Do you really need a 4-year degree to get a job that pays well? Not at all. Trade jobs are some of the most stable and lucrative career paths available. With recent technological advancements and infrastructure developments (like solar and wind energy), certain trades are in higher demand than ever. Many of them offer competitive salaries and significant growth opportunities. Whether you’re a student considering your options, ready to make a career change, or just curious about the most promising fields, here are six of the best trade jobs to consider in 2024.

1. Solar technician

The green revolution is driving a lot of demand for clean and renewable energy solutions, and solar is a big part of that. So it makes sense that solar technicians, who install and service solar panels, are one of the hottest trades in the market. With governments all over the world pushing for greener energy solutions, the need for skilled solar technicians is likely to keep increasing. Solar technician training is usually available through vocational schools and community colleges, so it’s not hard to find the necessary training in most areas. 

  • The national average pay for solar technicians is $50,000 per year, with some technicians earning over $80,000.

2. Wind turbine technician

Along with solar, wind energy continues to carve out a significant part of the renewable energy landscape. Wind turbine technicians are responsible for the installation, maintenance, and repair of wind turbines (aka windmills). The work can be challenging; there’s a good chance you’ll need to climb the turbine towers fairly often, so if you’re afraid of heights it could be the stuff of nightmares. But if you’re okay with sometimes working high off the ground, there’s excellent pay and a job growth rate that’s one of the highest of all trade jobs. 

  • Wind turbine technicians typically make between $60,000 and $85,000 per year.

3. HVAC technician

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians are essential for keeping temperatures comfortable and safe in homes and public buildings. With climate change causing more extreme weather conditions, the demand for skilled HVAC technicians is likely to stay high. HVAC techs have always installed and repaired furnaces and AC, but now they increasingly work on newer technologies like smart home automation systems that make heating and cooling more efficient. The job requires problem-solving skills, technical knowledge, and a constant learning mindset to keep up with the changing technology. So it’s a secure career path and has a lot of intellectual stimulation. 

  • Nationally, HVAC techs earn between $54,000 to $82,000 annually.

4. Electrician

Electricians are always in high demand because people seem to always want electricity. Seriously, though, there’s a lot of job security in things that aren’t likely to go away anytime soon, and that’s the case with electricity in homes and office buildings and pretty much all structures. With more devices and technologies coming into daily life and work routines, skilled electricians are vital professionals. They may install, repair, and troubleshoot, but also have increasing opportunities as smart home technology becomes more common and extensive. Electricians often do apprenticeships, which combine paid on-the-job training with classroom instruction, making it a solid career path with strong earning potential. 

  • Electricians typically make between $62,000 and $84,000 per year.

5. Plumber

Plumbing is a trade that’s often overlooked but is vital in maintaining public health and sanitation as well as the convenience we all expect in our homes. Plumbers install and repair pipes and fixtures in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. They also play a key role in new construction and renovations. With more emphasis on water conservation and increasingly sophisticated waste management systems, skilled plumbers are needed more than ever. Like electricians, plumbers typically enter the field through an apprenticeship, so that they learn the trade through comprehensive (and paid) hands-on experience. 

  • Plumbers make a particularly strong income, usually ranging from $77,000 to $128,000 each year.

6. Construction project manager

As cities grow and infrastructure projects expand, construction managers are becoming increasingly indispensable. These professionals plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish. The job requires an understanding of construction and also skills in project management and human resources. With a focus on completing projects on time, within budget, and in compliance with safety and workplace regulations, construction managers play a central role in the building and maintenance of the spaces we all live and work in. 

  • Construction project managers usually make between $65,000 and $148,000 annually.