Read more: Learn About Being a Dental Hygienist

11. Ultrasonographer

National average salary: $36.24 per hour

Primary duties: Ultrasonographers, also called “diagnostic medical sonographers,” perform diagnostic image testing on the body. They use a special medical instrument called an “ultrasound transducer” that uses sound waves to produce images of the inside of the body.

Ultrasonographers may specialize in the imaging of the heart, blood vessels, muscles, joints or several of these. They can also specialize in women’s reproductive health or pediatric care. Ultrasonographers process images from testing and work closely with doctors, who review the images for abnormalities.

An ultrasonographer’s duties include:

  • Consulting with patients and answering questions about the procedure

  • Operating and maintaining imaging equipment

  • Analyzing images and creating a summary of initial findings for the doctor

  • Updating patients’ medical records

Companies with this position: UW Medicine – Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, Brigham & Women’s Faulkner Hospital, CoxHealth

12. Radiation therapist

National average salary: $72.64 per hour

Primary duties: Radiation therapists work as part of an oncology team to provide treatment to cancer patients. The radiation treatment that radiation therapists administer can help shrink tumors to help patients heal and recover. Radiation therapists undergo safety training to make sure they are not exposed to harmful levels of radiation.

As part of their duties, they:

  • Explain treatment to patients and help develop a treatment plan

  • Update patient records with detailed notes after each treatment session

  • Operate machines to administer concentrated levels of radiation to affected areas

  • Keep parts of the body that aren’t being treated safe from radiation exposure

Companies with this position: Northwestern Medicine, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Central Care Cancer Center

Related: Learn More Being a Radiation Therapist

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link(s) provided.

Related: Job Cast: Career Switching Advice to Break into a New Industry

A career change usually involves researching new career paths, assessing your transferable skills and finding opportunities that fit with your lifestyle. In this virtual workshop, Emilie Aries, Founder & CEO of Bossed Up, gives tips on making the switch.


Explore more articles