List of Trade Careers

Trade careers usually don't require higher education, and you make a decent salary.
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Trade workers are specially trained laborers with specific expertise in particular skilled trades or crafts. Also known as blue-collar jobs, most of these careers don't require a college degree, but some require extensive training. You can begin your career as an apprentice and can earn an entry-level salary. When your training is complete, you can opt for a full-time job or start your own business.

Heating and Air-Conditioning

    Technicians who work as heating, air-conditioning, cooling, ventilation, and refrigeration mechanics are also called HVAC technicians. They install and repair systems that control the quality of air in residences, schools, offices, factories and hospitals. You'll need to learn about the three components of air control. First, you'll need to understand the sources of cool air and warm air, which may be air-conditioners and furnaces, respectively. Second, you'll need to learn about air distribution and duct systems. Finally, you must be familiar with the thermostat which controls heating and cooling levels. The median salary for workers in this field was $43,640 in 2012 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


    Working on elevators involves fixing, installing and maintaining elevators, moving staircases, boardwalks and chairlifts. Elevator installers and repairers find and fix the problems that cause elevators to malfunction. They also test, install and maintain equipment. Their familiarity with basic math, understanding of blueprints and the rudiments of electrical and electronics safety helps them with these functions. Elevator installers and repairers also keep service and maintenance records, and ensure that elevators are in compliance with building codes and safety regulations. Their median salary was $76,650 in 2012, according to the BLS.

Sheet Metal

    Sheet metal workers work on duct systems, outdoor signs, roofing and building sidings. They lay out, measure and mark sheet metal according to provided sketches and templates. They sometimes complete fabrication in shops or installations on construction sites. Sheet metal workers use computer-controlled tools such as saws, sheers and presses to help them complete their jobs efficiently. They typically learn their skill through apprenticeship programs offered by businesses and unions. Some acquire their skill by attending community colleges. The BLS reports that sheet metal workers earned median salaries of $43,290 in 2012.

Construction and Masonry

    Construction workers deal with iron and steel girders used in the erection of bridges, buildings and other structures. They also set mesh or steel bars in concrete. Above all other requirements, you'll need to be physically fit to be a construction worker. Brick masons and block masons build and repair walls using concrete blocks, bricks, and other building materials. Along with having math skills, you must be skilled at reading blueprints, layouts and sketching to work in this trade. In 2012, the median salaries for construction laborers and cement masons was $29,990 and $35,760 respectively, according to the BLS.

Electricity and Electronics

    Electricians install and repair electrical systems and wiring in homes and other buildings. Their typical tools include knives, pliers, wire strippers and screwdrivers. Electrical and electronics repairmen are different tradesmen dealing with the installation, repair and replacement of electronic equipment. These tradesmen typically must have an associate degree or successfully earn a certificate from a trade school. Safety norms and procedures are highly emphasized in this area. Median salaries for electrical engineers was about $87,920, and for electronic engineers, $91,820, in 2012 according to the BLS.

Plumbing and Boilers

    Plumbers manage the drainage, gas and water systems in residences and other structures. They set up and maintain water heaters, dishwashers, kitchen disposal units and bathroom fittings such as bathtubs, sinks and other fixtures. Boilermakers set up and maintain boilers, containers and secure vats used for storing gases and liquids. They install blast furnaces, tanks for storing and processing, smoke vents and chimneys and other equipment needed to minimize air pollution. For these careers you can take apprenticeship courses and you will be learning on the job. Plumbers earned about $49,140 and boilermakers earned about $56,560 in 2012 according to the BLS.

Building Inspection

    For a career in building inspection, you'll need a degree in the field of engineering and architecture. You can take a building inspection course from a community college. You must have a sharp eye for detail because you will be examining various buildings and structures to make sure they are constructed with compliance to local and state regulations. Specialist building inspectors visit and inspect dams, highways, bridges and any other kind of constructions. In 2012, the median wages for building inspectors was $53,450, according to the BLS.

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