Best Paying Trade Jobs Ultimate Guide

Trade jobs can be some of the most rewarding and high paying careers. Check out which occupations currently offer the most lucrative earning opportunities.
Top 5 trade jobs

Trade jobs can be some of the most rewarding careers and many of them are more attainable (and enjoyable) than you may think.

But how well do these jobs really pay and are they worth it?

In this ultimate guide, we have put together a detailed breakdown of the highest-paying trade jobs that offer the best return on investment, in terms of the time and the finance you put into them. 

In addition to helpful job descriptions, you'll find both national and regional data to give you a comprehensive view of the salary and growth potential for each job.

So let’s get the ball rolling shall we?

What is a trade job?

Trade jobs are typically positions requiring special training and skills not obtained with a Bachelor's degree from a four-year institution.

While trade jobs are often very hands-on, many people equate a trade job with a job demanding a lot of manual labor but this is a misconception. Plenty of well-paying trades are not physically demanding (such as many of the trades featured below).

How do you qualify for a trade job?

Trade job qualifications are usually acquired through vocational schools (e.g., trade schools, technical schools), on-the-job training, or apprenticeships.

Community colleges often are great places to launch into a trade job, sometimes allowing you to qualify for a well-paying position in as little as eight weeks or up to two years depending on the program.

In fact, the hands-on training you receive at some vocational programs at community colleges can be unrivaled.

Overview of all of the best paying trade jobs

Let’s start with an overview of all of the best paying trade jobs. In the table below, you will see where each trade job lands when looking at both median salary and the job growth rate.

Feel free to click on an occupation to go directly to that section.

Job Occupation

Median Salary

Job Outlook

1- Air Traffic Controller
$129,750 per year
4% (Slower than average)
2- Construction Manager
$98,890 per year
11% (Faster than average)
3- Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers (EEIR)
$97,860 per year
6% (As fast as average)
4- Radiation Therapists
$82,790 per year
9% (As fast as average)
5- Dental Hygienists
$77,810 per year
11% (Faster than average)
6- Web Developers
$77,200 per year
13% (Faster than average)
7- Medical Sonographers
$75,380 per year
14% (Faster than average)
8- Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians
$65,550 per year
11% (Faster than average)
9- Boilermakers
$64,290 per year
-1% (Little or no change)
10- Radiologic and MRI Technologists
$61,980 per year
9% (As fast as average)
11- Respiratory Therapists
$61,830 per year
23% (Much faster than average)
12- Construction and Building Inspectors
$61,640 per year
3% (Decline)
13- Occupational Therapy Assistants
$61,520 per year
34% (Much faster than average)
14- CAD Drafters
$60,290 per year
-2% (Decline)
15- Electricians
$60,040 per year
9% (As fast as average)
16- Plumbers
$59,880 per year
5% (Slower than average)
17- Wind Turbine Technicians
$56,260 per year
68% (Much faster than average)
18- Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers (HVAC)
$48,630 per year
5% (Slower than average)
19- Licensed Practical Nurses
$48,630 per year
9% (As fast as average)
20- Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers
$47,010 per year
8% (As fast as average)

Now, let’s take a closer look at each of the best paying trade jobs.

For each trade job below, you’ll see the median salary, entry-level education needed, job outlook, and yearly openings. Along with that, you'll find a detailed description of the job itself and the duties it entails.  

We also break down the progression of your expected pay throughout the career so you can see set realistic expectations for your salary years into the future.

And finally, we provide you with a geographic breakdown of salaries by state since the pay rate can sometimes vary widely by geographic region.

With all of this information, you'll be fully equipped to make an educated and informed decision on which trade job to look into!


Air Traffic Controller

2021 Median Salary

$129,750 / year

 $62.38 per hour

Associate's degree


Slower than average


new jobs projected yearly

Air Traffic Controller overview

How do planes avoid colliding with one another? How do thousands of planes enter and exit airports safely every day? This is made possible by the expertise and guidance of air traffic controllers.

Within the global air traffic control system, air traffic controllers direct aircraft in a systematic manner. They are highly skilled professionals with specialized knowledge.

Air Traffic Controller duties

Air traffic controllers safely guide aircraft through their assigned flight paths, which involve a specific sector of airspace. Each sector is controlled by at least one air traffic controller, who often uses radar to increase the volume of traffic in the sector.

Air traffic controllers must possess certain characteristics, including excellent problem-solving, communication, and decision-making abilities, as well as the ability to multitask. They are usually under a lot of stress and must be able to concentrate when there is a lot going on around them.

An air traffic controller must pass a rigorous assessment and training programme to demonstrate their ability to handle the responsibilities that come with the job.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Monitor and direct aircraft movement on the ground and in the air.
  • All ground traffic on airport runways and taxiways must be controlled.
  • Give pilots landing and takeoff instructions.
  • Transfer control of departing flights to other traffic control centers, while accepting control of arriving flights.
  • Inform pilots about weather conditions, runway closures, and other important information.
  • In the event of an aircraft emergency, notify airport response personnel.

Air Traffic Controller's salary by state

Map showing salary by state for Air traffic Controller
Source: Careerexplorer

Construction Manager

2021 Median Salary

$98,890 / year

$47.55 per hour

Associate's degree

 (Bachelor's degree to advance in Career)


(Faster than average)


new jobs projected yearly

Construction Manager overview

Construction managers plan and supervise the construction of a wide range of projects, including the construction of residential, commercial, and industrial structures, roads, bridges, schools, and hospitals.

They are familiar with construction methods and technologies and can interpret contracts and technical drawings.

Construction Manager duties

Under the direction of a general manager, construction managers supervise the activities on a construction site and monitor the project. Projects may necessitate specialists in everything from structural metalworking and painting to landscaping, road construction, carpet installation, and excavation. 

They collaborate with other construction professionals such as architects, engineers, and a variety of trade workers such as stonemasons, electricians, and carpenters.

Construction managers frequently use specialized cost-estimating and planning software to effectively budget the time and money required to complete specific projects in order to maximize efficiency and productivity. Many managers also use software to determine the most efficient way to deliver materials to the construction site.

There may be more than one construction manager for projects that are too large to be managed by one person, such as office buildings and industrial complexes. Each construction manager would be in charge of a single aspect of the project and would select subcontractors to complete it.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Estimate, prepare and negotiate budgets, and work schedules.
  • Coordinate and plan all design and construction processes.
  • Workers' contracts and technical information are interpreted and explained.
  • Write reports on work progress.
  • Work with architects and engineers.
  • Instruct and supervise construction workers and activities on the job site.
  • Respond to work delays, problems, and emergencies.
  • Choose, hire, and train laborers and subcontractors
  • Ensure that jobs are completed on time and within budget.
  • Comply with all applicable laws, building codes, and other regulations.

Construction Manager’s salary by state

Map showing salary by state for Construction manager
Source: Careerexplorer


Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers (EEIR)

2021 Median Salary

$97,860 / year

$47.05 per hour

High school diploma

or equivalent


(As fast as average)


new jobs projected yearly

Elevator and Escalator Installer and Repairer overview

An EEIR is educated in the installation, assembly, maintenance, replacement, and repair of elevators, escalators, chairlifts, dumbwaiters, moving walkways, and other similar equipment.

Elevator and Escalator Installer and Repairer duties

As an elevator mechanic, you can specialize in a variety of areas. Maintenance elevator mechanics are assigned specific routes and perform maintenance on the elevators on that route to ensure everything is in working order. 

Elevator mechanics perform service and repair work. There are also elevator mechanics who modernize existing elevators or construct brand-new elevators in new buildings.

They test equipment on a regular basis to ensure that it operates efficiently. They also handle electrical issues with diagnostic tools such as voltmeters and ammeters. They are in charge of ensuring that elevator machinery complies with building safety codes and equipment safety regulations.

They also frequently have to replace cables, machine bearings, and elevator doors using a variety of equipment and tools. Some elevator mechanics work on cabled elevators or elevators with a pump-driven hydraulic plunger. Some do escalator maintenance and repairs, such as replacing motors and wiring.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Blueprint reading and interpretation.
  • Elevators, escalators, chairlifts, moving walkways, dumbwaiters installations
  • Connecting elevator car frames to counterweights and putting elevator cars together.
  • Electric and electronic control system installation and wiring.
  • Installation, testing, and fine-tuning of safety control devices to ensure proper operation.
  • Repairing electrical or mechanical system failures.
  • Repairing or replacing components.
  • Measuring instruments such as meters and gauges.
  • Oiling and lubricating moving parts.
  • Implementing preventive maintenance programs.
  • Ensuring that the equipment is clean.

Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers’ salary by state

Map showing salary by state for Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers’
Source: Careerexplorer


Radiation Therapists

2021 Median Salary

$82,790 / year

$47.05 per hour

Associate's degree


(As fast as average)


new jobs projected yearly

Radiation Therapist overview

A radiation therapist is someone who uses radiation to treat cancer and other diseases in patients. The majority of radiation therapists work in hospitals or cancer treatment facilities.

Radiation Therapist duties

The majority of radiation therapy is performed using linear accelerators. These machines use high-energy x-rays to shrink or remove cancer cells from a patient's body. Radiation therapists are members of the oncology team that treats cancer patients. 

They frequently collaborate with the following specialists:

  • Radiation oncologists who specialize in radiation therapy.
  • Oncology nurses who specialize in cancer patients.
  • Radiation physicists and linear accelerator physicists.
  • Dosimetrists are individuals who calculate the appropriate dose of radiation to be used in treatment.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Examine machines to ensure they are safe and functional.
  • Explain treatment plans to the patient and answer treatment-related questions.
  • Follow safety precautions to protect both the patient and yourself from overexposure.
  • X-ray the patient to pinpoint the exact location of the problem area.
  • Examine the computer programs to ensure that they will deliver the correct dose of radiation to the correct area of the patient's body.
  • Operate the radiation treatment equipment.
  • Keep an eye on the patient for any unusual reactions to the treatment.
  • Keep detailed treatment records.

Radiation Therapist’s salary by state

Map showing salary by state for radiation therapists
Source: Careerexplorer


Dental Hygienists

2021 Median Salary

$77,810 / year

$47.05 per hour

Associate's degree


(Faster than average)


new jobs projected yearly

Dental Hygienist overview

A dental hygienist cleans teeth, checks for oral diseases like gingivitis, and provides other preventative dental care. They also teach patients how to improve and maintain their oral health. Dental hygienists almost always work in dental offices alongside dentists and dental assistants.

Dental Hygienist duties

A dental hygienist works with a variety of tools. They use hand and powered tools, as well as ultrasonic devices, to clean and polish teeth. In some cases, hygienists use an air-polishing device to remove stains, which sprays a mixture of air, water, and baking soda. 

They polish teeth with a powered tool that works like an automatic toothbrush and take pictures with x-ray machines to look for tooth or jaw problems.

Dental hygienists assist patients in developing and maintaining good oral health. They could explain the connection between diet and oral health. They may also advise patients on how to choose toothbrushes and other oral care products.

When patients are in severe pain or under mental stress at times, the hygienist must be sensitive to their feelings. To help diagnose and treat patients, dental hygienists must follow specific rules and protocols. In rare cases, dental hygienists work independently from a dentist.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Teeth tartar, stains, and plaque removal.
  • Using sealants and fluorides to help protect teeth.
  • Dental x-rays are taken and developed.
  • Monitoring patient care and treatment plans.
  • Teach patients proper oral hygiene techniques such as brushing and flossing.

Dental Hygienist’s salary by state

Map showing salary by state for Dental hygeinsts
Source: Careerexplorer


Web Developers

2021 Median Salary

$77,200 / year

$37.12 per hour

High school diploma to a bachelor’s degree

depending on seniority


(Faster than average)


new jobs projected yearly

Web Developer overview

Web developers are in charge of writing the code that 'tells' a website how to work. They create 'user friendly' websites, which are simple to navigate for those who use them. 

They also create functions for websites, such as a form to collect e-mail addresses or provide a newsletter, a paywall to collect payment information, or a message to thank a customer for their business.

Related: Front End Web Development Bootcamp

Web Developer duties

Web developers are technologically savvy and understand how computers and web servers work. They are also well-versed in a wide range of software programmes, web applications, and web programming languages, including HTML, JavaScript (JS), Ruby on Rails, and C++.

Web development is divided into three parts: code that runs in a web browser and determines what customers or clients see when they visit a website (client-side scripting); code that runs on a web server and powers the behind-the-scenes mechanics of how a website works (server-side scripting); and database technology, which helps a website run smoothly and efficiently. 

These tasks are frequently divided among multiple web developers in large-scale web projects. A back-end developer may focus on setting up the back end of a site, whereas a client-side developer may focus on adding style and functionality to the website itself. The work is typically project-focused, requiring collaboration with a team of people to help coordinate the client's needs with the end product.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Consult with clients or management about the requirements, design, and functionality of a website or interface.
  • Create and test website applications, interfaces, and navigation menus.
  • Create website code using programming languages such as HTML or XML.
  • Work with other team members to determine what information will be included on the site. 
  • Work with graphics and other designers to determine the layout of the website.
  • Include graphics, audio, and video on your website.
  • Monitor website traffic and create website or application prototypes and mockups.

Web Developer’s salary by state

Map showing salary by state  for web developers
Source: Careerexplorer


Medical Sonographers

2021 Median Salary

$75,380 / year

$47.05 per hour

Associate's degree


(Faster than average)


new jobs projected yearly

Medical Sonographer overview

A diagnostic medical sonographer assesses and diagnoses various medical conditions by using special imaging equipment that directs sound waves into a patient's body (in a procedure known as an ultrasound, sonogram, or echocardiogram).

Medical Sonographer duties

Diagnostic ultrasound creates images of the inside of the body by using high-frequency sound waves. The diagnostic medical sonographer applies an ultrasound transducer to the parts of the patient's body that are being examined. 

The transducer generates echoes by emitting sound pulses that bounce back. The echoes are then sent to the ultrasound machine, where they are processed and displayed as images.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Preparing patients for procedures by taking their medical history and answering any questions they may have about the procedure.
  • Preparation and upkeep of imaging equipment.
  • Using a gel to improve the ability of sound waves to reveal the inside of the body.
  • Using diagnostic imaging equipment to obtain images of areas of the patient's body.
  • Analyzing the images to ensure their quality and adequate coverage of the diagnostic area.
  • Differentiating between normal and abnormal images.
  • Image analysis to provide preliminary findings to physicians.
  • Keeping track of patients' records and recording findings.

Medical Sonographer’s salary by state

Map showing salary by state for Medical Sonographers
Source: Careerexplorer


Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians

2021 Median Salary

$65,550 / year

$31.52 per hour

Associate's degree


(Faster than average)


new jobs projected yearly

Aircraft Mechanic overview

Airlines, governments, private companies, and the military all hire aircraft mechanics to repair and maintain planes and helicopters.

They bear a great deal of responsibility when it comes to maintaining and inspecting aircraft for service and meeting safety standards, as this can have serious consequences for people's lives.

Aircraft Mechanic duties

To fly safely, today's airplanes are highly complex machines that require dependable parts and service. Aircraft mechanics perform scheduled maintenance, repairs, and inspections to keep an airplane in top operating condition.

Some aircraft mechanics work on a wide range of aircraft, including jets, propeller-driven planes, and helicopters. Others specialize in one aspect of a specific type of aircraft, such as a jet's engine, hydraulics, or electrical system. Mechanics inspect and repair various types of aircraft in smaller independent repair shops.

The majority of civilian aircraft mechanics have some form of official certification from an accredited community college. This certification allows mechanics to work on any part of the aircraft except electronic flight instruments, which are the responsibility of avionics technicians.

Related: Are Community Colleges Accredited?

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Inspects aircraft frames and parts for flaws.
  • Diagnose mechanical and electrical issues.
  • Using precision instruments, measure parts for wear.
  • Read maintenance manuals to identify repair methods.
  • Repair aircraft wings, brakes, electrical systems, and other components.
  • Master the use of hand tools to replace defective parts.
  • Uses gauges and other diagnostic equipment to test aircraft parts.
  • Inspects completed work to ensure that performance standards are met.
  • Keep maintenance and repair records.

Aircraft Mechanic’s salary by state

Map showing salary by state for air craft mechanic
Source: Careerexplorer



2021 Median Salary

$64,290 / year

$30.91 per hour

High school diploma

or equivalent


(Little or no change)


new jobs projected yearly

Boilermaker overview

Boilermakers construct, install, and maintain boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gasses. They do physically demanding and occasionally dangerous work.

The majority of people learn their trade through a formal apprenticeship programme. Candidates with prior welding experience and certification are more likely to be accepted into training programmes.

Boilermaker duties

Many buildings, factories, and ships use boilers, tanks, and vats. Boilers generate electricity and heat by heating water or other fluids under extreme pressure. Chemicals, oil, beer, and hundreds of other products are stored and processed in large tanks and vats.

Steel, iron, copper, and stainless steel are used to construct boilers. To improve the quality of these vessels, manufacturers are increasingly automating the production of boilers. However, boilermakers continue to use a variety of tools when building or repairing boilers.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Determine the locations, positions, or dimensions of parts using blueprints.
  • Install small prefabricated boilers in buildings and manufacturing plants.
  • Before assembling larger boilers, lay out prefabricated parts.
  • Assemble boiler tanks, which are frequently done with robotic or automatic welders.
  • Check for leaks and defects in boiler systems.
  • Scrapers, wire brushes, and cleaning solvents are used to clean vats.
  • Repair or replace damaged valves, pipes, or joints.
  • Master the use of hand and power tools, gas torches, and welding equipment for the purpose.

Boilermaker’s salary by state

Map showing salary by state for Boilermakers
Source: Careerexplorer


Radiologic and MRI Technologists

2021 Median Salary

$61,980 / year

$29.80 per hour

Associate's degree


(As fast as average)


new jobs projected yearly

Radiologic and MRI Technologist overview

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, generates images of soft tissue and organ systems for use by physicians. The MRI technologist is in charge of the machines that generate these detailed images.

Radiologic and MRI Technologists duties

Radiologic and MRI Technologists collaborate with other healthcare professionals to help them and the patient create useful scans that doctors can use to make assessments and develop treatment plans. 

An MRI technologist must not only know how to operate the machinery, but also how to position the patient so that scans are most useful to physicians and specialists. MRI technologists must have excellent bedside manner with patients of all ages; if assigned to a specific age group, they may need to have specific skills interacting with that demographic.

Furthermore, the MRI technologist is responsible for keeping the equipment clean, as well as conducting regular equipment assessments and documenting that it is in working order. 

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Maintain and adjust imaging equipment.
  • Follow doctors' orders on which parts of the body to image.
  • Prepare patients for procedures by taking a medical history and covering exposed areas that will not be imaged.
  • Position the patient and the equipment to obtain the best image.
  • Use computerized equipment to capture images.
  • Collaborate with physicians to evaluate the images and determine whether additional images are required.
  • Maintain thorough patient records.

Radiologic and MRI Technologists’ salary by state

Map showing salary by state for Radiologic and MRI Technologists’
Source: Careerexplorer


Respiratory Therapists

2021 Median Salary

$61,830 / year

$47.05 per hour

Associate's degree


(Much faster than average)


new jobs projected yearly

Respiratory Therapist overview

A respiratory therapist is someone who cares for patients who have difficulty breathing, such as those who have asthma or emphysema. They also provide emergency care to patients who have had a heart attack, a stroke, drowned, or are in shock. 

The majority of respiratory therapists work in hospitals. Others may work in nursing homes or visit patients at their homes.

Respiratory Therapist duties

Respiratory therapists, or RTs, work with people who have breathing problems and, in some cases, cardiopulmonary problems. Premature infants born without fully developed lungs, as well as children and adults suffering from cystic fibrosis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are among their patients in many cases (COPD). 

In general, a respiratory therapist examines a patient and discusses the results of the exam with a physician before developing a treatment plan for the patient.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Interviews and examines patients suffering from breathing or cardiopulmonary problems.
  • Consults with physicians to develop treatment plans for patients.
  • Performs diagnostic tests such as lung capacity measurements.
  • Patients are treated using a variety of methods, such as chest physiotherapy and aerosol medications.
  • Treatment progress is monitored and recorded.
  • Supervising respiratory therapy technicians during tests and evaluating test results.
  • Patients are taught how to use treatments.

Respiratory Therapist’s salary by state

Map for showing salary by state for Respiratory Therapist
Source: Careerexplorer


Construction and Building Inspectors

2021 Median Salary

$61,640 / year

$29.63 per hour

High school diploma

or equivalent




new jobs projected yearly

Construction and Building Inspector overview

Most construction and building inspectors are concerned with ensuring that buildings comply with local and national laws and standards. Many inspectors inspect buildings, but many also inspect dams, highways, bridges, sewer systems, and homes.

Construction and Building Inspector duties

Building inspectors examine the structural integrity and safety of structures, as well as whether the materials used are appropriate and meet specific standards.

The building code is intended to ensure a certain level of safety and construction quality. Before a structure can be used, the building inspector must be summoned and brought in to thoroughly inspect it, ensuring that it is up to code and safe for use.

The building cannot be occupied or sold until the inspection is completed. Building inspectors frequently examine plans for new construction before the structure is even built. The plans are submitted to government offices for approval, saving time and money by identifying problems early on.

If a homeowner is remodeling their home and wants to make additions or improvements or tear down part or all of their home, they must apply for a permit. A building inspector will be involved in this process, ensuring that it is done legally and properly at various stages of completion.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Examine building plans and approve those that meet specifications.
  • Inspect construction sites at regular intervals to ensure overall compliance.
  • Check for plumbing leaks or flooding damage with moisture meters, and use electrical testers to ensure that electrical components are functional.
  • Inspect plumbing, electrical, and other systems to ensure they are code compliant.
  • Use survey equipment to verify structure alignment, level, and elevation and to ensure the building meets specifications.
  • If the building is not in compliance, issue violation notices, and stop-work orders.
  • Maintain daily logs that may include digital images from inspections.
  • Document all your findings.

Construction and Building Inspector’s salary by state

Map showing salary by state for Construction and Building Inspector’s
Source: Careerexplorer


Occupational Therapy Assistants

2021 Median Salary

$61,520 / year

$29.58 per hour

Associate's degree


(Much faster than average)


new jobs projected yearly

Occupational Therapy Assistant overview

An occupational therapist assistant works under the supervision of an occupational therapist. While an occupational therapist may diagnose and prescribe treatments, occupational therapy assistants are primarily responsible for working directly with patients to achieve treatment goals. 

The assistant assists patients in using therapeutic activities and exercises to help them regain full, independent, and healthy lifestyles despite injury or disability.

Occupational Therapy Assistant duties

As an occupational therapy assistant, you will work with individuals and groups who are experiencing and/or recovering from a variety of disabling conditions.

Occupational therapists help people who have been injured or disabled in some way that makes it difficult for them to live independently. Under the supervision of occupational therapists, occupational therapist assistants assist a wide range of people in achieving independence and increasing productivity.

These are people of all ages who require assistance with physical, emotional, and social issues.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Assist patients in performing therapeutic activities such as stretches and other exercises.
  • Participate in play activities that promote coordination and socialization with children with developmental disabilities.
  • Motivate patients to finish activities and tasks.
  • Teach patients how to use special equipment, such as showing a Parkinson's disease patient how to use devices that make eating easier.
  • Keep track of patients' progress, report to occupational therapists, and perform other administrative duties.

Occupational Therapy Assistant’s salary by state

Map showing salary by state for Occupational Therapy Assistant’s
Source: Careerexplorer


CAD Drafters

2021 Median Salary

$60,290 / year

$28.99 per hour

Associate's degree

or equivalent




new jobs projected yearly

CAD Drafter overview

Drafters create drawings for products that require technical details to be shown. Drafters can specialize in mechanical, civil, pipeline, aeronautical, electrical, or architectural drafting because these types of detailed drawings are required in so many fields.

CAD Drafter duties

Drafters use software to create schematics and to convert engineering and architectural designs into technical drawings and plans.

Many drafting professionals are also known as CADD (computer-aided design and drafting) operators. Drafters use CADD systems to create and store electronic drawings that can be viewed, printed, or programmed directly into automated manufacturing systems.

Drawings can be directly programmed into (BIM) Building Information Modeling and (PDM) Product Data Management systems. Microchips, toys, skyscrapers, and spacecraft can all be built using these drawings.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Create plans for the use of computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software.
  • Use understanding of engineering and manufacturing techniques to create effective product designs.
  • Using knowledge of building techniques, add structural details to architectural plans.
  • Prepare multiple versions of designs for engineers and architects to review.
  • Specify dimensions, materials, and procedures for new building projects or products.
  • Work under the supervision of engineers or architects.

CAD Drafter’s salary by state

Map showing salary by state for CAD Drafter’s
Source: Careerexplorer




2021 Median Salary

$60,040 / year

$28.87 per hour

High school diploma

or equivalent


(As fast as average)


new jobs projected yearly

Electrician overview

Electricians are skilled tradespeople who design, install, maintain, and troubleshoot electrical wiring systems.

These systems can be found in homes, commercial or industrial buildings, as well as machines and large pieces of machinery. Electricians work both inside and outside to enable the use of lights, televisions, industrial equipment, appliances, and a variety of other necessities.

Related: Fast Track to Electrician

Electrician duties

Inside wiremen are electricians who specialize almost entirely in building wiring. The structures range from a newly constructed home to an old industrial building that has been repurposed for a new purpose. Inside wiremen, as the name suggests, spend the majority of their time working indoors. They install new electrical systems in new buildings, troubleshoot problems, and replace older systems using blueprints.

Outside linemen, on the other hand, spend the majority of their careers working outside. They must be physically fit due to the requirement of climbing telephone and power poles when a lift bucket is not available. Outside linemen must also endure bad weather in order to restore power to all of the homes, businesses, and other structures in the area.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Examine blueprints or technical drawings.
  • Wiring, control, and lighting systems installation and maintenance.
  • Examine electrical components like transformers and circuit breakers.
  • Using a variety of testing devices, identify electrical problems.
  • Using hand tools and power tools, repair or replace wiring, equipment, or fixtures.
  • Adhere to state and local building codes based on the National Electrical Code.
  • Direct workers and train them to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment.

Electrician’s salary by state

Map showing salary by state for Electrician
Source: Careerexplorer


2021 Median Salary

$59,880 / year

$28.79 per hour

High school diploma

or equivalent


(Slower than average)


new jobs projected yearly

Plumber overview

A plumber installs and maintains pipes in our homes and businesses. These pipes must be installed and maintained for a variety of purposes, including potable water, drainage, irrigation, and sewage. 

Plumbers can work hands-on or in a design capacity, drafting blueprints and assisting in making the installation process more efficient. This is a profession with numerous career paths available. Because there is less competition, some of the highest paying jobs are in the more unusual specialties.

Plumber duties

Anyone considering a career as a plumber should be aware that the stereotypical job of a residential plumber represents only a small portion of the available career opportunities for an experienced professional.

A plumbing expert is aware of building regulations and safety standards and works to ensure that these standards are met. Plumbing requires legal expertise as well, because the laws governing this trade vary depending on where you live and can be difficult for a layperson to understand. 

Other more involved aspects of plumbing include the ability to test pipes for leakage using air pressure and other gauges, as well as the ability to construct new pipe systems by cutting, fitting, measuring, and threading pipes.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Prepare cost estimates for clients.
  • Read blueprints and follow state and local building codes.
  • Determine the materials and equipment needed for a job.
  • Install pipes and fixtures.
  • Inspect and test installed pipe systems and pipelines.
  • Troubleshoot malfunctioning systems.
  • Maintain and repair plumbing systems.

Plumber’s salary by state

Map showing salary by state for Plumbers
Source: Careerexplorer

Wind Turbine Technicians

2021 Median Salary

$56,260 / year

$27.05 per hour

Postsecondary nondegree award


(Much faster than average)


new jobs projected yearly

Wind Turbine Technician's job

A wind turbine technician is someone who has been specially trained to prevent wind turbines from malfunctioning or completely stopping. This is accomplished by performing routine inspections on wind farms, troubleshooting any issues, and repairing wind turbines as needed.

Wind Turbine Technician duties

Wind turbine service technicians inspect wind turbines on a regular basis to ensure they are in good working order. Wind turbine inspections necessitate the technician climbing the turbine and inspecting all of the turbine's components. 

If any problems with the turbine are discovered, the technician will make a note of them and schedule them for repair. It is also the responsibility of the wind turbine service technician to ensure that the wind farms' storage facility has the necessary parts to complete the repair or to order the parts if they are not in stock.

Wind turbine routine maintenance or common repairs include a component replacement, hydraulic system repair, troubleshooting electrical issues, fluid changes, and turbine torque.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Examine the exterior and structural integrity of wind turbine towers.
  • Climb wind turbine towers to inspect or repair wind turbine gear.
  • Wind turbines require routine maintenance.
  • Troubleshoot and test mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic components and systems.
  • Replace any worn or broken components.
  • Collect data from turbines for testing, research, and analysis.
  • Service underground transmission systems, wind field substations, or fiber optic sensing and control systems.

Wind Turbine Technician’s salary by state

Map of Wind Turbine Technician’s salary by state
Source: Careerexplorer



Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers (HVAC)

2021 Median Salary

$48,630 / year

$23.38 per hour

Postsecondary nondegree award


(Slower than average)


new jobs projected yearly

Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installer (HVAC) overview

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. A qualified HVAC technician installs, maintains, and repairs heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems that regulate building temperature and air quality.

Despite being trained in all three components, HVAC technicians may choose to work exclusively with one of the heating, air conditioning, or refrigeration systems. They may specialize in installation, maintenance, or repair in some cases. 

They may also specialize in a specific equipment type, such as water-based heating systems, solar technology systems, or commercial refrigeration.

Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installer duties

What an HVAC technician does will vary depending on the industry, position, and specialty. Heating and cooling systems regulate the temperature, humidity, and overall air quality in homes, office buildings, schools, hospitals, factories, stores, and other establishments. 

They contribute to our comfort – and our health! Refrigeration systems enable the storage and transportation of food, medicine, and other perishable items by providing a climate-controlled environment.

An HVAC technician's typical workday begins with learning about the specific job that needs to be done. Employers send technicians to a customer's location to resolve any HVAC-related issues.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Examining blueprints and other technical specifications.
  • Checking for leaks in pipe or tubing joints or connections.
  • Repairing or replacing broken equipment.
  • Increasing the efficiency of your HVAC system by changing filters, cleaning ducts, or refilling refrigerants.
  • Setting up, connecting, and adjusting thermostats, humidistats, and timers.
  • Connecting HVAC equipment to sources of fuel, water, or refrigerant.
  • Changing system controls to balance the system.
  • HVAC equipment assembly, positioning and mounting.
  • Design, plan and install low voltage electrical wiring.
  • On work orders, record and report time, materials, faults, deficiencies, and other occurrences.

HVAC Technicians’ salary by state

Map of HVAC Technicians’ salary by state
Source: Careerexplorer



Licensed Practical Nurses

2021 Median Salary

$48,630 / year

$23.11 per hour

Postsecondary nondegree award


(As fast as average)


new jobs projected yearly

Licensed Practical Nurse overview

A licensed practical nurse (LPN) is a person who works under the supervision of doctors and registered nurses to provide basic health care and assistance to sick and injured patients. 

These nurses can perform the majority of the same skills as a registered nurse in states where a broad scope of practice is permitted. These nurses' duties are severely limited in states with a narrower scope of practice.

Licensed Practical Nurse duties

Because each state has its own regulations governing the duties of a licensed practical nurse, the exact job description will vary depending on the state in which the nurse works.

A Licensed Practical Nurse can work in the following areas:

  1. Pediatrics: A nursing specialty that focuses on patients aged newborn to eighteen years.
  2. Burn Unit: Which specializes in dressing changes, pain management, and sepsis monitoring.
  3. Trauma ICU: Care for patients following an accident of some kind.
  4. Cardiac ICU: Care for patients following heart surgery.
  5. Neuro ICU: Provides care to patients following brain surgery or a severe head injury.
  6. Labor and Delivery: This entails caring for pregnant women before, during, and after childbirth, as well as newborn care.
  7. Neonatal care: Entails caring for sick newborns and premature infants shortly after birth.
  8. Oncology: Entails administering chemotherapy, assisting with pain and nausea treatment, and assisting with procedures.
  9. ER: Care for patients who are suddenly unstable due to illness or an accident in an emergency room.
  10. Rehabilitation: Working with physical, occupational, and speech therapists to help the patient regain skills lost due to illness or injury.
  11. Gerontology: Specializing in gerontology care for the special needs of the elderly.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Medication administration (oral and intravenous).
  • Gathering patient data.
  • Documentation and charting.
  • Taking vital signs of the patient.
  • Wound care and dressing wounds.
  • Obtaining specimens such as blood, urine, sputum, and so on.
  • Insertion and maintenance of urinary catheters.
  • Taking care of patients who have tracheostomy tubes and are on ventilators.
  • Monitoring for changes in condition, performing finger stick blood sugar tests, inserting, and caring for patients who require nasogastric tubes.
  • Providing nutrition via a nasogastric or gastrostomy tube ostomy site care and maintenance.
  • Monitoring patients for changes in clinical condition and drug reactions.
  • Providing CPR in an emergency.
  • Teaching families how to care for sick or injured relatives and assisting patients with personal hygiene.

Licensed Practical Nurse’s salary by state

Map of Licensed Practical Nurse’s salary by state
Source: Careerexplorer



Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

2021 Median Salary

$47,010 / year

$22.60 per hour

High school diploma

or equivalent


(As fast as average)


new jobs projected yearly

Welder overview

A welder is a skilled tradesperson who uses intense heat and gas to join metal together or fill and repair holes in metal constructions.

Welders work in a wide range of industrial, manufacturing, and construction settings; some even work underwater to repair oil rig foundations, ship hulls, and other subaquatic structures. Welders are in high demand all over the world due to the near universal demand for their skills.

Welder duties

Unskilled welders:  They perform repetitive welding tasks on assembly lines. They may use robots to join body panels from a car or truck or to perform spot welds while building specialized equipment. They may be unfamiliar with metal properties or the types of gas, wires, and settings required to produce a stable, strong weld.

Skilled welders: They are familiar with the welding specifications of various metals. They learn advanced welding techniques through apprenticeship or education and may hand weld or use robots to weld metal components.

These tradesmen typically perform the following tasks:

  • Understand and apply blueprints, sketches, and specifications.
  • Calculate and measure the dimensions of the welded parts.
  • Examine the structures or materials to be welded.
  • Weld materials to blueprint specifications.
  • Keep an eye on the welding process and adjust the heat as needed.
  • Upkeep of equipment and machinery.

What is a Welder’s salary by state?

Map of Welder’s salary by state
Source: Careerexplorer


Final Word

Those who do not intend to attend a four-year college or university may benefit from pursuing one of the easy trade jobs that pay well. Understanding the requirements and salaries of various trade jobs can also help you decide which trades are best for you and what you need to do to get qualified for one.