Trade Jobs: How Much Training for How Much Pay?

For those not interested in investing the time or money to obtain a four-year college degree, many careers offer good earning potential without one. Here is some information about popular trade jobs, the required education or certification, length of training, and earning potential.

Appliance Repair Technician

As an appliance repair technician, you will work with gas stove repair to air conditioning systems and microwaves to clothes dryers. You will also need to be knowledgeable about large appliances, portable appliances, electrical and mechanical work.

You will also need to adapt in dealing with people, have a clean driving record, background check, and pass random drug testing. Appliance repair technicians must have a high mechanical aptitude, impeccable verbal and written communication abilities, work proficiently with repair tools, have troubleshooting skills, and the ability to lift heavy machinery.

You can complete Core Appliance Repair training in as little as two months. Some specializations may require you to complete an apprenticeship program, get additional training and certification, such as those requiring using hazardous material such as cooling refrigerant.

An appliance repair technician’s average wage is $28/per hour for 40-hours a week.

Car Mechanic

Auto mechanics typically get trained on the job. To become a qualified auto service technician can take two years, up to five years. If you want to become familiar with all auto repair types, it will take another year or two of training.

Only auto mechanics who buy or use refrigerants need a license. But auto mechanics must be certified. An auto mechanic needs certification in areas such as transmissions, brakes, and electrical systems. This certification comes from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

Mechanics need to pay attention to details when identifying problems to determine if they can be repaired or need replacement. They need to explain the situation to their customer and help them make affordable decisions on repairs, such as a water pump replacement, ruptured fuel line, or faulty brakes.

The national average yearly income for car mechanics is $42,000, with the highest-paid receiving $56,000 and the lowest-paid $31,200.

Commercial Driver

It is not required that you meet any specific educational guidelines to become a commercial driver. You will need to earn your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) if you plan on driving a larger vehicle, such as a semi. Completion of a truck drivers training program is advised and available through technical and community colleges.

Some of the critical skills needed to become a commercial driver are hand-eye coordination, alertness, and physical stamina. You will need to have some mechanical ability to determine if there is a problem with your rig. For example, if there is an issue with the transmission, engine, or tractor wheels.

The average annual wage for tractor-trailer truck drivers is $44,000, and the projected growth of this occupation is about 5% to 2028.


Trade schools offer courses on the basics of the construction trade. Students will learn how to select building materials, install them using appropriate tools, read and interpret blueprints, build codes, and shop drawings are part of the curriculum. Part of this training can be part of a high school curriculum.

When trade school is completed, training can continue by working as a paid apprentice. This can take up to five years. During this time, the worker goes to assigned jobs in different building trades, such as restoration services, or learning the installation of commercial glass doors, in addition to classroom training. It then allows the apprentice the opportunity to develop specialized skills, such as cabinet
making or millwork.

An apprentice carpenter can make $28,000 during his first year but over $68,000 as a journeyman in the fifth year.


The educational requirements for licensing differ by state. But the first step is a high school diploma or GED. An associate degree in cosmetology or a cosmetology training certificate, along with hands-on experience that is supervised, is needed for eligibility for their state’s licensing exam. The licensing process includes the completion of a post-secondary program at an accredited cosmetology or barber school.

Specialties in the area of Cosmetology include hairstyling, haircutting, cosmetics, skincare, manicures, pedicures, waxing, and permanent hair removal procedures, such as electrology and intense pulsed light (IPL).

Cosmetologists working as makeup artists and sales representatives earn about $10.00 per hour or $20,200
annually. Cosmetologists who teach in beauty schools or technical colleges earn about $27,000 annually.

Dental Hygienist

To become a dental hygienist, an associate’s degree in dental hygiene is required. Most trade or vocational schools structure their program into a two-year program, focusing on basic sciences and dental hygiene clinical courses.

Dental hygienists examine patients for signs of diseases of the mouth, such as gingivitis. They provide preventive care education regarding the care of their teeth and educate patients about oral health. They also update patient histories, read X-rays, and maintain and inventory equipment in the dental office.

If you desire a well-paying career in the medical field without becoming a doctor, consider a dental hygienist. The average annual income has risen to $75,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


This is one of the most popular trade jobs. There are six basic steps to becoming an electrician. The first is to get a high school diploma or GED. Second, obtain pre-apprenticeship training at a trade school or vocational college to learn the fundamentals of electrical work. The third step is to apply for an apprenticeship by researching available opportunities.

Step four is to register as an electrician trainee or apprentice in your state if it is required. Step five is completing your apprenticeship. This provides on-the-job training with online courses or classroom training. You are mentored by a master or journeyperson electrician throughout the four to five years of training and receive an hourly wage. The last step is to get certified or licensed in your state or

While you can train to be an electrician in as little as nine months, it usually takes between five and six years to become a journeyman electrician. One of the enormous benefits of becoming an electrician is that you will not have a considerable amount of student loans to repay and can earn a substantial living.

The average salary for electricians in the United States is $27 per hour or $56,000 annually.

Elevator Technician

There are qualifications to be accepted for the Certified Elevator Technician Training Program. You must be a current employee and be sponsored by an employer with a CET (certified elevator technician) supervisor in place. You must be 18 years old and a high school graduate or a GED.

There is no such thing as elevator technician school. The training is done through an apprenticeship and learned from shadowing an experienced elevator mechanic. The elevator apprenticeships last four years and may be offered by unions, industry associations, or individual contractors.

The entry-level hourly wage for an elevator technician is $20 to $28, with an annual average salary of $40,000 to $57,000.

Heating and Cooling

Heating and cooling technicians work on mechanicals that control temperature, humidity, and air quality in enclosed environments. They help design, manufacture, install, and maintain this equipment. This may involve working in climate-controlled environments for temperature-sensitive products such as food, medicine, computers, or precision instruments.

To become certified in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), it takes one to two years to complete a trade school or vocational training school course. Some of the areas covered in this training are electrical wiring, airflow calculation and management, safety procedures, and blueprint reading.

Most states require heating and cooling technician to obtain a license. Requirements vary by state, but most require passing an exam. They must also have an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification to handle legally and buy refrigerants.

HVAC technicians make an average annual salary of $49,000. Employment in this career field is expected to grow by 13% by 2028.

Massage Therapist

Massage is the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body. Techniques are applied with a device, the hands, or fingers. The purpose of massage is to treat bodily stress or pain.

Massage therapy is currently the top training program being added to trade school curriculums. Certification or licensure in massage therapy is needed in states that have regulations for massage therapy. The license must be obtained after graduation from the training program and before working as a massage therapist.

It is possible to grow in the field to become a certified massage therapist (CMT) or a licensed massage practitioner.

The average hourly wage for a massage therapist is $25 per hour.


This is another one of the popular trade jobs that offer a good living. A high school diploma or GED is required, with a strong foundation in math, science, and computers. Students will learn how to install fixtures, pipe threading, tools and equipment usage, water supply, drainage systems, maintenance, and repair in trade school.

Additional coursework will cover refrigeration, heating, and natural gas. Coursework mixes classroom instruction and lab work. Students can obtain a one-year certificate or a two-year Associate of Applied
Science degree. The average hourly wage for plumbers across the United States is $26.00 or $50,000 yearly.

Real Estate Agent

There are several ways you can complete real estate prelicensing requirements. You can receive training at local real estate schools or firms, technical schools and universities also offer real estate licensing programs.

The training is very in-depth and challenging, but the earning potential is fabulous if you succeed. When you drive by houses for sale, if you can imagine your name on that sign, if you are persistent and do not discourage easily, perhaps a career as a real estate agent is for you.

The salary estimates are based on 20,000 salaries submitted anonymously by real estate companies over the past 36 months. The average salary for a real estate agent in the United States is $84,000.

Rental Business Owner

Are you thinking of starting a business that deals in forklift rentals or any other equipment? If so, you realize the most important thing you need to do is develop a business plan. Although it is unnecessary, many people who begin as business owners do not have degrees in business.

Consider the competition. How many businesses of the same type are in your area? Can you talk to people who are already in the business for advice and ask what pitfalls to avoid? Do your homework before attempting to start any business. It takes dedication, tenacity, and enthusiasm to be a successful business owner.

It isn’t easy to gauge salaries for business owners, as it depends on wages, overhead, business type, and other factors.


There are no education requirements for roofers. Most of the training is done on the job. Apprenticeships are available from contractor associations, unions, etc. You need to have a high school diploma, be at least 18 years old, and be physically fit.

Most roofers and helpers work in crews for a roof contractor. They typically learn on the job, but some learn their trade through an apprenticeship of a three-year technical training program and paid on-the-job training.

It is easy to learn the basics of roofing for simple projects such as necessary roof repair or shingling a shed. However, roofing becomes challenging for more complicated designs found today on homes.

Depending on experience, a roofer can earn from $24,000 to $36,000 annually.


Most employers prefer a welding certification, taking six to eight months to receive, depending on the program. Most trade or welding schools offer the option of day or night classes.
The average salary for a welder is $17.00 per hour or $44,000 yearly. It can go up to $88,000 as experience and knowledge increase.

There are many popular trade jobs possible through trade or vocational school education. When researching what industry to pursue, remember that the salary depends mainly on education, certifications, skill levels, and experience in that field.

Choosing a trade school for training after high school is a good option for those not wanting to invest a great deal of time preparing for the future. There is an option for everyone.

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