Skilled Trades Careers

Career Guide to the Fastest Growing Skilled Trades of 2024

DateFebruary 25, 2024
skilled trade career growth graphic

Looking to ride the wave of growth in skilled trades? The demand for skilled workers is on the rise, with job opportunities and potential salary both going up. Whether you're a student looking for a career path or a seasoned professional seeking new opportunities, now is the time to explore the world of skilled trades.

In this article, we'll explore the fastest growing skilled trades industries and the potential for career growth within these fields. From construction and manufacturing to healthcare and technology, there are countless opportunities for those with the right skills and training.

If you want to stay ahead of the curve and make the most of the growing demand for skilled workers, keep reading. And don't forget to sign up for a free SkillHero account to connect with training and resources in your trade. The future of your career starts here!

What are skilled trades?

Skilled trades are careers that require specialized knowledge and hands-on skills to perform specific tasks. They include professions such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, welders, and HVAC technicians, among others. Skilled trade workers often complete apprenticeships or vocational training programs to gain the expertise needed for their profession.

These careers are essential for the construction, manufacturing, and maintenance industries, and play a crucial role in keeping our infrastructure and facilities running smoothly. If you're interested in pursuing a career in a skilled trade, all of the trades mentioned in this article are worth considering.

What makes skilled trades a great career choice?

Skilled trades offer a unique and valuable career path for those seeking job satisfaction, above-average wages, and career security. Many workers find immense satisfaction in working with their hands and seeing tangible results from their efforts, which is a key aspect of skilled trades.

With a growing demand for skilled workers in industries such as construction, manufacturing, and infrastructure, the job prospects for tradespeople are extremely promising. Skilled workers play a crucial role in building and maintaining the infrastructure that supports our society, making their impact essential and influential.

The hands-on nature of skilled trades offers a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment that many other careers lack, making it an attractive option for people seeking a rewarding career. With high job security, competitive salaries, and regular opportunities for growth, pursuing a career in skilled trades is a decision that can lead to a fulfilling and successful future.

Fastest growing skilled trade career paths

The following trades all have close to or above 10% annual increase in expected new jobs, are ideal options for anyone interested in pursuing a rewarding and in-demand career in the skilled trades industry.


A machinist is a skilled worker responsible for setting up and operating machine tools to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools. They interpret blueprints, sketches, and engineering specifications to ensure the accuracy of the final product.

Machinists are projected to see job growth over the next five years due to the increasing demand for machined products in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and medical equipment manufacturing.

Machinist average salary in America SkillHero

The trajectory of earning potential for machinists follows skill acquisition and experience. Apprentices entering the field typically earn an average salary of $33,720 annually. As they progress to journeyman status, that increases to $48,510 per year on average.

Once they’ve achieved the status of master, machinists may earn an average salary of $71,820 or higher. These figures underscore the correlation between proficiency, experience, and earning potential in the dynamic field of machining.

To become a machinist, you need to complete a formal training program or apprenticeship, which can take 1-4 years. The demand for machinists combined with the technical skills required for the role result in competitive salaries and financial rewards for those pursuing a career in this field.

Pipefitter and pipelayer

Pipefitters and pipelayers both work in the construction and maintenance of piping systems, but their duties and requirements differ. Pipefitters fabricate, install, and maintain pipes that carry liquids or gases, while pipelayers install and repair underground pipelines for utilities or drainage systems.

Both paths require a high school diploma or alternative and completion of an apprenticeship. Both professions also require physical strength and the ability to combine critical thinking with manual labor.


Pipefitting and pipelaying both offer lucrative career paths with earning potential that correlates closely with experience and expertise. A pipefitter’s average salary in the United States starts around $39,700 annually for apprentices, $79,880 on average for journeymen, and up to $112,920 or more per year for masters.

When it comes to pipelayers, apprentices earn approximately $34,180 annually, journeymen around $45,990, and masters $77,760 or more.

These trades are projected to see career and job growth over the next five years due to an increasing demand for new infrastructure and the maintenance of existing buildings. Job outlook is positive for anyone who decides to commit to career paths.

Quality assurance technician

A quality assurance technician in the skilled trade industry is responsible for ensuring that products, services, or processes meet specified requirements and standards. This can include testing, inspecting, and analyzing HVAC systems to ensure indoor air quality meets regulatory standards.

Quality assurance technicians also analyze data to identify areas for improvement and develop quality control systems to prevent defects. To become a quality assurance technician, a combination of education, training, and specific skills are required.

This can include obtaining a relevant degree or certification, gaining hands-on experience in the field, and developing skills in analytical thinking, attention to detail, and problem-solving.

Quality-Assurance-Technician average salary SkillHero

The average salary for QA technicians varies depending on experience, certifications, and geographic location. Entry-level apprentices earn around $29,950 annually, journeymen about $43,900 per year, and masters can command salaries of $69,100 or more.

Career opportunities for quality assurance technicians are diverse and can lead to roles in various industries, including manufacturing, construction, and technology. By pursuing a career as a quality assurance technician, you can contribute to improving the overall quality and safety of products and services in their trade.

Semiconductor manufacturing technician

Semiconductor manufacturing technicians play a crucial role in the electronics industry by operating and maintaining machinery used in the production of semiconductors, which are key components in electronic devices.

Their responsibilities include monitoring manufacturing processes, troubleshooting equipment issues, and performing quality control checks.

semiconductor manufacturing technician equipment

Apprentice semiconductor manufacturing technicians earn an average salary of $33,120, while journeyman technicians typically make around $44,690 per year. Master technicians, with extensive experience and expertise, can earn up to $72,030 or more annually.

With the increasing demand for electronic devices, the job of a semiconductor manufacturing technician is seeing growth.

To get started in this field, you can pursue an associate degree in semiconductor manufacturing or a related field, and develop skills in equipment maintenance, technical problem-solving, and attention to detail. On-the-job training is also common in this field.

Heavy equipment mechanic and operator

Heavy equipment mechanics are responsible for inspecting, repairing, and maintaining heavy machinery such as bulldozers, cranes, and graders. Their daily tasks include diagnosing mechanical issues, performing repairs, and conducting routine maintenance to ensure the equipment operates efficiently.

Heavy equipment operators need to have a keen eye for detail and the ability to follow safety procedures for a variety of scenarios. Their daily work involves manipulating controls, maneuvering equipment, and ensuring the proper storage of machinery.

heavy equipment

At the apprentice level, heavy equipment mechanics earn around $37,650 per year. As mechanics advance to the journeyman level, their average salary increases to approximately $58,350, and for masters, it reaches $79,570.

Heavy equipment workers are seeing job growth due to the increasing demand for infrastructure and construction projects. To get started in these trades, look for apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship training in SkillHero's database of opportunities.

CNC operator and programmer

CNC operators and programmers are skilled workers in the manufacturing industry. CNC operators set up the machines, load materials, and oversee the production process, ensuring that the machines operate correctly and produce high-quality custom parts.

CNC programmers create and write the code that tells the machines how to function, often using computer-aided design (CAD) software to develop precise instructions for the machines.

how to become a cnc operator

According to the latest data, CNC programmers earn around $42,990 annually as apprentices, $60,800 as journeymen, and $90,090 as masters.

The average annual salary for a CNC operator varies based on factors like experience, location, and industry. Apprentices earn around $33,360 per year, journeymen $46,760, and masters $63,600 annually, according to the latest data.

These careers are seeing growth due to the increasing demand for precision-made components in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and healthcare. To become a CNC operator or programmer, you'll need a high school diploma and on-the-job training, although some may pursue formal education in machining or engineering.

The work of CNC operators and programmers is vital to the manufacturing process, as it allows for the production of complex, high-quality components using CNC machining technology.


A plumber is responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing pipes and fixtures for water, gas, and drainage systems.

They work on a variety of projects, from residential homes and commercial buildings to industrial sites and infrastructure. Plumbers also play a crucial role in ensuring that buildings meet health and safety standards by implementing proper plumbing systems.

how to become a plumber

According to the latest data, apprentice plumbers earn around $36,700 per year on average, journeyman plumbers approximately $59,880 annually, and masters can earn up to $99,920 or more.

Plumbers are seeing growth in their careers due to the ongoing construction boom and the need for infrastructure improvements. The growing focus on sustainability and energy efficiency has increased the demand for specialized plumbers who can work on eco-friendly systems.

To become a plumber, you'll need to complete an apprenticeship program or vocational training, where you'll learn about the different aspects of the trade and gain hands-on experience. After completing your training and obtaining the necessary licenses and certifications, you can choose to specialize in areas with a wide range of career opportunities.

How to get started in the trades

To get started in a skilled trade career as a beginner you'll need to research different trades to find the right fit for your interests and abilities. Then, seek out opportunities for hands-on experience, such as an apprenticeship or trade school program.

Next, connect with experienced workers in your chosen trade to learn from their knowledge and expertise. Additionally, obtain any necessary certifications or licenses required for your chosen trade, and consider joining a trade union or professional organization for support and networking opportunities.

You can do all of this via a free SkillHero account, which offers a suite of tools for everything from managing your resume to meeting potential employers. Claim your free account here to get started launching your career!