For many people who are looking to get started in a new career, a smart alternative to going to college to get a degree is going to a trade school. Trade schools are quicker and more affordable than colleges because they focus entirely on training the student for a career. The highest paying trade school programs almost all involve physical, hands-on work. They also offer job security because they tend to be the type of jobs that there will always be a high demand for, and jobs that can’t be outsourced to other countries.
The annual salary of a worker in any of these fields can vary greatly. One factor that influences the salary is the worker’s experience, and a trade school program is a great way to gain experience.
Highest Paying Trade School Programs Methodology
This article gives a list of the highest paying trade school programs according to the average annual salary listed on payscale.com.
- Construction Manager
- Avionics Technician
- Pile-Driver Operator
- Aircraft Mechanic
- Crane Operator
- Rotary Drill Operator
- CNC Machine Tool Programer
- Wind Turbine Technician
- Industrial Machine Mechanic
- Mobile Heavy machine Mechanic
- HVAC Technician
- Deisel Mechanic
- Construction Equipment Operator
- Brick Mason
- Commercial Driver
20. Commercial Driver
Starting a career as a commercial driver is a great option for someone who enjoys travel and values independence. Commercial drivers make a good living by driving trucks to transport goods from distribution centers to customer locations. They are also responsible for performing inspections on the truck, as well as unloading the merchandise upon arrival. There are various types of commercial drivers – route drivers and pick-up and delivery drivers, who typically travel shorter distances; and long-haul drivers, who often drive over state lines. It is necessary to obtain a CDL (commercial driver’s license) before becoming a driver, but the training time is not extensive, making it a fairly easy profession to enter.
19. Brick Mason
A brick mason is a tradesmen who works with bricks, tiles, concrete blocks, and stones to both build and repair things such as walls, patios, walkways, and driveways. A brick mason typically specializes in either residential or large-scale projects. The job description includes reading blueprints, making calculations, marking and measuring distances, cutting the tiles or bricks, and laying and binding the bricks. The outlook for the job market is excellent, with an estimated growth rate of 34% over the next 10 years, making it a good choice for a high paying trade school program.
An exciting opportunity for a trade school career path is carpentry. Carpentry is a skilled craft that includes construction, repair, and installation of building frameworks and structures made from wood. This ranges from the entire framework of a building to the ornate woodwork and trim. A rough carpenter works on large construction projects, while a finish carpenter works primarily on cabinetry and furniture, many times done in a workshop. Often, carpenters will choose just one of these areas of construction to specialize in, but working as an independent contractor offers the ability to work on a wider range of projects.
17. Construction Equipment Operator
Responsible for operating heavy equipment used in engineering and construction projects, a construction equipment operator works with machines such as bulldozers, cranes, excavators, and forklifts. The job description includes maneuvering heavy machinery safely, calculating and planning loads, following blueprints, and taking care of the proper running and maintenance of the equipment. This job is a smart choice, as spending on infrastructure is likely to continue to grow and new positions are continually being created. Workers who have been trained in operating multiple types of heavy equipment will have the best job opportunities.
16. Diesel Mechanic
A diesel mechanic has the job of inspecting and repairing vehicles and machines that run on diesel fuel. This trade school career path is a compelling option, as there is the opportunity to work in a variety of industries on many types of equipment including buses, trucks, and construction machines. This sometimes physically demanding job includes inspecting parts and systems, checking batteries, and adjusting wheels. Diesel mechanics must also be able to identify problems and repair them. Getting certified as a diesel mechanic is a great option as it improves career trajectory, allowing for better job security, promotions, and higher wages.
15. HVAC Technician
Now is a good time to enter the HVAC field, as the job market outlook is one of the best for trade school career paths. Jobs are expected to grow by 15% over the next 10 years, largely as a result of increased constructions and growing environmental concerns. HVAC technicians are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems that control temperature and air quality in buildings. Most HVAC technicians go to trade school, as well as complete a paid apprenticeship. Technicians can either specialize in just one type of service, or offer a broad range of services.
14. Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanic
A mobile heavy equipment mechanic diagnoses, repairs, and maintains heavy equipment and machinery used in construction, surface mining, and logging. These machines could include cranes, bulldozers, graders and excavators. The mechanic’s duties could include repairing and replacing damaged and worn parts, testing equipment after repairs, and operating and inspecting the machines to diagnose problems. Attention to detail is essential, as proper assembly is necessary for each machine to function in compliance with the manufacturer’s specifications.
13. Industrial Machine Mechanic
When choosing high paying trade school programs, another good option is an industrial machine mechanic. Also called a maintenance mechanic, an industrial machine mechanic is responsible primarily for the maintenance repair of heavy machinery and factory equipment such as conveying systems, packaging equipment, and production machinery. A maintenance mechanic must adjust and calibrate equipment so that errors can be detected and corrected before the machine or the produced products are damaged. When problems are detected, the job includes taking the machine apart to repair or replace parts, followed by reassembly of the machine.
Similar to an industrial machine mechanic, a millwright is a high-precision craftsman responsible for the maintenance, repair, transportation, and construction of machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites. This highly skilled, detail-oriented professional works with all kinds of machinery, from conveyor belts to turbine generators. Millwrights are necessary in a wide variety of industries, and there is often available work outside of regular business hours, which makes it so that millwrights average $9,375 in overtime each year in addition to their base salary.
Plumbers are responsible for installing pipes and plumbing fixtures such as bathtubs, dishwashers, sinks, and toilets. They also have the job of inspecting, troubleshooting problems, and maintaining in working order plumbing fixtures and pipes in both homes and businesses. After completing the trade school education and apprenticeship, one must pass an exam to obtain licensure. The need for good plumbers is constant, and the job market is expected to grow at a higher level than average, making it an excellent choice for a high paying trade school program.
10. Wind Turbine Technician
Those entering the workplace as wind turbine technicians, also known as a windtechs, can do so confidently, as the employment numbers are expected to more than double over the next 10 years. Wind turbines are large mechanical devices that convert wind energy into electricity, and the technicians are responsible for all aspects of their maintenance. The technicians must install, inspect, and operate the wind turbines, as well as maintain their function. A windtech must also be able to diagnose and fix any problems that arise. This unique job, for which the tradesman is high above the ground for the majority of the work, is a great option for a high paying trade school career.
Electricians have the job of working with wiring, electrical controls, and lighting systems. This includes assembling, installing and maintaining them. Some essential tasks include reading blueprints for electrical setup, using hand and power tools to run and protect wiring, and diagnosing malfunctioning systems to locate a problem’s cause. An electrician also has the option to work as an independent contractor and do bidding off their own, which could raise their salary by a significant amount. This continues to be a good option for a steady, high paying trade school career, as the job market is expected to grow much faster than average.
8. CNC Machine Tool Programmer
Computer Numerical Control Programmers are responsible for creating program instructions for computers to control machines used in manufacturing. The manufacturers then use these programs to instruct machines in producing parts. In addition to creating programs, CDC programmers are often also required to download their programs onto a machine and test it, as well as keep an eye on the production process and be available to make changes to the program as needed. This high paying trade school program is a good option for those who prefer computer work to manual labor.
7. Rotary Drill Operator
The need for rotary drill operators is expected to remain very strong, making it a smart option for a high paying trade school career. A rotary drill operator carries out the physical aspects of a drilling plan that has been created by a petroleum engineer. Rotary drill operators are responsible for operating the equipment that digs the wells and removes oil and gas samples for testing. They also need help prepare for the drilling by doing such things as measuring dimensions and monitoring pressure gauges. Any experience in the oil or gas industry makes it even easier to enter this field.
6. Crane Operator
A great choice for a high paying, secure job with just a trade school degree is a crane operator. A crane operator works with any of the three types of cranes – boom truck, tower cranes, and mobile cranes. They are responsible for controlling the crane with levers, wheels, or foot pedals to lift, move, or place materials, and they often need to assemble the crane on site before controlling it. Cranes are used regularly in warehouses and construction sites, and are also often used on mountains and in underground or surface mining companies. Most states require a renewal of the certification to operate cranes every five years.
A boilermaker is a tradesperson who has the job of manufacturing, installing, and maintaining boilers, tanks, closed vats, and other large vessels containing liquids and gasses. This job requires both stamina and strength, as a boilermaker must be on his feet for long periods of time, as well as use a variety of tools to both make the boilers and to maintain them. This trade school program is a smart option, as it offers competitive pay, as well as the opportunity to move into supervising positions with even higher pay scale options.
4. Aircraft Mechanic
A good, high-paying profession to enter with just a trade school degree is that of aircraft mechanics. An aircraft maintenance technician is responsible for repairing airplanes and helicopters, as well as performing their scheduled maintenance. They are also responsible for the aircraft inspections that federal agencies require. Those entering the field have the option to either go to trade school, or enter the field directly and receive intensive on-the-job training. FAA certified aircraft mechanics are presently in high demand.
3. Pile-Driver Operator
One of the first workers on any new construction site is a pile-driver operator, responsible for operating pile drivers. Using foot and hand levers, a pile-driver operator is responsible for driving pilings that stabilize the site for excavations and construction. Additionally, they operate the machinery that hammers piles into the ground to support foundations, bridges, and piers. They are also responsible for inspecting, cleaning, and refilling this heavy equipment. It is expected that the demand for pile driver operators will be growing much faster than the average field, making it a wise option when choosing a high paying trade program.
2. Avionics Technician
An avionics technician is a great option for a high paying trade school program. Avionics technicians have the important job of installing, inspecting, maintaining, and repairing an aircraft’s electronics. This could include radio communication equipment, radar or navigational systems, autopilot, or even entertainment systems. Precision is essential for this field, as each system must work properly to not interfere with the others. An avionics Technician also has the opportunity to be promoted to lead mechanic or lead inspector, especially when their trade school degree is paired with an Inspection Authorization.
1. Construction Management
Although construction managers often have a bachelor’s degree to assist them in their field, it is quite possible to rise to the position with only trade school experience. In addition to the obvious pathway of choosing a construction management program at a trade school, it is also a viable option to start as a carpenter, glazier, or another relevant tradesman, and from there rise to the rank of construction manager. Considerable work experience is arguably the most important credential for construction management, so there are a number of trade related fields which could ultimately lead to this lucrative position.
This concludes our ranking of the highest paying trade school programs.