Best Paying Trade Jobs in 2024: Top 12 Highest-Paying Trades

by | Apr 7, 2024 | Advices | 0 comments

In today’s rapidly evolving job market, trade careers are experiencing a resurgence in popularity and demand. As the economy continues to grow and industries expand, the need for skilled trade workers is at an all-time high. This surge in demand has led to increased salaries and attractive opportunities for those pursuing trade jobs. In this article, we will explore the top 12 highest-paying trade jobs in 2024, factors influencing their salaries, advantages of pursuing these careers, and steps to get started in a lucrative trade profession.

Top 12 Highest Paying Trade Jobs in 2024

1. Ultrasonographer – $131,161 average salary

Ultrasonographers, also known as medical sonographers, utilize high-frequency sound waves to produce diagnostic images of internal body structures. This critical role in the healthcare industry commands an impressive average salary of $131,161. With advancements in medical technology and an aging population, the demand for skilled ultrasonographers is expected to remain high in the coming years.

To become an ultrasonographer, individuals typically need to complete a two-year associate’s degree program in diagnostic medical sonography. Coursework includes anatomy, physiology, and hands-on training with ultrasound equipment. Upon completion, certification from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) is highly recommended to boost employment prospects and earning potential.

2. Respiratory Therapist – $104,437 average salary

Respiratory therapists play a vital role in treating patients with breathing difficulties, such as those suffering from chronic respiratory diseases, premature infants, and individuals recovering from surgery. They work closely with physicians to develop and implement treatment plans, which may include administering oxygen, managing ventilators, and providing medications to the lungs. With an average salary of $104,437, respiratory therapy is a highly rewarding trade career.

To pursue a career as a respiratory therapist, a two-year associate’s degree in respiratory therapy is required. Coursework covers anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and patient assessment. Upon completion, graduates must pass a national certification exam administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) to obtain the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential.

3. Dental Hygienist – $99,013 average salary

Dental hygienists work alongside dentists to promote oral health and prevent dental diseases. They perform tasks such as cleaning teeth, taking x-rays, and educating patients on proper oral hygiene. With an average salary of $99,013, dental hygiene is a lucrative and stable trade career.

To become a dental hygienist, individuals must complete an accredited dental hygiene program, which typically takes three years to complete and results in an associate’s degree. Coursework includes anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and clinical training. Upon graduation, dental hygienists must pass a national board examination and obtain state licensure to practice.

4. Elevator and Escalator Installer – $100,060 average salary

Elevator and escalator installers are responsible for the installation, maintenance, and repair of elevators, escalators, and other lifts. With the continued growth of urban areas and the construction of high-rise buildings, the demand for these skilled professionals is expected to remain strong. The average salary for an elevator and escalator installer is an impressive $100,060.

To enter this field, individuals typically complete a four-year apprenticeship program sponsored by a union or contractor. Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction, covering topics such as electronics, hydraulics, and safety protocols. Upon completion, installers may need to obtain a license, depending on state requirements.

5. Electrical Power Line Installer – $85,900 average salary

Electrical power line installers, also known as linemen, are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing the power grid that supplies electricity to homes and businesses. This physically demanding trade job requires working at heights and in various weather conditions. The average salary for an electrical power line installer is $85,900.

To become an electrical power line installer, individuals typically complete a four-year apprenticeship program that combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Coursework covers topics such as electrical theory, safety practices, and climbing techniques. Some states may require a license to work as a lineman.

6. Construction Manager – $88,319 average salary

Construction managers oversee the planning, coordination, and execution of construction projects. They work closely with architects, engineers, and various trade workers to ensure projects are completed on time, within budget, and to the required specifications. The average salary for a construction manager is $88,319.

To become a construction manager, a bachelor’s degree in construction management, architecture, or engineering is typically required. Some individuals may also pursue a master’s degree in construction management or business administration to enhance their career prospects. Practical experience in the construction industry is essential, and many managers work their way up from trade positions.

7. Aircraft Mechanic – $82,846 average salary

Aircraft mechanics are responsible for maintaining, repairing, and inspecting aircraft to ensure they are safe and airworthy. They work on a variety of aircraft, from small private planes to large commercial airliners. The average salary for an aircraft mechanic is $82,846.

To pursue a career as an aircraft mechanic, individuals must complete a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved aviation maintenance technician school or gain equivalent military experience. Programs typically take 18 to 24 months to complete and cover subjects such as aircraft structures, powerplants, and avionics. Upon completion, mechanics must pass FAA exams to obtain an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certification.

8. Aircraft Mechanics Technician – $76,260 average salary

Aircraft mechanics technicians work alongside aircraft mechanics to maintain and repair aircraft. They focus on specific systems, such as hydraulics, electrical systems, or avionics. The average salary for an aircraft mechanics technician is $76,260.

Similar to aircraft mechanics, technicians must complete an FAA-approved training program or gain equivalent military experience. They may specialize in a particular area of aircraft maintenance and obtain additional certifications to enhance their expertise and earning potential.

9. Boilermaker – $73,840 average salary

Boilermakers assemble, install, and repair boilers, pressure vessels, and other large containers that hold liquids and gases. They work in various industries, including manufacturing, construction, and shipbuilding. The average salary for a boilermaker is $73,840.

To become a boilermaker, individuals typically complete a four-year apprenticeship program that combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Coursework covers topics such as blueprint reading, welding, and safety practices. Some states may require boilermakers to obtain a license.

10. Cable Technician – $70,714 average salary

Cable technicians install, maintain, and repair cable television, internet, and telephone systems. They work both indoors and outdoors, often in customer homes and businesses. The average salary for a cable technician is $70,714.

To pursue a career as a cable technician, individuals typically need a high school diploma or equivalent. Many employers provide on-the-job training, although some may prefer candidates with postsecondary education in electronics or telecommunications. Cable technicians must be comfortable working with hand tools, climbing ladders, and troubleshooting technical issues.

Trade Job Average Salary
Ultrasonographer $131,161
Respiratory Therapist $104,437
Dental Hygienist $99,013
Elevator and Escalator Installer $100,060
Electrical Power Line Installer $85,900
Construction Manager $88,319
Aircraft Mechanic $82,846
Aircraft Mechanics Technician $76,260
Boilermaker $73,840
Cable Technician $70,714

Factors Influencing Trade Job Salaries

Job Location and Cost of Living

One of the primary factors influencing trade job salaries is the location of the job and the cost of living in that area. Trade jobs in urban areas with a high cost of living, such as New York City or San Francisco, tend to offer higher salaries compared to rural areas with a lower cost of living. This is to ensure that trade workers can maintain a decent standard of living in expensive cities.

Additionally, the demand for trade workers in a particular region can impact salaries. Areas experiencing rapid growth, such as cities with booming construction industries, may offer higher salaries to attract skilled trade workers to meet the increased demand.

Years of Experience and Specialization

As with many careers, years of experience and specialization can significantly influence trade job salaries. Entry-level trade workers typically earn less than those with several years of experience in their field. As trade workers gain more experience and develop their skills, they become more valuable to employers and can command higher salaries.

Specialization within a trade can also lead to higher salaries. Trade workers who specialize in a particular area, such as renewable energy systems for electricians or luxury home construction for carpenters, may earn more than those with a general skill set. Specialization often requires additional training and certifications, which can boost a trade worker’s earning potential.

Union Membership and Representation

Trade unions play a significant role in advocating for fair wages, benefits, and working conditions for their members. Trade jobs with strong union representation often offer higher salaries and better benefits compared to non-union positions. This is because unions negotiate collective bargaining agreements with employers, which set minimum wage rates and other employment terms.

However, it’s important to note that union membership may not be available or required for all trade jobs. Some states have “right-to-work” laws that prohibit mandatory union membership as a condition of employment. In these cases, trade workers may still benefit from union-negotiated wages and benefits, but they are not required to join the union or pay dues.

Advantages of High-Paying Trade Careers

Affordable and Fast Trade School Education

One of the most significant advantages of pursuing a high-paying trade career is the affordable and fast education path compared to traditional four-year college degrees. Trade schools, also known as vocational or technical schools, offer focused training programs that can be completed in as little as 6 months to 2 years, depending on the trade.

Trade school tuition is generally much lower than that of universities, and many programs offer financial aid, scholarships, and grants to help students cover the costs. Additionally, trade school graduates often enter the workforce with little to no student debt, allowing them to start earning a good salary without the burden of loan repayments.

High Demand and Job Security

Another advantage of high-paying trade careers is the high demand for skilled workers and the resulting job security. As industries continue to grow and evolve, the need for qualified trade professionals remains strong. This is particularly true in sectors such as construction, manufacturing, and healthcare, where trade workers are essential to maintaining and expanding infrastructure and services.

The shortage of skilled trade workers in many regions has led to increased job opportunities and competitive salaries for those with the necessary qualifications. As a result, trade careers often offer greater job security compared to other professions that may be more susceptible to economic downturns or automation.

Opportunities for Advancement and Specialization

High-paying trade careers also offer ample opportunities for advancement and specialization. As trade workers gain experience and develop their skills, they can take on more complex projects, supervisory roles, or specialize in a particular area of their trade. These advancements often come with increased responsibilities and higher salaries.

For example, an experienced electrician may become a master electrician, a project manager, or specialize in renewable energy systems. Similarly, a skilled welder may advance to a welding inspector or specialize in underwater welding, which commands higher pay due to the unique skills required. Continuous learning and skills development are key to unlocking these advancement opportunities in trade careers.

How to Pursue a High-Paying Trade Career

Research Top-Paying Trade Jobs and Requirements

The first step in pursuing a high-paying trade career is to research the top-paying trades and their requirements. This includes understanding the education and training needed, any certifications or licenses required, and the job outlook for each trade. Websites such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offer valuable information on job duties, salaries, and projected growth for various trade careers.

It’s also essential to consider your personal interests and aptitudes when exploring trade career options. Some trades may require physical strength and stamina, while others may focus more on problem-solving and attention to detail. Aligning your interests and skills with the demands of a particular trade can lead to greater job satisfaction and success.

Complete Accredited Trade School or Apprenticeship

Once you have identified a high-paying trade that aligns with your interests and goals, the next step is to complete an accredited trade school program or apprenticeship. Trade schools offer focused, hands-on training in specific trades, often combining classroom instruction with practical experience. Many trade schools have partnerships with local employers, providing students with valuable networking opportunities and job placement assistance upon graduation.

Apprenticeships are another pathway to gaining the skills and experience needed for a high-paying trade career. Apprenticeships typically involve working under the guidance of a skilled tradesperson while receiving classroom instruction. These programs can last from 1 to 6 years, depending on the trade, and often lead to guaranteed employment upon completion.

Gain Experience and Industry Certifications

After completing a trade school program or apprenticeship, it’s important to gain practical experience in your chosen trade. Entry-level positions provide opportunities to apply your skills, learn from experienced professionals, and build a reputation in the industry. As you gain experience, you can take on more complex projects and responsibilities, leading to higher salaries and advancement opportunities.

In addition to on-the-job experience, pursuing industry certifications can demonstrate your expertise and commitment to your trade. Many trades have professional organizations that offer certifications based on experience, knowledge, and skills. These certifications can differentiate you from other job candidates and lead to higher salaries and better job prospects.

  • Research top-paying trade jobs and their requirements
  • Complete an accredited trade school program or apprenticeship
  • Gain practical experience in your chosen trade
  • Pursue industry certifications to demonstrate expertise
  • Network with other professionals in your trade
  • Stay current with industry trends and technological advancements

In conclusion, high-paying trade careers offer a promising path for those seeking financial stability, job security, and opportunities for growth. By researching top-paying trades, completing the necessary education and training, gaining experience, and pursuing industry certifications, individuals can position themselves for success in these in-demand and lucrative careers. As industries continue to evolve and grow, the value of skilled trade workers will only continue to rise, making now an excellent time to pursue a high-paying trade career.

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