Why Jobs in the Skilled Trades Pay More Money Than Other Jobs

A plumber at work

Many people believe that it takes a Bachelor’s degree or even a Master’s degree to be able to work a job that provides you with a good salary. This is not always the case, as many jobs in the skilled trades (cosmetology, construction, electrician, HVAC repair, plumbing, respiratory therapy, etc.) don’t always require these types of degrees. In fact, many of these jobs require less schooling but pay a lot more.

Now, it’s important to note that not all skilled trades jobs pay more than jobs that require a higher level of education, but many do. For example, a dental hygienist (two-year degree) can easily earn $70,000 per year, which is a lot more than many other professions that require Bachelor’s degrees, but an actual dentist (Bachelor’s degree plus medical school) can more than $100,000 per year. But why do dental hygienists earn so much and other trade jobs pay so well? Here are a few reasons why this is true.

Reason #1: These jobs will never go away.

Jobs in the skilled trades can be considered as “recession-resistant and pandemic-resistant”. Skilled trade workers are considered essential due to the fact that even during a global pandemic their services are still needed— especially with more people at home. No matter what happens in the world, people are always going to need plumbers, electricians, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) technicians, and the like.

And the skilled trades don’t stop at construction-related jobs. There are also many jobs that are related to the healthcare industry. Again, dental hygienists, but also respiratory therapists, and sonographers can easily earn yearly salaries totaling over $60,000 per year. These salaries can differ depending on the type of trade, the type of work being done within a particular trade, and the location of where you’re working.

An electrician examining some wiring

Reason #2: There’s a constant need to fill these jobs.

In many industries, there is an abundance of qualified individuals to work, but a shortage of job positions. This is almost the exact opposite when it comes to skilled trades. Many high school graduates are taught that they need to attend a four-year public university or private college in order to get a job that provides a decent living. This is true in some cases, but not all Bachelor’s degree programs themselves offer the same benefits as trade school programs.

While many Bachelor’s degree programs offer paid internships and on-site job training, others offer unpaid internships or none at all. Almost all trade jobs offer some type of on-site and even paid training… but most students still don’t choose this option. This could be due to the fact that many students aren’t even presented with this option. Attending a four-year college or university is the norm and until this changes, there may always be a shortage of skilled trades workers.

Reason #3: These are highly skilled jobs.

Many people may assume that because these jobs do not require a Bachelor’s degree (and some don’t even require a two-year Associate degree), that it doesn’t take much skill or knowledge to perform these jobs. Not only is this not true, but many jobs in the skilled trades, such as jobs relating to construction, require continued education and frequent licensing updates.

Even though skilled trades jobs don’t require as much time in the classroom as a four-year degree job, they require much more time “in the field” or on-site. Some would say the best way to learn something is to actually do it, and this is how these workers become skilled in their chosen profession.

These aren’t the only three reasons why skilled trade workers are paid more than many other jobs, but they are definitely huge reasons. Jobs that will never cease to exist, always need workers, and require specialized skills are some of the main reasons why they pay more money.

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