You don't have to go to college to build a fulfilling and financially attractive career. If you’re thinking about skipping student loans, trade jobs can be an excellent choice.
With dozens of options to choose from, you may find something you love to do that uses your unique talents and interests.
Still, you’ll want to be paid well and reduce your money stress. We’ve pulled together a list of 15 high-paying trade jobs you don’t have to get a college degree to do.
Earn money online by taking surveys
$55,000 might sound crazy … but with a company called Survey Junkie, it’s possible to get your share of it every day by taking their simple surveys.
While it might sound strange, these “market research” surveys are a known way to make extra cash online. Of course, they won’t make you rich … but if you have some extra free time, the money you earn could be enough to cover gas, groceries, coffee, and more!
Follow these simple steps to get your share of $55,000:
- Sign up for an account with Survey Junkie here.
- Take surveys.
- Repeat daily and get paid!
Sign up here and share your opinion on these companies with simple surveys. Survey Junkie has paid out over $76 million to date.
P.S.: You can cash out with as little as $5 through PayPal or bank transfer, or transfer to gift cards from a number of stores.
Elevator and escalator installer
Median wage: $97,860 per year
It’s not common to hear about people wanting to enter the elevator industry, but doing so could be quite valuable with a high median wage.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professionals handle the installation, maintenance, and repair of elevators, escalators, lifts, and other moving walkways.
To work in the field, you’ll need a high school diploma or the equivalent and complete an apprenticeship to obtain your license and start boosting your bank account.
Line installer and repairer
Median wage: $74,530 per year
Line installers have higher-risk jobs, often installing and repairing power systems, fiber optics, and telecommunication electrical systems.
Their work tends to include both heights and dangerous circumstances, and they may have to work irregular hours after a storm.
Over the next 10 years, there will be a 6% rate of growth in the field, according to the BLS.
To work in this field, you’ll need to receive training through a technical school or vocational program. On-the-job training may also be available, and apprenticeships are readily available in most states.
Police and detectives
Median wage: $66,020 per year
Working as a police officer or detective is dangerous, hard work, and it’s a must needed profession, often compensated by a higher pay rate than average. There will be a need for more than 20,000 additional officers in the field by 2031.
Police officers go through training academy before they work on the job, though a lot of their skill comes from their work in those first years.
Get out of $10,000 or more in debt
Credit card debt is suffocating. It constantly weighs on your mind and controls every choice you make. You can end up emotionally and even physically drained from it. And even though you make regular payments, it feels like you can never make any progress because of the interest.
National Debt Relief is designed specifically to help you get out of credit card debt faster, without having to make drastic life changes. With National Debt Relief, you could pay off your credit card debt (with potentially way less interest) in one simple monthly payment.
How to get National Debt Relief to pay off your debt: Sign up for a free debt assessment here. (Do not skip this step!) By signing up for a free assessment, National Debt Relief can immediately assist you in paying off your debt, but only if you schedule the assessment.
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics
Median wage: $65,550 per year
You don’t have to be a pilot to earn well in the airline industry, especially if you work as a mechanic. These professionals inspect, maintain, and repair aircraft of all types. Their work is in demand and likely to see a growth of about 9,000 jobs, or 6%, by 2031.
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics typically get their education in a trade school with a Federal Aviation Administration-approved program.
Median wage: $61,640 per year
Flight attendants may seem to have a fabulous job traveling around the world, but their demanding job requires long hours and lots of time away from home. The higher earning capacity is also an attractive reason to choose this position.
More so, from 2021 to 2031, a 21% rate of growth is expected in this industry, according to BLS data, which means finding a job could be easy.
The good news is you do not need a college degree to work as a flight attendant. Most receive on-the-job training and certification from the Federal Aviation Administration to do their job.
Construction and building inspectors
Median wage: $61,640 per year
You can work as a construction and building inspector without a college degree but with hands-on education.
Though fewer jobs in this field are expected over the coming years, for those that enjoy factors like overseeing building codes and zoning rules, this could be a rewarding job.
These professionals need to complete a construction trade to gain hands-on experience and then will likely receive on-the-job training.
Median wage: $61,150 per year
Working as a railroad worker can be interesting, though it requires a lot of time away from home. You’ll work on passenger and freight trains, completing various tasks onboard and in the rail yard. With a 4% expected growth rate, this job could be available to many.
You don't need a college degree to work as a railroad worker, but you may need a high school diploma or the equivalent. Most offer on-the-job training.
Median wage: $60,040 per year
Electricians work to maintain, install, upgrade, and repair electrical systems in residential and commercial locations.
They typically handle lighting, control systems, communications, and general power needs. They're also in demand, with the BLS estimating a 7% growth rate from 2021 to 2031.
To be an electrician, you’ll need to complete an apprenticeship, and, in some states, you may need to maintain a license.
Median wage: $59,880 per year
Plumbers work in homes and commercial establishments to manage all aspects of water and drain management.
It’s a critical job, and they're often very much in demand, so they may work weekends and evening hours.
The BLS shares that there’s an estimated 2% expected wage growth in the next 10 years in this field.
To be a plumber, you’ll need to work through an apprenticeship, though many attend vocational-based programs during their last years in high school or just after. Many get on-the-job training, too.
Join AARP and double your number of interviews within 60 days
Finding a new job is difficult. But join AARP today, and you’ll get access to skill-building courses, a free resume review, and AARP’s exclusive job board to help you stand out in the competitive job market.
How to become a member today:
- Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today.”
- Create your account by answering a few simple questions.
- Start using AARP’s job search tools!
An AARP membership unlocks resources that could help you land the perfect role. Plus, you’ll get access to tools like The AARP Resume Advisor to supercharge your resume, cover letter, and even your LinkedIn profile.
AARP claims they can help double your number of interviews within 60 days, or they'll rewrite your resume for free.
Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (do not skip this step!). Doing so will allow you to take up to 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.
Computer support specialist
Median wage: $57,910 per year
Working as a computer support specialist means balancing technology and people, which often means a lot of hands-on interaction.
This job can be desirable for those who enjoy working to build and maintain computer networks and systems. The estimated growth rate for this industry is 6%.
The type of work you do and the skill you provide determine if you’ll need college-level courses after high school in this field, but many jobs don’t require it.
Median wage: $53,890 per year
Pouring concrete and finishing it with textures and detailing can be an impressive job, combining physical labor and artistic talent.
Those who work in this industry may do patios, driveways, and roads. Cement masons and concrete finishers will see some increase in jobs in the coming years, but the BLS pins that growth as slower than average.
The good news is that you'll get on-the-job training with some vocational school opportunities.
Median wage: $50,700 per year
Working as a firefighter is dangerous and pays a bit more than some jobs. There's a need for about 13,900 more firefighters, or about 4%, from 2021 to 2031.
These professionals work to respond to fires, smoke alarms, and CO2 alarms while often putting their life on the line for others.
You'll need to complete some postsecondary education, usually through a training academy, to work as a firefighter, and some will also earn their emergency medical technician certification.
Real estate broker and sales agent
Median wage: $48,770 per year
Working as a real estate agent or broker means helping people buy and sell homes and commercial property. It’s a job for those who enjoy working directly with others and have a keen understanding of the real estate industry.
Growth in this field is about 5%, meaning an additional 30,100 people will be needed by 2031.
As for your education, you’ll need to complete a state-mandated license, which often requires some trade school or certificate program.
Diesel service technicians and mechanics
Median wage: $48,690 per year
Though automotive technicians earn less, those who work as diesel service technicians could earn a reliable wage for inspecting, repairing, and maintaining trucks, buses, and other diesel-engine systems. With a 4% job growth rate, this job has opportunities.
There's quite a bit to learn in this field, which often means completing a trade school or vocational program in diesel machines and, in some cases, working through an apprenticeship.
Median wage: $48,630 per year
The heating, air conditioning, and ventilation industry — along with those who work as refrigeration mechanics — fit into this field, according to the BLS. They're likely to see growth in the coming years of about 5%.
The work typically involves working in any type of residential or commercial building, providing hands-on labor in planning, installing, maintaining, and troubleshooting heating and cooling systems.
To work in this field and get ahead financially, you will likely need to complete some postsecondary education in a vocational or trade school. Many will go through an apprenticeship as well.
Keep in mind that none of these careers require a college education, and the median wage listed is just that — the mid-range earnings for those in the field. Many people earn much more, especially once they gain experience in the field.
That could mean there’s a significant amount of earning power in any of these areas, and you can stop living paycheck to paycheck relatively quickly.