5 Best Trade Jobs To Get Into That Pay Well After School

You might have heard of trade school before, which explains why you came across this article. But to those who do not know, trade school is a post-secondary institution shorter than a traditional four-year or five-year college course. Most people who enroll in it want to advance their education and skills but are unsure of at least a four-year commitment.


The best & highest-paid trade jobs & careers that pay well after school are radiation therapists, nuclear medicine technologists, and electrical engineering technicians. However, medical assisting and welding are also trade jobs that pay well after school.

In this article, we’ll also take a look at the following professions:

  • Construction managers
  • Elevator repairmen
  • Data scientists

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Enrolling in trade school is a fast way to basic training, which should help you land a job fast. Some courses pay well, while some do not. In this article, let us go through an extensive list of courses in a vocational college. Here’s a list of the best, highest-paid trade jobs you can gen into after school.

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Best Trade Jobs To Get Into That Pay Well After School

Are you looking to earn the most money after finishing trade school? Here is a list of the highest-paying jobs once you meet the qualifications. The information below may not be 100% accurate across all job opportunities, but it should suffice with the needed details. We are taking the top five highest-paying jobs for your review. Enjoy this list of the best trade jobs to get into that pay well after school.

woman in trade school

The list below should also be proof that you do not need a four-year college degree to earn much. The jobs listed below do not require a bachelor’s degree. If you are looking to earn a good chunk of money in the shortest period, trade school is the way to go. 

1. Construction Managers

A construction manager also referred to as general contractors and project managers, requires an associate degree as a minimum requirement. It is the highest-paying trade job with a median annual salary of $97,180.

These managers supervise various property types, such as commercial and industrial projects. They manage and oversee the project from inception to completion.

Their responsibilities include at least the following:

  • Schedule subcontractors
  • Prepare work estimates
  • Interface with the clients
  • Respond to issues or problems

Because of the gravity of their responsibility, these managers require communication and business knowledge. There’s a lot of technical and leadership skills needed to be effective as well. A trade school in construction management grooms its students to be highly skilled and efficient in managing workers. They analyze and understand blueprints. They also prepare budgets and other necessary documents. 

2. Escalator and Elevator Repairmen

Elevator Repairmen

An escalator and elevator repairman installs and maintains elevators and escalators. The minimum educational requirement is a high school diploma or its equivalent. Your job responsibilities would include replacing defective parts and reading blueprints. You’ll learn to evaluate safety inspections and test systems. 

Professionals in this field need troubleshooting and mechanical skills, stamina, and physical strength. Aim to earn the National Association of Elevator Safety Authorities International or National Association of Elevator Contractors certificate for career advancement. 

3. Radiation Therapists

radiation assistant

A radiation therapist position needs at least an associate degree. Professionals in this field of work provide therapy for diseases such as cancer.

Some of their duties and responsibilities are as follow:

  • Monitor adverse reactions or effects on patients
  • Treat patients
  • Organize and keep records

These therapists work in outpatient care centers, or clinics. You can also work at a hospital. You will need at least attention to detail, technical and interpersonal skills, and physical stamina for this role. 

4. Nuclear Medical Technologists

A nuclear medical technologist requires an associate degree and a license to practice. These professionals work in outpatient care centers, clinics, hospitals, or medical laboratories. They support doctors in administering and preparing drugs related to radiopharmaceuticals.

Their jobs would include the following:

  • Maintaining safety standards
  • Operating devices
  • Detailing the procedures to patients
  • Keeping records of patients

While in trade school, students will gain significant knowledge in clinical and laboratory exposures. Although an associate degree is a minimum, several nuclear medicine technologists earn at least a bachelor’s degree. 

5. Dental Hygienists

dental hygienist

A dental hygienist works under a dentist’s supervision. They are responsible for providing preventive care and examining dental diseases. A dental hygienist uses medical tools to apply fluoride, remove plaque, and take x-rays. They also teach patients the correct oral hygiene. 

It would take at least three years to complete trade school. It includes laboratory, classroom, and clinical instruction. You need to attend radiography, periodontics, anatomy, and patient management subjects.

To practice this profession, you will need to earn a license. Part of the requirements includes earning an associate degree from a trade school. The school should have an accreditation from the Commission on Dental Accreditation. 

Good IT Trade Jobs

The information technology field encompasses a vast scope of paths and opportunities. The following are the top ten IT jobs that pay the most money.

  • Data Scientist
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Specialist
  • Cyber Security Specialist
  • Machine Learning Specialist
  • Full-Stack Software Developers
  • Cloud Computing Developers
  • Software Engineers
  • DevOps Engineers
  • Blockchain Professional
  • Internet of Things Solutions Architect

What is a trade school?

Technical school, vocational college, or vocational school are other references to trade school. Students taking this post-secondary institution provide technical skills, preparing them for a specific career path. They can be private or public. Students can choose from degrees in nursing, automotive technician training, information technology, health sciences, and medical assisting. The course lengths vary, but they go as short as eight months to as long as two years.

A four-year college course would earn you a bachelor’s degree at completion, which you do not get at vocational college. Instead, you get a certificate or diploma of completion, acknowledging the successful fulfillment of the short course. Some courses would earn you an associate degree, which you can get after taking a two-year course.

How long does it take to finish?

Graduating from a trade school can help you land a well-paying job. One of the questions you might have is how long it takes to complete. One of its focuses is equipping attendees with the knowledge and skills to land their dream job.

The good thing about it is it does not take four years to complete, unlike a typical bachelor’s degree. It does not obligate you to any credits or classes to fulfill. Since the training is more specific than a bachelor’s degree, it takes a shorter time to complete.

These training programs take a couple of months to one year. The ones with more specialization could take one to two years. The more entry-level training typically only lasts for a year. You cannot just enroll without any pre-requisites. It is post-secondary education, meaning a GED or high school diploma is one of the requirements.

If you don’t have a high school diploma, you will need to take and pass the GED exam. Most trade schools offer GED preparation and assistance, so you don’t have to worry much about it.

ProfessionStarting salary
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Specialist$85,000
Blockchain Professional$88,000
Cloud Computing Developers$84,000
Cyber Security Specialist$73,000
Data Scientist$73,000
DevOps Engineers$77,000
Full-Stack Software Developers$82,000
Internet of Things Solutions Architect$101,000
Machine Learning Specialist$87,000
Software Engineers$76,000

How much does it cost?

At this point, you are likely really interested in enrolling in a vocational course. One of the most important things to ask is how much does it cost? The cost is dependent on a variety of things, such as specialty and program.

For example, the HVAC technician program at MTI takes about one year to complete. It has an average cost of USD 13,000 to USD 14,000. In 2016-2017, the average tuition fee for a private trade school was USD 15,000.

These vocational courses cost significantly less than a four-year bachelor’s degree program. From 2017 to 2018, the average tuition cost for a year at a public university was USD 9,970. Multiplying that amount by four would set you back at least USD 39,880. This amount excludes other costs, such as books and miscellaneous fees. It also excludes housing and supplies. A private university costs averaging USD 34,370 for tuition per year.

Some schools offer loans or scholarship opportunities if you need one. Consider your future earnings, such as salary growth and other incentives. 

School systemHow long does school take=Cost
Carpentry1-4 years$750-$6,500
Commercial Driver’s License3 weeks – 6 months$500-$4,000
Cosmetology1,500 hours$5,000 – $15,000
Criminal justice1-4 years$2,500 – $10,000
Culinary arts2 years$16,000 – $34,000
Electrician2-4 years$1,000 – $11,000
HVAC2-5 years$1,500 – $15,000
Auto-mechanic2-4 years$5,000 – $20,000
Medical Assisting1-2 years$2,500 – $12,500
Welding2 years$5,000 – $15,000
Massage6-12 months$5,000 – $7,000

Types of trade schools

We classify the courses you can take under a few types. In this way, it is easier to identify the specific track you want to take. The list below is in alphabetical order, so it is easier for you to look through it.


Carpentry teaches students the basics of practical and theoretical woodworking. This course lasts as short as nine months or as long as 24 months, depending on a few factors.

The number of credits has a strong influence on the length of the course. For example, Bates Technical School offers an associate degree in carpentry. It requires 116 credits, which you can complete in about two years, give or take. On the other hand, a certificate would only need 16 credits, which you can finish in less than a year.

Part of the curriculum covers understanding safety principles and reading blueprints. These classes also include hands-on training. 

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

A Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL in short, is a program that teaches its attendees how to drive professional trucks. These include trucks and trucks with a trailer. It typically takes one and a half months to six months to earn the certificate.

Some schools that offer CDL are Coastal Pines Technical College and Wiregrass Georgia Technical College. The course covers hands-on driving lessons and safety protocols. Some of the basic driving skills you need to learn are turning, parallel parking and uncoupling.

There have been driver shortages across the country for some time now. Landing a job as a commercial driver will be busy once you qualify. 

Computer Information Systems/Information Technology

A career in Information Technology (IT) is one of the hottest and high-paying these days. The course touches on a few topics, such as video game design and cybersecurity. It also includes networking.

An associate degree, certificate, or diploma prepares students for an IT career. The course usually takes six to 24 months, equipping the student for an entry-level career. Some schools offer a mix of in-person and online learning.



Cosmetology provides beginner skills training in nails, skincare and hair. You’ll learn about makeup, and it is estimated to be completed in one to two years. Those who are taking cosmetology get to work in a simulated salon. The good thing is the students receive monetary compensation from the customers.

A part of the course prepares the students for the cosmetology licensing exam, depending on the state of residence. After passing the said exam, you can practice right away. Specialization will take place once you start working. Some prefer to focus on makeup, while others prefer nails and hair. It depends on the person’s preference. 

Criminal Justice

A criminal justice system career takes about two years to complete an associate degree or one year for a certificate. Criminal justice is a general term that refers to policies and laws. It includes everything from institutions to procedures that involve commissioning a crime.

Research methods, criminal investigation, criminology, and constitutional law are a few programs under criminal justice. A certificate or associate degree is sometimes a pre-requisite when applying and getting accepted to a police academy. 

Culinary Arts

culinary school

Do you like cooking or baking? Does food interest you very much? If the answer to these questions is yes, then culinary arts is for you. You will learn culinary arts fundamentals. It’s divided into on-the-job experiences, online tutorials, and cooking labs.

Get used to the safety and sanitation precautions necessary. You’ll learn about baking, purchasing, basic financial accounting, and cooking are a few things the students learn throughout the course’s duration. Students can choose between a certificate or associate degree program that takes between one to two years.

Several schools across the country offer culinary arts. It is best to directly reach out to the school to get the most accurate information. 



Electrical courses come in two major classifications. The two-year associate degree course offers basic and skill specialization, while the one-year certificate program offers basic electrical training only. Alternating and direct circuits are part of the basic skills training for both types.

You’ll learn about conduit bending and basic wiring practices. It also includes electrical distribution systems and industrial motor controls are topics these schools have to offer during the program’s course. It takes at least ten months to complete electrical course training.

Once you complete the training and earn a certificate or associate degree, you can apply for the job position you like. 

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Technicians (HVAC)

hvac technician

Maybe you are interested in working with systems that involve ventilation, air conditioning, or heating. You need to train to be an HVAC technician. Associate degree and certificate programs are available, which take at least one year to complete. The classes would include electrical components, mechanical refrigeration. You’ll learn about cooling and heating theories. 

HVAC contractor


auto mechanic

Those enrolling in an auto-mechanic program will learn to repair and service foreign and domestic vehicles. The course covers the basics such as climate-control systems, brake systems, and engines. You’ll also learn about transmissions and car maintenance. It takes at least ten months to finish the program. You can apply for a job right after you receive your certification. 

Here are some things you’ll learn:

  • Spark plug replacement
  • Tire repairs
  • Brake work
  • Oxygen sensor replacement.

Medical Assisting

medical assistant

If a medical course is too long or complicated for you, medical assisting is an option you can take. Getting a certificate or associate degree teaches medical insurance management, clinic and office protocols, and pharmacology. It takes one to two years to complete the course. 

Here are some things you may learn:

  • Sterilizing medical instruments
  • Performing basic laboratory tests
  • Instructing patients about medication
  • Drawing blood


Getting a certificate in welding takes as short as nine months to as long as 18 months. The number of credits you need to pass depends on the school. Ideally, you will need 18 to 25 credits to receive a welding certificate. The course focuses on a few processes, such as metal arc welding and pipe welding. You’ll learn about gas metal arc welding, and sanitary welding. 

Here are things you may learn:

  • MIG
  • TIG
  • Stick


massage therapist

Massage or wellness vocational course covers a few things involving human body wellness. Ethics for massage therapists, medical terms, and musculoskeletal physiology and anatomy are a few of these. It takes less than twelve months to finish the entire program. Once you get your certificate, you can apply for any wellness or therapist position wherever you qualify. 

What to look forNotes
LengthThe longer the school period, the longer you’ll go without a salary.
TuitionSome schools have significantly higher tuition than others.
Job employment afterWhat is the expected salary as you come out?
What you wantYour preferences are very important to consider.
Expectations for the futureIs it an industry experiencing growth?

What trade should I learn?

If you want the most money, you can build a career path in management or supervisory. Recent studies and surveys suggest a career in management earns a lot.

Before jumping into the highest-paying career in the market, ask yourself the career path you would like to pursue. Knowing your wants and needs will set you with at least the starting point of what you want to become. Several students who took a course they did not like ended up shifting or not completing it.


What trades make $100K per year?

A construction manager and commercial pilot make at least an average of $100,000 per year. Some factors such as employer and demand play a huge role in determining the salary of these positions. 

What is the easiest highest paying trade?

A dental hygienist has perhaps the easiest high-paying job. 

What are some careers in the trades?

Here are some careers you may want to consider:
– Agricultural Clerk
– Animal Caretaker
– Forest Technician
– Electrician
– Carpenter
– Mason
– Painter
– Plumber
– HVAC Technician
– Train/Bus Operator
– Baker
– Hairdresser

What are five trade jobs?

Home inspector, plumber and HVAC technicians are popular trades. Yuou should also look into becoming a Boilermaker or a respiratory therapist. They are five examples of trade jobs.

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