Skilled trade jobs are everywhere. There are countless occupations in hundreds of different fields, which is great news for anyone looking to join the workforce for the first time or make the switch to a hands-on career.
While the long list of trade jobs in demand is encouraging if you’re looking for a new opportunity, it can be equally overwhelming. So, where do you start?
Jobs like electricians, mechanics, and HVAC technicians are among the top 10 trades in the United States. These jobs provide an opportunity to learn valuable skills and pursue a stable career with good earning potential.
Of course, the job market is constantly changing, and the need for certain positions depends on a number of factors like region, economy, and trends. That being said, the following list of trades is projected to keep growing in demand for the foreseeable future, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So, if you’re thinking about a stable career that allows you to make good money working with your hands, here are some of the top trades to get into based on opportunity, salary, and projected growth.
Wind Turbine Technician
If you’re interested in working with renewable energy from a location with great views, becoming a wind turbine technician might be for you.
Wind turbine technicians install, maintain, and repair wind turbines (or windmills), which generate electricity using wind energy. Techs in this industry typically work outside from high places.
A wind turbine technician’s typical workday involves climbing and inspecting wind turbine towers; performing routine maintenance; testing and troubleshooting electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic systems; collecting turbine data for analysis, servicing underground systems, and making necessary repairs.
Learn more about the role of wind turbine technician here.
Median Annual Pay: $56,260
Job Growth Outlook: Wind turbine technician jobs are projected to grow 44% by 2031.
Required Education and Training: Postsecondary nondegree award and long-term on-the-job training.
If you’re the type of person who likes problem-solving and working in a construction environment, you might enjoy electrical work.
Electricians install, troubleshoot, and repair electrical systems in residential and commercial buildings. They typically work both indoors and outdoors and often travel to different worksite locations.
A typical workday for an electrician involves reading blueprints; installing wiring, control, and lighting systems; inspecting transformers and circuit breakers; repairing or replacing wiring and electrical fixtures; and following state and local building codes and regulations.
Learn more about what it’s like to work as an electrician here.
Median Annual Pay: $60,040
Job Growth Outlook: Electrician roles are projected to increase by 7% by 2031.
Required Education and Training: High school diploma or equivalent and an apprenticeship.
Recreational Vehicle Technician
If you have a knack for mechanics and also enjoy home maintenance and remodeling, you might find your niche as a recreational vehicle service technician.
An RV mechanic diagnoses, repairs, and maintains recreational vehicles like fifth wheels, custom camper vans, and everything in between. The job typically requires you to work both indoors and outdoors, and sometimes in small spaces.
A typical workday of an RV tech involves maintaining gas, electrical, hydraulic, plumbing, engine, and chassis/towing systems. It also includes maintaining the interior of a recreational vehicle, like its generator and appliances.
Learn more about what it’s like to work as a recreational vehicle technician here.
Median Annual Pay: $43,560
Job Growth Outlook: RV technician jobs are expected to grow 12% by 2031.
Required Education and Training: High school diploma or equivalent and long-term on-the-job training.
If you have a passion for oral health and want a high-paying role with a consistent schedule, a career in dental hygiene may be for you.
Dental hygienists examine patients for oral diseases, perform teeth cleanings, and educate clients. Most hygienists work in a dentist's office and have the flexibility to work either full- or part-time.
A typical day in the life of a dental hygienist involves working with various tools to clean teeth; taking x-rays of a patient’s teeth and jaw; examining teeth for signs of decay and disease; documenting patient care and treatment plans; applying sealants and fluoride; and educating patients on proper oral hygiene practices.
Learn more about a career in dental hygiene here.
Median Annual Pay: $77,810
Job Growth Outlook: Dental hygienist roles are projected to grow 9% by 2031.
Required Education and Training: Associate’s degree in dental hygiene and a state license.
If you’re looking for a very hands-on career that includes both mechanical and electrical components, you may find your place in the heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration industry.
HVAC technicians install and perform maintenance on a variety of heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems. They work mostly outdoors at both residential and commercial buildings and tend to travel quite a bit.
A typical workday for an HVAC tech involves installing HVAC systems; connecting electrical components and wiring; inspecting and testing systems; communicating with customers; repairing or replacing bad parts; and record keeping.
Learn more about a career as an HVAC technician here.
Median Annual Pay: $48,630
Job Growth Outlook: HVAC technician jobs are projected to increase 5% by 2031.
Required Education and Training: Postsecondary nondegree award and long-term on-the-job training.
Rotary Drill Operator
If you’re looking for a career that allows you to work outside, pays well, and doesn’t require any formal training or education, you may enjoy working as a rotary drill operator.
A rotary drill operator installs and operates equipment used in oil and gas drilling. They usually work outdoors, both on land and on the water.
A typical workday for a rotary drill operator involves installing drilling equipment; operating drills to extract underground oil and gas; measuring and marking drilling spots; performing safety checks; removing core samples for testing; and recording operational or environmental data.
Learn more about what it’s like to work as a rotary drill operator here.
Median Annual Pay: $56,380
Job Growth Outlook: Rotary drill operator roles are projected to grow 18% by 2031.
Required Education and Training: Moderate on-the-job training.
Industrial Machinery Mechanic
If you enjoy the hustle and bustle of a factory setting, and you’re looking for a career that will pay you well for your mechanical skills, you may enjoy a job as an industrial machinery mechanic.
Machinery maintenance workers install, maintain, and repair factory equipment and machines. They almost always work indoors in a manufacturing facility.
A typical day in the life of an industrial machinery mechanic involves reading technical manuals; running diagnostics; disassembling machinery to repair or replace malfunctioning parts; adjusting and calibrating machines; and cleaning and lubricating machines.
Learn more about a career as an industrial machinery mechanic here.
Median Annual Pay: $59,380
Job Growth Outlook: Industrial machinery mechanic jobs are expected to grow 14% by 2031.
Required Education and Training: High school diploma or equivalent, an apprenticeship, and on-the-job training.
Solar Photovoltaic Installer
If you’re interested in a career in the renewable energy field, and you want to soak up some sunshine while you’re at it, you may want to look into becoming a solar photovoltaic installer.
Solar installers assemble, set up, and maintain rooftop systems that convert sunlight into electric energy. The job requires techs to work outside most of the day, often on rooftops, and they typically travel a lot from job to job.
A day on the job for a solar photovoltaic installer involves planning system configurations; measuring, cutting, and assembling solar panels; connecting panels to the building’s electrical system; activating and testing systems; and performing routine solar panel maintenance.
Median Annual Pay: $47,670
Job Growth Outlook: Solar photovoltaic installer positions are projected to increase by 27% by 2031.
Required Education and Training: A high school diploma or equivalent and moderate on-the-job training.
If you have an interest in aviation, enjoy cruising the skies from time to time, and have a knack for mechanics, becoming an aircraft mechanic may be an obvious choice.
An aircraft mechanic diagnoses, repairs, and performs routine maintenance on airplanes and helicopters. They usually work in hangars or out on airfields.
A typical workday for an aircraft mechanic involves diagnosing mechanical and electrical problems; repairing the interior, exterior, and engine of an aircraft; completing inspections; and performing routine checks and maintenance.
Learn more about what it’s like to be an aircraft mechanic here.
Median Annual Pay: $65,550
Job Growth Outlook: Aircraft mechanic roles are expected to grow 6% by 2031.
Required Education and Training: An aviation maintenance technician certification, and preferably an associate’s degree.
Medical Equipment Repairer
If you want to work in the medical field but would rather work on machines than people, you may be perfect for a career as a medical equipment repairer.
A medical equipment repairer installs and maintains medical equipment in hospitals and doctor’s offices. These techs typically work indoors at medical facilities.
A normal day for a medical equipment repairer involves making quick repairs to malfunctioning medical equipment; installing medical machinery; testing and calibrating parts and equipment; performing preventative maintenance; keeping records of repairs; and educating staff on how to properly operate equipment.
Learn more about a career as a medical equipment repairer here.
Median Annual Pay: $49,910
Job Growth Outlook: Medical equipment repairer jobs are projected to grow 17% by 2031.
Required Education and Training: Associate’s degree and moderate on-the-job training.
How to Choose the Right Trade For You
With so many trade career opportunities out there, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. Here are a few strategies to help you narrow it down.
First, think about the type of environment you want to work in. Do you want to work primarily outside or inside? Are you interested in working in a facility, or would you rather travel to different sites to complete jobs? Once you decide where you want to work, you can easily determine which careers align with your preference.
Next, consider whether you want to work for a company or if you’d rather run your own business. Many trade jobs allow you the opportunity to be your own boss and work on your own schedule, while others tend to operate in a group setting.
Additionally, you should think about your personal strengths, weaknesses, and skills. Are you mechanically inclined? Do you have a natural ability to problem-solve? Do you have a knack for crafting with your hands? Whatever your individual skill set and natural abilities, there is almost certainly a trade job that will be a good fit for you.
Finally, it’s a good idea to talk to people who work in the industries you’re interested in to get a better idea of what the job entails and whether it would be a good fit for you. If you have a friend, family member, or acquaintance who is a skilled trades worker, ask them for some insight.
Not only are skilled tradesmen highly sought-after, but these careers are the backbone of our society. Without trade workers, we wouldn’t have many of the necessities we need to keep our country running.
The above list of trade jobs is expected to remain in demand, offering opportunities for those who are willing to learn the necessary skills and pursue careers in these fields.
To explore more trade career opportunities, check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. The site allows you to filter for jobs based on pay, education, training requirements, and projected growth rates.If you’re interested in carrying a minimalist wallet that’s made in the USA (by skilled tradesmen, we might add!), check out our entire collection at GeoGrit.com. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and follow our blog to keep up on all our latest content.