You don’t need a four-year degree to make a decent salary. In fact, jobs that you can get through trade school can have pretty impressive salaries. With the costs of college tuition rising, it’s no surprise that some people are turning away from bachelor’s degrees and other higher education degrees in favor of trade school and certifications.
Besides lower education costs, trade school also offers the advantage of a more defined career path. Sometimes, turning a degree into a job is difficult, but with vocational programs, you know exactly where you’re headed. So, if you know what you want to do, and trade schools offer a program in that area, that might be a fantastic option for you. Luckily, if you choose that path, you don’t have to sacrifice a big salary to do it, especially if you choose one of the careers in this list. On this page, we’ve compiled the highest paying trade school careers of 2019.
1. Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists work together with dentists to keep patients’ teeth and gums healthy. Their responsibilities include cleaning teeth, checking for disease, taking X-rays, and teaching patients how to take care of their teeth. They also do documentation and office management tasks.
To become a dental hygienist, you typically need an associate’s degree in dental hygiene, which take around three years to finish. You need to be licensed, but exact requirements vary from state to state.
In 2018, the median salary for dental hygienists was $74,820 per year, $35.97 per hour. The job market is also expected to grow by 10 percent by 2026 with 40,900 openings, which is much faster than the average growth rate. If you are interested in healthcare and like working with people, this is an excellent career choice for you.
2. Air Traffic Controller
Air traffic controllers are essential to the safe operation of airports. They manage the movement of planes in and out of an airport and make sure they stay a safe distance from one another. This work can be stressful, as it requires sustained concentration.
To qualify for this job, you need to be a U.S. citizen as well as pass medical exams and background checks. You’ll also need to complete a training program that’s approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. The Associate degree level course covers air traffic control. You can also opt to go for a more advanced degree program which goes more in-depth.
Air traffic controllers make a salary of around $124,540 each year, $59.87 per hour. The job market is shrinking slightly, but if you meet the qualifications, you could become a part of this elite group.
3. Margin Department Supervisor
If you’re interested in finance but don’t think a four-year degree is for you, consider becoming a margin department supervisor. These professionals are in charge of a company’s margin department, which decides whether or not to approve clients for credit and monitors all account activity.
There aren’t specific training requirements for becoming a margin department supervisor. It’s helpful, though, to have an associate’s degree in business, finance, or a related area. You’ll likely also have to work in the margin department for a few years before you can move up to the supervisor position.
Margin department directors make a median annual salary of $75,392. Those who work at larger companies may be able to make a bit more.
4. Construction Manager
Construction managers are the people in charge of construction projects. They create plans for sites, manage budgets, and supervise the progress of their projects. They’re responsible for making sure projects are completed on a deadline and on a budget and need to be on hand to manage crises should they occur.
If you want to become a construction manager, you may opt to get an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or simply many years of construction experience. Formal education may be the safest route, but if you prove yourself over many years on the job, you may be able to secure a management position without it. If you opt for education, enroll in a program specific to construction management or one in another construction-related area.
Managers of construction sites make around $93,370 each year, $44.89 per hour. The job market is expected to grow by 11 percent through 2026 with 44,800 openings, which is about the same rate as the average for all jobs.
5. Automobile Service Station Manager
An automobile service station manager is in charge of business in the automotive industry. The business could be a gas station, repair shop, or other business. The manager chooses hours of operation, hires employees, assigns them job responsibilities, sets prices, and makes other important decisions.
There are multiple routes to becoming an automobile service station manager. You could go to trade school to become a mechanic and then work your way up through the ranks. You might also choose to get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in business to help you move up quicker. You’ll need some experience in the automotive industry before you can become a manager.
The average salary for this job is $47,232 per year, $19.00 per hour, but keep in mind that you’ll have to start out in a lower paying position before you can work your way up to manager. If you work hard and continuously prove yourself, you can reach your goal.
6. Cardiovascular Technologist
Cardiovascular technologists operate healthcare equipment to assist doctors in diagnosing and treating heart and blood vessel conditions. These medical professionals conduct echocardiographs (EKGs), stress tests, blood vessel studies, and more. They may specialize in echocardiography, invasive cardiology, or vascular technology.
To become a cardiovascular technologist, you’ll need to earn an associate’s degree or complete a certification program at a school or hospital. Sometimes, you may need to get certified before you can work as a cardiovascular technologist.
This job can potentially make you about $67,080 per year, $32.25 per hour. The market is expected to grow by 17 percent with 21,100 openings by 2026 – much faster than the average job growth rate.
7. Elevator Mechanic
Elevator mechanics install, repair, and maintain elevators, escalators, moving walkways, and other similar machinery. They often need to work in cramped areas in machine rooms or at heights at the top of an elevator shaft.
Elevator mechanics usually need to complete an apprenticeship program which takes five years and combines classroom or online education with on-the-job training. You typically need a high school Diploma or equivalent before you can start this program. Once you pass the final exam, you can go on to get more advanced certifications if you so choose. Some states also require elevator mechanics to be licensed.
In 2018, the median pay for elevator mechanics was $79,780 per year, $38.36 per hour. Employment is projected to grow by 12 percent by 2026, which is faster than average. If you are good with machinery and are physically fit, this might be the job for you.
8. Power Utility Technician
Power utility technicians, also known as line workers, install, repair, and maintain electrical equipment. They work with high-voltage power lines and must sometimes climb utility poles to get to them. They work regular hours but may also need to work extra hours during widespread outages caused by storms or other incidents.
To become a line worker, you could go straight from high school into an apprenticeship program. Many power utility technicians, though, first obtain a certification or relevant associates degree. A formal education will give you a head start, but you’ll still need some on-the-job training.
For electrical power-line technicians, the median salary is $65,880 per year, $31.67 per hour. Telecommunications line workers make a median salary of $58,280. By 2026, employment in this field is expected to grow by 8 percent with approximately 18,400 openings.
Boilermakers install, repair, and maintain boilers and closed vats, as well as other large containers for liquids or gases. They also clean and inspect boilers for defects. Boilermakers frequently use welding equipment to complete their job, and increasingly, they use robotic and automated machinery. They may need to travel to work sites and stay there for extended periods of time.
The majority of boilermakers learn their trade through a training or apprenticeship program. Having welding experience and certification increases your chances of being accepted into these programs.
In 2018, boilermakers earned a median pay of $62,150 per year, $29.88 per hour. In a field of 17,200, the market for boilermakers is expected to grow by 9 percent through 2026 with 1,500 new openings. If you are good with machinery, especially welding equipment, and do not mind physically strenuous and potentially dangerous work, this may be a good career for you.
10. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
Another lucrative trade school medical career is that of a diagnostic medical sonographer. They operate medical equipment called a sonogram which uses ultrasound technology to create images of organs and tissues and is also used to see a fetus inside of the womb. Perhaps the most famous role of a diagnostic medical sonographer is telling parents the sex of their unborn child.
Those who want to become a diagnostic medical sonographer may enroll in a two-year associate’s degree program, but you also may be able to get a job after completing a one-year certificate program. Most employers prefer you to have passed the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers certification exam, which typically requires clinical experience.
Diagnostic medical sonographers make a median salary of $67,080 per year, $32.25 per hour. The job outlook for this career is much better than average at 17 percent growth by 2026 with 21,100 openings. This job is perfect for people who are interested in the medical field and are good with both people and technology.
11. IT Technician
If you’re good with computers, consider a career as an information technology (IT) technician. This job involves installing, troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining computer equipment. It may also include teaching people how to use equipment and helping them to troubleshoot computers on their own.
There are a variety of ways to get into the IT field, but an associate’s degree in information technology or computer science will open up a lot of doors for you in this area. Some employers also require certifications. Even if you’re not obliged to have them, they can still make you a more impressive candidate. Taking specialized certification courses can also help IT professionals learn new technology skills.
IT technicians make about $53,470 per year, $25.70 per hour. IT is a fast growing field with 835,300 current practitioners. The job market of IT technicians is expected to grow by 11 percent by 2026 with 88,500 openings.
12. Rotary Drill Operator for the Oil and Gas Industry
You can make an excellent salary in the oil and gas industry as a rotary drill operator. This job requires you to set up and operate drilling equipment to test an area during oil and gas exploration. You’ll also sometimes have to remove oil and gas from the ground. Subcategories of this career include roustabouts, derrick operators, service unit operators, and rotary drill operators, and each subcategory operates a different type of machinery.
The most important requirement for becoming a rotary drill operator is on-the-job training. You can also take courses to increase your knowledge of the equipment you’ll need to use and the energy industry in general, and you’ll also need to live in or relocate to an area that does a lot of oil and gas drilling.
13. Respiratory Therapist
A respiratory therapist helps people who have trouble breathing either because of a chronic problem such as asthma or an emergency like a heart attack or shock. More advanced respiratory therapists may also create treatment plans and educate patients about respiratory health.
These medical professionals need to know a lot about the respiratory system, understand how to use the necessary equipment, and be able to interact with patients. They also need to know about the medical field in general. To get this education, most respiratory therapists obtain an associate’s degree, and in every state except for Alaska, they must also be certified.
The median pay for respiratory therapists is $60,280 per year, $28.98 per hour. With a current workforce of 130,200, the field is expected to grow by 23 percent through 2026 with 30,500 openings.
14. Web Developer
If you’re creative and good with computers, a career as a web developer would be perfect for you. Web developers create websites and are in charge of the site’s technical aspects as well as its design. They might also create content for their sites.
To become a web developer, you typically need an associate’s degree in web design, but degrees in computer science, graphic design, and business could also be beneficial.
Web developers earn a median income of $69,430 per year, $33.38 per hour. With a workforce of roughly 162,900, employment in this field is expected to grow 15 percent by 2026 with 24,400 openings. About one in seven web developers is self-employed. However, they might also work for computer companies, design companies, or manage the websites for a certain business.
15. Aircraft Mechanic
Another in-demand trade school job is that of an aircraft mechanic or technician. This job involves repairing and performing maintenance on aircraft and other avionics equipment. They may also conduct aircraft inspections.
Aircraft mechanics typically attend an aviation maintenance technician school that’s been certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Some enter directly from high school and receive on-the-job training, while others gain their experience in the military. Most of the people in this field are certified or licensed.
The median annual salary for an aircraft mechanic or technician is $63,060 per year, $30.32 per hour. With a current workforce of 149,500, employment in this field is expected to remain relatively stable with 7,500 openings at a growth rate of 5 percent by 2026.
Get Started Today With Vista College
You can earn significant money in a trade school career, and this is just a small selection of the available occupations. If you’d like to learn more about trade school career opportunities and education, check out the many career programs Vista College has to offer.