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What are the highest-paying trade jobs?

What are the highest-paying trade jobs?

Jobs in the trades can be the best option for many candidates who have specialized skills and knowledge in a particular area, such as engineering, construction, or electricity. Trade jobs also allow candidates who don't enjoy working in office settings or other traditional workplace environments to build careers while working outside, in various locations, or in their own workshops. Aside from being flexible, fulfilling options for work, many jobs in the trades also pay highly competitive salaries, making them lucrative options if you have the right skills, experience, and professional qualifications.

No matter what you're most interested in specializing in, there's likely a high-paying trade job that appeals to you and your career goals. Here, we'll explore 15 of the highest-paying trade jobs, with details about their typical duties and average salaries.

Respiratory therapist salary

A respiratory therapist is a specialist in the medical industry who treats patients with breathing issues. They help these patients strengthen their lungs and respiratory systems using therapeutic practices and equipment such as ventilators and oxygen tanks. The average salary for a respiratory therapist is $74,500 per year.

Fire chief salary

Working as a firefighter can be a rewarding and important job, and you can make a high salary when you advance to a role as a fire chief. Fire chiefs oversee the fire department, organize the schedule, assign firefighters to tasks, and lead emergency response initiatives. After gaining enough experience, you can earn an average of $77,000 per year as a fire chief.

Nuclear medicine technologist salary

Nuclear medicine technologists provide important services in clinical environments. When patients need specialized radiopharmaceutical drugs, they require people with specific training to administer them safely. That's where nuclear medicine technologists come in. They administer this medication, use imaging equipment, and explain procedures to patients. The average salary for a nuclear medicine technologist is $79,590 per year.

Sonographer salary

When someone needs an image taken of their internal organs, whether for illness, injury, or pregnancy, they make an appointment with a sonographer. Sonographers operate ultrasound imaging equipment to help diagnose medical conditions or check patients' health. Their responsibilities also include updating their patients' medical records and reviewing ultrasound images for details to share with the doctor. On average, a sonographer earns around $84,500 per year.

Dental hygienist

A dental hygienist assists other dental professionals during procedures and appointments. After attending a trade school, dental hygienists can examine patients' teeth and gums, perform deep cleanings, and administer anesthetic before complex dental operations. They also take X-ray images of patients' teeth and jaws and teach them how to maintain their oral hygiene at home. Dental hygienists typically earn an average of $85,000 per year.

Elevator and escalator mechanic salary

Mechanics who specialize in installing and repairing escalators and elevators also typically earn highly competitive salaries. These mechanics maintain the escalators or elevators in a building and carry out installations, repairs, and routine examinations. On average, elevator and escalator mechanics earn around $88,540 per year.

Executive chef salary

If you're interested in the culinary trade, executive chef is a role to aspire to. Executive chefs oversee the entire kitchen for an organization, leading other chefs and directing all the kitchen operations. They're responsible for the taste, quality, and presentation of each dish, which calls for a keen eye and culinary expertise. The average salary for an executive chef is $89,000 per year.

Radiation therapist salary

Radiation therapy is another role in the healthcare industry that requires candidates to attend a trade school rather than a medical program. When patients have illnesses such as cancer, radiation therapists provide treatment using specialized equipment and medication. Due to their specialized knowledge, radiation therapists earn an average of $98,500 per year.

Computer systems specialist salary

As experts in the tech trade, computer systems specialists are assets to a company. This is because they optimize and implement the software, programs, and equipment that help an organization run its business smoothly. Their responsibilities can include installing new software on company devices, teaching employees how to use new equipment, and creating a budget for new technology with company leaders. You can earn an average of $107,500 per year as a computer systems specialist.

"With many trade jobs paying highly competitive salaries, there are countless options out there to build a successful, impressive career, whether you're interested in energy, electrical engineering, or automotive mechanics."

Construction manager salary

If you're interested in pursuing a leadership position, consider a career as a construction manager. These professionals oversee teams in the construction industry, often as the highest-level members on a construction site. They can have many responsibilities, including giving estimates to clients, assigning work tasks, and leading a project from beginning to end. The average salary for a construction manager is $113,000 per year.

Electrical engineer salary

Electrical engineers perform crucial work in various industries, as they create the components and devices that are used to power electric outlets and machines and automate processes. While some electrical engineers specialize in producing machinery and heavy equipment, others focus on electronics such as computers and mobile phones. An electrical engineer can earn an average of $114,000 per year.

Energy engineer salary

An energy engineer can make all the difference in a company's efficient use of power. Energy engineers install complex systems that convert energy and distribute it across buildings efficiently, helping businesses to save money on energy costs and be more environmentally conscious. The average annual salary for an energy engineer is $114,000 per year.

Aircraft engineer salary

Another high-paying trade job in engineering is an aircraft engineer. These engineers specialize in designing and producing new aircraft, such as airplanes and helicopters. Aircraft engineers can also find ways to improve existing aircraft by examining the blueprints and applying their knowledge of physics and emerging technologies. On average, an aircraft engineer earns $127,000 per year.

Network architect salary

A network architect is another high-paying job in the tech trade. These professionals develop the networking systems companies use to communicate, store data, and share information with shareholders and employees. In addition to designing these systems, network architects maintain them by running routine cybersecurity checks and resolving any bugs that appear. The national average salary for a network architect is $129,500 per year.

Air traffic controller salary

Air traffic controllers keep people safe by organizing airplane traffic. They do this by monitoring flights and directing them where and when to land. An air traffic controller also guides airplanes on the ground, ensuring all takeoffs and ground transportation occur without collisions or traffic jams. These professionals earn high salaries as well, with the average pay being $131,000 per year.

Entering the trades can be a great career path if you love to work with your hands and think creatively and mechanically. With many trade jobs paying highly competitive salaries, there are countless options out there to build a successful, impressive career, whether you're interested in energy, electrical engineering, or automotive mechanics. When it's time to look for your next trade job, it's always beneficial to have a little extra help in your search. For exclusive access to open roles in the trades and notifications about the latest high-paying trade jobs, sign up to get email alerts from CareerBuilder.

More tips about working in the trades

Want to find a job in the trades that appeals to your skills, hobbies, and talents? Learn how to find a job you love.

Have you ever considered a trade in energy? If not, explore a list of the highest-paying jobs in energy.

If you're hoping to transition from full-time work for one client to part-time work for multiple clients in your trade, read about how to go from full-time to part-time hours.

For more ideas about trade jobs to pursue, explore which of the highest-paying trade jobs currently in demand.

To learn more about the importance of trade workers in the United States' history of labor rights, read about why we celebrate Labor Day.