Community college and university may be the traditional choice for a high-paying career. However, these options can cost a fortune, and formal degrees take time to earn. Let’s talk about education from trade schools as an alternative and the best trade school jobs.
Some of the best trades to learn come with a comfortable salary. You also have the advantage of gaining career-specific skills to become an expert in your desired field. This article will dissect all you need to know about trade schools and the highest paying trade school jobs.
What Is Trade School?
A trade school is commonly referred to as a technical school, vocational school, or vocational college. This is an institution that prepares students for a specific job or career. Rather than learning a wide range of skills, you’ll gain a skill set specific to your desired profession.
At a traditional school, you earn a degree in a career field that promises multiple job opportunities. In contrast, trade schools train you for a particular job or occupation. These schools offer a variety of training programs and certification programs that focus on honing specialized skills.
The programs typically last two years to complete, much shorter than traditional universities. This makes it an appealing option for people looking to break into the workforce as soon as possible. Some examples of the highest trade school jobs include becoming a landscape designer or civil engineering technician.
Trade School vs College
Should you attend trade school or go to college? There are pros and cons to both, depending on what profession you hope to break into. Here are the differences between trade school and college.
It’s no secret that one of the biggest hurdles to higher education is the cost of attendance. Even going to a local university may cost tens of thousands of dollars. As a result, many students go into debt. Others go the distance to earn scholarships to attend a four-year university.
This is where trade schools gain an edge over universities. On average, a college degree program will cost you $127,000. By contrast, trade school programs cost $33,000, on average. Put another way, tuition costs for trade schools are only a quarter of university costs.
Length of Education
If you’re a working adult, you may not have the time to dedicate yourself to a four-year education to earn a bachelor’s degree. For those who work the typical 9 to 5, this makes trade school appealing. You can land some of the best trade school jobs within two years.
As mentioned, trade schools only take up to two years to complete. Some programs even take less than a year. If you’re working a full-time job, trade schools are a good alternative to university education. You’ll also gain on-the-job training and practical skills are often more valuable than theoretical knowledge.
Although trade schools offer associate degrees and certificates to graduates, they typically do not provide bachelor’s degrees. It’s important to consider what your employer would require before choosing a trade school over a university or college.
There are many positions where employers strongly recommend you have a bachelor’s degree. In other instances, the lack of a bachelor’s degree may limit your chances of receiving a promotion or salary increase.
That being said, some employers do not require a formal college degree. In this group are tech firms, such as Google, Apple, or IBM. In recent years, tech companies have lifted the degree requirement, favoring skills over credentials.
The Top Paying Trades to Learn in 2023
Who says you need a four-year degree to secure high-paying careers? Vocational education offers ample opportunity for trade jobs that pay well. Here are the best trades to learn, the average growth, and how much you can expect to earn.
|Trade Job||Median Salary (2022)||Job Growth|
|Air Traffic Controller||$130,420||4%|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographer||$70,380||14%|
|Police Officer and Detective||$67,290||7%|
Trade Jobs That Pay Well in 2023 Explained
Many people flock to education courses at universities or attend community college to land well-paying jobs. However, many successful hands-on workers have learned all they need to from vocational school. Some of these professionals include boilermakers, police officers, web developers and so many more.
Completing a vocational program will give you practical job training, which employers prefer. Many of the highest-paid trade jobs also earn an average salary competitive to a degree program.
There is a wide range of trade careers you can progress into. Here are the top ten trade school jobs in 2023.
1. Air Traffic Controller
If you want to become an air traffic controller, know that it has the highest annual wage on this list. Professionals earn an incredible annual salary of $124,540. The conditions of this job are quite intensive, as you must ensure the aircraft move safely over long distances.
Many people attend vocational school and gain associate degrees to break into this career. However, this isn’t the easiest of trade school careers to launch, as there are many additional requirements. You must be a US citizen with stellar health, and hiring companies will do a thorough background check.
Besides practical expertise, air traffic controllers need soft skills like communication, leadership, problem-solving, and the ability to make effective decisions.
2. Electrical Engineer
Electronics engineers are skilled workers that develop, fix and maintain electrical items. You need more than soft skills for this job, as the job duties include working on power generators, aircraft, and cars. While there is a wide range of tasks, most of what you’ll do is design, test, build and repair electrical components.
This is a lucrative career as you can expect an average salary of $103,390 per annum. The average job growth is also consistent, meaning you can rely on career opportunities. Having on-the-job training for this career will give you an advantage, as it relies on practical skills.
Typical education such as degree programs are excellent for these jobs, however vocational degrees will teach you practical skills swiftly. As this trade career isn’t based on theory but rather technical skills, a vocational program can help you.
3. Construction Manager
Becoming a construction manager is one of the best trades to learn because of the high job growth. To learn project management, construction management, landscape design, and laws for commercial buildings, vocational degrees can help you.
Construction managers do a fair amount of physical labor, and their primary duties include creating budget estimates for projects, applying safety codes, and implementing quality control processes. You’ll need soft skills for this career to negotiate contracts, lead your team and ensure every phase of your project works successfully.
Professionals in construction management earn around $97,180. It’s vital to ensure you’re in good physical condition, as this job can become tiring.
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4. Radiation Therapist
Radiation therapists are medical professionals that care for patients through radiation treatments. The primary duties of these therapists include explaining radiation treatment plans to patients, protecting themselves and patients from radiation, and administering the most appropriate procedures.
You need technical skills and interpersonal skills to help people with medical conditions cured by radiation. This is because radiation exposure can be lethal and many of the people you help will require your patience and communication.
Professionals in this career earn an annual wage of about $86,850. Although this is one of the best vocational careers, it’s a great idea to gain additional education to streamline your job search process.
5. Web Developer
Web development is one of the fastest-growing trade professions today. Many web developers attend community college or university for a degree, but this isn’t necessary. Web development is a skilled trade, requiring hands-on expertise rather than theoretical knowledge.
Professionals in this field are responsible for designing, building, and maintaining websites. The median salary for web developers in the US is quite high and the job growth is staggering. With the right technical and soft skills, your job search process for web development shouldn’t be too tricky.
Web developers earn $77,200 annually, and many developers work from home. There are also many transferable skills from web development to help you progress into advanced tech careers.
6. Dental Hygienist
If you want to become a dental hygienist in 2023, prepare for high average job growth and a comfortable salary of $77,090 per annum. Vocational degrees will help you execute primary duties for this profession. These duties include examining patients’ dental health, prescribing solutions, and developing a treatment plan for patients.
Choosing this skilled trade requires an interest in medical terminology and impressive soft skills. Professionals need to successfully understand dental hygiene problems and explain this to their patients. Vocational degrees are the best way to secure this career as you need hands-on experience to help your patients.
Many skilled workers in this field also start private practices. If you’ve dreamed of becoming your own boss, this career could be for you.
7. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
Despite the fancy term, you may have already met a sonographer. A sonographer is usually the one who answers the question of pregnant moms: Is it a boy or a girl? In plain terms, a sonographer uses ultrasound to analyze images and help doctors diagnose a patient, and you need a confident understanding of medical terminology to do this.
A typical day of a sonographer consists of examining ten patients, on average, with each consultation lasting less than an hour. If you want to become a diagnostic medical sonographer you can expect to earn a median salary of $74,320 annually.
An associate degree or a professional certificate is sufficient for a career as an ultrasonographer. Make sure that the program you choose is accredited before enrolling.
8. Police Officer and Detective
One of the fastest-growing trade job positions on this list, police officers serve the public and protect the peace. If you want to become a detective your physical condition must be superb. Some of the primary duties of police officers and detectives include gathering witness statements, analyzing and booking evidence, and interrogating suspects.
While this profession may be more intensive than becoming a mechanic, completing a vocational program can help you. When you’ve secured the physical stamina, soft skills, and on-the-job training for this career, your job search process shouldn’t be disappointing.
Police officers and detectives make $67,290 annually. This salary is highly impressive considering you don’t need typical education.
If you’d like to assemble, repair, and install boilers, along with other large vessels and containers that hold liquids and gasses, boiler-making is for you. This profession requires intensive physical labor, and job growth has declined. However, the median salary is decent for vocational careers, and you can earn $65,360 per year.
It’s vital to understand that boilermakers leave home for many months in a year. Plus, due to the low job growth, the job search process may be more tricky than usual. To solve this, find out if your vocational school has partner programs with any company to help you break into this career.
Besides the physical labor and low job growth, boiler making is a great vocational career.
10. Respiratory Therapist
If you want to become a respiratory therapist, you should want to treat patients who have respiratory or breathing issues. While these professionals are healthcare practitioners, like occupational therapists, they’re not doctors. However, respiratory therapists do work closely with doctors to help patients breathe normally or deal with chronic lung diseases.
Respiratory therapists earn $61,330 a year. Jobs in the field are expected to grow by 19 percent within the next 10 years, a faster rate than the average. All states but Alaska require that therapists be licensed before practicing respiratory therapy.
People often believe they need a four-year degree to land well-paying jobs. However, in 2023 this isn’t the case and vocational schools are a competitive option. Whether a vocational program will work for you, depends on the career you wish to pursue.
It’s also vital to note that vocational degrees are cheaper and quicker than university degrees, and many employers look for these technical skills.
Trade School Jobs FAQs
Although both focus on hands-on learning, several factors set them apart. For one, trade schools only take two years to complete. Apprenticeships, on the other hand, take three to five years. The latter is also much cheaper than the former. That being said, both paths are not entirely exclusive from one another. Certain trades require apprenticeships. These include elevator maintenance and carpentry.
It’s also worth considering roles as an HVAC technician, licensed practical nurse, medical or dental assistant, and aircraft mechanic. Generally speaking, trade schools are great routes for several skilled trade jobs in information technology, healthcare, and construction.
Technicians top the list. These include jobs as HVAC technicians, wind turbine technicians, and emergency medical technicians. One would need six months to two years at a technical school before entering any of the fields. It should be noted that these require additional job training, preferably via apprenticeships.
A job is considered a trade when it requires specialized skills that can be learned by other means besides a bachelor’s degree. A few examples of trade jobs include a boilermaker, electrical engineer, web developer, dental hygienist, police officer, construction manager and there are loads more.
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