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Five of The Highest Paying Jobs in The Trades

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Trade jobs boast a world of opportunities that can help you earn money while making a difference in your community. While the traditional college-to-career route is still typical for many, trade schools are also an excellent consideration for someone thinking about their future. If you’re exploring all your options for careers, then trade professions are a great place to start. 
 
Below are five of the highest-paying jobs in the trades. You can start all of them in a year or less by attending an accredited trade school to earn your diploma.
 

Power Plant Operator 

 
Average Salary: $89,090 per year/$42.83 per hour
 
Power plant operators work at power plants to maintain the vital equipment that generates and distributes electricity. They are skilled in working with the various systems and tools required to safely operate a power plant.
Daily tasks include making appointed rounds to check equipment, monitoring at a control station, and performing any necessary interventions. Some power plant operators work on nuclear power plants, so their job requires added safety and security measures. 
You can become a power plant operator through extensive on-the-job training, or you can attend a vocational school and earn a diploma in power plant technology. Power plant operators must take and pass state license exams. 
 
Despite a decline in the industry, there are still roughly 3,500 new power plant operator jobs opening each year. As more people retire, there will be additional positions for new workers to take their place. 
 

Electric Lineman

 
Average Salary: $75,030 per year/$36.07 per hour
 

While electricians earn good pay and get to work with their hands, electric linemen can take their earnings potential a step further. Also called power line installers, these electric experts work in construction and communities to maintain, repair, and lay new power lines. 

 This is an ideal job for someone who enjoys active work. An electric lineman works mostly outdoors and spends the majority of their job on their feet. You will also have to work from heights to perform repairs and maintenance on power, transmission, and distribution lines. 

You can kickstart your career by looking for journeyman jobs near you. This offers you the chance to begin on-the-job training with only a high school diploma. However, if you want to earn more and increase your job opportunities, consider an electrician’s program at a trade school. 

Line installer job growth is open and actively hiring; there is no extreme increase or decline, which means there is neither a shortage nor heavy competition. Even with limited growth projected, there will still be more than 20,300 jobs available each year until 2030. 
 

Aircraft Mechanic

 
Average Salary: $66,680 per year/$32.06 per hour
 
If you love planes and are passionate about engineering, then you might enjoy being an aircraft mechanic. Students who become aircraft mechanics at a trade school graduate in 10 months to a year. Afterward, they can take a licensing exam and begin working as full-fledged aviation mechanics. 
 
Aircraft mechanics must have good hand-eye coordination, strong problem-solving abilities and have a keen eye for detail. Some aircraft mechanics merge their love of the field with a desire to serve their country; they can enlist in the U.S Army and pursue a career in defense aviation. 
 
 

Plumber 

 
Average Salary: $56,630 annually/$27.08 per hour. 
 
Plumbers do far more than unclog toilets and fix leaky faucets. They troubleshoot plumbing issues, install new pipes and fixtures and make repairs. Most plumbers offer emergency services, so you may work evenings, weekends and holidays.
 
Plumbers can receive training at a trade school and then apply for the necessary licensing. You can also go on to offer your services as a plumbing contractor. 
 
While growth is 5% lower than the national average, there are still plenty of opportunities available. Over 51,000 positions will open each year through 2030. 
 

HVAC Technician 

 
Average Salary: $50,590 annually/$24.32 per hour. 
 
An HVAC technician makes repairs to heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems. They tend to work for local businesses, operating as technicians on-call for a variety of local jobs.
 
You may choose to specialize in a particular area of HVAC, like heating or refrigeration. Some technicians perform house calls while others work in commercial buildings. Some even work on construction sites to oversee new developments. 
 
You can start learning on-the-job as an HVAC apprentice, but it’s best to attend an HVAC trade school before earning your license and EPA 608 Universal certification. This is a required certification that ensures a technician knows how to handle refrigerants in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines. 
 
While job growth is 5% lower than other professions, there will still be approximately 38,500 positions available annually.
 

Next Steps

 
The best way to prepare for your future is to consider multiple paths. There are many careers you may be interested in or excel at. If something piques your interest, learning more about it through research can help you determine whether it’s right for you.
 
Trade jobs may not always be promoted as the standard, but they are the backbone of communities around the country. With a career in the trades, you can not only earn a decent living; you can also find a way to apply yourself and feel a sense of achievement every day through your work.

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