Trades That Make Six Figures

Friday, January 12, 2024
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Trades That Make Six Figures

Going to college can be daunting, coming at the wrong time, or not the route you want. For high school students unsure of the traditional college route, spending some of their college years in a trade school might be the best way to move from high school and into the workforce. Even though many tradespeople walk into jobs earning $50,000 or more, only 16% of graduating high school students move on to trade schools. With a renewed focus on infrastructure and renewable energy, the trades have as much potential as those earning four-year degrees. The push for high school students to attend college has left woeful gaps in these industries, but NSHSS is committed to increasing trade school attendance.

Renewed interest in fixing crumbling infrastructure, installing new utilities, and sourcing renewable energy has led to the following seven highest-paying trades. The trade school careers in these fields are not limited to construction and technician jobs. Here are the top trades that pay six figures.

Aircraft Mechanics - $135,628 per year

Aviation mechanics attend specific trade schools that can cost as much as a four-year degree. However, aviation is an attractive industry for mechanically minded people who learn better with a hands-on approach. There are a few six-figure jobs in aviation that can be obtained with trade school and about seven to ten years of experience in your chosen field. 

  • Jet Mechanics - $110,000 top salary

  • Aviation Manufacturing - $117,000 top salary

  • Air Traffic Controller - $135,628 average

It takes about 18 to 24 months to work through an aviation trade school, depending on your study area.

Plumbers, Pipe Fitters, and Steamfitters - $132,275

Despite what you might think of plumbers, construction, utility, and infrastructure. They typically receive on-the-job experience and additional training through a union to advance their careers. You must spend four years as a plumbing apprentice to become a journeyman, earning an average of $81,000 annually. It takes two additional years of training to become a master plumber and command an average of $102,350 annually.

Construction Manager - $130,000 per year

There were over 600,000 open construction jobs at the end of 2022, and the demand for construction managers from non-residential construction to highway construction and significant infrastructure. As such, construction management has become a standard two-year program found in most trade schools. There are comparable four-year degree options, but they cost up to two times more than two-year construction management certificates. Entry-level construction managers and supervisors start at $72,500 and up. 

It takes six to eight years from trade school graduation to reach a six-figure income as a construction manager. This is only two to four years more on-the-job experience than required after obtaining a four-year degree. This makes trade school an attractive option for those wanting to reduce student debt and start their career as quickly as possible.

Industrial Electricians - $122,500

Electricians, in general, are in high demand, with far more jobs available than students in trade schools. Industrial electricians are particularly in order in the construction, infrastructure, and energy sectors. Industrial electricians typically start their careers in an apprenticeship program through a union. Journeymen earn $61,679 annually, and master industrial electricians earn up to $122,500 annually. It takes 12,000 hours of on-the-job experience to make a six-figure income as an industrial electrician.

Energy Technician - $115,076

Energy technicians are in high demand, particularly in the renewable energy sector. Utility installation and construction are also in tall order from the infrastructure industry. Renewable energy technician jobs start at $55,000 per year. It takes five to ten years in the energy industry to reach a six-figure income as an energy technician.

Software Developers and Computer Programmers - $102,860

Every industry has a high demand for software developers and computer programmers. The infrastructure, commercial and industrial construction, utility, and energy sectors are creating a growing job market for IT jobs. Digital models, construction management software, and computer-assisted design are just some IT jobs that can earn up to $100k.   

It takes five to ten years after trade school to reach $99,000 or more as a software developer in these industries. That decreases by two to four years when getting a four-year degree. Working your way up in your desired sector is essential to earn six figures.

How to launch your career in a six-figure trade

If you have ever considered a career in one of the trades mentioned above, getting started as early as possible is important. The earlier you begin your own training in your chosen trade, the better equipped you’ll be when you begin your trade school. 

One of the ways to get a head start in high school is through career readiness programs. It is essential to choose electives in high school that will benefit your future career. NSHSS offers resources to assist students in attending trade school and launching a profitable career without college. Scholarship and grant programs are just one of the ways that NSHSS membership benefits high school students seeking a career in the trades.

There are two ways NSHSS supports high school students attending trade school. The NSHSS Community College and Trade School Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship to assist students in seeking higher education outside of a four-year institution. 

The trade jobs that generate higher salaries over time are those in the construction, energy, and technology industries and include much more than the above trade jobs. NSHSS membership benefits help you identify the best trade job for you. So don’t wait; get started today on the future you’re seeking for tomorrow!