Spend at least four years in school, and then spend about another year convincing employers that you not only know things, but can also do things. If this trajectory worries you, then you might want to consider trade school instead.
Trade jobs come with a shorter education and training burden — which means they're tied to a smaller price tag too. Some careers in trade can even deliver high salaries and job security.
Here are a few trade jobs that can be considered safe bets in 2019 and beyond.
Construction: A Growing Job Sector
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says jobs within the construction sector are projected to grow 12% within the next decade, which is higher than average. Work in this industry, and you'll be responsible for performing physical labor on construction sites.
These are typical jobs and salaries in this field:
- Brickmason: $33,380 per year
- Electrician: $31,410 per year
- Carpenter $30,880 per year
- Roofer: $30,390 per year
Often, you don't need to go to school to get a job like this. If you'd love to be a roofer, for example, you could land a position and get all the training you need while you work. But some, including electrician jobs, do require some kind of certificate before you can get started.
Many people who work in this industry are self-employed. You could start up your own business, work your own hours, and do as you please with your vacation time. If the idea of working for someone else isn’t our ideal situation, this could be a good option.
One downside to consider is that construction work can be dangerous. You might be asked to climb up into high spaces or crawl into tight holes. Injuries on worksites are common, and some can be catastrophic. The conditions of work can also be less than ideal. You'll have to stand most of the day, and the air you breathe might be choked by fumes or debris.
Green Energy: High Demand and Easy Entry
How can we preserve the planet without changing the way we live? That's a question people working in the green energy sector hope to answer. Jobs here are similar to those in construction, but they involve enhanced technology and new equipment.
The Environmental Defense Fund reports that jobs in this area are on the rise. Positions in solar power, for example, rose by nearly 25% between 2016 and 2017.
The following are typical positions and salaries, per U.S. Green Technology:
- Solar Panel Installer: $31,000 per year
- Environmental Health and Safety Technician: $46,000 per year
- Emissions Manager: $61,000 per year
Higher-paying jobs tend to require advanced degrees. For example, green engineers can pull down six-figure salaries for their work in retrofitting old buildings to meet modern energy codes, but they have bachelor's degrees, and must attend classes to keep their certifications up. These jobs also require spending time outside, and you might need to access your workspace via ladder or crane. The same words of warning about hazardous conditions and injuries apply.
While growth in this industry is strong, it's deeply dependent on tax benefits. In some states, consumers see high rebates when they invest in green technology, and some businesses do too. If those benefits disappear, some consumers may choose to skip out on green work. If that happens, the jobs could fade away.
Health Care: Skill and Compassion Combine
It's no secret that the American population is aging. Family size is shrinking, and baby boomers are growing eligible for Social Security benefits. Older bodies mean more medical care, which also means health care jobs are plentiful.
BLS says job growth in the next decade will reach 18% in this sector, which is much faster than growth seen in other fields. There are plenty of disparate jobs to choose from that are all considered trades.
Typical trade jobs and salaries include the following:
- Dental Assistant: $38,660 per year
- Home Health Aide: $24,060 per year
- Lab Technician: $52,330 per year
- Health Information Technician: $40,350 per year
- Surgical Technician: $47,300 per year
Trade jobs like this involve supervision. You'll always have a doctor, nurse, surgeon, or other medical professional telling you what to do and how to do it. Those supervisors will also make much more money than you do, and they might take credit for your work. These medical professionals have advanced degrees, and often, they have years of experience. If you can accept their authority and follow their instructions, this might not bother you at all.
Trade jobs do come with drawbacks too. Some positions involve repetition, so you might get a bit bored throughout the day. Others require working with patients who may not always cooperate. If these drawbacks don't bother you, then the health care trade could be a good choice for you.
Manufacturing: Build Things and Solve Problems
When we think of trade jobs, we often think of manufacturing. Jobs in automotive plants, furniture shops, and fruit-picking plants require little formal education, and they can come with significant paychecks.
It's critical to know that this isn't a job sector associated with growth. BLS says jobs like this will shrink by roughly one million workers in the next decade. If you work a position like this, you probably won't have it for very long. While you do have this job, it could bring you a steady paycheck, and some of the salaries associated with this type of work are solid.
Typical job titles and salaries include the following:
- Machinists: $42,210 per year
- Inspectors: $44,970 per year
- Production Workers: $30,300 per year
Imagine taking a job like this for a year or two while you save up to attend college. You could significantly reduce the amount you'd borrow for school while getting valuable on-the-job experience.
The Economic Policy Institute points out that manufacturing jobs tend to come with better benefits. That means you'll save money on health insurance premiums, childcare expenses, and other benefits with a job like this. That could add to your pocketbook in meaningful ways every month.
The downside of this type of work is that these jobs are often repetitive and may seem boring. You will likely be required to do the same thing, the same way, over and over again. You'll do that work while standing on your feet for hours, and if you make a mistake, someone could get hurt.
These aren't jobs with glamour or prestige attached to them, but if you land one, you could make a great deal of money quickly, and that could set you up for success in the future.
Is a Trade Job Right for You?
For some people, a college degree and a desk job are key goals, but you might be different. If you'd like to get started right away with a smaller education investment, a trade might be just what you're looking for.
We can make your job search a little easier. Visit our website and search for job titles near you. Read through them, and if you find one you like, apply online.
It's easy to get started, and our website is free. We hope to see you on Joblist soon!
Construction Laborers and Helpers. (June 2019). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Clean Energy Is Building a New American Workforce. (January 2018). Environmental Defense Fund.
Green Jobs Pay More Than $100,000 Per Year. U.S. Green Technology.
Healthcare Occupations. (April 2019). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Projections of Industry Employment, 2014-24. (December 2015). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Manufacturing: NAICS 31-33. (June 2019). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Yes, Manufacturing Still Provides a Pay Advantage, But Staffing Firm Outsourcing is Eroding It. (March 2018). Economic Policy Institute.