Among the highest paying jobs one can get without a college degree are those in the trades, such as plumber or electrician. While some trade jobs do require a bachelor's degree, many only require an associate's degree or experience on the job. And trade jobs are in constant demand.
"I've been doing this for going on 30 years now, and in those 30 years I've seen a constant need," says licensed plumber Mary Thompson, COO of home services platform Neighborly. "It's a great place for people to earn a good living … [and] a skill that is recession and pandemic resistant."
Here are seven trade jobs that can be high-paying, according to Thompson and job sites including Indeed, plus what kind of training they require.
House painters can paint every part of a building from the walls to the ceiling. They also prepare surfaces for painting by filling holes and cracks with materials like plaster. Painters typically learn their trade on the job.
Median salary: $40,280 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Home inspectors ensure new and previously owned homes are safe to live in by inspecting both their interiors and exteriors. They check electrical, heating, ventilation, and plumbing systems, and must know various types of construction to get a full picture of a home's potential problems.
Home inspectors often learn the craft on the job, though some states may require some type of license or certification to qualify.
Median salary: $48,580 per year, according to PayScale
Video by Courtney Stith
HVAC technicians install, clean, and maintain heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems inside a home.
Employers generally prefer technicians to have an associate's degree or certificate in the trade or to have completed an apprenticeship program. Some states may require a license.
Median salary: $48,730 per year, according to BLS
Plumbers install, maintain, and repair piping in homes. They inspect and test pipes, determine what equipment might be needed to fix a problem, and ensure systems are running smoothly.
Plumbers often learn their craft through apprenticeships, although some also attend vocational schools. Most states require plumbers to get a license.
Typically, says Thompson, "while they're earning the plumbing license, they're working at a plumbing company. That plumbing company is usually paying for them to go to school." That often means they don't take on student debt to obtain required training.
Median salary: $55,160 per year, according to BLS
Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical, lighting, communication, and control systems for homes. Many electricians learn the trade through an apprenticeship, but some also attend a technical school. Depending on the state, they may also be required to get a license.
Median salary: $56,180 per year, according to BLS
Landscape architects design gardens and outdoor spaces for private homes. They meet with clients to assess their needs, prepare graphic representations of their spaces' plans, choose materials for their projects, and follow along with the process as they're built.
Landscape architects must be licensed by their state, with states often requiring a bachelor's in landscape architecture, internship experience, and passing a registration exam to qualify for a license.
Median salary: $69,360 per year, according to BLS
Video by Courtney Stith
Construction managers plan and supervise construction projects including preparing budgets and schedules, reporting progress to clients, and collaborating with other professionals like architects and engineers.
Construction managers often need both a bachelor's degree and experience on the job to get hired.
Median salary: $95,260 per year, according to BLS
"If you're somebody who really enjoys helping others," says Thompson, the trades are "a great industry to be in."
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