Top-Paying Skilled Trades Careers


You want a job that offers great potential. Stability. A great work environment. Variety and a challenge. Oh, and you want it to pay really well, too.

Is that too much to ask?

Not if you’re seeking a skilled trades job!

Our economy is growing. Skilled trades careers are evolving. It’s an exciting time to enter this field, or just find a better opportunity within it.

But when it comes to skilled jobs in production, manufacturing or other industrial environments, not all jobs are created equally – especially when it comes to salary. What skilled trades jobs pay the most? Our team has created this list of bringing-home-the-bacon winners.

High-Paying Skilled Trades Careers

(Wages and job descriptions are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2017 estimates.)

Construction Manager

Average hourly pay: $43.93

Job description: Plan, coordinate, budget and supervise construction projects from start to finish.

Power Line Technician

Average hourly pay: $33.04

Job description: Install or repair cables or wires used in electrical power or distribution systems. May erect poles and light- or heavy-duty transmission towers.

Aircraft Mechanic

Average hourly pay: $29.45

Job description: Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft.

Electrical and Electronics Repairers (Commercial and Industrial Equipment)

Average hourly pay: $28.00

Job description: Repair, test, adjust or install electronic equipment, such as industrial controls, transmitters and antennas.

Rotary Drill Operator for the Oil and Gas Industry

Average hourly pay: $27.01

Job description: Set up or operate a variety of drills to remove underground oil and gas, or remove core samples for testing during oil and gas exploration.

CNC Machine Tool Programmer

Average hourly pay: $26.81

Job description: Develop programs to control machining or processing of metal or plastic parts by automatic machine tools, equipment, or systems.

Crane or Tower Operator

Average hourly pay: $26.78

Job description: Operate mechanical boom and cable or tower and cable equipment to lift and move materials, machines or products in many directions.


Average hourly pay: $26.58

Job description: Install, dismantle or move machinery and heavy equipment according to layout plans, blueprints or other drawings.


Average hourly pay: $25.28

Job description: Install and repair pipes that carry liquids or gases to, from and within businesses, homes and factories.

Evaluating Salary: Is the Employer Offering Enough?

If you come across a great skilled trades job, but you’re not sure if the salary is fair, here are a few ways to evaluate it and maximize your earning potential:

  • Research the going rate for your position within your industry, using sites like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Wage Data, Payscale, Getraised and Glassdoor.
  • Factor in cost-of-living differences. If the job is in a different city, use an online cost-of-living calculator to compare your old city to your new one.
  • Aim high. If you find that the salary offered is lower than what it should be, choose a precise pay rate at the top end of the range (so you have room to compromise if necessary). Doing your homework will help you justify the reason behind the salary you ask for.

Looking for high-paying skilled trades jobs?

PrideStaff places people in a wide range of skilled trades positions across the country, working with employers to ensure they offer the challenge, opportunity and great pay you need. Find the best skilled trades jobs here!