Are you thinking about your career and college, but you’re just not seeing how these two pieces fit together? You’re not alone! Deciding on a career path can be exciting, but society pressures you to go to college even if it’s not a fit. Fortunately, plenty of trade jobs are in demand right now just waiting for anyone willing to get in and get their hands dirty!

If you’re looking to forge your own path, trade jobs will always be in demand, pay well, and don’t require a college degree. Indeed, the number of jobs that pay $80,000 or more that go unfilled while kids accumulate debt for degrees that go unused is scary. It’s also exactly why I wrote Blue Collar Cash.

Read on and discover some of the most in demand trade jobs and see which career path will make you happy.

Benefits of Jumping into a Trade

College and a four-year degree can lead to fulfilling work. But that’s not for everyone. The trades aren’t just another option, they’re often the best option for thousands of people who are taking the first step into their careers.

There are many benefits to starting in a trade, but here are some of the most important ones:

No College Debt – Four-year degrees are expensive, and while the jobs they lead to may pay well, you’ll spend many of your best years working just to pay off your debts.

Paid Training – Instead of paying a university, trade jobs typically offer apprenticeships and on-the-job training that involve learning your craft while being paid for your effort.

Learn Practical Skills – Every job has a purpose, and trades often teach you skills that can help you in your day-to-day life even when you’re off the job.

Excellent Income Expectations – It’s a misconception that trades pay less than jobs you’d get with a degree, skilled trades can pay the same and often more than jobs you’d get with a four-year degree!

Opportunity for Growth – Skilled trades reward those who improve and provide great services, allowing your years of effort in your given trade to translate into better pay and respect in your community.

Start a Business and Become Your Own Boss – The skills you learn will last a lifetime. But those entrepreneurs who you work for today are retiring; there aren’t enough experienced tradesmen to replace them all! Your hard work will eventually lead you to the path of working for yourself, with your own employees, your own trucks and equipment and the satisfaction that comes with leading the next generation of tradespeople. Small businesses are some of the most lucrative opportunities in the country!

Trades that Need Workers Now

Did you finally hop down off the fence and are ready to look into a trade that excites you? Great! Here are some of the most in-demand trades commanding high salaries that you could consider:

Mechanical Insulator

A female mechanical insulator at work

National Median Wage: $21.90 (based on typical insulator wages, adjust higher for mechanical insulators)

A great combination of critical thinking and labor, mechanical insulators are integral to the operation of most modern inventions. Boilers, air conditioning, and massive factory equipment all require proper insulation installed by a skill insulator. These workers identify the scope and material needed to safely insulate surfaces, then cut and apply the insulation.

The unique niche of insulating for mechanical devices and systems leaves the trade-in constant search of new workers. Like many trades, if you’re willing to do the work, you’ll never be hurting for sources of income as a mechanical insulator!

Cement/Concrete Mason

A cement mason at work

National Median Wage: $21.87

There are thousands of jobs in every state that need concrete and cement in some form. Modern construction is founded on this critical substance – and that means cement and concrete masons are just as critical!

  • Driveways
  • Roads
  • Curbs
  • Foundations

These are just a few of the pieces of modern infrastructure that rely on concrete and cement masons! This fast-paced job offers formal apprenticeships that give you the opportunity to start earning the day you start learning!

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, masonry work is growing at a faster-than-average pace. There’s construction going on in every corner of the country, so you’ll always have another job waiting when the cement dries!

Dental Hygienist

A dental hygienist with a young patient

National Median Wage: $35.61

When you visit the dentist, the first person that sees you in the chair is likely a dental hygienist. They perform basic dental care for you, such as cleaning, basic examinations, and providing support to the dentist. While it doesn’t require a four-year degree, extensive education is required. Plan to work towards an associate’s degree, along with continuing education while you work!

However, all that hard work pays off. The job outlook for hygienists is expected to grow by 20 percent through 2026. And you’ll make a pretty penny working in this field, with the median salary close to $75,000 per year.

Extraction Worker

An oil extraction worker in front of an off-shore oil rig

National Median Wage: $25.95 (changes depending on industry)

Extraction work is a single description for a broad field that involves jobs dedicated to extracting resources from the earth. This ranges from drilling for hard minerals and rock to oil. Depending on the type of material, median pay can vary dramatically. This is due to the variation in lifestyles, such as oilrig workers who live off-shore for many months out of the year.

Fortunately, that means that extraction work has something for everyone! If you’re adventurous and want to work on an oil rig, you can expect to make a great income with breaks in-between. More traditional work is available for those who prefer staying on land and drilling for rocks and other hard minerals.

You can only extract what the earth has to offer, so opportunities are best in areas with abundant materials beneath the surface. The pay you achieve is average for a trade, but it’s quick to get started!

Electrician

An electrician using a diagram to repair a panel

National Median Wage: $26.01

If you’re reading this, you can thank an electrician! Whether they ran the line to power your computer or installed the outlet that charged your mobile device, the modern world hums with power due to their efforts and you couldn’t be using a screen without them.

Being an electrician involves installing and maintaining almost anything that uses power, from lighting to power sources throughout homes and major facilities. The number of jobs for electricians is staggering, with nearly 700,000 in 2016. Every day can be different, with interior and exterior work at all times of day.

If you take this path, you can expect a higher-than-average income versus many other trades, while being trained on the job!

Paralegal

Paralegal researching information at her laptop

National Median Wage: $24.24

Lawyers can’t do their job without a support team, and that team consists largely of paralegals. Everything from legal research to case file organization to even report writing falls on the desk of paralegals. It’s a field that demands versatility, so if you’re a jack-of-all-trades, it may be perfect for you!

Major companies and law firms all need paralegals as part of their legal teams. This opens the doors for working almost anywhere in the country. What type of law you assist in changes depending on your employer, so there’s plenty of room for finding a niche that gets you excited to go to work every day!

Elevator Mechanic

Elevator mechanics repairing an elevator inside the elevator shaft

National Median Wage: $38.21

Did you know there’s a specific type of mechanic that specializes in all the platforms and motorized stairs that help you get where you need to go? These workers install and repair elevators, escalators, and even those mobile walkways common at airports are all thanks to them!

This unique job requires just a high school diploma and the willingness to work hard in an apprenticeship, though some states require you to be licensed for the work. Fortunately, the pay for this work averages out to be much higher than you might expect – and job growth in this field is high!

The only concern for those looking into this trade is location. Due to the nature of the work, elevator mechanics are most needed in high population areas, so lower population states and cities won’t necessarily have work. However, if you’re willing to live near the dense cities, you’ll likely have little trouble finding work!

There Are Hundreds of Careers Available to You

Thousands of trade jobs need filling! They’re in demand and for many, they provide satisfaction that may not come with a college degree. No matter your skills, you’ll be able to find one that works for you!

Curious about other types of trades and what they can offer you? Ken’s book details dozens of popular, well-paying professions that you can start without the need to rev your engine in college for years!

Find Your Path Today

Ken Rusk is a blue-collar entrepreneur who has started several successful endeavors and mentored hundreds of young people in their pursuit of a satisfying career and fulfilling life.

Discover how Ken’s approach to life and work can help you set and achieve your goals – all while avoiding the nearly inescapable trap of college debt. Pre-order his new book, Blue Collar Cool: How to Earn Without the College Burn today!