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When it comes to trades, there are always jobs in ample supply, regardless of the economy. Unlike a traditional college career that can span several years, you can learn most trades in under two years. We’ve looked into some of the highest paying trade careers and compiled them into one handy list. If you want further information, all the salaries on this list were taken from Glassdoor.

1. Dental Hygienist

Median Salary: $69,404

Dental hygienists often obtain an associate degree, a process that usually spans a two-year period. They will then take a test to obtain a license. Studies generally include health and biology classes, as well as supervised clinical trials. When licensed, hygienists can find a job at a practice, and they will clean a patient’s teeth, conduct x-rays, and aid the dentist in clerical work.

2. Electrician

Median Salary: $53,794

This job requires the ability to appreciate fine details. Not only will your job entail the installation and repair of electrical components, but you’ll also need to read blueprints and utilize advanced problem-solving skills. To begin this career, you must acquire a high school diploma or GED and complete training at a trade school.

3. Welder

Median Salary: $38,340

There are several different industries that benefit from welding, and you can start in as little as six months. If you choose this career, you’ll most likely work primarily on repairs for heavy machinery. You can often begin practicing this craft as a high school elective, and you’ll get a kick-start on your career.

4. Cosmetologist

Median Salary: $34,429

Depending on the state you live in, you have to complete a set number of education hours before you can become a cosmetologist. This often gives students the opportunity to receive their license at their own pace, a process that generally takes anywhere from eight months to two years. Cosmetology is a career that’s ideal for creatively minded individuals, as it allows them to apply their passion to enhance the beauty in others.

5. Carpenter

Median Salary: $53,118

As with many other trades, carpentry requires a high school diploma along with a trade certificate. This job requires a certain degree of mathematical skills, as well as the ability to perform physically taxing labor. This is an ideal career for anyone who wants to expand their craft over the years, as many carpenters go on to start their own business.


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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.