Are you considering going to school for a trades profession, but are unsure which path is right for you? Check out our list of the highest-paying trades jobs, and find out why the need – and the wages – for skilled trade workers are on the rise.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on our economy. Between laid-off workers and closed business doors, employers and employees alike were struggling to stay afloat. Now, as businesses have re-opened, there is high demand for workers to get back on the job. At the same time, however, there is also a limited supply. For years, we’ve been facing a growing talent shortage across all areas of the workforce – especially in skilled trades, where baby boomers are retiring and younger generations aren’t prepared to step in. According to a new survey, the year 2021 has marked the lowest point in this ongoing shortage so far. With low supply and high demand, companies must now get creative to attract and draw in skilled candidates. For this reason, many employers are pushing higher pay.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that certain skilled trades saw substantial salary increases in 2020. And a recent article from CNBC reports that wages are expected to grow between 2.8% and 3% at minimum in 2022, as more employers aim to attract and hire skilled workers. This is more than the average salary increase felt in 2021.
Skilled trades are in particular high demand, and the demand for trade workers is not going away. There will always be a need for people in trade fields like mechanics, nursing, manufacturing, dental hygiene, welding, and technology. Trades professions are ever-important contributors to our daily lives.
If you are considering going to school for a trades career, you are not alone. More and more people are recognizing the value of trades professions, along with the monetary value it can bring to their lives. In fact, many bachelor’s degree holders are going back to school to enter a skilled trades field, where they can qualify for a high-paying position and enjoy a hands-on career. Remember, trades careers do not require a bachelor’s degree – most trades professions only require some postsecondary education (like an associate degree) and/or training to get started.
So, what are the top-paying trades jobs to go to school for?
Using the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020), we’ve outlined some of the highest-paying trades careers, and detailed how to get started in each one.
- Dental Hygienist: $77,090 Annually
Dental hygienists provide preventive dental care to patients, examining for oral diseases, cleaning teeth and teaching people about proper oral health. Because dental hygienists only need an associate degree in Dental Hygiene to launch their career, this can be considered a trades profession. On average in the United States, dental hygienists make $77,090 per year – putting this at the top of the list of high-paying trade careers. Of course, the average salary also depends on where you live. In Connecticut, for example, dental hygienists earn over $85,000 annually, on average.
- Registered Nurse: $75,330 Annually
Registered Nurses (RNs) are who you see most often in a medical facility. They provide direct care to patients who are sick, injured, disabled, or simply seeking preventive care. Nurses are considered the backbone of the healthcare field and, as a result, enjoy a high salary. Nurses also only need an associate degree – taking about two years to complete – before becoming licensed in the field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs make an average of $75,330 annually. In certain states, however, the pay potential is even higher. Connecticut Registered Nurses, for example, earn over $84,000 each year.
- Web Developer: $77,200 Annually
Web developers create and maintain websites. They may design and create content for the website, as well as manage the technical components that affect a website’s performance. There are back-end and front-end web developers, depending on whether you are interested in the technical or design side of the development process. While requirements vary for this profession, an associate degree is the standard for web developers today. On average, web developers earn $77,200 annually in the U.S. In Connecticut, the average annual salary for web developers exceeds $84,000 per year.
- MRI Technician: $74,690 Annually
An MRI technician is a type of radiologic technologist that operates magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to create diagnostic images. This position requires knowledge of advanced technology and basic healthcare knowledge, which in turn requires education. MRI technicians typically need an associate degree with coursework in anatomy, biology, chemistry, patient care, image evaluation, health science, and related topics. This investment in education can translate to an annual salary of $74,690. If you live in Connecticut, you can expect to make closer to $84,000 annually as an MRI tech.
- Respiratory Therapist: $62,810 Annually
Respiratory Therapists (RTs) care for patients who have trouble breathing. For example, patients struggling with asthma or other respiratory illnesses need the help of an RT. Listed as a high-paying trades career, Respiratory Therapists only need a relevant associate degree to get licensed and start practicing/earning a salary. On average in the United States, Respiratory Therapists earn $62,810 annually. In Connecticut, however, the average Respiratory Therapist earns over $71,500 per year.
- Construction or Building Inspector: $62,860 Annually
In the construction of structures and buildings, it is essential to ensure everything is built to code. This is where construction and building inspectors come into play. These professionals assure the safety and stability of structures, and confirm they meet building codes, local ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications. Due to the importance of their role, a good pay is promised. Construction and building inspectors earn an average of $62,860 annually in the United States. Generally speaking, only on-the-job training is required to land this role – making a high-paying trade that doesn’t require formal education.
- CNC Operator: $42,260 Annually
CNC operators work with computer numerically controlled machinery. These professionals enjoy a high-tech and cutting-edge career in the manufacturing field, playing a key role in the development of goods. CNC machine operators, in particular, control the technology that cuts the different parts and pieces needed to build products. To enter this field, a postsecondary certificate in CNC Machining is recommended, though you have the option to pursue an associate degree in CNC machining, as well. This means, in just a matter of months, you can earn an average of $42,260 annually. In Connecticut, however, CNC machinists enjoy an average salary of $47,380 annually.
- Tool and Die Maker: $54,760 Annually
Tool and die makers, much like CNC operators, are essential members of the manufacturing team. These professionals use advanced machines and technology to develop products and parts. They take measurements and specifications, convert them into computer-aided designs, and create blueprints that will be used in the production process. While CNC operators handle CNC machinery, tool and die makers are trained to operate and program the machinery for use. For this reason, it’s recommended that these professionals have advanced postsecondary training or an associate degree in CNC Machining. On average, tool and die makers earn $54,760 annually, nationwide, and a major $67,770 per year in Connecticut.
- Paralegal: $52,920 Annually
A paralegal’s main role is to support lawyers. On a daily basis, they can be found organizing evidence for hearings, cataloguing important documents, conducting research for lawyers, preparing settlement agreements, and coordinating trials and meetings. An associate degree is the typical entry-level education for this role. On average in the United States, paralegals earn $52,920 annually.
- Detective or Criminal Investigator: $53,320 Annually
Another prosperous trades career within the criminal justice field is that of a detective, also called criminal investigator. Much like the name entails, these professionals conduct investigations designed to help solve crimes. They collect evidence, compile information, and report information for suspected cases. Due to the importance of their role, criminal investigators earn very promising pay. Private detectives, for example, earn a median wage of $53,320 annually in the United States. Those that work for government agencies, on the other hand, can expect to earn over $86,900 per year. To get started in this line of work, an associate degree in Criminal Justice is the recommended first step.
Launching a High-Paying Trade Career
From healthcare to criminal justice, manufacturing to technology, there are many high-paying trades that do not require a large investment in higher education. All of the above careers can be achieved with an associate degree or less. If you are interested in pursuing a trades career, the best place to start your journey is at a career-focused college or university. Career-focused institutions, including trade schools, have programs that are specifically tailored to in-demand careers. Courses are taught by real professionals in the field, and you can gain practical training within your desired field. In a career-focused program, you can spend time in classes that will truly matter in your career path. Whether you want a hands-on career in dental hygiene or machining, this level of education will be your best step forward.
Learn the difference between a trade school and career-focused college here.
If you’d like to learn about Goodwin University, a career-focused university in Connecticut, do not hesitate to call 800-889-3282 today. Goodwin offers a variety of tailored programs that can help you launch a highly rewarding trades career. We also have connections with employers throughout Connecticut. Call us today or visit us online here to learn more.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.