A lot of people believe that a university education is necessary for a good career. For specific professions, university degrees are needed, however, a university degree is not necessary to make a good living.

The United States is presently having a shortage of trade skills. The demands for these trades are high and there has never been a better time to learn a trade. Learning and practising a trade is very rewarding and it doesn’t require you to spend years in college. Also, check out the Best Online Jobs for College Students – Work and Earn Money Online.

There are lots of trade jobs and you may be having difficulties in picking out one to specialize in. You may be ready to go into the trade industries but be asking yourself, what trade should I learn?

Trade jobs are actually great, you can get the opportunity to become your own boss, learn practical manual skills, earn good salaries and other good benefits. However, every job has its own advantages and disadvantages and your personal desire will decide what trade is best suited for you to learn. To aid your decision-making easily, we have listed a few factors you should consider before choosing a particular trade to learn.

Factors to Consider Before Making a Decision 

The factors below consist of questions you should ask yourself before deciding on which trade to learn.

Would you love to work indoors or outdoors?

Trades jobs are either outdoors or indoors. Do you prefer working indoors or outdoors? Some trades are more likely to work indoors, such as interior house designers or kitchen fitters. Locations for plumbers, gas engineers, and electricians will depend if your job will be industrial or domestic work, however, this will solely depend on the job type.

If you prefer outdoor jobs then you should consider construction trades. Construction workers mostly work outdoors building houses or road construction.

Do you have colour blindness?

If you have issues differentiating colours then one particular trade you must avoid is an electrician. It will be quite difficult for you to differentiate colour-coded wires as an electrician and this will be a major problem and very dangerous. However, this is not a major problem with other trades, they are lots of trades that your conditions won’t affect.

Job growth 

When contemplating the trade to learn, getting information patterning to the growth of the job, can be very helpful. For instance, the construction industry has been growing and employers are currently searching for certified professionals to fill positions.

Numerous sectors of the economy are growing while some are shrinking. It is recommended to learn a trade that will be in demand for a long time. The major reason to learn a trade is to earn income from the trade, other reasons are secondary reasons. To get the job growth data about a particular trade, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ official website.

Training Time 

How long do you intend to study in school? Aside from trade schools, community colleges also offer vocational training, however, community colleges’ training time is longer. You can obtain a certification from a trade school within 12 months while an Associate’s degree from a community takes at least two years to obtain. Most students even spend longer time in community college.

Cost of Training 

Another thing to consider is the training cost. The community college will cost around $10,000 annually. It might actually look like a fair bargain than obtaining a trade school certificate which costs $33,000. Note that only about 11.7% of students obtain their Associate’s Degree in two years for roughly $20,000. A lot of students stay longer than they predicted in community college. After considering the extra time it will take to get an associate degree, the costs will also rise as well.

Job Locations

Another factor is to consider the job location. Learn a trade that its services are wanted in your region. For instance, Texas has been known as the welding jobs capitol of the country. This means that Texas does a lot of welding and welders will be in demand.

Do you feel uneasy working in tight places?

The requirement of some trade jobs is to work in tight places. For example, electricians will often have to crawl into tight corners like ceiling spaces to access the electrical systems and wires. Plumbers most times are required to work in tight and compact spaces to reach pipes and drains.

This kind of job is not for everyone and if you know you can’t handle these, then you should try other trade jobs like carpentry and kitchen fitting where you can be able to work in larger areas. If you are also scared of height, then you should consider jobs that won’t warrant you to climb up here.

Highest and the most In-demand Trade Jobs

What trade should I learn? Trade jobs are the alternative to college for individuals who want to secure financial stability fast. Below are a few in-demand skilled trade jobs across the United States and feature an average annual salary above $50,000.

Electrician ($56,181)

Electricians maintain and install electrical systems in homes and factories. One of the required skills to become an electrician is critical thinking skills, which helps in diagnosing problems. To become an electrician, one must learn the trade mostly via apprenticeships which the duration is about four to five years.

Plumber ($55,162)

The plumber installed and repaired damaged water, gas supply lines, kitchen, and bathroom fixtures. They also install bathtubs, sinks, toilets, and washing machines. Plumbing jobs also require critical-thinking skills which help in diagnosing problems. The jobs may include unpredictable hours on nights and weekends; however, it is a job that ensures financial independence and income stability.

Dental Hygienist ($76,232)

A dental hygienist cleans teeth and provides patients with good dental care. The duties of a dental hygienist are oral care, taking X-rays as required to diagnose dental issues, and providing the necessary guidance on satisfying oral health. All these duties are done under the supervision of a dentist.

Respiratory therapist ($61,318)

Respiratory therapists usually work with patients who have issues breathing. They develop strategies to aid treat diseases of the airways and lungs. This is a perfect job for those who love helping others and also can communicate well. Respiratory therapists often work at hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, and pulmonary rehabilitation clinics.

Industrial machinery mechanic ($56,153)

Industrial machinery mechanics are well skilled and they use these skills to repair and maintain different equipment in commercial and industrial facilities. However, note that to be proficient with this job, one has to be equipped with the knowledge of cutting, welding, and manual use of diagnostic equipment to tackle machine failures. 

Graphic designer

The job of a graphic designer is to express ideas artistically via logos, brochures, magazines, or other marketing materials. To become a graphic designer, one must be very skilled in various innovative software and advanced computer applications that will enable them to create various designs.

Other in-demand skilled trade jobs are 

  • Pipefitter/steamfitter ($55,162)
  • Medical sonographer ($74,318)
  • Radiology Tech ($60,507)
  • Cardiovascular Tech ($57,720)
  • Electrical and electronics engineering technician ($62,870)
  • Industrial engineering technician ($56,555)
  • Aircraft mechanic ($64,085)
  • Police officer ($63,149)
  • Real estate appraiser ($57,013)
  • Power plant operator ($81,994)
  • Web developer

Reasons why you should learn a trade

  • The cost of learning is cheaper compared to a college education
  • The timing is shorter and you gain experience immediately 
  • Learning a trade will earn you a good living based on U.S. News & World Report
  • You will get the opportunity to do what you’re good at 
  • There is also a huge demand for skilled trade workers.


Going to college and earning a degree is a wonderful idea. However, college is not for everyone. Learning a trade equips you with practical and useful skills, additionally, you will incur less student loan debt and it will enable you to gain experience. 

Additionally, there are lots of factors to consider while choosing a particular trade to learn. The best thing to do is to do proper research and analyze your options. This will enable you to make the best decision. A smart decision will ensure a fulfilled career. 

Frequently Asked Question

What trade can I learn in 6 months?

There are numerous career trades you can learn within six months and earn a certification such as brick mason, personal trainer, firefighter, air traffic controller, real estate broker, etc. 

Are trade skills in demand?

Skilled trades jobs are highly demanded and required because, presently, there is a growing shortage of trade workers and this makes trade labour to be in high demand.