Highest Paying Trades
Many high school students and their parents mistakenly believe that trade schools do not lead to high-paying jobs. However, the median wage for skilled trade jobs is $56,287 per year. Most of these jobs can be filled after attending a community college or trade school for a 2-year degree or certificate. This encompasses many career fields from medicine to mechanics.
It is no surprise that the highest-paying trades are in the fields of infrastructure and construction, advanced mechanics, and engineering. Trades in these industries pay at least $50k per year, with demand increasing as few high school students enter trade programs. Here are the 8 skilled trades that pay the most right out of trade school or community college.
Construction Management – Median salary $98,890 per year
Construction management jobs are most in demand in nonresidential construction and highway construction. The starting salary for construction management jobs is $51,429 per year, and it takes two years on average to complete a construction management associate’s degree or certificate. It takes about 5 to 7 years of experience to reach the average salary of $98,890 annually, and top construction managers easily earn 6 figures.
Elevator Installers and Repairers – Average journeyman’s salary is $97,900 per year
Elevator mechanics are in high demand simply because there are not enough people entering the trade. It is necessary to enter the field as an apprentice through a union or other nonprofit organization supporting the trade. This apprenticeship lasts up to 4 years and starts at $47,400 per year. Journeymen elevator mechanics earn an average of $97,900 per year, and master mechanics and elevator engineers earn up to $130,900 annually.
A community college, trade school, or university is not a requirement to get a job as an elevator mechanic apprentice. However, having general mechanics knowledge from a 2-year program can help you get accepted into elevator mechanic apprenticeship programs.
Aircraft Mechanics – Average salary $71,115 per year
Although aircraft mechanics only spend 18 to 20 months in school, the cost of an aviation trade school is about the same as obtaining a 4-year degree at a public college. However, for students who excel in mechanics and hands-on learning, aviation mechanics is a worthwhile career. Starting aircraft mechanics earn $54,248 on average, with the median salary of aircraft mechanics at $71,115 annually. Some types of aviation mechanic jobs pay up to 6-figures. The average salary for a jet mechanic is $86,030 per year.
Boilermakers – Range from $58,500 to $84,000 per year
One of the highest-paying trades that requires the least time in trade school is boilermakers. Boilermakers are welders that specialize in boilers and other large containers. The pay for boilermakers varies greatly depending on the industry in which the boilermaker is employed, how much experience they have, and the danger involved.
All boilermakers must pass a welding test and be accepted as an apprentice. A welding trade school program prepares you for this process. Apprentice’s starting pay is about $48,750 per year. It takes 7 to 8 years to become a journeyman, and the average pay for journeymen boilermakers can range from $57,000 to $84,000 depending on industry and other factors.
Construction and Building Inspectors – Average $57,500 per year
There are specific trade school programs available for construction and building inspectors. Because the demand for infrastructure and construction is so great, construction inspectors are one of the trades that pay the most with the least amount of investment. This could be up to a 2-year certificate program, with many programs taking less time.
The average starting pay for construction and building inspectors is $42,421 per year, and the average pay is $57,500 annually. However, construction inspectors in high-paying industries such as highway, industrial, utility, and energy applications earn as much as $113,500 or more per year.
Electricians – Median Salary $66,200 per year
Electricians are needed in many sectors, but industrial electricians earn the most. Residential electricians often earn less but reach the average pay of $60,514 within a short amount of time. Industrial electricians spend two years in trade school to be accepted as an apprentice in a union program offering on-the-job training. Staring pay for apprentice electricians is $61,464 per year, and journeymen earn an average of $66,200 per year. One must spend 12,000 hours in on-the-job training to become a master electrician, which earns an average of $86,600 per year.
How to enter the highest-paying trades
The trades that pay the most require either community college or trade school to get started. offers opportunities to support high school students seeking entry into these trades. The assists high school students with tuition for these trades.