The Highest-Paying
Trade Jobs of 2021

Are you interested in learning valuable skills but not up for long years at a university? A trade school job could do the trick for you. You can get a high-paying job in only a couple of years. Read below to learn more about the best trade school careers that you can pursue depending on your skills and interests.

What Is a Trade?

A trade, or trade job, is a job that does not necessarily require you to finish a degree program. Sometimes a high school diploma, certification, or vocational school education is enough to get a job. Trade jobs are not limited to physical labor. Real estate brokers and radiation therapists are also considered trade workers.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, vocational education was established in 1990 to serve occupations that do not require a college degree. Some of the fields with the most trade jobs are agriculture, health, home economics, industry, and communications.

What Is the Difference Between Trade School and College?

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The difference between a trade school and college is the type of education. In a trade school, you can earn a certification after learning a specific set of skills. This lasts for six months to five years, depending on the program. You may also be expected to complete an apprenticeship program.

Meanwhile, college typically takes two to four years to complete and costs much more than a trade school. Colleges tend to be more academic and less hands-on than trade schools.

Top 20 Trade Jobs at a Glance

The trade jobs listed below all have job growth rates that are much faster than average. They are in demand and will rise by three to 32 percent by 2029. All information in the table below was sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Occupation Projected Job Growth Median Pay
Web Developer 8 percent $77,200
Respiratory Therapist 19 percent $62,910
Fire Inspector 8 percent $62,120
Occupational Therapy Assistant 32 percent $60,590
Flight Attendant 17 percent $59,050
Electrician 8 percent $56,900
Chef or Head Cook 6 percent $53,380
Private Detective or Investigator 8 percent $53,320
Community Health Worker 13 percent $48,140
Insulation Worker 3 percent $45,820
Hazardous Materials Removal Worker 8 percent $45,270
Dental Laboratory Technician 9 percent $38,620
Choreographer or Dancer 6 percent $38,220
Pest Control Worker 9 percent $37,820
Bus or Transit Driver 11 percent $34,670
Grounds Maintenance Worker 10 percent $32,220
Umpire, Referee, or Other Sports Official 8 percent $28,940
Veterinarian Assistant 16 percent $29,930
Recreation Worker 10 percent $28,440
Animal Care or Service Worker 22 percent $26,370
Best Trade School Jobs in 2021

Best Trade School Jobs in 2021

To get a better perspective on the trade jobs above, check out the list below on what to expect from each job. This will help you evaluate whether you need more training programs or if your current skills are enough.

Web Developer

Web developers, also known as web designers, create and design websites. You must know how to code to make sure your website is functional. No certification is needed for this job, and you can work as a developer just based on your skills. At eight percent, the job outlook is promising, and you can continuously upskill through various web design classes.

Web Developer Responsibilities

  • Create, design, and optimize websites and applications
  • Cater to a client’s needs and vision
  • Use programming languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript
  • Monitor traffic and user response

Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists provide care for patients who are having trouble breathing due to respiratory diseases like asthma or emphysema. You do not need a college degree, but training in a vocational school is mandatory. This is because you need to be aware of health standards. The job outlook for respiratory therapists is much faster than average at 19 percent.

Respiratory Therapist Responsibilities

  • Examine patients and the severity of their disease
  • Develop treatment plans
  • Perform tests to measure lung capacity
  • Monitor patient progress

Fire Inspector

Fire inspectors are responsible for examining buildings and other establishments to check for fire hazards. You must be aware of fire codes to properly examine a structure. Most states require certification exams, and on-the-job training is a must. There is strong competition in this job, and the job growth is at eight percent.

Fire Inspector Responsibilities

  • Inspect buildings for fire hazards
  • Test fire alarms and sprinklers
  • Make sure that buildings abide by the relevant fire code
  • Review building plans and conduct visits

Occupational Therapy Assistant

Occupational therapy assistants help therapists provide care to help injured or recovering patients continue their basic life activities. Most states require a license to ensure the quality of work. You must also be caring and physically strong to assist patients. At 32 percent, the job growth of occupational therapy assistants is much higher than average.

Occupational Therapy Assistant Responsibilities

  • Assist patients during stretches and exercise
  • Play with children who have developmental disabilities
  • Teach patients how to use equipment and devices
  • Record progress of patients

Flight Attendant

Flight attendants are in charge of managing an airline cabin and responding to passenger needs. Airlines accept high school graduates with training, but some expect a college degree. If you know a foreign language, you have a higher chance of getting this job. The job outlook for flight attendants is at 17 percent, but competition is tight.

Flight Attendant Responsibilities

  • Explain procedures before the flight
  • Inspect emergency equipment
  • Serve and sell food and beverages
  • Provide medical care, if needed


Electricians work in homes, buildings, factories, and more to install, repair, and maintain electric power. They handle electrical equipment and read blueprints to make sure everything is installed correctly. Most states require electrician licenses. Job growth is projected at eight percent, with 82,200 possible openings every year.

Electrician Responsibilities

  • Install and maintain electrical wirings and systems
  • Read blueprints on electrical plans
  • Identify and solve electrical problems
  • Follow rules and regulations set by governing bodies

Chef or Head Cook

Chefs and cooks typically work in restaurants to prepare food and attend to any food-related concerns. Though some jobs require secondary or higher education, you can train to be a chef on your own. You can gain skills through continued practice and experimentation. Outlook for this job is faster than average with a six percent projected growth.

Chef or Head Cook Responsibilities

  • Prepare ingredients
  • Cook food and ensure quality taste
  • Create menu and meal plans
  • Monitor food inventory and kitchen sanitation

Private Detective or Investigator

Private detectives, also known as private investigators, are hired to provide information on an individual or organization. You need to be skilled in doing background checks and working in the field. Most jobs only require a high school diploma, and you can learn most skills through on-the-job training. The job outlook is projected at eight percent.

Private Detective or Investigator Responsibilities

  • Conduct interviews to gather information
  • Search for people, documents, and clues
  • Collect evidence to be presented to the client
  • Search public and court records

Community Health Worker

Community health workers educate the public about health issues and monitor the health situation in a given community. You will learn on the job as a community health worker, but you can still enroll in a training program to improve your skills. The job outlook is projected to grow by 13 percent.

Community Health Worker Responsibilities

  • Discuss health-related concerns to the community
  • Educate the community on healthcare and services
  • Provide health-related counseling and support
  • Initiate health outreach programs

Insulation Worker

Insulation workers install insulation in buildings to help reduce noise and save money on energy. An apprenticeship program or high school diploma is enough to qualify as an insulator, as long as you can prove your skill. You must be resourceful and comfortable working with tools. The job outlook is relatively average at three percent.

Insulation Worker Responsibilities

  • Install or replace insulation in a building
  • Fit insulation in walls, pipes, and others as needed
  • Make sure insulation is secured
  • Review blueprints to know how much insulation is needed

Hazardous Materials Removal Worker

Hazardous materials removal workers manage and dispose of dangerous chemicals and waste. Wearing personal protective equipment is part of the job. Your training will cover health hazards, site safety, and decontamination. The job outlook is at eight percent, with a projected 5,600 job opportunities every year.

Hazardous Materials Removal Worker Responsibilities

  • Follow rules and regulations
  • Clean up or neutralize hazardous materials
  • Test and identify materials
  • Package and properly store hazardous materials

Dental Laboratory Technician

Dental laboratory technicians assist dentists with crowns, bridges, dentures, and other dental procedures. You are not required to have a certification, but you can earn specialized certificates to be more adept with dental technology. At nine percent projected growth, you will be able to find a job in this field.

Dental Laboratory Technician Responsibilities

  • Create teeth molds using the right tools and materials
  • Provide accurate reports on patients to dentists
  • Inspect final product quality to ensure good service
  • Repair damaged dental devices and appliances

Choreographer or Dancer

Choreographers and dancers work in the entertainment industry or other settings that require dancers. They can do freelance work or get a more steady job. Certification and experience are not required, but some fields might require extra skills. The job outlook for choreographers and dancers looks promising at six percent.

Choreographer or Dancer Responsibilities

  • Learn and choreograph dance moves and routines
  • Attend rehearsals and practices
  • Provide training to new dancers
  • Assist in creating costumes and set pieces for a show

Pest Control Worker

Pest control workers attend remove pests such as roaches, rats, ants, termites, and more that can potentially ruin houses and buildings. You need to have completed high school to qualify, and most states require you to pass an exam and earn a license. You must also know the proper way to handle and use pesticides. Job growth is projected at nine percent.

Pest Control Worker Responsibilities

  • Inspect the location of pests in a building
  • Eradicate pests using pesticide and other procedures
  • Establish baits and traps to lure and kill pests
  • Suggest pest management and treatment plans

Bus or Transit Driver

Bus and transit drivers responsible for transporting people from one point to another via public vehicles. You will need a driver’s license and knowledge of precautionary measures and safety. You will also need to get certified to drive a bus. This job is projected to grow by 11 percent by 2029, with about 132,900 projected openings every year.

Bus or Transit Driver Responsibilities

  • Drive passengers from stop to stop
  • Learn routes and precautionary measures
  • Assist passengers and respond to queries
  • Maintain the cleanliness of vehicles

Grounds Maintenance Worker

Grounds maintenance workers care for the outdoor grounds of houses, buildings, and parks. Certification is not required as long as you can demonstrate your competence, especially in plant care. You will need to have a sense of aesthetics. You may also opt to upskill and become a landscape designer. Job growth is projected at 10 percent.

Grounds Maintenance Worker Responsibilities

  • Mow and fertilize lawns
  • Remove dead and potentially dangerous trees
  • Water and care for plants and flowers
  • Monitor the health of grass and plants

Umpire, Referee, or Other Sports Official

Sports officials are responsible for maintaining the order of an athletic and sporting event. They have the power to impose rules and penalties. You are required to register with your state if you want to officiate in an athletic event. You will need to take an exam to demonstrate your knowledge. At eight percent, sports officials have a decent job outlook.

Umpire, Referee, or Other Sports Official Responsibilities

  • Officiate sporting events and competitions
  • Impose the rules and regulations of a game
  • Call games and give penalties for violation
  • Settle infractions between players or teams

Veterinarian Assistant

Veterinarian assistants help veterinarians to provide care for animals during consultation and procedures. Certification is not required, but you must demonstrate your ability to work around all kinds of animals. In this line of work, you will also need compassion and a love for animals. Job growth is much faster than average at 16 percent.

Veterinarian Assistant Responsibilities

  • Restrain or calm animals during procedures
  • Feed and bathe animals if needed
  • Ensure that medical equipment is clean and sterile
  • Assist in collecting samples for lab procedures

Recreation Worker

Recreation workers help improve fitness and health through relaxing activities. These activities are often set in summer camps, facilities, parks, and more. This is ideal for students seeking part-time jobs. You need to have a certification to qualify because you should know first aid and emergency response. The job outlook is promising at 10 percent.

Recreation Worker Responsibilities

  • Curate activities for a specific group
  • Maintain safety by establishing rules
  • Provide first aid for emergency cases
  • Organize and connect with facilities for the events

Animal Care or Service Worker

Animal care and service workers are responsible for training, feeding, and grooming animals. Certifications are not required, though you can get a certification for grooming or pet training in a trade school. This job is projected to grow 22 percent by 2029, with about 62,400 possible openings every year. This is a great job outlook.

Animal Care or Service Worker Responsibilities

  • Provide general care to animals
  • Monitor the health and diet of animals
  • Monitor potential signs of illness or injury
  • Train animal behavior
How Much Does Trade School Cost?

How Much Does Trade School Cost?

The average cost of a trade school depends on the type of program you choose. The US Department of Education created the College Affordability and Transparency List where you can search for the cost of a specific program. On average, the cost ranges from around $1,000 to as much as $70,000.

What Are the Requirements to Attend Trade School?

In general, a trade school only requires a high school diploma. If you were homeschooled, then a GED is acceptable. In that case, you may need to take a qualifying exam as part of the admission process.

Can I Attend a Trade School Online?

Yes, you can attend some trade school programs online. However, you might need on-the-job training to work in the field, especially for jobs that require physical labor. Most schools have also shifted to virtual classes due to COVID-19.

Is a Trade Job Good For Me?

If you enjoy hands-on occupations, then a trade job is good for you. These jobs are specifically made for individuals who would like to focus more on developing specific skills. You also get to learn the job through the help of experience and unique situations.

Enroll now in a vocational school or try your luck by applying for a job. Either way, you will improve your skills and capabilities.

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