Trade Careers

Education, Jobs, and Salaries.

If you like working with your hands and you have good dexterity and troubleshooting skills, a career in trades can be the right fit for you.

Here we will present you with information about some of the most in-demand trade careers to help you decide if this is your path.

Auto Mechanic Auto Mechanic

An auto mechanic performs maintenance, diagnostic testing, repairs, and inspections of small trucks and cars.

Education2-3 Years
Auto Technician Auto Technician

Automotive technicians are responsible for diagnosing, repairing, and maintaining cars and trucks for local mechanic shops, automobile dealerships and garages.

Education1-2 Years
Blacksmith Blacksmith

The blacksmith hammers hot iron on an anvil to change its shape.

Education0-6 Months
Boat Captain Boat Captain

A ship captain is the leader of an entire vessel, which can range in size from a small yacht to an entire cruise liner.

Education4+ Years
Boat Mechanic Boat Mechanic

Boat Mechanic Repairs and adjusts electrical mechanical equipment of gasoline- or diesel-powered inboard or inboard-outboard boat engines.

Education4+ Years
Building Inspector Building Inspector

Building Inspectors inspect buildings to ensure compliance with laws and regulations and advise on building requirements.

Education4+ Years
Bus Driver Bus Driver

Bus drivers are required to drive buses in order to transport passengers from one place to another.

Education0-6 Months
Cabinet Maker Cabinet Maker

A cabinet maker is a person who makes high-quality wooden furniture.

Education0-1 Year
Cable Technician Cable Technician

A Cable Technician takes responsibility for installing, troubleshooting and repairing various voice and data cables.

Education1-2 Years
Carpenter Carpenter

Carpenters are skilled laborers who assist in the installation, construction, and repair of a variety of structures.

Education4+ Years
Crab Fisherman Crab Fisherman

Fisherman is a person who catches fish, and sometimes other animals that live in water.

Education0-6 Months
Electrician Electrician

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

Education4+ Years
Explosives Technician Explosives Technician

Explosives technicians work in a variety of environments, including the military, fire and police departments, construction and demolition.

Education4+ Years
Exterminator Exterminator

Exterminator's job is to kill a particular type of animal that is not wanted in a place.

Education0-6 Months
Freight Broker Freight Broker

A freight broker is responsible for matching shippers with transportation services to transport goods.

Education0-6 Months
Fuel Cell Technician Fuel Cell Technician

Fuel cell technicians install and maintain fuel cell systems and equipment.

Education4+ Years
General Contractor General Contractor

General contractors are responsible for the overall management of construction projects.

Education4+ Years
Gunsmith Gunsmith

Gunsmiths build, repair, and customize firearms like handguns, rifles, and shotguns.

Education0-6 Months
House Painter House Painter

House Painters paint customers' homes using brushes, rollers, and spray guns.

Education0-6 Months
Landscaper Landscaper

A landscaper is responsible for ensuring that an outdoor space is properly designed and cared for.

Education0-1 Year
Logger Logger

A logger is someone whose job is to cut down trees.

Education1-2 Years
Machinist Machinist

A Machinist repair and produce parts using both manual and automated equipment with precise measurements.

Education1-2 Years
Maid Maid

Maids are specifically hired to provide assistance in handling household chores such as washing, cleaning, cooking, and even childcare.

Education0-6 Months
Metal Worker Metal Worker

Metal Workers can build, install and repair many types of structures and appliances.

Education4+ Years
Miner Miner

Miners operate machinery and equipment to dig, load and transport ore, coal, rock and sand underground or in open-cut mines.

Education1-2 Years
Pest Control Technician Pest Control Technician

Pest control technicians get rid of pests that are a danger to health or that damage crops or food.

Education0-6 Months
Plumber Plumber

Plumbers take over the responsibility to install, repair, and maintain water systems in residential and commercial buildings.

Education4+ Years
Pyrotechnician Pyrotechnician

Pyrotechnicianis an expert in the use of gunpowder or explosives.

Education0-6 Months
Radio Mechanic Radio Mechanic

Radio technicians install, adjust, test, maintain, and repair mobile or stationary radio transmitting and receiving equipment.

Education1-2 Years
Ship Captain Ship Captain

Captains oversee transportation of passengers or cargo on boats and ships.

Education4+ Years
Surveyor Surveyor

A surveyor determines property boundaries by taking precise measurements.

Education4+ Years
Taxi Driver Taxi Driver

Taxi drivers pick up passengers and charge a fee to take them to their destination by the quickest route.

Education0-6 Months
Taxidermist Taxidermist

Taxidermists preserve and prepare animal skins and parts to create lifelike animal replicas.

Education0-6 Months
Tool and Die Maker Tool and Die Maker

he Tool and Die Maker will cut, shape, finish, and maintain tools made of metal and will forge diecasts to create molds.

Education1-2 Years
Train Engineer Train Engineer

Train Engineers are responsible for checking the mechanics of a train while stationary and moving.

Education0-6 Months
Truck Driver Truck Driver

A truck driver drives trucks for commercial freight and transport purposes.

Education0-6 Months
Welder Welder

As a welder, you are required to fabricate and put together metal parts.

Education0-6 Months

Job Description

Job descriptions vary widely depending on the worker’s expertise and occupation.

A welder’s main responsibility is joining pieces of metal together using the right materials and techniques, while electricians are the ones who install, maintain, and repair power, lighting, and other electrical systems in homes, businesses, and other settings.

Some trade workers have to travel to clients’ homes or offices, while some may also work outdoors.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers held approximately 2 million jobs in the United States, making this one of the largest trade occupations.

Most truck drivers work in the field of truck transportation or wholesale trade.

Electricians held 729,600 jobs in the United States in 2020.

The biggest employer for electricians was the industry of electrical contractors and other wiring installation contractors- which employed 65 percent of all workers in this field.

There were 469,900 plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters in the United States in 2020, 64 percent of them working for plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors.

Welders held 418,200 jobs, and 64 percent were in the manufacturing sector.

A significant part of trade workers are self-employed, and in this case, they set their schedule and are directly responsible for how many clients they have and how much money they make.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 9 percent of all electricians were self-employed.

About 10 percent of all plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters and 36 percent of construction managers were self-employed in 2020.

The same report shows that 7 percent of all truck drivers were self-employed.

Some trade workers become self-employed after earning a few years of experience working for a company or a contractor.

Building a client base and a good reputation is essential for those who decide to venture on their own.

Many trade occupations have a significant risk of injury, and workers must wear protective equipment to avoid being hurt.

Career Path

Educational requirements in the trade sector range from a few weeks of on-the-job training to four-year bachelor’s degree programs, depending on the occupation.

Construction managers usually need a bachelor’s degree, and many large firms prefer to hire people who have hands-on experience in a construction-related field.

Sometimes having many years of experience can make you eligible for a construction management position with only a high school diploma.

Many workers in some of the most in-demand trades, such as electricians, plumbers, or welders, learn through an apprenticeship, while some start their education with a technical school.

Apprenticeships for electricians last between 4 and 5 years and usually include approximately 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training in addition to technical instruction.

Most states require workers in specific trades to hold a license.

Electricians, for example, need a license in most states, and although licensing requirements vary by state, they include passing an exam with questions related to the National Electrical Code and state and local codes.

Continuing education requirements regarding safety practices, electrical code changes, and specific products may also apply to electricians in some states.

Additional certifications can be useful, as they help electricians prove competencies in photovoltaic electrical generating, lighting systems, and other in-demand areas.

Construction managers also need a license in some states.

Professional certification may demonstrate to potential employers or clients their level of expertise.

One such certification is the one offered by the Construction Management Association of America- which awards a Certified Construction Manager credential to those who meet certain experience standards and pass a technical exam.

The Associate Constructor and Certified Professional Constructor credentials- provided by the American Institute of Constructors- are also available.

Some professions require meeting specific standards, along with some training requirements.

Passenger vehicle drivers, for example, usually need a clean driving record and may have to pass a background check.

Physical, hearing, and vision requirements may also apply.

Bus drivers usually get 1 to 3 months of on-the-job training.

New drivers start by making trips alongside experienced drivers.

Taxi and limousine companies may also provide their new drivers with a period of on-the-job training that lasts between 1 day to 2 weeks.

In some cities, taxi drivers need training in local traffic laws, street layout, and driver safety.

During training, prospective taxi drivers also learn about taximeter and communications equipment.

All bus drivers need a CDL license with a passenger (P) endorsement, and school bus drivers need a school bus (S) endorsement.

Sometimes new drivers earn the CDL license during the on-the-job training period.

Other types of passenger vehicle drivers need a regular automobile driver’s license.

Many cities require taxi drivers and chauffeurs to have a taxi and limousine license, which requires passing a background check and a drug test and a passing score at a written exam about regulations and local geography.

Besides training, many trade occupations require specific skills.

Customer service skills are very important for those who work directly with customers and those who are self-employed.

Dexterity is also required, especially for electricians, plumbers, welders, and other workers who maneuver parts and tools.

Mechanical skills are important for professionals who assemble or repair complex systems.

Workers who have to move heavy tools and materials need physical strength.

Plumbers, electricians, and other workers who respond to customers’ homes or offices to diagnose and solve problems also need troubleshooting skills.

Construction managers and other trade workers who have management roles also need decision-making and leadership skills.

Those who are self-employed need business skills because they have to keep track of expenses and income and may have to hire and manage staff.

The ability to communicate the details of a specific project to clients is required, especially if you are self-employed or you have a management position.

Salary Information

Salaries for trade occupations vary between less than $30,000 per year and more than $120,000, depending on the occupation, education, experience, industry, and many other factors.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for maids and housekeeping cleaners was $26,220 as of May 2020.

Salaries for maids vary between less than $20,000 and more than $39,000.

The highest paying field for this profession is independent artists, writers, and performers, where workers in this field made $52,790 on average.

This field employs only a few maids, so finding employment in this sector can be quite hard.

Maids who worked for outpatient care centers made $39,040- lower than the median annual wage but more than the median for this profession across all industries.

Most maids work in travel accommodation, where they are paid roughly $27,000-$28,000 per year, on average.

Other top employers for maids are companies that provide services to buildings and dwellings- a sector where the median annual wage for maids was $27,290.

Some trade professions make significantly more than the national average.

Construction managers, for example, were reportedly remunerated with $97,180 per year, on average, with wages ranging between less than $57,000 and more than $160,000.

Those who worked in the field of petroleum and coal products manufacturing made $138,910 per year, on average, which makes this one of the top-paying fields for this occupation.

However, this sector hired only a few general contractors.

Most general contractors worked in nonresidential building construction, where the median annual wage was $106,890.

The median annual wage reported by electricians was $56,900 as of May 2020.

The lowest 10 percent for all electricians made less than $33,810, while the highest 10 percent made more than $98,720, according to BLS.

Job Outlook

Most trade occupations will grow in the future, but some will decline or see little or no change.

Growth rates vary between 0 and more than 25 percent, depending on the occupation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for construction managers will grow 11 percent from 2020 to 2030.

One of the most spectacular growth rates is projected for passenger vehicle drivers, a profession that will grow 25 percent over the decade.

Overall employment for plumbers will grow 5 percent, slower than the average for all occupations.

The logging worker profession will grow 7 percent, with approximately 7,400 openings estimated for each year over the decade.

The demand for electricians will grow 9 percent by 2030, with 84,700 new openings projected each year.

More electricians will be needed to link alternative power sources to homes and power grids.

The demand for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers will decline slightly in the next decade.

BLS estimates a decline of 1 percent for workers in this field.

As more consumers prefer wireless and mobile services, the demand for people who install telecommunications equipment will be limited.

Regardless of the career, keep in mind that you can improve your employment prospects by taking some specialized classes and staying up-to-date with the latest advancements in your field.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a degree before starting a career in trades?

Although most trade skills are learned through an apprenticeship or a combination of technical school and hands-on training, some professions require a bachelor’s degree.

If you want to become a construction manager, for example, employers typically require a bachelor’s degree in a related field in addition to relevant work experience.

What skills do I need for a career in trades?

Most careers in trades require dexterity and mechanical skills as you may have to use tools, and you will need a steady hand to avoid injury.

Physical stamina and strength are also needed, as many trades careers involve carrying heavy objects or standing for long periods.

Technical skills and attention to detail are also important skills for those seeking a career in trades.

Are trade occupations remunerated well?

Salaries in this field vary widely depending on experience level, education, region, and other factors.

Most maids make between $20,000 and $40,000 per year, while salaries for construction managers range from less than $60,000 to more than $170,000.

What prospects do trade professions have?

Although most trade occupations will grow in the future, rates vary between 0 and more than 25 percent.

A trade occupation that will be in demand in the future is passenger vehicle driver, but new employment opportunities will also occur for construction managers, plumbers, electricians, and other trade workers.