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10 of the Highest Paying Trade Jobs

Arran Stewart

Arran Stewart

Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer

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When it comes to trade jobs, we recommend choosing the one that you enjoy, are skillful in and which also pays well. By excelling at trades that pay well, you also have an option start a successful business which can lead to earning even more income.

If you feel your skills are diverse, then you might be looking for the trade that will generate the highest income right away. In this list, we’ll describe ten of the highest-paying trade jobs available.

You’ll learn about the best trades to learn, their job specifications, and their required experience so you can determine if it’s the right trade for you.

What is a Trade Job?

A trade job is any job that requires training after high school but not through a bachelor’s degree. Every trade has specific schools you can attend and certificates to earn to better your chances of finding a job in the trade. Most trades also have unions and apprenticeship programs for prospective workers.

1. Elevator Technician

An elevator technician works specifically with elevators, their installation, and fixing them when they break down. In some emergencies, an elevator mechanic might be called in to save someone trapped in an elevator. Read our guide on how to become an elevator technician if this career interests you.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Hold accurate records of their service schedules
  • Testing newly installed equipment to meet specifications
  • Connecting electrical wiring and control panels

Experience Required:

  • High School Diploma
  • Apprenticeship
  • Most states require a license

Average Annual Salary: $48,719 - $106,223


2. Home Inspector

A home inspector checks newly built and recently purchased homes to make sure it’s safe for living. They also help potential buyers decide whether a property is worth investment by assessing damages and potential repair costs in the near future.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Adept knowledge of electricity, plumbing, heating, and structural supports
  • Checking for mold and other harmful substances on a property
  • Assessing damage and costs to fix it
  • Determining if a home is safe to live in

Experience Required:

  • Some states require a license
  • Pass an exam
  • Complete on-the-job training

Average Annual Salary: $58,000 - $91,000


3. Pipefitter

Pipefitters use building plans for massive civil and private engineering projects to properly fit together long piping systems. They will spend most of their time underground pounding and fitting pipes into place so that no leakages occur.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Cutting and welding metal
  • Utilizing the tools on the job
  • Communicating with coworkers

Experience Required:

  • License
  • 2 to 5 years of experience
  • Exam on trade and local codes

Average Annual Salary: $34,498 - $83,661


4. Rotary Drill Operator

A rotary drill is a complex piece of machinery used in the oil and gas industry. Due to its complexity, the job of adept operators is in high demand and pays more than other heavy machinery operation occupations. As a rotary drill operator, you would operate drills that find oil and gas and remove it from the ground.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Operating rotary drills in pursuit of oil or gas
  • Installing rotary drills at drilling sites
  • Monitoring pressure gauges

Experience Required:

  • Formal training
  • A few years of on-the-job experience

Average Annual Salary: $32,700 - $83,600


5. Plumber

Beyond kneeling in front of your toilet with their belt hanging a little too low, plumbers handle everything related to pipes and the flow of water and gas. They can fix leakage, replace the piping system and unclog jams. They can also install new plumbing systems for bathrooms and kitchens.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Cleaning pipelines
  • Installing appliances
  • Installing piping systems

Experience Required:

  • At least five years of work experience to obtain a license
  • Additional licenses for gas lines
  • Full knowledge of plumbing codes and practices

Average Annual Salary: $43,906 - $74,549


6. Construction Foreman

A construction foreman is the supervisor and coordinator of the work crew on a construction site. They will assign various tasks and make sure individuals on the team are performing efficiently. They’re also responsible for the schedule and ensuring the team finishes the project on time.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Supervising other construction workers
  • Understanding all facets of the build
  • Reporting on time and production of the crew

Experience Required:

  • Extensive knowledge of construction
  • Understanding OSHA guidelines
  • Ability to read plans, drawings and blueprints

Average Annual Salary: $52,243 - $73631


7. Electrician

An electrician is responsible for all aspects of electricity in a home or building. They will install wires, fix power outages, and re-route wires for renovations. They can also repair fuse boxes and work in power plants. Electricians often enter the field through an apprenticeship program.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Math skills (algebra)
  • Critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Experience Required:
  • Four-year apprenticeship
  • 144 hours of technical training
  • At least 2,000 hours of hands-on experience

Average Annual Salary: $43,780 - $72,070


8. HVAC Technician

HVAC is an acronym that stands for “heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.” Most people enter it through trade school because of the technical abilities and knowledge it requires. People with this career will be responsible for the repair and installation of these systems.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Finding and assessing maintenance problems
  • Providing services for systems with a warranty
  • Quickly performing emergency repairs
  • Experience Required:
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • HVAC certificate
  • Complete an apprenticeship

Average Annual Salary: $33,000 - $68,000


9. Heavy Equipment Mechanic

A pivotal member of the construction, farming, and mining industries, Heavy equipment mechanics are responsible for repairing and maintaining heavy machinery. These larger vehicles and machines often require in-depth knowledge to fix, and the mechanic needs to be familiar with both the models and manufacturers of equipment on their job site.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Familiarity with multiple types of electronics
  • Ability to read and understand blueprints
  • Fixing equipment quickly to maintain deadlines
  • Experience Required:

High school diploma or GED

  • Certificate or degree in engineering
  • Training as a mechanic
  • 2 to 5 years experience

Average Annual Salary: $45,148 - $59,381


10. Boilermaker

Boilermakers don’t just install boilers. They are also responsible for their maintenance and repair and any closed vat system that contains gas or a hot liquid. A boilermaker needs professional inspection skills so they can identify significant problems before it’s too late. A malfunction in a boiler can result in severe damage and sometimes death.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Installation of boiler systems
  • Repairing a broken system
  • Maintaining boiler systems

Experience Required:

  • Apprenticeship
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • 4 to 5 years experience

Average Annual Salary: $29,124 - $54,442

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