1. Blog
  2. Career
  3. 13 of the highest-paying trade jobs
Written by Charlotte GraingerCharlotte Grainger

13 of the highest-paying trade jobs

20 min read
13 of the highest-paying trade jobs
Artwork by:Varya Schuka
Money isn’t everything. However, when you’re deciding what career path to take, you have to consider the pay. We’ve got you covered. In this guide, we will take a look at some of the highest-paying trade jobs and why you should pursue them.

Dedicating yourself to a highly-specialized skill pays off — literally! 

Money makes the world go around. So, before you choose to pursue a career, you need to know how much you’ll get paid. Trade jobs — in which you work with your hands — may be the way to go. Yes, you can earn a lot in these technical positions. 

Ahead of undertaking your training, it pays to know the facts. Understanding the trades that make the most money is a good place to start. That way, you can decide whether a certain career pathway is worth your time, energy, and hard work before you get started. 

Here at Resume.io, we’ve got all the information you need. We offer resume writing guides for more than 350 professions, an easy-to-use resume builder, and loads of field-tested templates. Empowering your job search has never been easier. Ready to supercharge your career? Within this blog post, we will cover the following topics: 

  • The trade jobs that pay the most in the United States
  • The statistical gender gap in trade and manual jobs
  • What skills you will need for each trade job on the list
  • The best state to live in as a qualified tradesperson.

List of the best paying trade jobs

Not sure what career path to take? Don’t panic. If you’re thinking of getting into a trade, there are plenty of options. But which will your bank balance thank you for? Learning what the best paying trade jobs are may inform this big decision. 

Statistical insight

The gender gap in trade careers

There is a real gender gap in traditional trade jobs. A massive 96% of tradespeople are men with only 4% of women entering the mainstream trade sector.

Additionally, women tend to earn less than men when they take on trade roles. In 2021, women in trade jobs earned just 92% of the salaries their male counterparts received. 

‘Trade’ is an umbrella term that can be applied to a variety of roles. Often enough, you will find yourself working with your hands in these positions. Trades generally require you to undertake advanced, role-specific training before you can work within them. 

Want to dip your toes into the world of trade? We have you covered. Let’s take a brief look at 13 of the highest-paying trade jobs, the skills you need, and the average salaries.

1. Construction manager 

Construction managers oversee construction projects of all sizes. To gain this high paying trade job, you may need to have worked in the industry for a matter of years. You can expect to land this role after working in construction for between three and five years. 

You will be responsible for every step of the construction process. That means overseeing everything from the plan and schedule to the budget and safety concerns. The role comes with a high level of responsibility. However, as you will see the pay grade reflects that.

What skills do you need?

  • Math expertise
  • Business management
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Leadership skills

How much will you earn?

The average salary for a construction manager in the US is $117,355, according to Salary.com. Of course, your annual pay will depend on your experience, training, and the qualifications you bring to the role. You may be able to earn more if you are self-employed.

Highest-paying jobs with the most and least competition
Related article
Highest-paying jobs with the most and least competition

Finding a job can be tricky, especially one that pays well. If you're trying to increase your chances of finding that high paying role then it helps to know what you're up against. Resume.io has scoured 1000's of job ads to discover which have the most (and least) competition.

2. Electrician

Electricians are highly-qualified tradespeople who maintain electrical systems for buildings. You may find yourself installing, testing, and repairing electrical devices and equipment. Of course, your main aim will be to ensure that everything is fitted safely. Since the world is changing, you may delve into the realms of renewable energy and fiber-optics. 

What skills do you need?

  • Problem-solving
  • Machine know-how
  • Eye for detail
  • Math knowledge
  • Technical skills

How much will you earn?

Fully-qualified electricians can expect to make around $52,323 per year, according to Salary.com. The salary you can demand will depend on your experience, but you can expect it to be between $45,615 and $60,735. You may also charge an hourly rate.  

3. Plumber 

Plumbers are responsible for maintaining the water systems of buildings. Essentially, that means they take care of all the piping, showers, sinks, toilets, and items that use water. In some cases, these tradespeople will also manage gas and central heating systems. 

What skills do you need?

  • Collaboration
  • Knowledge of construction
  • Math expertise
  • Customer service
  • Initiative

How much will you earn?

Plumbers earn reasonably well. Back in 2020, US News reported that plumbers make an average of $56,330 per year. The highest-paid 25% of plumbers made as much as $75,370, while the lowest-paid 25% made around $42,330 each year. 

4. Dental hygienists 

Directly reporting to the dentist, a dental hygienist uses a variety of instruments to offer dental cleaning. These professionals may also carry out some preliminary checks to determine what type of treatment a patient needs. It doesn’t end there. The residing dental hygienist may also give patients advice on their daily oral hygiene regime. 

What skills do you need?

  • Bedside manner
  • Oral hygiene knowledge
  • Good eyesight
  • Communication skills
  • Manual dexterity

How much will you earn?

Dental hygienists earn an average of $78,091 a year, according to Salary.com. That makes this role one of the highest-paid trade jobs. What’s more, as you gain experience in the healthcare and dental industry, you can start to demand a higher salary. 

5. Building inspectors 

Building inspectors play a vital role in our everyday health and safety. These professionals determine the structural quality of constructions while also assessing whether there are any risks. Ensuring that constructions are safe for use is their number one priority. As such, a savvy building inspector will carry out assessment and inspections on command.

What skills do you need?

  • Construction knowledge
  • Decision-making
  • Eye for detail
  • Communication
  • Analytical mind

How much will you earn?

Payscale reports that building inspectors earn an average of $54,643 each year. However, at the top end of the scale, you could find yourself earning as much as $84,000. If you decide to become self-employed or run a business, you can also dictate your own rates. 

6. Respiratory therapists 

Respiratory therapists (RT) are qualified medical professionals who have advanced knowledge of the latest equipment. It is a demanding career. To excel in this field, you will need a technological brain and a willingness to keep learning. Using high-end tech, you will diagnose and treat patients with pulmonary disorders while carrying out other duties. 

What skills do you need?

  • Medical knowledge
  • Bedside manner
  • Technological mind
  • Good management
  • Communication

How much will you earn?

Respiratory therapists can expect to make an average of $72,400 per year, according to Salary.com. The best-paid 25% of therapists earn around $78,749 while the lowest-paid 25% make $65,819. The more certificates you earn, the higher your wage will be.

10 dream jobs – and how to find yours
Related article
10 dream jobs – and how to find yours

Dream jobs do come true! With the right combination of hard work and patience, you can actually be paid to do what you love. In this blog, we’ll list the top 10 most common dream jobs and offer resources on how to land them.

7. Radiation therapists 

Next up, radiation therapists are allied health professionals. These workers collaborate with other experts in the field to offer radiotherapy, most often to cancer patients. Needless to say, this is a highly-advanced career. You will need to have an in-depth understanding of radiation oncology and the equipment needed to offer this specific treatment type. 

What skills do you need?

  • Technological know-how
  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical mind
  • Time management
  • Communication

How much will you earn?

These health professionals earn an average of $82,790 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Should you work on an hourly rate, you can expect around $39.80 per hour. What’s more, opportunities are expected to grow 9% from 2020 to 2030.

8. Landscape designer 

Do you have naturally green fingers and an eye for detail? The rich world of landscape design is calling your name. Landscape designers plan, design, manage, and transform outdoor areas. You may work on residential gardens or even large commercial properties.

What skills do you need?

  • Eye for detail
  • Design acumen
  • Planning
  • Time management
  • Budget management

How much will you earn?

The average salary for a landscape designer is $51,800, according to a report from Payscale. Keep in mind that you may earn more based on annual bonuses and tips you get from satisfied customers. Entry-level workers can expect around $48,067 each year.  

9. Aircraft technicians

As the name suggests, aircraft technicians work on airplanes. These tradespeople repair equipment, ensure that all of the systems are working, and help with in-air refueling. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is a quick-moving job. To succeed in this career path, you will need to have an analytical mind, fast reflexes, and a willingness to learn.

What skills do you need?

  • Technical know-how
  • Dexterity
  • Problem-solving
  • Teamwork
  • Stamina

How much will you earn?

Aircraft technicians earn an average of $48,750, according to statistics from Talent.com. At the low-end of the payscale you can expect to earn around $35,048 while at the high-end, you may make $67,610. The more experience that you gain in this fast-paced industry, the more likely you are to get a decent annual salary. Work your way up! 

57 jobs dominated by women with the biggest gender pay gap
Related article
57 jobs dominated by women with the biggest gender pay gap

Data from the House of Commons Library shows that on average women earn 17,3% less than men as of April 2019. We analyzed data from the ONS to find jobs that are dominated by women, but pay men more.

10. Ultrasonographers

Are you ready to work in an exciting medical field? Ultrasonographers utilize imaging equipment to create ultrasound readings. The advanced technology identifies soundwaves and uses them to create each image. It is an extremely technical role. If you want to work in this particular career, you will need to first gain a high-level of training and expertise. 

What skills do you need?

  • Medical knowledge
  • Technological mind
  • Analytical skills
  • Problem solving
  • Communication

How much will you earn?

Ultrasonographers — or ultrasound technicians — can expect to earn an average salary of $77,740 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you work on an hourly rate, your pay will be around the $38.79 mark. The more years you spend training, gaining certification, and getting experience, the higher your overall salary is likely to be.

11. Elevator and Escalator Repairers

Elevator and escalator repairers do exactly what their job title says. When either an elevator or escalator is broken, a company calls in these professionals to repair them. Since these are large pieces of high-end equipment, the position suits individuals who have a flair for tech. 

What skills do you need?

  • Technological know-how
  • Physical strength
  • Stamina
  • Mechanical skills
  • Problem-solving

How much will you earn?

You need specific training to enter this field. However, your hard work will literally pay off. The average annual wage for an elevator or escalator repairer is $76,071, according to Salary.com. You can demand around $37 per hour when you are fully-qualified. You may choose to be an independent contractor or work for a larger-scale repairs company.   

12. IT support specialist

Believe it or not, there’s more to being an IT support specialis t than asking “Have you tried switching it off and on again?” These esteemed professionals know the ins and outs of the technological world. Often enough, they will work in an IT department and offer on-hand services to a company. You need to be ready to answer any queries that should come up. 

What skills do you need?

  • IT knowledge
  • Excellent communication
  • Willingness to learn
  • Collaboration or teamwork
  • Attention to detail

How much will you earn?

Geeking out about technology pays better than you might expect! The average annual salary for an IT support specialist role is $51,208, according to Payscale. The outlook is positive too. When you have climbed the career ladder, you can earn up to $70,000. After working in this career for a matter of years, you may be able to run your own department. 

13. Real estate appraiser

Real estate appraisers are central to the property market. These professionals survey properties — both commercial and residential — and decide how much they are worth. That’s a whole load of power in one person’s hands. To get the job right, you will need to know how to create a detailed analysis of a building, its features, and any potential risks.

What skills do you need?

  • Analytical mind
  • Attention to detail
  • Report making
  • Understanding of construction
  • Communication

How much will you earn?

Real estate appraiser is one of the highest-paying trade jobs. When you have trained and started working in this field, you can earn an average annual salary of $106,585, according to Salary.com. At the top end of the scale, you could earn a massive salary of ​​$136,546 each year. Consider whether this is the right career path for you and your bank balance.   

Is it time for a career change? What to do if it is
Related article
Is it time for a career change? What to do if it is

If you’re tired, bored or unfulfilled at work, it might be time for a career change. This post will help you decide if time’s up on your current job and how to make a positive career change.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about top paying trade jobs

Do you have a burning question on your mind? Have we missed something that you’re desperate to know more about? Never fear. As always, we’ve got your back. Here are few of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers surrounding the world of trade: 

Can you make good money in the trades?

The short answer is yes. Trade jobs tend to be highly-specialized. That means that you will need vocational training to pursue them and the pay reflects that. You can expect to make a good annual salary when you work with your hands. Here we have covered some of the highest-paying trade jobs. However, you may want to do your own research too. 

What is the best state for tradespeople?

Thinking of relocating? You might want to consider the Lone Star State. According to a recent report from Zippia, Texas is the best state for tradespeople to live in. The average annual wage for all tradespeople in that region is $43,386, the highest in the US.

What is the best trade to go into?

If you’re thinking of learning a trade and don’t know where to start, consider your own skill-set . What do you have to bring to the table? Check out the skills section for each of the professions we have highlighted here for inspiration. You may also find that it’s helpful to speak to a career advisor. That way, you can get the expert insights you’re looking for. 

Key takeaways

1. You can earn well when you work with your hands. Within this guide, we have covered some of the highest-paying trade jobs in the United States. 

2. There are many excellent opportunities. Well-paid trade jobs vary from sector to sector. 

3. You should consider the skills you already have before choosing a trade career path.

Build your resume in 15 minutes
Build your resume in 15 minutes
Use professional field-tested resume templates that follow the exact ‘resume rules’ employers look for.
Create My Resume
Build your resume in 15 minutes
Build your resume in 15 minutes
Use professional field-tested resume templates that follow the exact ‘resume rules’ employers look for.
Create My Resume
Share this article
Keep reading
Job Interview12 min read
How to ace your customer service job interview
How to ace your customer service job interview
Cover Letter17 min read
How to write an initial message to a hiring manager (with examples)
How to write an initial message to a hiring manager (with examples)
Job Interview13 min read
Sell me this pen: How to answer one of the toughest interview questions
Sell me this pen: How to answer one of the toughest interview questions
Job Interview27 min read
Top 10 phone interview questions
Top 10 phone & video interview questions
Browse All
This website uses cookies to improve user experience and perform analytics and marketing. By using our website, you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Cookie Policy and Privacy Policy.
Accept Cookies