Average Salary for Trade Jobs by State

By Emma Diehl · March 02, 2023 · 6 minute read

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Average Salary for Trade Jobs by State

As student debt reaches an all-time high and automation is shaking up many industries, more and more people are turning to the trades. With the benefit of less education debt, and a lower likelihood of replacement by machines, a job in the trades holds out hope for a steady salary and job security.

But what’s the average pay, and how does it vary state by state? Read on to find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of trade jobs.

What Is a Trade Job?

A trade job is typically a hands-on role that doesn’t require a college degree. Instead, tradespeople gain experience in a specialty program or through training on the job.

Many think of a trade job in terms of plumbing or construction, but trade jobs also encompass roles such as pilot and real estate broker.

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Pros and Cons of a Trade Job

Like any job, working in a trade comes with a fair share of benefits and drawbacks.

Pros include:

•   Cost of education. Since most trades don’t require a four-year degree, tradespeople may be less likely to take on student loan debt before beginning their career.

•   Security. Trades require special knowledge and experience, and are less likely to be automated. The skilled labor required for many trades jobs promises security down the line.

Cons of a trade job are:

•   Physical toll. Many, but not all, trades jobs require strength and mobility, which can take a toll over time. Trade jobs often require employees to be out in the field, as opposed to working from home. Demanding construction or maintenance jobs can lead to injury and discomfort if you aren’t careful.

•   Safety. Some trades jobs are more dangerous than others. Mistakes on the job can lead to serious bodily trauma.

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Average Salary for Trade Jobs by State

Trade jobs span multiple industries and skill sets, which lead to a wide variation in average pay. Some may be salaried, while others are hourly, and each will have different demands. Here is the average salary for trade jobs by state, courtesy of Zip Recruiter.


Average Salary for Trade Jobs

Alabama $47,789
Alaska $54,608
Arizona $54,669
Arkansas $58,145
California $58,024
Colorado $60,278
Connecticut $54,843
Delaware $59,239
Florida $46,687
Georgia $43,997
Hawaii $57,084
Idaho $58,582
Illinois $54,797
Indiana $53,052
Iowa $50,076
Kansas $48,308
Kentucky $60,941
Louisiana $42,867
Maine $54,984
Maryland $63,100
Massachusetts $57,798
Michigan $56,481
Minnesota $53,738
Mississippi $47,177
Missouri $54,950
Montana $53,293
Nebraska $59,378
Nevada $56,714
New Hampshire $58,194
New Jersey $53,543
New Mexico $48,277
New York $62,292
North Carolina $49,337
North Dakota $53,034
Ohio $50,555
Oklahoma $56,391
Oregon $54,008
Pennsylvania $50,812
Rhode Island $54,737
South Carolina $58,942
South Dakota $50,040
Tennessee $55,804
Texas $52,230
Utah $48,905
Vermont $56,463
Virginia $61,131
Washington $64,626
West Virginia $52,451
Wisconsin $50,719
Wyoming $$54,579

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10 Top High Paying Trade Jobs

Trade jobs usually don’t require a four-year degree, but many can net a coveted $100,000 salary. Here are the top 10 highest paying trade jobs by median annual salary, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

1. Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers

Median Annual Salary: $105,580

Job Growth Outlook (10-year): 3.52%

Job Description: Coordinate the shipping, storage, and transportation of materials based on business or government regulation. According to the BLS, this is the trade that makes the most money.

Education Requirements: High school diploma

2. Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

Median Annual Salary: $104,260

Job Growth Outlook (10-year): -26.8%

Job Description: Operate and monitor nuclear power systems.

Education Requirements: High school diploma

3. Elevator Mechanic

Median Annual Salary: $97,860

Job Growth Outlook (10-year): 2.9%

Job Description: Install, maintain, and repair elevator and escalator systems.

Education Requirements: High school diploma

4. Radiation Therapist

Median Annual Salary: $82,790

Job Growth Outlook (2020-2030): 6.3%

Job Description: Monitor and distribute radiation therapy to patients with cancer or other diseases. Because of frequent interaction with patients, this is not a job for antisocial people.

Education Requirements: Associate degree

5. Subway and Streetcar Operator

Median Annual Salary: $81,180

Job Growth Outlook (10-year): 3.5%

Job Description: Drive public transport systems including street cars and subway lines. Roles can include handling cash fares. Because these roles don’t come with many physical demands, they could be a good option for steady work after retirement.

Education Requirements: High school diploma

6. Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Median Annual Salary: $78,760

Job Growth Outlook (10-year): 1.7%

Job Description: Provide radiation imaging or treatment to patients. This is one of a handful of high-paying medical jobs that don’t require a four-year degree, much less medical school

Education Requirements: Associate degree

7. Gas Plant Operator

Median Annual Salary: $77,850

Job Growth Outlook (10-year): -9%

Job Description: Control pipelines and distribution of gas from utility companies.

Education Requirements: High school diploma

8. Dental Hygienist

Median Annual Salary: $77,810

Job Growth Outlook (10-year): 8.9%

Job Description: Examine dental patients and administer oral hygiene, including routine cleanings.

Education Requirements: Associate degree

9. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Cardiovascular Technologist and Technician

Median Annual Salary: $75,380

Job Growth Outlook (10-year): 10%

Job Description: Operate medical equipment to create images or complete medical testing.

Education Requirements: Associate degree

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10. Electrical Line Installer and Repairer

Median Annual Salary: $78,310

Job Growth Outlook (10-year): 3.2%

Job Description: Install, maintain, and repair electrical systems, including poles, as well as transmission towers.

Education Requirements: High school diploma

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The Takeaway

Landing a job with a competitive salary doesn’t necessarily require a college degree. Though the average pay for trade jobs will vary by role and location, they can lead to rewarding careers with good job security. The ten highest paying trade jobs are in a range of industries, from medicine to transportation to nuclear power.

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What is the highest-paying trade job?

The highest-paying trade job is a power plant operator, with an average annual salary of $103,000. This shift work requires operators to monitor the status of power plants, ensuring everything runs smoothly. This role typically requires a high school diploma, certification, and on-the-job training.

What are the easiest high paying trades?

The easiest high paying trade will vary based on an individual’s strengths. But some trade jobs have a lower barrier to entry than others. That, coupled with a high predicted job growth rate, could make them easier roles to be hired into.

The field of ultrasound technology is in demand, with a predicted 19% growth rate in the next decade. Paying $62,500 annually on average, the role requires a certificate and training, but not a bachelor’s degree.

Which trade is in highest demand?

Solar energy installation is growing rapidly, and installers need only technical training to qualify. The role pays $37,000 on average a year, and the demand is expected to explode by over 50% in the next ten years. Because the job entails working with machinery alone or with a small crew, this could also be an attractive job for introverts — as long as they have no fear of heights.

Photo credit: iStock/Portra

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