Top 20 Highest Paying Trade School Jobs

Highest Paying Trade School Careers

You know you need an education, but you don’t have the finances to spend four years in school. Or perhaps you just aren’t interested in spending that long gaining an education. So what do you do? Consider an education at a trade school. Numerous individuals with trade school diplomas frequently earn equivalent or even higher salaries compared to their counterparts holding university degrees.

The differences between a traditional college and a trade school are basically time. During the initial years at a university, students focus on completing general education requirements. In contrast, trade school attendees engage in specialized courses tailored to their desired career path. Because you will skip taking those general education courses, you will also save a big chunk of change.

Top 20 Highest-Paying Trade School Careers

  • Marine Mechanic - $38,280
  • Automotive Service Tech - $38,470
  • Welder - $39,390
  • Auto Body Repairman - $40,379
  • Masonry Worker - $41,330
  • Carpenter - $43,600
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) - $44,090
  • Heavy Equipment Operator - $45,040
  • Diesel Mechanic - $45,170
  • Commercial Diver - $49,090
  • Plumber - $51,450
  • Electrician - $52,720
  • Home Inspector - $58,480
  • Architectural and Civil Drafter - $54,640
  • Aviation Maintenance Tech - $60,270
  • Bolermaker - $62,060
  • Landscape Designer - $63,480
  • Dental Hygienist - $72,910
  • Construction Manager - $89,300
  • Electronics Engineer - $96,270

Marine Mechanic

Median Annual Income: $38,280
Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 6% increase - average


Marine mechanics need very specialized education in order to keep watercraft running correctly. Employment is generally located at seaports and marinas. However, there are boats located in inland areas as well, such as at amusement parks. There are also mobile marine mechanics that seek out and help stranded boats. Duties of this position include testing electrical systems, fuel systems, rigging and more. Mechanics also test and replace parts as needed, in order to keep watercraft running smoothly. Other duties involve educating clients on repairs that need to be made, as well as preventative maintenance.

State Fair Community College offers an Associate’s of Applied Science in Marine Technology. This degree is designed to keep you at the forefront of this career. You will take courses in marine rigging, ignition systems, and engine components, just to name a few.

Automotive Service Tech

Median Annual Income: $38,470
Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 6% increase - average


Service techs are employed by dealers, local shops, parts stores and more. The main job of a service tech is to ensure that vehicles and vehicle systems are running properly. Techs will test systems and parts in order to find issues that may be looming ahead, in order to prevent issues and accidents. Additionally, service techs spend a great deal of time testing and replacing computer parts and switches. Other job duties may include changing oil, rotating tires and explaining preventative maintenance to customers, as well as answering questions that customers may have.

Many automotive service techs graduate from Universal Technical Institute. This school offers a top automotive program that not only teaches the basics, but allows students to advance to manufacturer-specific courses.

Accredited Programs That Might Interest You
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.


Median Annual Income: $39,390
Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 5% increase - average


Welders are responsible for joining two pieces of metal together, permanently, using very high heat. Several different industries use welders, including airplane manufacturers, building companies, car fabricators and more. Anything that requires a strong, metal bond requires welding. Welders work in a variety of environments including outside in the weather and the elements. Many times welders find themselves in odd positions and in tight spaces in order to join metal parts. Because of the working conditions and the intense heat used, this occupation has one of the highest rates of illnesses and injuries.

Hill College offers one of the most reasonable welding courses, in the U.S. This school provides certificates in welding as well as an associate’s of applied science. Courses include industrial safety and metallurgy, to name a couple.

Auto Body Repairman

Median Annual Income: $40,379

Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 8% increase - average

Auto body repairmen spend their days repairing damaged cars and trucks. These people sand and paint vehicle parts; and once ready, they will put the vehicles together. Auto bodyworkers are known to restore classic vehicles as well. This position requires a lot of work with power tools, which can be loud. Workers also come in contact with a lot of paint fumes and dust. However, most shops are well ventilated. Auto body repair people also find themselves in tight spaces and awkward positions, so being physically fit is a plus. Holmes Community College offers an associate of applied science degree and is the cheapest option we found. This course teaches electrical systems, vehicle refinishing, and more. In this course, you will also receive hands-on instruction and experience.

Accredited Programs That Might Interest You
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Masonry Workers

Median Annual Income: $41,330

Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 12% increase - faster than average

Masons use bricks, concrete, rocks, etc. to build structures such as walls, buildings, fences and more. Masons must be in great physical condition as they are required to carry heavy objects as well as move them. Masons also spend a lot of time on their knees or bent over. Generally, structures are built outdoors, so mason workers must be fit enough to endure harsh elements, such as the blazing sun. Numerous masons often put in extra hours during the summer months when the weather is favorable, while their workload decreases in the winter due to frigid temperatures and snowfall. Ivy Tech Community College offers a degree in Construction Management. This program is one of most affordable that we could find, in this field. You’ll take courses that include building material strength and measurements along with many others.



Median Annual Income: $43,600

Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 8% increase - average

Carpenters build a variety of things, including buildings, highways and homes. Carpenters also do smaller scale jobs such as home remodeling and installing kitchen cabinets. This job requires a great deal of physical stamina and flexibility. Each day on the job will be different from the one before; you may be nailing a wall together one day and driving a forklift the next. Generally, carpenters work outdoors in the elements. In this profession, there may be overtime when the weather is warm, but downtime during the winter. Because of the nature of carpentry, it brings about several hazards; being alert is key. Central Georgia Tech offers diploma program, in Carpentry Technology. In this course, students take classes that include structural framing and residential framing, among others. Georgia residents get a $4,000 discount on this program.

Accredited Programs That Might Interest You
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

Median Annual Income: $44,090

Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 12% increase - faster than average

Opting for a profession as a licensed practical nurse is an excellent decision for individuals passionate about assisting others. LPNs generally work under doctors as well as registered nurses. Many LPNs work in caregiving facilities and hospitals. There are also opportunities to freelance, as many people are searching for in-home caregivers for ill family members that need an extra bit of care. Moreover, schools and larger companies also have positions for licensed practical nurses. Because people need care around the clock, hours are generally flexible in this position. Additionally, being in optimal health and maintaining physical fitness are necessary due to the job's physical requirements. Northern Oklahoma College offers one of the lowest cost Practical Nursing Eligibility programs, we have seen when comparing LPN programs. In this course, students will take classes such as fundamentals in nursing, microbiology, physiology and more. This intense course takes two years to complete.

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Further Reading: Fast-Track Online LPN Programs

Heavy Equipment Operator

Median Annual Income: $45,040

Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 12% increase - faster than average

Heavy equipment operators are also known as construction equipment operators. People in this field control large machines such as bulldozers, cranes, and more, which all require special training and skill. Job responsibilities vary, depending on which company the operator works for as well as the machines that are needed. It could vary from snow-plowing roads to leveling the ground, in order to start construction on a new high-rise office building. In this field, workers are often subjected to dirt, dust, rain, snow, and more. Owing to the harsh environments and external factors, it is crucial for laborers to maintain robust physical well-being. Turtle Mountain Community College offers a degree in Building Construction Technology. This stands as one of the most cost-effective career-oriented courses discovered within this region. This program teaches students the importance of safety as well as provides the ability to participate in construction jobs.

Diesel Mechanic

Median Annual Income: $45,170

Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 10% increase - faster than average

Diesel Mechanics repair, inspect and maintain diesel engines. Mechanics are responsible for discussing repair work with customers, preparing work orders, run through diagnostic tests and more. Diesel systems work differently than regular gasoline systems, so training is very specialized. Diesel mechanics generally work inside a shop. However, this can be a very dirty job, because mechanics work around oil and grease. In this profession, several different tools are used, such an pneumatic wrenches, lathes and screwdrivers. Many industrial machines use diesel engines because the fuel lasts longer than regular fuel and it’s more economical. Mechanics can expect to work on diesel trucks, tractors, factory machines and more. Aspiring diesel mechanics can take the Diesel Equipment Technology program, offered by Southwest Mississippi Community College. This course can be completed in one year, for a certificate. However, a two year associate’s of science degree is also available. Training for this course is based on ASE Certification for Heavy Truck Techs.

Commercial Diver

Median Annual Income: $49,090

Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 4% increase - slightly lower than average

Commercial divers spend their workdays under the surface of the water. Many times these divers are installing or fixing cracked or broken structures. In order to do this, an underwater welding process is used. Many of these divers live on ships and are employed by the oil industry. Individuals in such circumstances often experience extended periods away from their residence. However, there are also commercial divers who are paid to take expert photographs of marine life as well as of underwater structures, that have other day jobs. Other employment may include media diving, for underwater photos and stories. Additionally, HAZMAT divers are the ones who search for bodies in lakes and rivers, as well as helping to clean up harmful water spills. CDA Technical Institute offers an underwater welding course that is the most reasonably priced that we have seen. This course takes roughly 6 months to complete. The Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training has granted accreditation to CDA. Among the numerous professional associations that the school is affiliated with are the Association of Diving Contractors International International Marine Contractors Association, and National Academy of Scuba Educators, to mention a few.


Median Annual Income: $51,450

Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 16% increase - faster than average

Plumbing is another luxury that most people in the US use on a daily basis. This creates several different types of plumbing jobs and has a great career outlook. Plumbers often install pipes in buildings and in homes, while they are being framed. However, plumbers are often called to solve emergency problems such as broken or frozen pipes. Because of this, those looking into this career must be okay with being on-call at times and working odd hours. Plumbers must know how to read blueprints in order to place the proper piping in the correct locations as well. It is also important for plumbers to have HVAC knowledge in order to add piping to those systems as well. Stratford Career Institute offers a training course in plumbing. In this program future plumbers are taught the history of plumbing as well as how to start a plumbing business. Other courses focus on plumbing safety and building and plumbing codes. More advanced classes teach students how to deal with septic systems, remodeling projects and more.


Median Annual Income: $52,720

Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 9% increase - average

Electricity has a huge presence in our daily lives. It is needed for almost everything we do. For aspiring electricians, this presents a fantastic opportunity as it translates to increased job availability and security. Electricians hold the crucial responsibility of ensuring the appropriate distribution of electricity to required locations. This may include wiring a home or changing a faulty outlet. Other jobs include working on motors, to make sure they are wired and running properly. Electricians need to comprehend the functioning and distribution of electricity and possess the skills to interpret blueprints for the secure installation of power lines. It is vital for individuals pursuing careers in this domain to have an outstanding grasp of safety procedures to ensure the well being of both themselves and others. Those seeking to become an electrician can study the Electrician Career Training Program at Altius Career College. This course teaches items such as how to install lighting, correctly repairing wiring, testing techniques and more. Once this course is completed, students will be ready to take the NCCER levels one and two testing, for certificates.

Accredited Programs That Might Interest You
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Home Inspector

Median Annual Income: $58,480

Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 10% increase - faster than average

Home Inspectors are hired to look at specific items before a home is purchased to make sure there are no underlying issues. These items may include the heating and cooling systems, foundation, structural integrity and code violations. Additionally, inspectors may search for signs of infestation as well as water and pipe issues. Home inspectors must be in good physical shape as they are required to crawl into tight places and use ladders to climb on roofs. Many home inspector jobs are available through companies as well as those who prefer to own their own business. Those interested in becoming a home inspector can take the Home Inspector Career Training Program, offered by Stratford Career Institute. Future inspectors will take courses that include ethics, how to determine property values, building sites and landscaping. Other classes include topics such as how to evaluate chimneys, foundations and plumbing. Once this course is completed, it is necessary to become state licensed before practicing.

Architectural and Civil Drafter

Median Annual Income: $54,640

Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 7% increase - average

Drafters are the people who create the actual, technical plans from the ideas of architects and engineers. These plans could range from highways to buildings to homes and more. Drafters spend a lot of time on the computer, using specialized software to help the blueprints come out perfect. These people may also visit clients to discuss plans, or job sites to verify that the structure is being built correctly. Many times drafters are needed throughout the completion of projects to ensure that the plans are being followed precisely and to answer questions that builders may have. There are also drafters that create how-to manuals for various products; especially electronic items. In this field a strong math background is important, as you will be doing many calculations. Metropolitan Community College offers a program in Architectural Documentation Software. This course teaches students how to use the latest and most informative building software that is currently available. This program is designed to accommodate both novices and individuals with a slightly advanced understanding of the topic.

Aviation Maintenance Tech

Median Annual Income: $60,270

Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 5% increase - average

An aviation maintenance tech is also known as an aircraft mechanic. In this job the tech is responsible for maintaining the aircraft's engine and electrical systems. Techs are also in-charge of testing aircraft components, searching for wear and tear on items and changing those that need to be replaced. This ensures the aircraft is always safe for flight. Jobs for aviation maintenance techs are usually located at airports in service shops. Technicians are required to decipher and comprehend various schematics, along with possessing an in-depth knowledge of aircraft electrical systems. The most affordable aviation maintenance tech program we could find is offered by Portland Community College. The Federal Aviation Administration and the State Division of Vocational Education have both granted their approval for this course.This school offers a one year course, in which graduates receive a certificate. However, a two year certificate, as well as an associate’s degree is also offered by Portland Community College in this field.


Median Annual Income: $62,060

Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 8% increase - average

Boilers are large containers which hold water, gases and other liquids. Boilermakers spend time putting together these large boilers, which are used in many different industries such as dry cleaning, power plants and more. Some boilers are used as part of a trains steam engine. Those in this field may be required to install, repair or maintain boilers which require the worker to be in good physical condition. Other duties may include checking and adjusting the pressure inside the boilermaker, as well as heat exchangers and piping. Boilermakers may have to travel to sites in order to set up these devices, which may also require extended time away from home. Training to become a boilermaker is done by a paid apprenticeship program. The best school to learn this trade is through Boilermakers National Apprenticeship Program. This course lasts roughly four years.  In this program, students begin by learning about basics, such as ropes, cranes, loads, distribution of weight and more. Eventually, students will learn about arc welding, gas metals and more.

Landscape Designer

Median Annual Income: $63,480

Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 8% increase - average

Landscaping Designer, also known as landscape architects are the people who create the aesthetics of office buildings, parks, gardens and more. This position requires plans to be created, generally on a computer, so it is an indoor, partially sedentary job. Most of the time plans are drawn up using CAD software. So it is important to have computer knowledge. Designers will also create models to show clients. There are times when the designer must meet with clients to discuss the plans as well as visit jobsites to ensure the project is running smoothly. Most states require landscape designers to be licensed. Ashworth College offers an online course in Landscape Design. This course is completely self paced which allows students to study in their own time. For the motivated student, the course can be completed in 4 months. Before choosing this profession, be sure to check with your state for local licensure requirements. Further Reading: Cheapest Affordable Online Colleges

Dental Hygienist

Median Annual Income: $72,910

Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 20% increase - faster than average

Dental hygienists hold the responsibility of removing tartar from teeth and detecting indications of decay and oral diseases. Hygienists report all findings to the dentist and may help to create a treatment plan for patients. Furthermore, a hygienist might instruct patients on optimal methods for maintaining oral health and caring for their teeth and gums. Other duties might include assisting dentists while filling cavities or during oral surgeries. This position requires the use of several different hand tools and excellent dexterity. This occupation also requires state-specific licensure. Lincoln College of New England offers several healthcare courses, including dental hygiene. Courses at this school are flexible, allowing students to also work, if necessary. This college provides personalized courses, as well as tutoring and helping students find a job after graduation.

Construction Manager

Median Annual Income: $89,300

Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 11% increase - faster than average

Construction managers oversee building projects, which may include residential homes, commercial buildings, as well as other building projects. These people make sure all of the details are correct when a structure is being built. Often referred to as general contractors, these professionals collaborate with architects and engineers to ensure projects are executed accurately and within the designated timeframe. Contractors are also responsible for hiring carpenters to complete jobs quickly and efficiently. Construction managers also bear the responsibility of collecting all necessary paperwork before commencing a project. Many people in this position choose to work for a company. However, there is also the ability to own your own company. The Contractor/Construction Management Program is available from Stratford University. This course teaches the fundamentals of buildings such as measuring correctly, estimating projects and how to manage a job site effectively. This course also teaches computer estimating, how to bid a remodel job, keeping on budget for equipment and more.

Electronics Engineer

Median Annual Income: $96,270

Employment Outlook (2016-2026): 7% increase - average

A career in electronics engineering provides many job opportunities. A few of these prospects involve employment with government agencies, pursuing entrepreneurship, or engaging in private sector roles. Many of the items we use on a daily basis involve electronics that will need servicing and repairing at some point. Some of these electronics include GPS systems, computers, electronic motors and more. Working in this field may require the engineer to visit different places and speak with other business people when drafting a plan or repairing products. Nonetheless, for the majority of their work hours, engineers can often be found seated at a desk, operating a computer. Houston Community College offers an Electrical Training Program, which covers the basics of wiring and braking. Other topics include reading schematics correctly, learning safety interlocks and more. Graduates of this program generally obtain entry-level employment, such as wiring homes or industrial projects. The industrial courses provide students with the knowledge of certain equipment used in different industries

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