Sunday, 14 February 2021

Top 10 Best Trade Jobs ( Ranked Trades Careers List)

There's a lot of noise going on around the internet, you go to one part of the internet, they say you shouldn't go into trades because it's back-breaking work and you don't get paid as well as you could if you went into something else. And then you go to another part of the internet, let's say Reddit for instance, and it seems like everybody is obsessed with trades and everybody needs to become a plumber or an HVAC guy. Some think that you should get a four-year degree so that you can sit in an air-conditioned office and just type away on a computer, whereas other people say that it's better to go into the trades because you don't have to go deep into debt, get a college degree, spend four years of your life in order to get a job. And as with most things on the internet, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. And I really do believe after doing a ton of research on this the trades are making a comeback overall. In my opinion, trades are underrated, and I'll explain why.

A long time ago there used to be a shortage of people who had a college degree, and therefore, if you got a college degree it was a sure thing that you are going to get a good job. Now it's getting to the point where there's almost an excess of people who have college degrees, and so, it's not nearly as rare, and it's not nearly as coveted by people who own businesses. Now, on the other hand,, when we're talking about trades, it used to be back in your dad's day or your grandpa's day, that a lot of men knew how to work on cars, they knew how to build houses, they could probably fix your toilet or pipe if something happens there. But now, it seems like most men don't even know how to change a tire

What does this mean in terms of getting a job and the economy? Well, things are starting to switch and there are now fewer and fewer people that have the skills necessary to do these trades jobs. And the truth is, trades are a great option for a lot of people, and in this article, I'm going to be going over the top 10 trades jobs

I did a ton of research in order to come up with this list but in the end, I'm also going to go over tricks that you can use in order to figure out which one of these jobs or which trades job that maybe isn't on the list is perfect for you. Because if you do decide to go in this direction towards the trades, there are three things that are very very important that you absolutely have to keep in mind when you're deciding which one is going to be right for you. And I'm going to go over those three towards the end of the article. So the way I constructed this list is I looked at obvious things like salary, that's a really obvious one. I also looked at things like future job growth and how many jobs are open right now, and then, of course, I considered job satisfaction ratings and I asked people in real life who are actually doing these careers. And then on top of that, I also considered a bunch of things which I considered to be X factors, and just an example of one of those things would be wear and tear on the body.

So there are some trades careers that are much more difficult on the body than others. And so these sorts of careers are obviously going to rank worse on the list. A lot of people who go into trades careers and specifically, the ones that are very physically demanding end up having to either retire in their 40s or 50s, or they end up switching careers entirely. 

  • Now, I personally work in the healthcare field and I've worked with a lot of patients who take pain killers because they did an entire career in a very difficult trade, and now they have back issues, knee issues, etc... and it's tough to see this, but it's quite common. So this is something you do want to keep in mind when you're thinking about which trade career you should go with. Another thing to keep in mind is there are a lot of trades where they're very niche like there are not that many job openings out there, but that doesn't mean that these aren't really good options for you, so those are ones you should look into, I mean, my list would be ridiculously long if I included those types of trade careers, but again, it's something you should definitely look into. 

Another thing to know is that all the careers I mentioned in this article are going to be ones that you can theoretically get into within two years. So that means you graduate high school, and within two years, you can be making full-time salary money doing any one of these careers. That doesn't mean that you will do it in two years, sometimes people do an extra-long apprenticeship, there are certain factors that go into this, all of them can theoretically be done in two years.

1. Radiation Therapist

This is one of the toughest mentally to do on the list because you're going to be treating cancer patients and other different types of diseases using radiation therapy. 

  • Cons: 
An obvious con on this one is you're going to be around sick people all day long. A lot of them probably aren't going to be in a very good mood, and this is true for all healthcare jobs, but especially with a job like this it's hard to not bring your job home with you. And so if you're an extremely sensitive or emotional person, you probably don't want to go into a career like this.

Another con is it does technically require licensure, not an apprenticeship, but it does require licensure and so that's going to take you a little bit longer

  • Pros:

The pros to this one are, first of all, it's the highest paying out of all of them on the list it pays $82,000 a year, and it also has a 9% average growth which is really solid, and then another thing to consider is you're gonna be doing a job that may not be very fun. But it will probably be extremely fulfilling because you're helping people out and this is one thing that I think is underrated about the healthcare profession. Yes, it's really difficult, yes you're gonna have people yelling at you sometimes, but it's extremely fulfilling because you know that you're helping people out.

2. Heavy Equipment Operators

You can imagine from the name heavy equipment operator, these are the people who basically operate the huge machines like cranes or tractors, and they use them to build buildings or construct roads and all sorts of things.

Heavy equipment operators make about $46,900 a year which is pretty good. This is still on the lower end out of all the ones on the list, but it's still not too bad. They're also expected to grow at about a 10% rate in the next ten years, which is really good the average is four to six so that's about double what the average is. And unfortunately, this is one that does require licensure and apprenticeship. The big businesses are not going to let you operate their million-dollar machines unless you're really well trained. Because you could probably mess something up pretty easily

  • Pros:

This one is relatively entrepreneurial and by that, I mean, there are certain types of heavy equipment that probably pay a little bit more than others. So from the research that I did. Crane operators especially in particular places they do tend to get paid more than a lot of the other heavy equipment operators. And without getting too much into the details, this is one where you want to do your research, do your due diligence and make sure to talk to people who are in the industry now, and that way, you can figure out where more of the opportunities are. So for example, you might have a lot more opportunity if you get licensed and learn how to work cranes, although, it will probably have its ups and downs

  • Cons:

The cons of doing a job like this are it's probably extremely stressful. I mean, one little mistake and you could easily end somebody's life or you could cause like a million dollars worth of damage. So you really have to be on your A-game all the time. You have to be locked in, dialed in, at all time

Another thing is you do need the licensure and the apprenticeship like I mentioned before, that takes a lot more time than if you were able to just do it right out of high school. Now the positive thing about doing the licensure and apprenticeship which I haven't mentioned yet, but this really applies to all of them, is that it does take time, it is going to be difficult, but at the same time that means other people have to do it as well and so it does act as a barrier to entry to new people coming into the career. And so, therefore, when you do it, you do have pretty good job stability after you've gotten it done

Overall, this is still a very solid choice especially if you do your research and you're a little more entrepreneurial and you're willing to probably go where the opportunity is.

3. Sonographer

If you're not sure what they do they basically operate special imaging equipment so that they can see inside of the human body, for instance, like an ultrasound. And sonographer x' makes about $67,000 a year on average which is just amazing considering you don't have to do licensure or an apprenticeship. They also have a 14% expected growth which is one of the highest on the list and it's just amazing. And this is another trend that I noticed, not just studying trades careers but just careers in general, a lot of the ones that are related to health are gonna have very high expected job growth, usually 10% or more, now of course, there are exceptions to this but as a general rule in health care, it seems like we're always short-staffed, we never have enough people to fill the positions and so that is why I really recommend healthcare quite a bit because not only is there a lot of jobs available now, but there's going to be a lot of jobs available in 10 years. And if you think about it no matter what happens we're always going to need healthcare professionals because unfortunately, people are going to continue to get sick and continue to die, and so there's always going to be a huge need for people who can treat them and can cure them.

  • Cons:

The cons of getting into this career, honestly, it's really tough to even find a con. You do have to interact with patients. Sometimes they might not be in the best mood. So if you're somebody who doesn't like interacting with people you're just a huge introvert, you don't want to talk to people, you don't want to deal with patients or customers, then maybe you probably don't want to go into this one. But it's not excessive, it's not like you have to talk to hundreds and hundreds of people every single day

  • Pros:

It doesn't require licensure or apprenticeship, it's got that amazing 14% expected growth, it pays extremely well, and then, of course, this is one of the trades where you're definitely not going to have to do a lot physically. So it's not very difficult on the body, and so, therefore, you're not going to have to quit in your 40s because you have horrible back pain or anything like that, and so this is really just an amazing option.

4. HVAC Technician 

HVAC stands for (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). They're the people who fix your air conditioner in the summer and your heater in the winter. HVAC technicians make a median of about $47,600 a year which is on the lower side of this list, but not too bad. And they're expected to grow about 13% in the next ten years which is excellent

  • Cons:

The cons of doing HVAC is that it can be somewhat taxing on the body because you're going to be lifting heavy air conditioners, heavy heater parts, you're also gonna be crawling into ventilation systems, so it's somewhat taxing on the body. Again, definitely not as bad as some of the others. I didn't even include some of the worst ones on the list because even if you make $100,000 a year, if you get crippled from it, to me, that's just not worth it

Another thing about HVAC and I guess you could say this is a pro or a con, but we'll put it in cons, is it's extremely seasonal. So if you own an HVAC business in Miami you're probably gonna be doing like 80% of your work in the summer because it's gonna be a hundred degrees outside and 95% humidity, and when people's air conditioner breaks down, there's a problem. Whereas if it breaks down in the winter and you're in LA, not as big of an issue. It's more of a convenience. The same goes if you're in a cold place like let's say you live in Minneapolis Minnesota if your heater breaks down during the winter, that could potentially be life-threatening so that is very serious and you're gonna be calling an HVAC guy right away

Now the problem with it being so seasonal, you might think this is a good thing when you first hear it. I mean. you'd be like, oh, you make all your money during one season, and then you get to vacation during another part of the season, and that's true, but the really big problem with it being so seasonal is the fact that you have to hire and fire people. So for instance, you might need three or four guys during the winter, and then the work dries up during the summer, and now you have to put them all as part-time guys because there's just not enough work to go around and most of them are probably just gonna quit or they're gonna find something else. And so for that reason, it can be really difficult to scale your business, and there's also a huge difference in pay depending on where you live.

  • Pros:

On the pro side of the list. The seasonal nature of the business is really nice because when you're in the offseason you can just do whatever you want. It also doesn't require licensure or apprenticeship which is amazing because you can just start right at the high school if you want to. And then, of course, it has a really good expected growth rate of about 13%

5. Geological And Petroleum Technicians

They provide support to scientists and engineers when they're exploring and extracting natural resources. And this is actually a common theme that I saw when I was researching a lot of the trades. Trades that are related to natural gas, the oil industry, for instance, tend to pay extremely well. Now there are a lot of niche careers and that's why I didn't include them on this list because there are not that many openings available. But there's a lot of careers related to natural gas, the oil industry that pays extremely well. The downside is you probably have to move to that area, you might even have to go on an offshore rig or something like that, in order to get these sorts of jobs

  • Cons:

You are somewhat limited, what companies that you can work for. You'll probably have to move to the place in order to get a really good job. And then let's say the industry just collapsed for some reason, it's not that obvious that your skills would transfer very easily over into another industry, so you might be left empty-handed. And I guess you could say another con on this one is it only has a 7% expected growth which is actually above average.

  • Pros:

You don't need licensure or apprenticeship, you can literally put your boots on right after graduating from high school and go get a job doing a career that's related to this field. And then another thing is you make a really nice salary of $53,300 a year, and that's honestly extremely solid especially since you don't have to technically do the licensure or the apprenticeship.

6. Electrician

I think it's pretty obvious what electricians do. And this is another one where you do have to get an apprenticeship and licensure so it does take a little bit longer, but you do have the 10% expected growth over ten years which is really solid

  • Cons:

One of the cons of this career is it's really dangerous. I mean, you can get electrocuted to death. So you have to be on the ball locked in all day long on the job. And then another con is you do have to do the licensure and the apprenticeship

  • Pros:

You get paid really well, $55,100 a year, and again, this is another one where if you start your own business you can make quite a bit more than that. It's got that 10% expected growth which is excellent, and then a very important point here is it's really not as physically demanding as a lot of the other trades are. And then I guess you could say this is a pro or a con, but this is another of those careers where there are a high ceiling and a low floor in terms of your knowledge. So entry-level electricians don't know nearly as much as electricians that have been doing it for a very long time, and so as you get better, you become more valuable and you can make a lot more money depending on your knowledge.

7. Elevator Installers And Repairers

This one is pretty obvious what they do, they install elevators, they repair elevators. But there's a lot of different types of jobs, you might do something like renovation where you take out an older elevator and then you put in a newer elevator, you might be a guy who's on-call maybe someone gets stuck in an elevator you're the guy who goes and rescues them in the middle of the night. So there actually is quite a bit of different types of jobs you can do within this career. 

  • Cons

Of course, if somebody gets stuck in the middle of the night and you're on a call, you got to wake up in the middle of the night go and repair the elevator and that's always something that kind of sucks. It does require an apprenticeship and licensure which is gonna take quite a while. This is one of the ones where you have the option of going union or non-union and that's a very complicated subject with all of these. It's kind of different from state to state and from career to career, but I've read that if you do decide to go Union, it can take up to four years before you start getting paid, like the full amount that you would normally get paid

This is one of the ones where you have to be a jack-of-all-trades, you have to know quite a bit about electricity, you have to know quite a bit about the mechanics of how things work. So you really do have to have a lot of skills and then on another note, it is dangerous. I mean, elevators are like a thousand pounds and they're suspended in the air, and so, if that thing drops on you, that's extremely dangerous. This one is somewhat physical and labor-intensive compared to some of the others on the list, but again, it's not nearly as bad as the ones that didn't include on the list.

  • Pros:

The pros of this one are great, you get paid $79,700 a year that's an amazing salary. It's expected 10 your growth is 10% that's awesome. And with this particular career, there's a lot of options for you to go into. And depending on what you want to do you can probably get quite a bit of time off. And when you ask tradespeople, people who work in all kinds of different trades, which ones they think are the best to go into? You do hear this one quite a bit. You hear elevator repair and installer, they seem to think that this is one of the less physical ones where you make pretty good money.

8. Dental Hygienist

This one is really good and basically what they do is they help to examine patients, they're gonna help prevent patients from getting certain dental diseases, they're also going to do teeth cleanings, and basically, they're gonna do all the things that the dentist technically can do. But they probably shouldn't be spending their time doing it because it isn't that difficult 

Now, dental hygienists make about $74,800 a year which is one of the higher ones on the list. It does take an apprenticeship and licensure which is a downside to this, but it's expected to grow at about 11% over the next ten years which is really really good

  • Cons:

The cons of this one are pretty obvious, you're gonna be all up in somebody's grill and that's gross for a lot of people putting your hand in somebody's mouth. It does require licensure and apprenticeship and when I was doing my research on this I found that a lot of schools actually do take three years total. And in my opinion, that's like 75% of the way to a normal four years bachelor's degree where you could have been making quite a bit more if you just graduated with something else. So out of all the ones on the list this one probably takes the longest. You can technically do it in two years, but doing my research I found out that a lot of the time it's gonna take you three. But if you're somebody who's maybe not as strong or you don't really want to do physical work this is a really good one

  • Pros:

Of course, the pay pays extremely well. It's also growing really fast at 11%. And then another huge thing is this one is a lot less physical than most of the other trades jobs on the list. And that means that you can have a longer career, that means you're gonna have less back pain, less leg pain, and all those sorts of things. This is a great option depending on what you're interested in.

9. Plummer

I'm sure a lot of you are actually surprised that this one is so high on the list. I surprised you probably thought it was going to be in the top three. This is one of the most popular ones to get into, but yeah, I'm gonna have to put number eight as Plummer. And I think that everybody knows what they do, they basically install, repair pipes that carry either liquids or gases

Now, plumbers make about $53,900 a year on average which is good. They do require licensure and an apprenticeship, which means, you got to spend that extra time. But they also have about a 14% projected growth in the next ten years which is excellent. That's about 3x as much as the average. So there's going to be a huge need for plumbers in the next 20-30 years. Plumbing is definitely one of these solid careers on this list where maybe you don't have as much upside as a plumber, but there's also a ton of need anywhere you go in the United States. So you probably won't have to move to a particular place in order to get a job as a plumber. So if your family is all in one city and you want to stay in that city, this would probably be a really good option for you because you're bound to be able to find a job maybe even open your own business no matter where you go

  • Cons:

The cons of being a plumber like I mentioned before is you do have to get that licensure and the apprenticeship. 

It can be somewhat difficult on the body, it's not nearly as bad as some of the ones out there like I've heard Boilermaker is a really tough one on the body. It's definitely not that bad, but it is somewhat physically taxing.

  • Pros:

The pros to this career are, of course, the insane future growth of 14%. The fact that you can get a job anywhere you go. It doesn't matter where you are, there's going to be opportunities wherever. This is also one of those careers where you do get quite a bit of variation in your schedule. So you might have quite a bit of free time at one part of the day and then you're on call the rest of the day. So that can be nice depending on what type of person you are, and this is just one of the most stable types of trades. People's pipes break during the summer, they break during the winter, so you're gonna get work all year round, there's gonna be some variability, but a lot of the trades maybe during the winter, for instance, there's no work whatsoever, and then during the rest of the year there's quite a bit of work

This one is less seasonal, you're going to be working all year round. And that means it's more stable which means you can have a more normal life if you want to, and this is one of those careers where, yeah sure technically, it says you're only making $53,900 a year median, but I personally know plumbers that started their own business that are pulling in six figures a year. So you can definitely get up to that six-figure mark if you want to.

10. Welders

Welders make about $41,300 a year, and this is the median income according to And I think everybody knows what welders do. They wield fire, they have torches, they cut metal, they combine metal, all sorts of extremely useful things welders are able to do with their skills. And you might be surprised that welders only come in at about number 10 on the list. But I'm going to go ahead and explain why

  • Cons:

First of all, the $41,300 average salary is pretty low compared to a lot of the others on this list, and then it's also only expected to grow about 3% in the next ten years according to BLS. Which again, that's on the lower end especially for trades careers. A lot of them are up in the ten percent range or so, but technically the average is somewhere around four to six percent, so that's slightly below average compared to all other careers. 

Another downside of getting into welding is it is relatively difficult on the body not as bad as a lot of the other trades careers. But you do have to hold a torch, and your back might have to be in the same position for a very long period of time, so there's difficulty on the back. Not to mention the fact that you'll probably burn yourself like twenty or thirty times. But overall, it is pretty difficult on the body and so those are the main reasons why it wasn't higher up on the list.

  • Pros:

First of all, you don't have to be licensed or have an apprenticeship in order to start in welding which is a huge advantage. That means that theoretically, you could come straight out of high school, and start welding right away. And in my opinion, that is kind of the big advantage of getting into a trade. There are certain trades where if you join a union, for instance, it might take you three or four years before you start making the full amount of money that you're supposed to make. And that's kind of a huge disadvantage for me because you could have just gone to college gotten a really good degree and you'd be making a lot more than what you're making in the trades. So if it takes any more than two years for me, it's probably not worth it.

Another thing about welding that is really interesting is the difference between a new welder, and a master welder is massive. I mean, there's a huge difference. There are a very low floor and a very high ceiling in terms of the skill that you can have. So new welders that are just going into it probably aren't going to be making very much money. I mean, it's not going to be anything impressive. However, as you get through your career, if you develop certain types of skills that a lot of people want to pay for, and you get known in the industry maybe you have to be a little bit entrepreneurial, you might buy your own rig, for instance, your own welding rig, you can really start making some good money easily up into the six figures

For instance, underwater welders might take on a contract that only lasts a few months, but they could potentially make their entire year's salary in just a few months. And underwater welding as you could probably imagine takes a lot of skill and it takes many years to get good at. So just because this one comes in at number 10 on the list doesn't mean you shouldn't look at it. I think it's still a really good option especially if you're the type of person who's a little bit entrepreneurial, and you're willing to go where the opportunity is.

  • As always, I'm under-promising, and I'm over-delivering in this article and I'm gonna go over the three most important things that you want to consider if you're thinking about going into a trades career

1. Wear And Tear On The Body

The first thing and this is the most important thing for you to think about is wear and tear on the body. I have seen tons of patients that come from these trades careers that end up having to take painkillers just to get through the day. This is heartbreaking to see but please learn from their mistakes and make sure to not go into a trade that is extremely difficult on the body. Now, of course, there are always exceptions to this, let's say you're a very strong person and you can just do work like that all day long and you won't even be sore, then okay great, maybe you can go into it, but overall, you really want to be careful here. You don't want to be 40 years old, 20 years away from retirement, and you have horrible back pain every single day 

Another thing that I didn't mention but I talked about a lot on this website, is it's extremely important for you to save money, invest money, but it's even more important in the trades because there's always a chance that you throw your back out, you hurt your back, maybe you have a knee injury or something like that, that stops you from being able to do your job, and so for that reason, you need to start investing even earlier. That is by far the most important part that you need to consider

2. Unions

The second thing that you want to consider on top of the wear and tear on the body is unions. Unions can be in a lot of different other careers, but in the trades specifically, they're very very important. And it's really gonna differ depending on what state you live in, what area you live in, which trade you're doing, there are tons of differences with all those different things. An example of this is plumbers and electricians, there's a rule that they can't get laid off while they're doing their apprenticeship, which is really good if you're an apprentice. Because it's a waste of time for somebody to lay you off and then you get done with your apprenticeship and you don't know what the heck you're doing.

Unions will also pay for ridiculously expensive certifications, let's say you're in welding, and you want to learn how to do underwater welding there's probably a certification for that, so your union will likely pay for that for you. They also get you amazing benefits like holidays, vacations, extra pay, health care, retirement accounts, all kinds of different things, annuities, all of these things are really good and they're things that you should look into. Unions negotiate higher pay for you as well, although, a lot of the time you do have to pay the Union fee, the higher pay that they negotiate is gonna make up the difference when it comes to the Union fees. So as a general rule of thumb, and again, this might be a little bit different depending on where you're living, or what trade you're in, it's generally a good idea to join a union. And again, this is something it's so important that you do your research on this.

So I'll give another example, carpenters and laborers unfortunately just because of the fact that it's easy to get into it, they are actually starting to lose their unions because of the fact that so many of them are not unionized, and therefore, the unions don't have any leverage over the employers and so they can't really negotiate benefits or anything like that. And you can look online. All you want to do is sort of research. I'm sure there are forums that are specifically for carpenters or plumbers or HVAC guys, and those will be extremely helpful I'm sure, but nothing replaces just picking up the phone and calling people who are currently doing the career right now, or reaching out through your network or messaging people on LinkedIn, something along those lines, nothing replaces talking to real people who are doing the career now.

3. What Are You Good At And What Are You Interested In?

After you've considered the first two things, and I think you should do it in this order. The third thing you want to think about is what are you good at and what are you interested in?. So don't just go for the money, you want to go for something that you're really interested in. 

Let's say you're extremely passionate about electricity, it's just something you really enjoy messing with and you think it's just a really cool thing, maybe you should consider becoming an electrician. The great thing about going into the trades is you can kind of sample different trades pretty easily compared to getting a college degree, sometimes you get a four or six-year degree, and you don't really know what you're getting yourself into. You kind of do know what you're getting yourself into when it to these different trades, you can always go and shadow them, go work with them, it's not that big of a deal for you to just go and see what they're all about, ask them their opinion. And so, that is a really positive thing and it's a huge advantage when it comes to getting into the trades

And again, doing your research beforehand is going to be of paramount importance, you definitely don't want to skip that step, make sure you do your research, talk to people, you're going to be making a decision that's going to affect the entire rest of your life. So it's worth it for you to put it on now so that you don't have to later

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