Top Paying Skilled Trade Careers

It’s a myth that you need to earn a four-year degree to land a high-paying job. Several skilled trade careers pay at or above the median salary in the U.S. You can get started in some of the superior skilled trades after a short, affordable career certificate program. 

As you consider your career options and your future, take a look at some of the top-paying skilled trade jobs.

HVAC Technicians

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians work on the systems that heat and cool homes and commercial buildings. As an HVAC technician, you’ll need customer service and troubleshooting skills. You’ll also need a thorough knowledge of modern HVAC systems.

You can complete a two-part career certificate program to become an HVAC technician. At the end of the programs, you’ll be ready to take HVAC Excellence’s Employment Ready exams.

The median annual salary for HVAC techs varies based on the industry they work in. Technicians in the retail trade industry and educational industry have the highest median annual salaries, over $55,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 


Electricians work in residences or commercial buildings, installing and repairing electrical power systems. If a career as an electrician appeals to you, you have two options for getting started.

Option one is to complete a four-year apprenticeship program. As an apprentice, you’ll gain hands-on (paid) work experience while completing a training program. 

The second option is to enroll in a career certificate program for electricity. During the one-year, full-time program, you’ll complete coursework that will prepare you for OSHA certification. 

The median annual salary for electricians was $60,040 in May 2021. Those working in certain industries, such as government or manufacturing, had slightly higher median annual salaries.

Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists install, maintain and troubleshoot computer hardware and software. The job requires a mix of technical and interpersonal skills. You need to know how computer systems work and how to interact with customers who may be flustered or frustrated due to a computer problem.

You can become a computer support specialist by completing a career certificate program in a little under one year. The median salary for the job was $62,760 in May 2021. Computer support specialists who work in certain fields, such as telecommunications or finance, earned about $10,000 more per year than those in other fields.

Construction Manager

The role of a construction manager isn’t an entry-level position. But if you’re interested in the skilled trades and building construction, it can be a job you want to aim for. Construction managers typically start out as construction laborers or carpenters. They may complete an apprenticeship or a career certificate program to get their foot in the door.

After several years of experience and additional management training, you may advance to the role of construction manager. The median annual salary for a construction manager was $98,890 in May 2021.

Licensed Practical Nurses

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) work with doctors, registered nurses and other members of a patient’s care team to provide medical care. Some of the responsiblities of an LPN include taking a patient’s vital signs, taking patient notes and discussing patient concerns with other members of the team.

You can train to become an LPN through a one-year certificate program. After completing the program, you’ll be prepared to take the LPN exam to earn your license.

The median salary for LPNs in 2021 was $48,070. LPNs in certain fields, such as nursing and residential care or government, had higher median annual salaries than those working in private physician’s offices or hospitals. 

Web Developer

As the internet continues to grow, the need for people to design websites also continues to grow. If you’re interested in technology and design, a career as a web developer lets you merge your two interests. 

It also pays well, with a median annual salary of $79,890 in May 2021. Web developers in certain industries, such as finance and software, had median annual salaries near or above six figures.

You can take multiple paths to becoming a web developer. One option is to pursue a career certificate in web development, which takes a little under one year. Earning a certificate helps you get your foot in the door of web design and development, leading to a fulfilling, high-paying career.

If you’re interested in a skilled trade career that pays well and won’t leave you deep in student loan debt, Orange Technical College can help you get on your way. Our career certificate programs prepare you for various careers, helping you build your future. Request information to learn more about our programs.