The world does not need more college graduates—or at least that's what countless reports and studies are telling us. If you want to do yourself and the economy a favor, consider pursuing one of these seven highest paying trades of this year.  

Forbes posted an article that hinted at the shortage of tradesmen in the U.S., but despite its warnings, the U.S. continued to push bachelor's and higher degrees on recent high school graduates. "Earn a degree, make more money!" is the common slogan for those in favor of university, yet America's outstanding student loan debt is a stark contrast to the promises of many. Still, schools and families alike kept pushing their young adults to pursue a higher degree, if only because it could maybe one day prove to be useful. Yet, a "maybe one day useful degree" is not helping the student or the economy.

Recent news reports mimic Forbes' fears, but instead of being a warning, those reports appear to be a cry for help.According to those reports, states are investing a decent amount of money into campaigns that have a primary focus of reviving the reputation of vocational education and to improve the delivery of it. 

Those same reports also revealed that more than half of all tradesmen were over 45 in 2012, which would make them 50 today—just five to 10 years out of retirement. Yet, the number of individuals enrolled in trade school is way down, and it only seems to be rapidly deteriorating. This could mean big shortages for essential positions in the future.A lot of people choose traditional schooling over trade school because they believe that a four-year degree will earn them more money.

While this is true in some instances, it is just as common to find a college graduate who makes $30,000 or less as it is to find a trades person who makes $50,000 or more. In fact, as of now, the United States has 30 million job openings that pay an average of $55,000 and that do not require a four-year degree. Moreover, employers hiring for those positions, say that they're more likely to hire a person with a technical education than they are to hire a person with academic credentials, as credentials do not equal experience.

Bearing all that in mind, if you want to pursue a trade rather than a degree, and if Mom or Grandma is having a hard time coping with your decision, pass this info along and start seriously looking into viable trades. If you're not sure which trade is right for you, start your research with the highest paying trades of this year. After all, if you're going to say to heck with traditional schooling, you might as well give people something to talk about.

Highest Paying Trades

1. Commercial Pilot

person inside an aircraft

Photo by Neil Stratford from Pexels

What better way to rub it in everyone's faces who have ever told you that you won't succeed without a degree than by telling them, "Yeah, I'm a pilot"? None, actually. If you want to live out your childhood fantasy of flying a 747, or if you just want to wear a super cool uniform every day and have loads of people respect you, invest in certification from the FAA, which you can prepare for at a number of flight schools across the country.

The average pilot makes $77,200 a year, but some make as much as $130,360 or more. Of course, expect to pay a bit for private pilot lessons, as the average cost for certification-type training runs between $4,000 and $15,000. However, you can easily pay that back within your first year of employment.

Money and cool uniforms aside, bear in mind that the job outlook for pilots is pretty low right now, at around five percent. If you don’t have a winning personality, you may want to consider becoming something else, like an airline steward.

2. Dental Hygienist

dentist checking teeth

Photo  from Pexels

If you're someone who judges other people by the appearance of their teeth (don't worry, no one is judging you for being that person), a career in dentistry may be right for you. However, save yourself the 10 years of schooling, $100,000 tuition bill and another $100,000 in practice startup costs and go for your hygienist certificate instead.

The median pay for hygienists is $72,910, while top earning hygienists make $100,170 or more. As of 2014, the industry expected a growth rate of 19 percent, which is slightly higher than average. The average tuition for dental hygienist degrees is $22,734, which is far less than that of the average dentist's undergrad tuition.

3. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

nurse using hospital device

Image by MedicalPrudens from Pixabay 

If you've always wanted to be a doctor but just don't want to devote 10 years of your life to schooling and hundreds of thousands of dollars you don't have to tuition payments, consider becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer.

These professionals still get to help people, they still get to make diagnoses (which nurses don't get to do) and they still get to wear cool lab coats. It's a win/win/win. Best of all, doctors rely on YOU to help with diagnoses, which after a while can do wonders for your ego.

The median pay for medical sonographers is $69,650, but you have the potential to earn as much as $99,100 or more. As of 2014, the job growth outlook was 23 percent, much higher than average. The average tuition for a certificate is $23,118.

4. Registered Nurse

nurse holding a baby

Image by Sam Chen from Pixabay 

If caring for patients is more your MO than diagnosing them with potentially fatal conditions, you may do well as an RN. Registered nurses are responsible for providing and coordinating care in healthcare settings. They can be found in private doctor's offices, public clinics, hospitals, VA centers and nursing facilities.

RNs usually interact the most with patients, which make their jobs both extremely rewarding and extremely difficult at the same time. Not only must nurses deal with difficult patients and their family members, but also they must learn to deal with the emotional aspects that come with working in the healthcare field.

If you think you're cut out for the nurse life, you have the potential to earn anywhere from $68,450 to $102,990 or more a year. The job growth rate is at a steady 15 percent, which is slightly above average. However, with the number of healthcare facilities going up, that number is projected to grow even more. Tuition can range from $5,000 to $40,000.

5. Electrician

fixing electrical wirings

Image  from Pexels

You don't have to be healthcare oriented to enjoy a fulfilling career with good pay. If you're quick on your toes, handy with tools and detail oriented, you may do well as an electrician. The median pay for electricians is $52,720, though there are some electricians that earn as much as $90,420 per year. As an electrician, you can find work wherever there are buildings being constructed, which as of right now is just about everywhere.

You can also find work in the residential sector; homeowners are always going to need electrical work done. Plus, electrical work is not something that just anyone can do (state laws say so), so you wouldn't have to worry about your job being swiped by a more affordable handyman. As of 2014, the job growth rate for electricians was nine percent, which is lower than average.

That said, if you can break into the business, you have it made. The cost of an electrician program ranges from $400 to $1,000 a year. It takes the average person four years to become fully qualified.

6. Plumber

plumber fixing pipes

Image by Anh Nhi Đỗ Lê from Pixabay 

If you're okay with getting down and dirty, you may do well as a plumber. Though plumbers have gotten a bad rap over the years, they're the ones laughing when they take home their paychecks each week. The average plumber makes $51,450 gross each year, while top-earning plumbers make $90,530 or more. The job outlook is just as promising as the pay at 16 percent.

An online training program costs $800 to $1,000, but the best part is, students usually work (and get paid) as a part of their training. As if that's not enough incentive to consider obtaining your plumbing license, the fact that most plumbers are self-employed might be.

7. Paralegal

hammer and book

Image by succo from Pixabay 

If you're more interested in upholding the law than you are in piloting commercial jets, caring for patients or getting dirty, look into getting a job as a paralegal. While some law firms hire qualified individuals who don't have any sort of training, most require candidates to have a paralegal certificate, which you can obtain in 15 months or less.

The average paralegal makes $49,500 a year, but top paralegals make as much as $80,260. Job outlook is decent for legal assistants at 15 percent. Paralegal certification courses range in cost and can be as little as $3,000 and as much as $10,000.

Highest Paying Trades: Final Thoughts

If you choose to pursue a trade rather than a degree, you may be doing both yourself and the economy a favor. The world is in desperate need of trades people and, let's be honest, it doesn't need any more student debt. There are dozens of well-paying trades out there for people with all types of interests, and this post just gives a glimpse into the seven of them.

So, whether you don't have the money to pursue a degree or simply want a decent answer to the dreaded "What are you going to do with your life?" question, know that by pursuing a trade, you may be putting yourself in a better position than your peers who followed the path of least resistance. 

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