Making Bank in the Skilled Trades

Does the idea of high tuition fees and four years of school have you feeling repulsed? Consider the skilled trades. We’ve got the info needed.

For years, the cliché path to success was getting good grades in high school and then heading off to college. However, recent years have shown that this way of thinking is a little bit dated.

The truth is an ever-rising number of education and economic experts are encouraging high school seniors and underemployed young adults to think outside of the box. Today, we’re going to explore how getting into the skilled trades could be your ticket to the megabucks and a pretty rewarding career.

Rather than racking up soul-crushing student debt and spending years of your life listening to out-of-touch, boomer professors lecture you about irrelevant information, you could dive right into a lucrative career opportunity that would even allow you to become your own boss. Sound interesting? I’ve got you covered.

Let’s dive in and discover why skilled trade careers could be the game-changer you’ve been looking for.

So, Is a Career in Skilled Trades Actually a Good Idea?

Look, I’m not here to completely write off college. For many people, it still can be a legitimate avenue to a rewarding career; plus, the student experience can be both fun and life-changing. With that said, many college graduates find themselves drowning in student debt and questioning why they spent so much time and money on a degree that won’t actually help them get a job.

The skilled trades offer a different route. Not only do they allow you to dodge the heavy tuition and residence fees that bury so many college grads in debt, but the skilled trade jobs allow you to start earning good money almost right away.

Imagine finishing up trade school or a paid apprenticeship program in less time than the average college student spends studying in their freshman year. Where they’re just starting their education, you’re already making bank without even having to pay off student debt!

Not to mention, many trades pay serious cash, plus, your position could be backed by a union, meaning you have serious job security and benefits. The country is also desperately short on most skilled trades professionals, so you’ll have huge job security. On top of all that, having the right credentials and experience in skilled trade work could open up the route to entrepreneurship. Seriously, who doesn’t want to be their own boss?

How Do You Actually Get Started in the Skilled Trades?

Just like college-style education, there are many different pathways a person can take to get started in the world of skilled trades. Depending on the type of trade you want to learn, as well as your own learning style and preferences, you could take any of the following paths:


Think of a skilled trade apprenticeship as on-the-job learning. Basically, you learn under the guidance of a certified tradesman in a specific field. You gain practical, hands-on skills that are difficult to learn in a classroom.

The best part? Most apprenticeships are actually paid! Most college students could only dream of being paid to learn. On top of that, many paid apprenticeships offer a direct route to employment. Assuming you don’t screw up and you actually complete your apprenticeship, there’s a really good chance you’ll be offered full-time employment after you meet the requirements to get certification in your chosen trade.

Community College Programs

Most community colleges will offer at least some programs that can put you on the path toward a rewarding career in the skilled trades. Unlike traditional college programs with their dry lectures, drawn-out timelines, and sky-high tuition fees, these community college programs are affordable, fairly short, and offer a balance of in-class and hands-on learning.

They’re often taught by industry experts, and they usually feature an internship component to the program.

Union-Based Learning Programs

Depending on where you live, as well as your preferred trade, you might be able to learn directly from a local union. These types of programs almost function like a job placement program. You’re given a blend of apprenticeship-style learning as well as some take-home work.

The real benefit of these programs is they’re explicitly designed to help bring new professionals into the union, so you should be offered a unionized job after you complete the program.

Which Trades Allow You to Make Bank?

While just about every skilled trade pays a great wage, some are particularly lucrative. If you’re in it for the money, these trades all have seriously high earning potential, making them great choices for those looking to become skilled trade workers: 


Residential, commercial, or industrial – all electrician types generally make good money. Want to make serious cash in a rewarding and exciting career? Seriously, you need to look into becoming a “sparky”!


Got a steady hand and a desire to build things? Consider getting into welding. Like most trades, there are plenty of different employment opportunities, and most pay really well.

HVAC Technician

Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning technicians offer indispensable skills that ensure you’ll always have job security and a nice salary. Plus, most community colleges in the Midwest offer an HVAC program, so you shouldn’t have to travel far to get your certifications.


The demand for plumbers isn’t going anywhere. If the thought of unclogging someone’s gross toilet has you feeling disgusted, don’t worry; there are a diverse range of jobs that skilled plumbers can perform. From working on new-build houses to commercial buildings and infrastructure upgrades, you’ll have plenty of options, as well as serious opportunities to pull in the big bucks.

Other Options

Don’t forget to look into average salaries for the other skilled trades!

Final Words 

Not only can a career in the skilled trades allow you to start earning good money right away, but it can also offer you the type of job security that will be the envy of most working professionals when AI becomes even more mainstream.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that anything less than a college degree is unimpressive. Remember, success isn’t measured by a piece of paper but by how you feel about the work you’re doing. Plus, zero debt, a six-figure salary, and early retirement doesn’t hurt!

I encourage you to take a look at each of the different skilled trades career options. See if any of them sound appealing to you as a job seeker. While this career path isn’t for everyone, getting into the skilled trades might just be the best decision you ever make.


  • Chris Kane

    Chris Kane is a military veteran and former business owner currently living in the Des Moines, Iowa, metro. Chris is an inveterate entrepreneur and avid web developer who is not shy about sharing his opinions.

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