As more and more students graduate from high school and attend college, they increasingly look over trade schools. In turn, this has caused a drastic shortage of labor for jobs that require skilled trades and vocational training. Electricians, welders, and construction workers are all receiving higher pay and better benefits for the work they perform. If you’re curious about becoming a skilled tradesperson, there are many different potential jobs and schools you could attend.

To qualify for these jobs, you must first learn to work a skilled trade. These skills are often taught at vocational schools. You may also hear them called technical schools, trade schools, or career schools, but they all perform the same function: to train individuals to work jobs that require complicated or dangerous tools. For years, high schools in the United States taught these vocational skills alongside academic ones. Since the dawning of the 1990s, however, vocational training has waned as schools began to emphasize academics and test scores as a means to get more federal money flowing into already shrinking budgets. As a result, many young individuals perceive trade schools negatively even though they often offer more opportunities and higher paying jobs than their academic counterparts.

In society, humans will always need houses to live in, buildings to conduct work in, and transportation to move between them. Inevitably, these things need to be built, maintained, and repaired, and these services don’t come for free. Vocational training is an essential part of society today, and figuring out a perfect trade job for yourself can be an invigorating and life-changing experience. In great detail, here is a list of 9 of the best trade jobs ever.

1. Construction Manager

construction manager

These managers, also known as general contractors, are the central role of any construction project. Construction managers work with engineers and architects to ensure everyone involved in a construction project, whether residential, commercial, or federal, is on the same page. Contractors also ensure estimates are accurate and that building is occurring at a reasonable pace. The job description quite literally says it all: construction managers manage construction.

They must determine what resources a project requires and then figure out how those resources can be put into action, no matter if they’re building a residential kitchen or a palatial mansion. Contractors are responsible for using blueprints to determine the amount of materials, cost estimations, and the number of hours a project will take.

Furthermore, managers have to hire the labor force of construction workers to get the job done, and make sure they’re working consistently throughout the operation. Gathering permits and managing client expectations are also key to the construction manager career.

Estimated Salary: $87,000

2. Energy Manager

energy manager

These skilled laborers evaluate the amount of energy a structure uses, whether it’s a home, business, or other type of agency. Also known as energy auditors, these individuals use the data collected from their sources to form plans for reducing energy use, methods for bolstering efficiency, and ways to lower energy costs. Energy managers often work for government agencies or in offices. Sometimes, environmental agencies may work alongside energy managers to make sustainable forms of energy that also keep costs down.

Generic companies may hire energy auditors to lower manufacturing costs due to energy, while other times utility companies hire them to instruct residents on how to maximize the energy efficiency in their homes. This job requires a number of analytic abilities, including ways to inspect HVAC, appliances, or wiring to determine how much energy a structure is using.

Estimated Salary: $74,000

3. Landscape Designer

landscape designer

Crafting beautiful landscapes and gardens does not happen by chance. The individuals responsible for the planning of these verdant areas are landscape designers. The job requires attention to detail, creative thinking, and the ability to think outside the box. In terms of employment, landscaping designers often work for a landscaping company, planning projects for residential or commercial spaces. Residential areas may require planning different types of vegetation, constructing irrigation systems, or installing various garden implements. 

Those designers with strong entrepreneurial drives may find themselves working on independent contracting, often in conjunction with housing developments or apartment complexes. Municipal governments also hire landscaping designers to plan public spaces or to assist landscape architects with large projects, whether they are city parks, schools, government agencies, or grassy medians on wide boulevards.

Estimated Salary: $64,000

4. Electronic Engineer

electronic engineer

These engineers develop and design various electronic equipment in all sorts of capacities. From GPS systems to radio towers, smartwatches to smartphones, electronic engineers test products and perform maintenance on all sorts of electronic devices. Some engineers work with computer hardware, crafting circuit boards and other internal components of computers that your average person never sees or thinks about. Electronic engineers can work in a wide variety of fields because the work they do is so widely needed. Computer companies, government agencies, cellphone companies, or instrument makers all may hire electronic engineers to build the products they want to sell.

Estimated Salary: $61,000

5. Electrician


An electrician is one of the classic vocational trades, a flexible position that can work in almost any industry. The modern world is powered by electricity in nearly every capacity, from the pacemakers in our hearts to the smartphones in our pockets. The two main types of electrician work are Inside and Residential. Inside electricians focus on motors, machines, and implements at manufacturing plants or factories, fixing the electronics therein. Residential electricians focus on houses, ensuring that light fixtures and wiring are up to code and appropriately installed. From installation, construction, repair, and maintenance, working with electricity can be a lucrative career.

Estimated Salary: $52,000

6. Carpenter


Another traditional vocational trade, carpentry is one of the most widely-needed jobs in the construction world. Carpenters are in charge of the raw building materials needed for a project. They cut, form, and shape these materials and eventually install them in the necessary way to form basic structures like walls, stairs, windows, and hundreds of other common building fixtures. Carpenters can work in many different construction industries, from commercial to residential, even within the same day. Whether it’s analyzing blueprints or measuring materials, carpentry takes an eye for detail and a patience for accuracy.

Estimated Salary: $42,000

7. Mason


Many different buildings aren’t built of single, solid masses of material. Instead, they are built like mosaics, by combining individual units one by one until a beautiful structure is built. This process is known as masonry, performed by an individual known as a mason. Masons ply their trades in all types of environments, whether building a house from brick or an assembly hall from pieces of glass. Schools built from cinderblocks often require skilled masons, as do residential kitchens that use stone walls for a backsplash. Brickmasons, blockmasons, or brick layers are all responsible for interpreting blueprints and determining what types of materials a project requires. Masons often work for construction companies, cutting bricks and mortaring them together.

Estimated Salary: $40,000

8. Welder


Welding is famous for being a highly-paid and highly-skilled career, and this perception has yet to wane. To become a welder, a person must take extremely specified training, because the job requires a great amount of precision and safety. Welders join metals and thermoplastics together by using sculptural fusion. The energy used to weld metal together may be lasers, gas flame, or ultrasound, which all vary in their degree of danger and excitement. Welders can work in a large variety of different areas, including manufacturing or construction. Of course, welders not only join metal together but also have to rip old machines or cars apart to get that metal in the first place.

Estimated Salary: $38,000

9. Car Mechanic

car mechanic

From cars to trucks to vans to motorcycles, automotive mechanics fix nearly any form of transportation on the road today. Vehicles require many different types of work to be done, ensuring that a car mechanic’s day-to-day job experience is never stale or boring. Mechanics perform preventative maintenance on cars, including making sure the oil is regularly changed and brakes are in good shape. 

Basic maintenance, like changing tires or figuring out what’s wrong with an engine, is also required. The big daddy of them all, of course, is diagnosing and performing repairs on vehicles that need it. Although the majority of mechanics work in an automotive shop, some may choose to work as teachers, at a dealership, or for mobile mechanic service companies like AAA.

Estimated Salary: $38,000

Parting Thoughts

No matter what trade job you find yourself interested in, all nine of these top-quality positions offer competitive salaries with on-the-job apprenticeships or trainings. The practical skills required to work these jobs will never stop being necessary in society, even with the advances made in automated technology. In fact, automated technology is only a boon to the trades—someone has to wire, design, and maintain those machines! As more individuals pursue paths outside of vocational training, the skills trade schools teach only continue to become more valuable. By pursuing a career in the vocational world, you may be able to set yourself up for more success than you could ever dream of.

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