Many people believe that you require a college degree to start a great career and be successful in life. Some professions even require an undergraduate degree as the entry-level qualification with master’s degree and doctorate degrees getting more attention.
However, this notion is not entirely true. You can start and build a successful career from other jobs, too.
Skilled trade jobs offer the same benefits as many white-collar jobs and are great career paths to pursue.
The best trade jobs not only pay well, but you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on college tuition or spend years in school to start your career.
Why You Should Learn a Skilled Trade
There are many reasons why you should consider a career in the skilled trades, including:
1. Gain Immediate Experience
For the people who have realized that classroom work isn’t for them, a skilled trade is a great substitute. If you prefer learning on the job instead of waiting for years to get into the so-called real world, this career path does that for you.
When you’re in the skilled trades, you get to learn on the job. You can earn certifications and licenses through an apprenticeship program thanks to this on-the-job training.
You won’t have to compete for unpaid internships to gain practical experience because you’re already learning from a professional journeyman (or journeywoman) in the field.
2. The Constant Demand for Tradespeople
In a world where most people are rushing to get a college or a university degree to earn a white-collar job and the older generation retiring, there is a greater need for people with skills.
If you go to a community college or trade school to learn a trade, you will stand out in the job market. There is always a constant need and high demand for occupations like carpenters, welders, metal fabricators, and other laborers.
3. You Get to do What You’re Good At
Most graduates will get their college degrees and end up working in fields they didn’t specialize in. This is not the case with skilled trade careers. You will always find good jobs in the field you have trained for and have experience in.
4. You Get Paid for Your Skills
When you’re a tradesperson, you’re guaranteed good pay since it’s the quality of your job and experience that makes you more valuable.
If you’re a master at your trade, you have the leverage to ask for higher pay. Entry-level trades jobs have an average salary of about $30,000 but experienced workers make over 6-figures.
7 of the Best Trade Jobs That Also Pay Well
The best trade jobs are also some of the highest-paying ones. Here are a few you should know about if you want to learn a trade.
(Salary information used in this article has been sourced from Indeed.)
1. Landscape Designer
A landscape designer works with homeowners to get them the garden design of their choice, recommend the right trees for a given landscape, and level the outdoor terrains.
Depending on the location you’re working on, take the area’s weather and climate into consideration. Areas with drier climates are often fitted with sculptures, pebbles, and rocks, while wet areas are fitted with trees and other vegetation.
The job duties of a landscape designer revolve around researching the compositions of given landscapes and advising homeowners on maintaining their residential spaces.
A landscape designer can earn up to $57,000 a year, while Landscape Architects earn closer to $70,000.
2. HVAC Technician
When you’re an HVAC technician, your job duties entail installing, repairing, and maintaining heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment. Being an HVAC technician will enable you to take part in services that improve homes and businesses’ overall well-being and comfort.
You could be tasked with installing heat pumps, ductless or geothermal heating, and cooling equipment in homes.
HVAC technicians hourly pay is about $23.35 an hour (plus overtime), but wages can be over $50 per hour.
3. Home Inspector
A home inspector is responsible for inspecting newly built or old homes for any plumbing, electrical or structural faults. When you’re a home inspector, your job duties include checking for any wall cracks, leaking gas, and faults with the roofing, flooring, or garage door malfunctions and fixing them for your clients.
Home inspectors earn a salary over $50,000 per year, but also earn an additional $32,000 in commission on average.
Plumbers have a variety of job duties to their name. A plumber often fixes any pipe bursts, leakages, or clogged sinks and drains. To be a plumber, however, you need to have body strength because you’ll have to lift a lot of equipment and pipe systems.
Plumbers stand to earn about $24.50 per hour, with the highest earners making over $60 per hour.
Every home and company needs electrical services. When you’re an electrician, some of your primary duties involve installing electrical devices for homes, inspecting for any faults with the wiring systems or electrical devices, and regulating any excessive or low power supply to homes.
Electricians make about $25 an hour on average, with another $8,100 per year in overtime.
6. Licensed Practical Nurse
There is some discrepancy as to whether practical nursing is considered a “trade” or not. Since many career colleges or vocational schools offer training programs for healthcare jobs, including lab technicians, dental assistants, dental hygienists, and licensed practical nurses (or licensed vocational nurses), it meets a lot of the criteria of a skilled trades job.
When you’re a licensed practical nurse, you work under the supervision of doctors and registered nurses. Your job is to mainly take care of patients and give reports to the doctors and registered nurses. Some of your job duties will entail feeding patients, bathing them, taking their vital signs, and ensuring that the wards are clean.
A licensed practical nurse can work in a hospital, nursing home, or any other medical facility and earn an average pay of $27 per hour (plus overtime), depending on the hospital and years of experience.
7. Construction Manager
Construction managers are some of the most important people in the construction sector. A construction manager is required to build a house or construct roads or other structures.
They assess and analyze all the materials and workforce needed to complete a particular construction project. It’s also the duty of a construction manager to hire the needed construction workers and get the permits for these construction projects.
An average construction manager makes $45 an hour, but some companies at the top end pay over $130 an hour!
Check out 33 of the Best Night Shift Jobs for more trades job ideas (if you don’t mind working at night)!
Why Skilled Trades Are a Smart Career Path to Take
There are many benefits that you can get from working skilled trades jobs. They include:
Less Time in School
It takes a shorter time to learn a trade than going for the traditional four-year degree. You can complete the training to become a skilled trader soon after high school in about six months to two years.
Unlike a bachelor’s degree that can cost you over $150,000 to complete, trade schools cost a lot less than that. It might end up costing you about $30,000 for the full training program for any of the skilled trades.
This is certainly manageable for many people, and it means you won’t have to worry about paying back your student loan debt for years.
Even when you’re training for the job, most skilled trades pay you for your time and effort. Since you’ll be trained by a professional, they hire you for some of the projects they’re working on to perfect your skills.
Availability of Jobs
Tradespeople are rarely out of work because they have the necessary skills to keep our daily lives running. There are millions of job openings waiting to be filled by skilled workers every year.
Better Job Security
Many office jobs are prone to outsourcing, no matter the field. Whether you’re in the technology sector or work a customer services job, you can be replaced anytime the need arises.
For skilled trades jobs, it’s tough for people to replace you if you’re good at what you do. This is because you have a hands-on job that is defined by skills and experience. How skilled you are in a particular job varies from the next person.
Easier to Start Your Own Business
When you’re skilled, you can always start your own business in the same field and be your own boss. For example, if you’re a plumber, you might start your own plumbing company and hire people to work for you.
Not only will this help your career grow, but being a successful business owner can also make your income grow, too.
Opportunities for Women
Unfortunately, systemic barriers still exist for women entering the male-dominated trades, but there has been a lot of progress made to address and overcome these issues.
More women are choosing careers in the trades thanks to the increase in representation, more funding supports through scholarships or grants for women, and by improving health & safety and discrimination policies. This has brought a much-needed balance in the job market.
If you want a career that will not take a lot of time or money to start, learn a trade. It will be a great source of personal and professional growth, where you can have a very successful career. You won’t regret it!
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.