Considering A Job In The Trades? Here Are The Highest Paying Jobs

trades jobs
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What are the trades?

A “trade” job refers to jobs that require specialized skills and knowledge obtained through hands-on training and/or a technical school. These jobs typically do not require a four-year education at a college or university, but rather a few months to three years of training/schooling specific to their trade… none of those unnecessary prerequisite classes. Examples include a plumber, a welder, an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) technician, and a cosmetologist.

Exactly how much do these jobs pay?

What people may not know is that a job in the skilled trades can pay just as much as, if not more than, a job requiring a four-year Bachelor’s degree. A job that pays more than a Bachelor’s degree but requires less schooling sounds too good to be true, right? It’s not, and here are some national average hourly wages, according to

Jobs Related to the Medical Field


Sonographers make, on average, about $38 per hour. Their main job is to use ultrasounds to view images of the inside of the body, allowing them to diagnose and treat certain medical conditions.

While this job in the medical field surely sounds like it may require not only a Bachelor’s degree but a Ph.D., it only requires a two-year degree from an accredited sonography program. Individuals who are already trained in the healthcare industry may complete a one-year certificate program to become certified in using ultrasound technology.

Dental Hygienists

Wait, a dental hygienist does not need a Bachelor’s degree or a Doctoral degree? If this surprises you, then you’re probably confusing a dental hygienist with an actual dentist. A dental hygienist is the one who cleans your teeth and screens you for oral issues during your regular check-up. 

The dentist is the one who would perform oral surgeries, such as wisdom teeth removal or a root canal, so this would definitely require a higher degree, as well as medical school training. While dentists definitely get paid more than dental hygienists, the latter makes around $38 per hour and only requires three years of schooling.

Respiratory Therapists

This sounds like another job that requires additional education after a Bachelor’s degree, especially with the word “therapist” attached to it. While you can certainly earn a Bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy, it only requires an Associate’s (two-year) degree. Respiratory therapists make about $35 per hour.

Jobs Related to Contracting/Construction


Similar to welders, boilermakers create, install, and repair boilers and other vessels that hold liquids or gases, and they make around $27 per hour.

trades jobs, boilermaker
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Electricians create and install electrical systems, as well as maintain electricity in homes and other structures. The average salary for electricians is close to $25 per hour, and they can potentially make up to $100,000 per year.

Unlike some of the other trade jobs, future electricians must go through an apprenticeship in most states before becoming a licensed. Also, because they are licensed professionals, they must renew licenses every three years; give or take, depending on state requirements. For example, in Kentucky, electricians are required to complete 6 hours of continued education prior to license renewal.


Plumbers install and repair plumbing fixtures such as toilets, sinks, and bathtubs. The average hourly wage is around $24, and it takes three years or less to become a licensed plumber. This is another job subject to license renewal.

Why do these jobs pay more?

These jobs typically pay more because they are skilled trades, which means a significant amount of knowledge and training goes into becoming certified and licensed. Because the work is more hands-on, experience in the field is just as important as the education that goes with it. Combining experience and education makes for less schooling and more training.

While the medical-related jobs are ones that we typically don’t try to attempt on our own (due to lack of special equipment), the jobs related to construction are also ones that we should not try to fix ourselves. Minor electrical issues (resetting your circuit break) and plumbing issues (unclogging a toilet) are fine, but the major home repairs are best left to the professionals who have acquired the proper training.

So if you’ve been considering a job in the trades,  go for it! Education and training won’t take years and years to complete, and you’ll be able to earn a very decent salary.


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