Highest Paying Trade School Jobs

Highest Paying Trade School Jobs

The United States is currently facing a huge shortage in workers who are skilled in various trade and vocational skills. While these skills don’t require a long educational commitment, they do provide opportunities for high-paying jobs to those who commit to pursuing that career path.

Trade Schools

Trade schools and career-based colleges are a great alternative to a traditional college track. They allow students to complete schooling in a shorter period of time and support students in getting the job they desire once they graduate.


According to a study conducted by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics in 2016, more than 5.8 million jobs are available in construction. And statistics like these exist in many industries for vocational based jobs! Across the medical, IT, and mechanical sciences job fields, there is one consistent trend: there are fewer skilled workers than there are skill-based jobs.


Going to school or pursuing a new career path may be something that you’ve been thinking about—and now is the perfect time to do it. There are rewarding, well-paying jobs in the skilled-trade industry that are out there for you to go after.


The Imagine America Foundation is committed to supporting students in learning about the choices they have when it comes to career training and postsecondary education. Before going back to school, consider the following careers as possible paths for you! These represent some of the highest average salaries (and they require less time in the class than traditional degree programs).

1. Construction Manager

Average salary: $107,815 annually


General contractors or construction managers manage the construction site they are assigned to. They are the go-to person on site for all questions and management decisions. They work with architects, engineers, and other personnel to make sure everyone is on the same page to complete the job.


Contractors are also in charge of making timelines and cost estimates, collecting permits, and ensuring that the product is up to the right standards. Contractors should hold a high school diploma or GED (along with the appropriate licenses required in each state). For those hoping to earn a higher salary, an associate or bachelor’s degree is a great way to help you increase your wages. Degrees in the areas of engineering and construction management are popular choices for those who want to be a construction manager.


The field of construction management is expected to see growth of 5% through 2026, about average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

2. CNC Manufacturer

Average salary: $77,720 annually


Computer Numerical Control, or CNC machining, uses computers to control manufacturing equipment. Those who work in this field must have a strong understanding of the equipment and materials they are using in order to program the computer to use the correct velocity, speed, and pressure. If this is not done correctly, the product will not be produced correctly.


Typically, employers require a certificate from a trade or vocational school in order to work with these machines. The field of CNC machining is projected to experience 17% growth through 2026, much higher than the average for all occupations, according to the BLS.

3. HVAC Technician

Average salary: $60,946 annually


HVAC technicians are trained to work on heating, ventilation, and air condition systems in both residential and commercial settings. These technicians are who you call when you need to install, maintain, or repair refrigeration, heating, central air, furnaces and humidifier equipment.


HVAC technicians are trained and certified through career and vocational schools. They typically work for larger companies, who dispatch technicians to different jobs throughout their shift. These technicians may be required to work evenings, weekends, or holidays due to the urgency (and unpredictability) of many HVAC problems. The BLS expects the HVAC field to see double the average job growth through 2026, with an increase of 14%.

4. Diesel Technician

Average salary: $53,378


A diesel engine technician is responsible for maintaining and fixing diesel engines for manufacturers, dealerships, and repair shops. Many vehicles today run on diesel engines, which means more maintenance and repair work for diesel techs.


Those who wish to join this career field must be specifically trained and certified in diesel engines. While the skills are similar to those of a general auto mechanic or automotive technology technician, special skills are needed too. Courses in this field include diagnostic and troubleshooting processes, diesel technology, and interpreting technical manuals.


This high-demand field has a projected growth rate of 12% through 2026, according to the BLS.

5. Electrician

Average salary: $49,178


Electricians perform hundreds of different jobs each day in a variety of settings. As an electrician, you can work in construction, installation, maintenance, and repair. Despite what kind of tasks you perform as an electrician, all are required to have extensive knowledge of local codes, safety permits, and how to troubleshoot a variety of problems while on the job.


Electricians often hold certificates from trade or vocational schools, as well as a license in order to practice in a specific state or area. Through the year 2026, the BLS indicates that the field of electricians is expected to grow by 12%.

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