Not everyone is cut out for the demands of college, and neither is everybody able to afford it, but we all want a job that pays good money. If you believe you have what it takes to earn well without having to invest that much or spend at least four years for college education, obtaining skills for technical trades can lead you to the right career path.
In the United States, the need for people with technical trade skills is fast rising. Skilled workers obtain training through skills-based education from vocational or technical colleges for less than the number of years it would take for them to attend college. The job involves hands-on, physical work while still challenging them mentally. Fixing, building, and creating are some of the work associated with technical trades.
By pursuing technical trades, you obtain the skills you need for less time and money, put your set of skills to the test, take pride in your work, and enjoy a good income. Another advantage is that you get opportunities to advance in your career and enjoy work stability.
We’ve put together 22 in-demand, high paying technical trades today. To come up with our list, we focused mainly on three things for each occupation:
- Job Description
- Educational or Training Requirement
We gathered our data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other sources relevant to the occupations on our list. The 22 technical trades are listed in random order.
Table of Contents
- Rotary Drill Operator
- Licensed Practical Nurse and Licensed Vocational Nurse
- Occupational Therapy Assistant
- Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanic and Installer
- Hazardous Materials Removal Worker
- Funeral Service Worker
- Dental Hygienist
- Cardiovascular Technologist and Technician
- Legal Assistant
- Aircraft Mechanic
- Website Developer
- Elevator Technician
- IT Technician
- Line Workers
- Construction Manager
Rotary Drill Operator
Income: National average pay is $56,180. When working in the petroleum and coal products manufacturing, expected salary is $79,620. For those who work in Oil and Gas extraction, the average annual income is 53,470. Operating as a rotary drill operator for architectural, engineering, or other related services lets you earn an average of $49,760.
Job Description: Rotary Drill Operators drill the earth for natural resources. With the help of petroleum engineers, they extract oil or gas. They are also essential in the construction of massive skyscrapers that involve drilling the ground for the building’s foundation.
Educational or Training Requirement: There are no hard-to-comply-with requirements. A high school diploma is enough for most employers, especially in areas with high demand but low supply of workers. However, a commercial driver’s license is preferred, as there will be a lot of travel-related to the job.
Licensed Practical Nurse and Licensed Vocational Nurse
Income: National average wage is $45,030. Workers in nursing and residential care facilities receive an annual average pay of 46,280. When working in the state, local, and private hospitals, LPN and LVN salaries average $43,550. Working in offices of physicians, they receive a median pay of $41,270.
Job Description: A Licensed Practical Nurse and Licensed Vocational Nurse help Registered Nurses and doctors by assisting them on the operating table. They conduct regular visits in hospital rooms, usually with an accompanying nurse. Those with advanced certifications, like IV certifications, can also help with performing necessary medical operations.
Educational or Training Requirement: After completing a related nursing course that takes around a year, graduates can take the NCLEX-PN exam. If they want a higher salary, they can earn additional certifications for specializations, like intravenous therapy.
Occupational Therapy Assistant
Income: National average pay is $56,690. Workers in skilled nursing facilities get an average salary of $65,920. Working for the private office of a therapist, their average expected salary is $59,540. Those whose jobs are in state or local hospitals get the average pay of $53,700.
Job Description: Some therapists need an extra pair of hands, and Occupational Therapy Assistants fulfill that function. If the elderly patient is unable to hold their weight, assistants are trained to help.
Educational or Training Requirement: Earning an associate degree qualifies you for an Occupational Therapy Assistant job. Accredited programs take up to years to complete. However, some certifications are mandatory for most states, like essential life support (BLS) certificate.
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanic and Installer
Income: National average income is $47,080. Those who work in wholesale businesses get $50,460 on average. Working with retailers like Home Depot and other accredited agencies earn them around $47,670. Technicians who work with a local agency earn an average of $45,570.
Job Description: Wholesale business technicians visit plants or factories that need a cooling or heating system. They help engineers install and maintain such machines. On the retail side of the business, technicians install HVAC and refrigeration in houses, offices, and businesses with temperature issues due to their location or the structural design of their building.
Educational or Training Requirement: Earn a certificate by attending a 6-month training or a two-year associate degree. Knowledge of plumbing, heating, and repairing of electrical parts help as well, so expect a few hands-on lessons with machines.
Hazardous Materials Removal Worker
Income: National average salary is $41,400. Those who work directly in waste treatment facilities and disposal can expect an average of $44,860 in annual earnings. Workers in remediation, which deal with secondary waste like industrial sludge, can expect an average of $40,530 a year.
Job Description: Factories and power plants generate products with accompanying waste, which can be quite toxic and dangerous. Similarly, mining and oil extraction businesses use chemicals that need to be safely disposed of to avoid harming the environment. Hazardous Waste Removal workers contribute to a healthier society by ensuring that these wastes are appropriately contained, stored, or recycled, as may be necessary.
Educational or Training Requirement: Most facilities require only a high school diploma. On the job training is the primary way to acquire necessary skills and traits.
Income: National average pay is $55,290. Working for a motor vehicle parts manufacturing company, they earn an average of $66,040 annually. Work in Light Industry repair and maintenance gets them $51,120 in median pay.
Job Description: Millwrights assemble and install machinery and heavy equipment for factories and ensure that all the tools are in place. Frequently, these workers coordinate with the machinery manufacturer as well as the transporter. From the sourcing of parts to installing the whole manufacturing system, millwrights are essential for any manufacturing company.
Educational or Training Requirement: There are technical courses that take two years to finish. Some employers accept a high school graduate, but typically, they get lower pay than those who have obtained certification.
Income: The national average pay is $52,590. If the plumber offers its services mainly to industrial clients, they get an average of $58,040 annually. Contractors for plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning agencies earn an average of $50,800.
Job Description: Residential, industrial, and commercial properties need pipes to control temperature, water, and other liquids. Plumbers ensure the circulation of these critical liquids and gases through the installation, maintenance, and repair of pipes. Industrial clients pay a premium as their materials are typically high-risk and need more expertise than residential and commercial clients’.
Educational or Training Requirement: Anyone with a high school diploma can be a plumber, but having a certificate of training for at least six months will do wonders for your employability. For the most plumber, apprenticeships provide an excellent training ground. Importantly, plumbers need to be certified by the state, and most states and employers need their plumbers to hold a driver’s license.
Income: National average pay is $51,320. Working in the building equipment niche gets them a higher pay rate at $55,490. Working directly with factories for iron products pays around $47,150 yearly.
Job Description: Buildings and machines need iron and other metals that are cost-effective and durable. Products ranging from alloys, nuts, and bolts to tools and motorcycles need iron and steel. Factories hire ironworkers to ensure that the quality of the products meets the standards.
Educational or Training Requirement: A high school diploma is excellent, but some schools offer short courses, typically for six months, to make the applicant more employable.
Income: National average income sits at $54,110. Working for the government pays around $60,570 while working as a wiring installer, and a contractor earns them about $52,190 per year.
Job Description: Electrical wiring is not the only structure electricians install and repair; telephone lines, control systems, and even circuits of homes and businesses need the skilled hands of electricians.
Educational or Training Requirement: There are certifications and training for circuitry and standard safety procedures. A lot of current electricians learn on the job, so apprenticeships are very common in the industry.
Income: National average pay is $45,170 per year. Non-residential building carpenters typically receive more, and the national average at $49,690. Residential carpenters earn around $43,660.
Job Description: Carpenters deal not only with wooden structures for homes and buildings; they are trained to build using other materials like fiberglass and plastic. A very hands-on job, carpentry sets a unique role in a society where homeownership and structural accuracy matter.
Educational or Training Requirement: There are technical schools that offer certifications. In this industry, actual skill is considered more valuable than certifications, but specialized skill and state licenses lead to better opportunities.
Funeral Service Worker
Income: National average pay sits at $56,850
Job Description: Funeral services don’t only remember someone who has passed; they also provide a sense of comfort for the living. Funeral service workers go beyond the details of the funeral and burial; they also offer counsel to the bereaved family and ensure that all necessary paperwork has been accomplished. Families are not very efficient when they are in grief, so funeral service workers provide subtle yet invaluable assistance.
Educational or Training Requirement: Most employers require an associate degree in either mortuary science or funeral service. These courses usually take two years and lead to an entry-level job. There is also a Bachelor’s degree in Mortuary Science, which can translate into higher annual pay of around $78,070 for funeral service managers.
Income: National average is at $74,070. Working for a private dentist, the average salary is $74,350. Working for a physician, the expected annual wage is $69,630. Most dental hygienists are self-employed and therefore earn higher.
Job Description: Dental hygienists function like secondary dentists, but they do not do tooth extractions or other surgical operations in dentistry.
Educational or Training Requirement: Almost all colleges offer an Associate’s Degree in Dental Hygiene. However, the course is typically longer than most. Students earn a degree in three years.
Cardiovascular Technologist and Technician
Income: National average pay is $57,250. When working for an outpatient care center, the average salary is $66,540. Those in medical and diagnostic laboratories earn the expected average annual income of $53,160.
Job Description: Specializing in getting critical information, cardiovascular technicians operate life-saving medical tools to assist physicians in diagnosing heart and blood vessel diseases. They prepare the laboratory and set up the machines and devices. They mostly take charge of the laboratory. Cardiovascular technologists and technicians also assist diagnosing physicians and pharmacists by giving accurate patient information. They also assist patients who reside in their homes and unable to visit their doctors.
Educational or Training Requirement: While there are Bachelor’s Degrees for Cardiovascular Technologist work under the Medical Technology degree, most laboratories accept associate degree holders. These courses usually take only 1 or 2 years to finish. Some states require a license while others don’t’ as long as the student is supervised by an expert in the field.
Income: National average pay is $50,410. Working for the federal government gives a higher average wage, at $65,970. Working for a state has a lower rate of $48,380. Legal assistants earn around $60,730 if they work for financial and insurance companies.
Job Description: Legal assistants are the foot soldiers in a legal setting. They gather essential information for a case, prepare research for lawyers, and maintain all the necessary motions, letters, and other legal documents submitted or for submission. With lawyers being busy, legal assistants make client calls and speak to witnesses and third parties to ensure smooth legal proceedings.
Educational or Training Requirement: Interestingly, legal assistants can get a job with two options. They can earn an Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies or earn any bachelor’s degree and then get a paralegal certificate.
Income: Aircraft mechanics gained an average annual salary income of $63,060, or with an hourly rate of $30.32 for an entry-level position. While experienced aircraft mechanics can earn up to $98,573 annually.
Job Description: An aircraft mechanic keeps the engine and airframe of aircraft in good condition to meet the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards. Their job includes performing standard repairs and checks, maintaining inventory records, and knowing the faults with the plane’s components.
Education or Training Requirement: To become an aircraft mechanics, one should gain at least eighteen months of training from an FAA accredited educational program. There are an available associate and college degree programs in training linked to aviation management and technology.
Income: A website developer can earn up to $69,430 yearly, or $33.38 hourly. Though there is no readily accessible data of the median income of freelance website developers, some freelancers claim that they gained up to $150,000 per year. A website developer can work for a digital business or website design companies; they can also manage an established business’ website.
Job Description: The responsibilities of a website developer involves creating well-designed websites. They manage the website’s technical features and layout. Some website developers make content for their websites also.
Income: An elevator technician or mechanic can gain a median annual salary of $79,780, or $38.36 hourly. Their starting salary can be around $40,850 and could go up to $155,810. The employment for elevator technicians can grow by twelve percent in 2026.
Job Description: The responsibilities of an elevator technician involve repairing, installing, and keeping the elevators, moving sidewalks, escalators, and other similar devices in proper condition. They also assemble products or production tools. Elevator technicians frequently work in tight areas in the machinery room or at the top of the elevator vent.
Education or Training Requirement: Mainly, you need to finish an apprenticeship program that takes five years to become an elevator technician or mechanic. This apprenticeship program offers a combination of schoolroom lessons and practicum. You need to have a high school diploma or the like to start the apprenticeship program. When you pass the final test, then you can opt to take certifications to improve your learning. Also, some states preferred licensed elevator technicians.
Income: An IT technician can earn a median annual salary of up to $55,260, or $26.57 hourly. This can go up to $86,034 yearly.
Job Description: An IT technician identify the problems or issues and keep track of the processing system of the computer. They also install software and conduct computer software systems and equipment tests. Other responsibilities of an IT technician include setting the computer tools, instruct clients on how to utilize the software systems, and schedule computer maintenance.
Education or Training Requirement: A Computer Science associate degree or any other similar field can open opportunities for this type of job. Though certifications are not required, these can make you a great applicant. Getting special certification programs can help IT experts discover new learning in technology.
Income: The average annual income of a Boilermaker is $62,150, or $29.88 hourly. This can be the perfect career for you if you are good with equipment, mostly welding tools, and are not bothered with a physically hard and dangerous job.
Job Description: A boilermaker create and place boilers and other big containers that hold gases and liquids such as oil. Other duties involve cleaning and examining boilers for faults, reading blueprints, creating pieces and curving into shapes, and welding pieces together.
Education or Training Requirement: Mainly, an individual needs to have a high school diploma or the like and should be 18 years old and above before you can take the apprenticeship training program. The apprenticeship training program takes place while on the operation. Having experiences and certifications in welding advances your opportunity of getting into apprenticeship programs.
Income: The line worker’s median annual salary is $65,880, or $31.67 hourly. The job opportunities for line workers is expected to increase by eight percent in 2026.
Job Description: The responsibilities of a line worker include installing, repairing, and keeping electrical equipment in good condition. They work with high-powered lines and need to climb utility posts to get to them. Though they work regular hours, when there is an extensive power outage caused by storms or other sudden occurrences, they need to work for extra hours.
Education or Training Requirement: You should have a high school diploma or equivalent to proceed in the apprenticeship training program of a line worker. Formal education can give you an advantage, but you must need a practicum.
Income: A construction manager’s median annual salary is $93,370, or $44.89 hourly.
Job Description: The primary responsibilities of a construction manager include making plans for site locations, control the budget, and administer the project’s progress. They should ensure that all projects are finished on the set deadline and to manage problems on the budget should they happen.
Education or Training Requirement: An associate degree or a degree in college is needed to become a construction manager. Experiences in construction can get you an advantage also. Some large construction companies prefer those with both construction experience and a college degree in the related field of construction.
Though formal education may be the secure direction, if you manifest yourself over a significant number of years on the work, you can acquire a position in management without formal education.
These are the highest-paying technical and trade careers with a firm vocational outlook that you can choose. Investing in technical or trade school could be the best achievable advancement for your career. However, this is not the only choice to think about if you are starting your profession or thinking about changing it.
If you are searching for career choices, you must choose options that will fit your learning and interest best. Have you made your choice on what technical or trade career you would want to take? Choose your desired vocational career now and start earning big!