Career Planning Finding a Job Top Jobs The Best Jobs for Trade School Graduates By Jen Hubley Luckwaldt Jen Hubley Luckwaldt Jen Hubley Luckwaldt is a finance editor. learn about our editorial policies Updated on September 13, 2022 Fact checked by Yasmin Ghahremani In This Article View All In This Article Elevator Installer/Repairer Radiation Therapist Geological and Hydrologic Technician Web Developer Medical Sonographer Dental Hygienist Electrician Respiratory Therapist Plumber HVAC Installer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: @ The Balance 2020 If you want to make a decent living, education is key. Most jobs requiring only a high school diploma pay less than $50,000 per year, and many of those occupations are declining. However, not everyone wants to go to college for four years after graduation—and not everyone can afford the price tag that comes with a bachelor’s degree. The good news is that education doesn’t always have to come in the form of a four-year degree. Many high-paying, fast-growing jobs are accessible to workers with an associate degree, post-secondary award, certification, or apprenticeship. Investing in trade school could be the best possible move for your career. These are the highest paying trade-school jobs with a solid occupational outlook. Elevator and Escalator Installer/Repairer Elevator mechanics, installers, and repairers have a good occupational outlook and high earning potential. The job includes installing, repairing, and maintaining elevators, elevator doors, cables, and control systems, escalators, moving walkways, and lifts. If you’re cool under pressure and good with your hands (and power tools) this might be the perfect career for you. Median Annual Salary: $97,860Projected Growth Rate 2020-2030: 6% Typical Education Required: High school diploma and apprenticeship Radiation Therapist If you want to help people and earn good money doing it, you can’t do better than a job as a radiation therapist. Working with oncologists in hospital settings, these workers help administer radiation for cancer treatment. Radiation therapists require licensure, in addition to an associate degree. Median Annual Salary: $82,790Projected Growth Rate 2020-2030: 9% Typical Education Required: Associate degree Geological and Hydrologic Technician If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty and aren’t afraid of math, this job could be a good fit for you. You'll be installing and maintaining equipment, collecting and testing samples, recording data, and compiling reports. While some employers do prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree, you can often get started in this field with a two-year degree. Median Annual Salary: $50,630Projected Growth Rate 2020-2030: 9% Typical Education Required: Associate degree Web Developer If you want to build a career as a web developer, you’ll probably have to go for a bachelor’s degree eventually. But some employers will accept years of work experience and an associate degree instead. If you love writing, testing, and debugging software, you’ll love this job. Median Annual Salary: $77,200Projected Annual Growth Rate 2020-2030: 13% Typical Education Required: Associate or bachelor degree Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians Sonographers, and cardiovascular technologists and technicians administer ultrasounds and diagnostic imaging, as well as preparing patients for procedures, and reviewing and processing images for interpretation by a physician. Job responsibilities also include preparing, maintaining, and operating imaging equipment. They often report high levels of job satisfaction. Median Annual Salary: $60,570Projected Growth Rate 2020-2030: 14% Typical Education Required: Associate Degree Dental Hygienist The job includes cleaning teeth, removing plaque, taking X-rays, checking for oral disease, and educating patients on oral hygiene. Dental hygienists routinely rank among the most satisfied workers. A passion for oral hygiene, as well as a drive to educate patients, will go a long way in this career. Median Annual Salary: $77,810Projected Growth Rate 2020-2030: 11% Typical Education Required: Associate Degree Electrician Electricians have fairly long apprenticeships—up to four years!—and require licensure to do their jobs. However, that training comes with a paycheck, making it a better financial option for many than the equivalent amount of time in a degree program. In this job, you'll be reading blueprints, installing, maintaining and repairing wiring, controls and electrical components, and using testing devices to local electrical problems. Median Annual Salary: $60,040Projected Growth Rate 2020-2030: 9% Typical Education Required: High School Diploma and Apprenticeship Respiratory Therapist Some employers like respiratory therapists to have bachelor’s degrees, but an associate degree will typically do. People with this job work with children and adults with respiratory issues performing diagnostic tests, consulting with medical staff, and performing treatments. Median Annual Salary: $61,830Projected Annual Growth Rate 2020-2030: 23% Typical Education Required: Associate Degree Plumber If you want to work as a plumber, you’ll need both attention to detail and a certain amount of physical strength—as anyone who’s ever wrestled with an amateur plumbing project can attest. Plumbing licensing requirements vary from state to state, but you can expect to need some sort of licensure, as well as apprenticeship experience. Median Annual Salary: $59,880Projected Growth Rate 2020-2030: 5% Typical Education Required: High School Diploma and Apprenticeship Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers These technicians work on heating, cooling, ventilation and refrigeration units, installing and maintaining equipment. The job typically requires two years of education past high school and long-term on-the-job training. Median Annual Salary: $48,630Projected Growth Rate 2020-2030: 5%Typical Education Required: Postsecondary Non-degree Award Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) What is the highest paying job that doesn't require a bachelor's degree? Elevator installers and repairers top our list. They need a high school diploma and an apprenticeship, and earn a median salary of nearly $100,000 a year. What two-year degrees pay the most? Radiation therapists and dental hygienists both make above $75,000 a year. They are among the highest-paying associate degrees. Radiation therapists earn a median salary of about $83,000 and dental hygienists $77,000. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Elevator Installers and Repairers." Bureau or Labor Statistics. "Radiation Therapists." Accessed Aug. 30, 2020. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Geological and Hydrologic Technicians." Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Web Developers." Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Diagnostic Medical Sonographers." Accessed Aug. 30, 2020. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Dental Hygienists." Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Electricians." Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Respiratory Therapists." Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters." Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers."