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Top 10 Highest Paying Skilled Trades Careers

Top 10 Highest Paying Skilled Trades Careers

Posted by Matt Krak

July 13, 2021

Pro technician in hard hat on the phone

More than ever, tradespeople are in high demand. There is a massive shortage in skilled technicians across the country, and employers have felt it. Many industries are experiencing a labor shock, causing wages in these fields to explode as companies hope to entice new workers to answer the call. According to Adecco, “62% of firms are struggling to fill skilled trade positions.” The reason? The generation that dominated the field for years is finally retiring: Baby Boomers. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the average age of a plumber is 56, and that means many jobs in that industry will be opening quickly.

Currently vocational programs, career technical education programs, and trade schools are hoping to inspire the next generation of trade workers to enter the workforce, and with meteoric rises in pay across the nation, we hope you're inspired too.

To make it help you determine what industries may be appealing to you, we’ve broken down the top paying trade careers available to students today.

1. Elevator and Escalator Installer / Repairer

Job description: An Elevator and Escalator Repair Technician will oversee the installation of elevators, mechanical walkways, and escalators. This type of repair tech is responsible for responding to mechanical failures and system malfunctions, as well as installing and testing other electrical systems.

Average base pay: $42.57 per hour

Top ten percent earn annually: $128,500 or more

Job outlook (2019-2029): 7% (Much higher than average)

2. Boilermaker

Job description: Boilermakers assemble, install, maintain, and repair boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gases

Average base pay: $31.42 per hour

Top ten percent earn: $99,920 annually

Job outlook (2019-2029): 1% (Below average) 

3. Construction / Building Inspector

Job description: Construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications. They determine the structural soundness of buildings and construction projects by inspecting and assessing their structural quality.

Average base pay: $30.22 per hour

Top ten percent earn annually: $101,170 or more

Job outlook (2019-2029): 3% (About as fast as average)

4. Electrician

Job description: An electrician is responsible for installing, maintaining, and troubleshooting electrical systems for both residential and commercial clients. You’ll need to be able to diagnose and repair electrical wiring problems in a variety of homes and commercial buildings, such as outlets, lighting, servers, and electronic equipment connections and have extensive knowledge of different types of electrical networks.

Average base pay: $27.36 per hour

Top ten percent earn annually: $98,720 or more

Job outlook (2019-2029): 8% (Much higher than average)

5. Plumber

Job description: Plumbers, Install, repair, and maintain pipes, valves, fittings, drainage systems, and fixtures in commercial and residential buildings. When following general blueprints in construction, they collaborate heavily with other construction professionals. 

Average base pay: $27.08 per hour

Top ten percent earn annually: $98,990 or more

Job outlook (2019-2029): 4% (As fast as average) 

6. IT Technician

Job description: As an IT Technician you will be required to know how to diagnose and repair hardware or software problems within homes / businesses. Outside of installing and configuring computer hardware, you’ll also provide IT support for the organization. This line of work will routinely have you interacting with various consumers, departments, and other support staff to implement IT solutions effectively. 

Average base pay: $26.69 per hour

Top ten percent earn annually: $110,450 or more

Job outlook (2019-2029): 8% (Much higher than average)

7. HVAC Technician

Job description: An HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) Technician installs and repairs various air quality systems. Their main duties include locating and diagnosing maintenance problems on equipment, conducting warranty services and quickly performing emergency repairs on certain equipment items.

Average base pay: $24.32 per hour

Top ten percent earn annually: $80,820 or more

Job outlook (2019-2029): 4% (As fast as average) 

8. Carpenters

Job description: Carpenters are responsible for installing foundations, floors, walls, ceilings, and roofs using a variety of materials, such as wood, steel, concrete, etc. As a professional carpenter, you’ll be skilled in building interior and exterior structures, alongside knowing how to read blueprints, sketches, or building plans to prepare project layout and determine dimensions and materials required.

Average base pay: $23.81 per hour

Top ten percent earn annually: $87,410 or more

Job outlook (2019-2029): 0% (Below average) 

9. Welders

Job description: A Welder (Brazer) assembles pieces of metal together and repairs components using heavy machinery that emit high heat, shaping the metal as it melts. Some of their duties involve reviewing blueprints, cutting metal into particular pieces, and smoothing molten metal to remove creases.

Average base pay: $21.25 per hour

Top ten percent earn annually: $66,250 or more

Job outlook (2019-2029): 3% (About as fast as average)

10. Automotive Service Technicians 

Job description: An Automotive Service Tech performs repairs and maintenance on customer vehicles. This job requires you to identify problems with vehicles using diagnostic equipment, explain automotive procedures to customers with clear communication, and plan future procedures using charts, manuals and other experience.

Average base pay: $21.18 per hour

Top ten percent earn annually: $71,940 or more

Job outlook (2019-2029): -4% (Below average)

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