Highest paying trade jobs in 2020

SOURCE: John Moore/Getty Images/AFP
Many people who have graduated from a trade school are making just as much money, if not more, than those with college degrees.

By U2B Staff 

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If you want to make a decent living, education is key. Very few jobs that only require a high school diploma earn more than $35,000 per year, and many of those occupations are declining. If you are interested in education, but not looking to spend too much time or money doing so, going to trade school might be a better option. 

The key differences between a traditional college education and a trade school education are time and cost. In the first few years of college, you will work on getting your general classes out of the way. However, in a trade school, you will take courses that are specific to the career you want. By skipping taking general education courses, you will also save a large sum of money.

When Mike Rowe, the blue-collar philosopher and former star of Dirty Jobs, was asked about the biggest myths surrounding trade school jobs, his answer was simple: “…The biggest misconception is lousy pay.” To put it simply, he was right.

Many high-paying, fast-growing jobs are accessible to workers with an associate degree, post-secondary award, certification, or apprenticeship. Investing in trade school could be the best possible move for your career.


The misconception of trade school has somehow been that working with your hands will lead you to struggle to keep a roof over your head. However, many of the highest paying trade jobs come with salaries near or above the U.S household median income of US$61,937. Some specialisations even have the potential to crack the six-figure mark with enough experience.

Here are some of the highest paying trade jobs with a solid occupational outlook:

Web Developer

If you are looking to build a career as a web developer, you might look into a bachelor’s degree at some point but for now, some employers will accept years of work experience or an associate degree instead. If you love writing, testing, and debugging software, this is the job for you. 

Median annual salary: US$74,000

Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists routinely rank among the most satisfied workers. For those interested in oral hygiene and eager to educate patients, a career in the field can go a long way. The job usually requires cleaning teeth, removing plaque, conducting x-rays, and checking oral hygiene.

Median annual salary: US$76,200


Several different industries use welders, including airplane manufacturers building companies, car fabricators, and more. Anything that requires a strong, metal bond requires welding and these professionals work in a variety of environments including outside in the weather and elements. 

Median annual salary: US$39,400


Carpenters build a variety of objects and infrastructure, including buildings, highways, and homes. They also have the option to take on smaller scale jobs such as home remodeling and installing kitchen cabinets. Every project is different than the next, and a great deal of stamina and flexibility is crucial to keep up. 

Median annual salary: US$43,600


Licensed Practical Nurse

Being a licensed practical nurse is a good choice for those who have an aptitude for working as caregivers. They generally work under doctors and registered nurses, working in caregiving facilities and hospitals. There are also many opportunities to freelance, with many people on the lookout for in-home caregivers for older or ill family members that require extra care. Schools and larger companies also offer jobs to licensed practical nurses.

Median annual salary: US$44,000


With the right training provided by trade school, plumbers can develop the skills to read blueprints and place proper piping in the correct locations on top of the skills that they already have in installing and fixing pipes.  More advanced programmes teach students how to deal with septic systems, remodeling projects, and more.  

Median annual salary US$51,450


Job stability as an electrician comes from the fact that electricity is needed in basically everything we do. Electricians are responsible for providing the right amount of electricity to where it is needed. This includes wiring an entire home or changing a faulty outlet. It is crucial that electricians are equipped with proper training in blueprints and safety protocols to keep themselves and others safe. 

Median annual salary: US$52,700