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10 Highest Paying Trade and Vocational Careers

There are many opportunities for well paying jobs in the trade industry that do not require going the traditional route of a 4-year degree program. Here are the top ten.

April 26, 2018 | By Dee Jones

Enrollment in trade schools is increasing. According to the U.S. Department of Education in 1999 there were about 9.66 million students attending trade schools and in 2014 this number jumped to "an estimated 16 million." This is in part due to the increased cost of college. "According to Business Insider, the cost of college increased by 260% from 1980 to 2014."

Depending on your career path a college degree may be required, but there are many opportunities for men and women in the skilled trades field. And many times attending a trade or vocational school and getting your professional certification costs much less than attending college for 4 plus years.

The key is to research the career you are interested in pursuing and learn what the requirements and skills are for that job as well as the training needed. Depending on your chosen career path you may only need training from a vocational school or apprenticeship program. Sometimes in order to keep yourself marketable having the skills and training is not enough and you will also need a 4-year degree in order to bump you up into a higher paying position within your chosen field. Take charge of your future to keep yourself marketable and in demand.

1. CNC Technician
A CNC Technician is a machinist that has "additional skills in programming, setup and operating computer driven machine tools. Most high-tech products including computers, aircraft and medical devices use precision components made on CNC machine tools."

Education Cost: 6,000 - 10,000
Average Yearly Income $54,200

2. Home Inspector
A Home Inspector is responsible for doing a visual inspection of the condition of a home. This includes the roof, plumbing, electrical, basement, garage, foundation and more.

Education Cost: $550
Average Yearly Income $57,000

3. Aviation Mechanic
An Aviatin Mechanic performa scheduled maintenance, makes repairs and complete inspections on aircraft. This can include repairing and maintaining most parts of an "aircraft, including the engines, landing gear, brakes, and air-conditioning system." 

Education Cost: $10,318
Average Yearly Income $58,000

4. Boilermaker
Boilermakers "assemble, install, and repair boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gases. They perform physically demanding, dangerous work. Many must travel to worksites and live away from home for long stretches of time."

Education Cost: Training only through paid apprenticeship programs.
Average Yearly Income $60,000

5. Conservationist/Environmental Science Worker
"Conservationists and environmental science workers usually work in forestry, but there are a variety of other options that would be available to you. State parks and certain city or state government agencies hire people who are certified in this area." Depending on your desired path within this field of study a Doctoral degree may be necessary.

Education Cost: $689
Average Yearly Income $60,000

6. Electronic Engineering
"Electronics engineers work in the design and develop electronic equipment, some of the equipment you could work on in this position includes broadcast and communications systems. Working in computer hardware, building circuit boards and repairing different hardware components." While there is vocational training for this type of work you may need a 4-year degree and higher for advancement and increased salary options. Possible career paths include electrician too.

Education Cost: $10,318
Average Yearly Income $60,000

7. Garden and Landscaping Designer
Garden & Landscape designers need to be able to draw plans, select plants and install structures like walkways and water features. Creativity, attention to detail and design and drawing skills (may need to use computer-aided design (CAD).  

Education Cost: $699
Average Yearly Income $63,000

8. Solar Energy Technician
Solar Technicians are responsible for maintaining solar power systems so they work at their highest capacity. They work with solar engineers to "evaluate the problem, observe the current process, and create solutions. Once a new product or process is designed the solar tecnician "assists in the installation and maintenance." 

Education Cost: $595
Average Yearly Income $67,000

9. Energy Auditor
Energy auditors are basically building inspectors that provide consultations on energy efficiency. This can include conducting hands-on tests to "determine the source of poor energy efficiency. Conducting a blower-door test is one of the most common home inspections that are performed."

Education Cost:$1,150
Average Yearly Income $74,000

10. Construction Manager / General Contractor
Construction Managers are responsible for the "estimators, project managers, accountants, or other professionals with responsibilities that come into play before, during, and after a project." while General Contractors often specialize in certain types of construction or construction sectors. They will work with foremen and "tend to have general laborers, carpenters, or other skilled trades."

Education Cost: $789
Average Yearly Income $87,000

 


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