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25 High-Paying Trade Jobs in Demand for 2022

By Anil Sharma · July 18, 2022 · 8 minute read

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25 High-Paying Trade Jobs in Demand for 2022

With the cost of higher education out of reach for many, more young people are flocking to high-paying trade jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree. Many of these jobs not only pay well, they are typically in high demand through unpredictable job markets or economic conditions.

What Is a Trade Job?

A trade job is a profession that doesn’t require a college degree, but rather a specialized skill or skill set obtained through a trade school or on-the-job experience and training. Popular trade jobs include construction managers, technicians, dental hygienists, mechanics, commercial pilots, and real estate brokers.

Pros of a Skilled Trade Job

A skilled trade job can be an attractive career path for a couple of reasons:

Educational Requirements

Unlike careers that require a college degree, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take four years to complete, trade jobs can often be obtained with less than two years of specialized education and at a fraction of the cost. Some trade jobs do not require any supplemental education at all, allowing trade workers to earn a living without being saddled by any student loan debt.

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Job Security

Many trade jobs are in high demand due to the specialized knowledge and skilled physical labor needed to perform them. They are also potentially at lower risk of outsourcing or automation because they require a physically present human.

Cons of a Skilled Trade Job

On the other hand, there are negative connotations with some trade jobs, including:

Physically Demanding

Trade jobs that involve a lot of labor, like HVAC technicians, construction workers, and mechanics can take a physical toll over the course of a long career.

Potentially Dangerous

Certain trade jobs have high injury and mortality rates, particularly ones that involve the operation of heavy machinery or working in hazardous environments.

25 Trade Jobs That Make the Most Money

Despite conventional wisdom that a bachelor’s or master’s degree is required to earn a good salary, trade jobs can pay very well. In fact, some of the highest-paying jobs in certain states are skilled trades.

Here are 25 of the highest-paying trade jobs in 2022, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

1. Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Manager

•   2021 Median Annual Salary: $98,230

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; 5+ years of work experience

•   Job Description: Supervising and coordinating the transportation, storage, testing, and shipping of materials or products in accordance with government regulations.

•   Duties:

◦   Supervising workers involved in receiving or shipping

◦   Inspecting warehouse and equipment safety

◦   Analyzing logistics and collaborating with other departments

2. Elevator/Escalator Installers & Repairer

•   2021 Median Annual Salary: $97,860

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; apprenticeship; license (certain states)

•   Job Description: Assemble, install, maintain, and fix elevators, escalators, chairlifts and other moving walkways and equipment. In addition to understanding the mechanics and components of each system, they are typically involved in the physical repair or replacement of parts, as well as testing equipment to ensure it meets specifications.

•   Duties:

◦   Assembling elevators, escalators, and similar units

◦   Conducting preventative maintenance and inspections

◦   Maintaining service records

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3. Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

•   2021 Median Annual Salary: $94,790

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; long-term on-the-job training; U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission license

•   Job Description: Responsible for controlling and maintaining the systems that generate and distribute power to businesses, homes, or factories. This can include electricity generated through gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, or solar energy.

•   Duties:

◦   Monitoring voltage and electricity grids

◦   Adjusting control rods and electricity output

◦   Recording systems data

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4. Radiation Therapist

•   2021 Median Annual Salary: $82,790

•   Requirements: Associate degree (preferred) or certificate; state and national license

•   Job Description: Administer radiation therapy to patients with cancer and other illnesses.

•   Duties:

◦   Explain treatment plans to patients

◦   Calibrate and operate radiation machinery

◦   Monitor patient and keep records of treatment

5. Subway and Streetcar Operator

•   2021 Median Annual Salary: $81,180

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; moderate on-the-job training; local transit training program (varies by location)

•   Job Description: Operate subways and aboveground street cars, ensuring passengers safely move from one location to another.

•   Duties:

◦   Operate train controls

◦   Make announcements and provide verbal directions to passengers

◦   Ensure overall passenger safety

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6. Nuclear Medicine Technologist

•   2021 Median Annual Salary: $78,760

•   Requirements: Associate degree from an accredited nuclear medicine technology program; state license; long-term on-the-job training

•   Job Description: Prepare and administer radioactive drugs for imaging or treatment, typically within hospitals, medical labs, and care centers.

•   Duties:

◦   Explain medical procedures to patients

◦   Prep and administer drugs to patients

◦   Maintain and operate imaging equipment

7. Gas Plant Operator

•   2021 Median Annual Salary: $77,850

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; long-term on-the-job training

•   Job Description: Oversee the day-to-day operations of industrial power plants used by utilities, oil and gas, and manufacturing companies.

•   Duties:

◦   Maintaining equipment and machinery

◦   Ensuring compliance with safety and regulatory standards

◦   Supervising employees and contractors at the plant

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8. Dental Hygienist

•   2021 Median Annual Salary: $77,810

•   Education Requirements: Associate degree; state license

•   Job Description: Examine patients for oral diseases and provide preventative care and education about oral hygiene.

•   Duties:

◦   Taking dental x-rays

◦   Assisting dentists in providing teeth cleaning and plaque removal

◦   Educating patients about oral hygiene techniques

9. Sonography Technician

•   2021 Median Annual Salary: $77,740

•   Requirements: Associate degree; state license

•   Job Description: Operate sonographs that produce images of the inside of a body in order to assess and diagnose medical conditions.

•   Duties:

◦   Prepping and administering sonograph exams

◦   Reviewing images and test results for quality

◦   Analyzing diagnostic information and providing summaries for physicians

10. Electrical Line Installer and Repairer

•   2021 Median Annual Salary: $74,530

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; long-term on-the-job training

•   Job Description: Install and repair electrical power systems and telecommunications systems.

•   Duties:

◦   Installing, inspecting, and testing power lines, and equipment

◦   Identifying defective devices, transformers, and switches

◦   Stringing power lines between buildings and structures

11. Construction Manager

•   2021 Median Annual Salary: $72,010

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; 5+ years of experience

•   Job Description: Supervise and coordinate the activities of construction workers.

•   Duties:

◦   Overseeing construction projects from start to finish

◦   Scheduling and supervising on-site contractors

◦   Preparing and monitoring budgets

12. Aircraft Technician

•   2021 Median Annual Salary: $65,550

•   Requirements: Certificate of completion from a Part 147 FAA-approved aviation maintenance technician school

•   Job Description: Repair and perform maintenance on aircraft and aircraft equipment.

•   Duties:

◦   Diagnosing mechanical and electrical issues

◦   Repairing aircraft components

◦   Testing aircraft parts with diagnostic equipment

13. Boilermaker

•   2021 Median Annual Salary: $64,290

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; apprenticeship

•   Job Description: Assemble, maintain, and repair boilers, vats, or other containers used to hold liquids and gas.

•   Duties:

◦   Reading blueprints to determine where to position boiler parts

◦   Assembling boiler tankers using welding machines

◦   Cleaning boiling vats and replacing broken valves and pipes

14. Wellhead Pumper

•   2021 Median Annual Salary: $63,740

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; moderate on-the-job training

•   Job Description: Operate power pumps and equipment used to extract oil or gas from an oil field well.

•   Duties:

◦   Assembling pumps and attach hoses to wellheads

◦   Operating pumps and monitoring flow

◦   Transferring oil to storage tank or truck

15. Electronic Engineering Technologist

•   2021 Median Salary: $63,640

•   Requirements: Associate degree (preferred); certificate from accredited program

•   Job Description: Assist electrical engineers with the design and development of communications equipment, computers, medical devices, and other electric-powered equipment.

•   Duties:

◦   Designing and assembling electrical systems

◦   Observing onsite systems placement and performance

◦   Performing quality control and identify issues

16. Real Estate Agents

•   2021 Median Salary: $61,890

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; licensing exam

•   Job Description: Help clients buy, sell, or rent their properties.

•   Duties:

◦   Generating lists of properties for sale or rent and showing them to clients

◦   Advising clients on prices, mortgages, and market conditions

◦   Facilitating buyer/seller negotiations and final purchase or rental agreements

17. Respiratory Therapist

•   2021 Median Salary: $61,830

•   Requirements: Associate degree

•   Job Description: Provide care for patients having trouble breathing.

•   Duties:

◦   Examining patients and recording symptoms and conditions

◦   Consulting with physicians on treatment

◦   Performing diagnostic tests

18. Building Inspector

•   2021 Median Salary: $61,640

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

•   Job Description: Review building plans to ensure construction meets local and national regulations and ordinances.

•   Duties:

◦   Monitoring construction to ensure compliance

◦   Inspecting electrical and plumbing systems to ensure they are up to code

◦   Issuing violations for non-compliant work

19. Millwright

•   2021 Median Salary: $60,330

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

•   Job Description: Install, dismantle, repair, reassemble, and move machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites.

•   Duties:

◦   Repair or replace malfunctioning equipment

◦   Clean, adjust, and calibrate new machinery

◦   Move machinery and equipment

20. Electrician

•   2021 Median Salary: $60,040

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; apprenticeship

•   Job Description: Install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems.

•   Duties:

◦   Identify and repair electrical problems

◦   Install wiring and equipment for electrical systems

◦   Ensure compliance with National Electrical Code

21. Plumber

•   2021 Median Salary: $59,880

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; apprenticeship

•   Job Description: Install and repair gas and water piping systems in homes, factories, and businesses.

•   Duties:

◦   Identify and repair plumbing problems

◦   Installing pipes and plumbing fixtures

◦   Clean drains, remove obstructions, and repair or replace broken pipes and fixtures

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22. Mining Roof Bolter

•   2021 Median Salary: $59,770

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; moderate on-the-job training

•   Job Description: Operate machinery to install roof supporting bolts in underground mines.

•   Duties:

◦   Drill bolt holes into roofs

◦   Perform safety checks on bolting equipments

◦   Extract loose rock from bolting support

23. Broadcast, Sound, and Video Technician

•   2021 Median Salary: $49,050

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; moderate on-the-job training

•   Job Description: Operate and maintain electrical equipment used for television broadcast, radio programs, live concerts, and films.

•   Duties:

◦   Setting up and operating equipment

◦   Monitoring and adjusting audio and visual quality

◦   Repairing equipment and fixing recording issues

24. HVACR Technician

•   2021 Median Salary: $48,630

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; 6 months to 2 years at a trade school or community college that offers heating, air conditioning, and registration programs.

•   Job Description: Install and perform maintenance on heating, ventilation, cooling and registration systems for buildings and private residences.

•   Duties:

◦   Installing, testing, and repairing HVACR systems

◦   Replacing or repairing defective parts

◦   Conducting overall system maintenance and performance improvements

25. Masonry Worker

•   2021 Median Salary: $48,040

•   Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; apprenticeship or on-the-job training

•   Job Description: Use brick, concrete, and natural and manmade stones to build structures, walls, or walkways.

•   Duties:

◦   Design blueprints and calculate materials needed

◦   Break or resize materials into required shape

◦   Align, construct and polish finished structures

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The Takeaway

Many trade jobs can offer competitive pay and job security, without a significant upfront educational cost. Moreover, they provide an opportunity to help make a difference by solving real world problems.

Choosing the right career path is an important step toward achieving your financial goals. It’s just as important to practice smart financial habits, like setting spending limits, staying on top of your credit score, and establishing long-term goals.

SoFi Relay can help you track your money like a champion, with tools that make it easy to monitor your credit score, set up savings goals, and pay off debt sooner.

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FAQ

What skilled trades are in demand?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical sonographers, respiratory therapists, industrial machinery mechanics, security and fire alarm installers are expected to experience the greatest job growth over the next ten years.

What are some of the best trades to learn that pay well?

Transportation managers, elevator installers, nuclear power reactor operators, and radiation therapists all earn a median salary above $80,000.

What are high paying trade jobs that require no degree?

HVACR technicians, real estate agents, subway operators, and plumbers all pay above-average salaries and require no formal degree.


Photo credit: iStock/dima_sidelnikov

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