20 of the Highest Paying Trade Jobs in 2021

20 of the Highest Paying Trade Jobs in 2021
Case of money with the title of the article: 20 of the Highest Paying Trade Jobs in 2021

What do we want in a job? Maybe a little work-life balance. Probably one without a long commute. Definitely one that can pay the bills. 2020 was a tough year. Above all, having a steady job and paycheck have been more important than ever. Many people are finding job stability and high salaries in an unexpected place: trade jobs.

Trade jobs have always been around as the backbone of our communities. These are jobs that need some grit. They’re not always flashy or glamorous. (I don’t see any award shows for the best toilet unclogger.) But when the power goes out or the toilet overflows, who cares about a fancy job. We remember how much we rely on these skilled trades.

A trade job doesn’t automatically mean that it is backbreaking work. Yes, many do require manual labor. But that is not what defines a trade job.  

A trade job just means that the technical skills you need can be learned through an apprenticeship, a trade or vocational school, a community college, or a specialized program. In other words, you don’t need a bachelor’s degree. Once you know the trade job that you want, you find a program where you can learn the skills. When you finish the program, that’s it! You now are ready be employed in that field.

What are the highest paying trade jobs in 2021?

So what are the best paying trade jobs? Our list has a wide variety of trade jobs including ones you may expect, like electricians and plumbers. But it also has jobs in the medical, legal, and tech fields.

The U.S. national median salary is $51,168 per year. Most jobs on our list earn more than that.

In addition to a good salary, these jobs also offer high job stability. Over the next 10 years, these jobs will have thousands of new job openings every year.

Let’s take a look at these technical jobs that have a high salary and strong job security. Here are 20 of the highest paying trade jobs that you can find today.

1. Air Traffic Controller

National Annual Median Wage: $122,990

Air traffic controllers are the crossing guards of the sky. They coordinate and monitor aircrafts in the air and on the ground.

You might not have considered this to be a trade job. It is, though, because air traffic controllers need to be specially trained. But you don’t need a bachelor’s degree to become an air traffic controller. However, it is one of the accepted ways to become one. The other options are to have:

If you get into the program, you need to complete the training courses at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City.

The biggest drawback to this career is the high competition. In other words, a lot of people see the high salary and want to be air traffic controllers. This means you might not get a job, even if you do the training courses.

2. Commercial Pilot

National Annual Median Wage: $86,080

If you dream of flying, you can become a pilot by going to a trade school. Professional Pilot Programs provide the training to be a licensed FAA airplane, helicopter, or aircraft pilot.

Helicopter pilots usually start off as flight instructors. More experienced helicopter pilots can get jobs in many areas such as law enforcement, fire fighting and rescue, emergency medical services, and sightseeing tours.

Aviation school isn’t cheap. But it could be worth an adventurous career in one of the highest paying trade jobs.

3. Elevator and Escalator Mechanic

National Annual Median Wage: $84,990

Elevators and escalators need regular maintenance. Elevator and escalator mechanics specialize in this installation and repair work. This is one of the highest paying trade jobs in any of the repair-related trades across the U.S.

Nearly all elevator and escalator mechanics learn the skills of the trade through an apprenticeship. Most states require workers to be licensed. After that, elevator and escalator mechanics can choose to get more certification.

4. Dental Hygienist

National Annual Median Wage: $76,220

Dental hygienists clean and examine patients’ teeth. If you don’t have cavities, hygienists are the main people that you see when you go to the dentist. They apply fluoride, remove plaque buildup, and educate patients about oral hygiene.

Dental trade jobs require a lot of skill and precision. A dental hygiene program is usually two to three years long and also results in an associate’s degree.

5. Web Developer and Digital Designer

National Annual Median Wage: $73,760

More businesses today are realizing that they need a website. It doesn’t matter what their business sells or provides. They need to be online. Because of this, more web developers and digital designers are needed. Web developers create and maintain websites. Designers focus on the usability, navigation and layout of a site.

A bad website can drive away potential customers. So having a skilled developer and designer is crucial to a business’s success.

Web developers and designers didn’t all go to college. Some finished school after high school. Others went on to get a bachelor’s degree and beyond. Likewise, web developer and design jobs don’t all have the same requirement. Some employers want to hire people with a degree in programming or computer science. However, for many others, proof of skill and ability is enough.

You don’t even need to leave your home to learn these skills. It is a modern trade job so it’s fitting that you can learn the skills in a modern way- on the internet. With Youtube videos and online courses, everything you need is right at your fingertips.

6. Electrical Power-Line Installer and Repairer

National Annual Median Wage: $72,520

Neighborhood-wide power outages are never fun. However, they are good reminders of why power-line installers and repairers are so necessary. They install and maintain the network that connects electricity from electrical plants to our neighborhoods.

Power-line installers work with high-voltage electricity. That is to say, it can be a very dangerous trade job. They also climb poles and transmission towers to access power lines and equipment.

Another similar job is a telecommunications line installer and repairer. Instead of fixing power lines, they install and repair phone, cable, and internet lines. The median salary of a telecommunications line installer is $56,750.

7. Aircraft Mechanic

National Annual Median Wage: $64,090

Just like auto mechanics, aircraft mechanics repair and maintain engines and parts. Instead of cars, they repair airplanes, helicopters, and avionics equipment. Working with this specialized equipment also leads to a higher salary than auto or diesel mechanics.

Aircraft mechanics learn their trade at aviation maintenance technician schools. These schools lead to certification and often an associate’s degree. The program takes about 2 years to complete.

8. Occupational Therapy Assistant

National Annual Median Wage: $61,510

An occupational therapy assistant is another great high-paying trade job that only requires an associate’s degree.

A two-year program can lead to a career as an occupational therapy assistant. They help patients develop, recover, improve, and maintain the skills and movements needed for daily living and working. In addition, they teach patients therapeutic exercises that the patients can continue to do at home.

With a masters degree, you can become an occupational therapist. The median wage for occupational therapists is $84,950 annually.

9. Respiratory Therapist

National Annual Median Wage: $61,330

Respiratory therapists care for and help patients who have trouble breathing. For example, they work with patients with asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and Covid-19. They test lung capacity, treat patients, and teach patients how to use the necessary equipment to continue treatment at home.

Respiratory therapy programs take about three years to complete and lead to an associate’s degree. Respiratory therapists can advance their career to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT), earning an even higher salary.

10. Construction and Building Inspector

National Annual Median Wage: $60,710

Construction and building inspectors review building plans, monitor construction sites, and inspect plumbing and electrical systems. They ensure everything meets local and national codes. Much of the workday is spent examining worksites. Inspectors also spend time in the office reviewing blueprints and documenting reports.

Many inspectors have experience as carpenters, electricians, or plumbers. Some employers may prefer to hire inspectors with this first-hand experience. However it is also possible to get an associate’s degree in building inspection technology and learn the trade skills through on-the-job training.

11. Radiologic Technologist

National Annual Median Wage: $60,510

Radiologic technologists, also known as radiographers or x-ray technicians, specialize in x-ray and CT imaging. Trade programs teach radiologic technologists how to prepare patients for x-ray procedures and operate the equipment to take the x-ray scan.

After several years of experience, radiologic technologists can specialize as MRI technologists. The annual median salary of an MRI technologist is $73,410.

12. Physical Therapist Assistant

National Annual Median Wage: $58,790

Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) help patients who are recovering from injuries. PTAs teach patients exercises to help them regain movement and manage pain.

The number of people over 65 years old is expected to almost double between now and 2060. As a result, many of the highest paying trade jobs in the medical field have a lot of job stability. Over the next decade, the number of physical therapist assistant jobs is expected to grow by 33%.

PTAs work under the supervision of physical therapists. PTA training programs take about two years to complete and lead to an associate’s degree. If you want an even higher salary, you can become a physical therapist. You will need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree to become a physical therapist. That career has a median salary of $89,440.

13. Electrician

National Annual Median Wage: $56,180

Electricians have an incredible amount of job security. The demand for electricians is increasing as well. Any building that has electrical power needs an electrician to wire and install the electrical system.

Electricians learn the skills through electrician trade school programs or through apprenticeships. Like with many other trade programs, it may lead to an associate’s degree and credit towards an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships last 4-5 years. After that, electricians then make even more money when they advance to journey-level workers.

14. Millwright

National Annual Median Wage: $55,560

Millwrights install and assemble large machinery and heavy equipment. They unload, inspect, and move the equipment and use blueprints to assemble all of the parts. Millwrights then maintain and repair the equipment they install. When a worksite doesn’t need the machinery anymore, millwrights take it apart. It’s hard work but the pay is good.

They learn the skills through industrial maintenance two-year degree programs or through apprenticeships. Millwright apprenticeships are around 4 years.

15. Plumber

National Annual Median Wage: $55,160

Plumbers help provide us with one of the greatest modern conveniences: running water. They install and fix pipes and plumbing fixtures that we use every day like bathtubs, showers, toilets, sinks, dishwashers, and water heaters.

Plumbers learn the trade through apprenticeship programs, a trade school, or a combination of the two. To show that they can work independently, plumbers must first pass a required licensing exam. Then they become journey-level plumbers.

16. Health Information Technician

National Annual Median Wage: $53,120

Health information technicians keep track of lots of data. This top-paying job involves organizing and managing patient health records at hospitals and healthcare facilities. They do a lot of important work like making sure insurance documentation is done properly. It’s all private information so they also need to keep it everything confidential.

To become a health information technician, you will go to a health information technology trade program. These programs are often available at community colleges. After completing the program, you must take an exam to get certified. One of the approved exams is the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) exam.

You can advance your career to a health services manager by getting a bachelor’s degree. They have a median salary of $100,980.

17. Paralegal

National Annual Median Wage: $51,740

If you have an interest in law, a career as a paralegal might suit you. They work closely with lawyers to prepare for hearings, trials, and meetings. They help research laws and regulations, gather evidence, and summarize reports.

Paralegals can specialize in areas including family law, real estate, criminal law, and personal injury.

To learn the skills, you will enroll in a paralegal studies course. You don’t need to have a bachelor’s degree. But if you have one, you can take a shorter certification course to enter the trade.

18. Rigger

National Annual Median Wage: $50,860

Riggers set up equipment and machinery. They make sure that it everything is attached properly and safely. Riggers attach pieces of heavy machinery using ropes, cables, chains, and pulleys. They can work at a variety of sites including construction sites, shipyards, manufacturing plants, and film sets.

Riggers have a physically demanding trade job. For instance, they need to be able to move around in small spaces and lift upwards of 50 pounds. Riggers usually gain the skills through apprenticeships and on-the-job training.

19. HVAC Technician

National Annual Median Wage: $48,730

HVAC technicians heat and cool our indoor spaces. They install and fix heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems in homes, businesses, and buildings. But they don’t just work with buildings. HVAC technicians can heat cool any place. For example, they can also cool the inside of large tractor-trailers. They make sure that perishable goods are transported properly in a climate-controlled environment.

HVAC technicians learn the skills through an apprenticeship or a trade school. HVAC programs last from 6 months to 2 years. Apprenticeships usually last 3-5 years.

20. Licensed Practical and Vocational Nurse

National Annual Median Wage: $47,480

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) provide basic medical care. They monitor patients’ health and give basic patient care.

What’s the difference between an LPN and LVN? Nothing but the title. LPNs and LVNs are the same position. California and Texas use the title LVN while the other states use the term LPN. They work under registered nurses (RNs) and doctors.

An LPN or LVN program takes about a year to complete. Students must pass the NCLEX-PN exam to become licensed. LPNs and LVNs can advance their career to become registered nurses by enrolling in an RN program. RNs have a median annual salary of $73,300.

What’s the next step towards a top paying trade job?

This is just a glimpse into some of the highest paying trade jobs that you can get. These aren’t just great paying trade jobs. They are high paying jobs. Period. And in just a couple of years, you could be qualified to work any one of these trade jobs.

Once you know which trade you are interested in, it can be a very direct path towards employment. This is because trade schools will give you the exact skills you need. That means that you don’t need to worry if you will be qualified for the job. The trade program will give you the training to be immediately employable. They often have connections to apprenticeships or companies that are ready to hire new employees.

And if you already have a degree, a career in a trade can still be something you consider. Your degree may make you eligible to move towards a managerial position within the industry in the future. Combining your education with your newfound technical skills only opens up your possibilities.

February 18, 2021No comments

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