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When people contemplate career choices, they often overlook trade jobs. These careers are part of America’s backbone, so the demand for them steadily inclines over the years. A trade job requires training or education beyond high school but typically does not need a bachelor’s degree. Instead, trade workers only need to complete a training program at a vocational school or community college to gain the necessary skills.

Many trade school jobs also involve some time spent as an apprentice, which is a formal way to learn on-the-job expertise from an experienced tradesperson. In general, trade work also requires physical labor, which often involves lifting heavy items, using hand tools, operating large equipment, and more.

A trade job can be quite lucrative and comes with ample job security. But despite those perks, people often avoid jobs that require labor for numerous reasons. Either they don’t know about their options, or they believe other careers provide more opportunities. This wariness has led to a shortage in the labor force, which is good news for anyone who wants to pursue jobs as plumbers, electricians, and more.

The benefits of labor positions are vast. These positions often pay better than many traditional office jobs. Additionally, you do not need to attend a four-year university to obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree to find a place in the labor force. Instead, you can complete a two-year training program while working as an apprentice. As a result, you likely will not have to deal with a pile of debt.

Read on to see 10 top-paying skilled labor jobs.

1. Construction Manager

A construction manager is in charge of planning, overseeing, and coordinating the activities for building projects. These workers may specialize in a particular realm of construction, such as residential, commercial, or industrial. The specific tasks of a construction manager may include the following:

  • Cost estimating and budgeting
  • Scheduling
  • Hiring subcontractors
  • Communicating with clients
  • Interpreting contracts
  • Checking compliance with local building code regulations

While you do not necessarily need a university degree to become a construction manager, most employers prefer job applicants who have an associate or bachelor’s degree from a college or trade school. The Construction Management courses at Vista College instill students with the business operations and project management skills they need to become construction managers.

This coursework reviews building materials and procedures, structural design, construction technology, building codes, safety standards, and more. After completing the necessary courses, construction managers in the United States can expect a median salary of about $114, 427.

2. Electrician

Electrician average salary

Electricians enjoy an average salary of nearly $60,000 for keeping the world’s lights on. However, an electrician’s job includes so much more than merely replacing light bulbs. Electricians must handle anything that involves power, including wires, circuit breakers, lighting, appliances, and more. In general, they set up and maintain electrical systems for both interior and exterior projects.

If you are fascinated by electricity and the way it works, you can pursue a career path in this field by receiving the necessary education and on-the-job training. You will need a high school diploma, along with a degree or certificate as an electrical technician from a college or trade school.

The Electrical Technician Associate Degree Program at Vista College will prepare you for your career by giving you hands-on experience installing fuse boxes and connecting circuits. The coursework also goes over imperative information like blueprint reading, safety procedures, regulations, and more. With this knowledge, you will be a more appealing apprenticeship applicant.

3. Carpenter

If you like building things, carpentry might be the field for you. As a carpenter, you will work on various projects for homes and buildings, which can include everything from building staircases to repairing cabinets. For this work, carpenters receive a median salary of around $48,000 each year.

Being a carpenter requires significant stamina and flexibility. Every day looks different from any other and may involve working outdoors or operating machinery. To be ready for this line of work, you will need a high school diploma, on-the-job training, and additional formal education. Specifically, a certificate in construction technology is extremely valuable for a carpenter to have.

You can earn your certificate in construction technology from us. Throughout the program, you will get hands-on experience using a variety of saws, drills, and grinders. Upon completion, you will be armed with practical knowledge of tools, building materials, safety practices, and first aid.

4. Millwright

If you have always had a knack for tinkering with machines, being a millwright might just be your calling. A millwright’s primary duties include assembling, maintaining, and repairing a wide range of equipment — mostly industrial machines. Sometimes, millwrights even dismantle and move machinery.

Along with getting to work with mechanical systems all day, millwrights receive a median salary of nearly $60,000 within the first few years of their careers. To become a millwright, you will need to learn the trade skills taught in an industrial maintenance technician program. This coursework will familiarize you with factory equipment and other industrial machinery and what is needed to keep them running smoothly.

An industrial maintenance technician diploma is also versatile. With the skills you learn from the program, you may eventually perform various maintenance jobs across a wide range of industries, including aviation, electronics, food, energy, construction, and manufacturing.

5. Chemical Plant Operator

Chemical plant operators oversee the machinery behind the production of chemicals, paints, synthetics, adhesives, and more. While the work environment is typically hot and noisy, chemical plant operating is also one of the least physically hazardous factory professions due to strict safety regulations.

Chemical plant operators are largely to thank for various products people take for granted on a daily basis. Whenever you do arts, crafts, or anything else involving paint or adhesives, your use of those products is made possible by the hard work and diligence of people employed at chemical plants. These people also ward off some of the dangerous elements of these chemicals in order to contain their benefits for the average consumer.

Incoming operators are usually high school graduates who are trained on the job. The median salary of a chemical plant operator is around $55,000 per year.

6. HVAC Technician

HVAC Technician average salary

An HVAC technician installs, maintains, and repairs heating, ventilation, refrigeration, and air-conditioning systems. HVAC technicians can choose to offer all of these services or become specialists within a specific realm of services, such as repairs, and type of system, such as ventilation. An HVAC technician is also able to work on smaller residential units as well as larger industrial units.

In general, HVAC technician everyday tasks include:

  • Changing old filters
  • Upgrading equipment
  • Performing routine maintenance

To become an HVAC technician, you will need a high school diploma and a technical diploma, certificate, or associate degree. Our HVAC Technician Program provides the information you will need to work with vents, ducting, refrigeration, heating, and air conditioning systems. You can also take specialized courses to understand welding, soldering, and piping.

After receiving the necessary training to become an HVAC technician, you will have the working knowledge you need to pursue a career working for larger construction companies or even starting your own business. The average salary for an HVAC technician is a little over $40,000 per year.

7. Medical Laboratory Technician

If you enjoy anatomy, you might be great as a medical laboratory technician. People in this job run tests on blood and urine samples and ready them for examination. Lab technicians contribute to the advance of treatments and medicines by preparing matters that help scientists better understand the workings of the human body.

The distribution of clinical labs often varies from one institution to the next. For example, some facilities have one microbiological lab, whereas other facilities devote a separate unit to each facet of microbiology. These separate units might include:

  • Virology: Studies viruses in human fluid samples
  • Parasitology: Looks for parasites in human waste
  • Urinalysis: Runs urine tests for signs of analytes
  • Toxicology: Test blood and urine for signs of recreational drug use

To become a medical lab technician, you will generally need either a two or four-year degree from an accredited university, as well as certification from the American Society of Clinical Pathology. The yearly median salary of a medical laboratory technician can potentially reach $68,000 after a few years in the field.

If you would like to enter the healthcare industry without a doctorate, you could gain the necessary skills for seeking entry-level lab work by completing our Medical Lab Tech Associate Degree program. With a full-time course load, you could master the various aspects of medical lab work — from the testing of bodily fluids to the entry of patient data — in just 18 months.

8. Personal Trainer

The yearly median salary of a personal trainer can potentially reach $62,377. Personal trainers often work in upscale environments, but the job itself typically involves lots of sweaty, strenuous activity. Work as a trainer extends beyond the training of clients; you also have to work out yourself in order to stay in shape and uphold the principles of fitness.

There is a great honor that comes with helping people achieve their fitness goals. While the job might not garner the same prestige as heroic professions such as firefighting, a personal trainer effectively helps clients gain the necessary health for longer lives. Trainers sometimes cultivate certain modes of training that are optimized toward specific clientele, such as young, old, beginner, advanced, etc.

In most cases, trainers will prescribe a fixed set of plans for both aerobic exercise and strength training. With strength training, a plan will specify the target muscles, the amount of reps, the length of rests, and the number of sets on a given piece of equipment. Some trainers will even recommend dietary regimens, complete with nutritional supplements.

To help you become a knowledgeable personal trainer, our Personal Fitness Trainer program consists of on-ground training in the various aspects of the health industry. Over the course of this 720-hour program, students take a list of courses that include Anatomy and Physiology, Exercise and Nutrition, Sport-Specific Optimum Performance Training, and Kinesiology of the Human Movement System. In the final course, students are prepared for the certification exam of the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Once you have passed a fitness training program, you can do this type of work for a national fitness chain, an independently own gym, or at your own workout facilities. In some states, however, you will need certification to offer professional workout advice and train clients on heavy equipment.

9. Police Officer

The police serve one of the most necessary functions in any safe and orderly society. As everyone has seen in hundreds of police dramas, the work of an officer involves stopping crime, capturing criminals, and rescuing victims from dangerous, violent situations. Since crime occurs around the clock, police are called upon to work irregular shifts. For their service, the average police officer receives a yearly salary of about $58,100.

Police officers encounter a variety of unpredictable situations, from holdups and hostage ordeals to armed standoffs and domestic disturbances. Life as a police officer requires strength and bravery, but it is an ideal line of work for those who seek adventure and justice. To become a police officer, you will need an associate degree in criminal justice, as well as extensive training with a local police academy.

If justice and crime prevention is your true calling, Vista’s AAS in Criminal Justice program could give you in-depth knowledge and understanding of the areas related to criminal law. The 70-week program covers everything from law enforcement and legal procedure to criminal psychology and corrections. Upon completion of this online program, you could be ready to apply to your local police academy.

10. Plumber

Even though being a plumber can be a dirty job, it is one that is vital to our society. The job involves unclogging toilets that refuse to flush, as well as sinks, showers, and bathtubs that fail to drain properly. Even though there is a fair share of messiness to tackle in this work, plumbers also have plenty of cleaner assignments, such as:

  • Repairing pipes
  • Fixing heat systems
  • Water-supply installation

At the end of each day, plumbers ensure people have warmer homes, cleaner water, and functioning kitchen and bathroom facilities.

In most states, you need certification and an apprenticeship to gain work as a plumber. The average income among plumbers ranges from $50,000 to $65,000.

Labor Workers Are Essential

From dirty work such as that of a plumber or chemical plant operator to the feel-good work of being a fitness trainer, people often make good money in labor positions. Rather than working through years of college and generating tons of debt in the process, you can find a promising, lucrative career in any of the options listed above.

Each one of these jobs fills an important function in society. With American unemployment figures hovering around 6 percent while thousands of positions go unfilled due to a lack of skilled workers, an infusion into the labor force of newly trained, Millennial workers could end up serving as one of the greatest jolts to the United States economy.

Gain the Skills to Launch Your Career at Vista College

Gain the Skills to Launch Your Career at Vista College. Request Info.

Whatever position you decide to pursue, you can gain essential skills for your field of choice through the in-person and online courses at Vista College. If you wish to get a job in the labor field, like as a construction manager, carpenter, or electrician, our programs can equip you with the knowledge and skills you will need to seek entry-level positions in numerous fields.

To pursue these or other Vista College programs, contact a Vista College Admission Representative to find out more about our degree options.

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