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:
National average salary: $25.18 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 8-hour workdays and need to 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
National average salary: $23.25 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
National average salary: $52,066 per year
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
National average salary: $24.58 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 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
National average salary: $24.83 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
National average salary: $54,862
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
National average salary: $27.18 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
National average salary: $35.13 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
National average salary: $84,476 per year
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 need to use analytical and problem-solving skills to evaluate blueprints and provide a time and cost estimate for project completion. They need to have exemplary leadership skills to head their team of construction workers 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
10. Dental hygienist
National average salary: $38.10 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. The preventative care that dental hygienists provide can help patients from developing 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
National average salary: $38.49 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
National average salary: $115,241 per year
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