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The Best Skilled Trade Jobs for 2021

Posted on
May 2nd, 2021
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illustration of different types of skilled trade jobs
Illustration of many different skilled trade jobs
There are thousands of skilled trade jobs going unfilled. In many cases, that's because job seekers don't see a path to reach them. That's where SkillPointe can help. (Credit: Smart Design/Shutterstock)
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By Sarah Hicks

What do you want out of a job? 

For most people, the answers are simple: A job that pays well. A job that holds your interest. A job that has potential for growth and won’t disappear tomorrow. And most of all, a job that doesn’t require endless years of preparation.

The funny thing is, there are thousands of in-demand jobs that fit that criteria. But they’re hiding in plain sight because many people aren't familiar with them. 

At SkillPointe, we’ve done the hard work of uncovering these good-paying skilled trade jobs and the steps required to get them. We’ve selected dozens of jobs across industries as varied as construction, health care, technology, manufacturing and beyond. They all offer an uncomplicated path to securing a good future. 

"We created SkillPointe to fill a need," explains Todd Wilson, founder of SkillPointe. “We knew it was time to start connecting people with opportunity — and to restore the reputation of skills-based careers along the way.” 

We’ve sketched out some possible paths below. The next step is finding the best one for you. 

How To Find The Right Skilled Trade Job For You 

Illustrations of best trade jobs
How do you match your skills to a good-paying job? These steps will get you there. (Credit: Smart Design/Shutterstock)

First, think about your strengths and the types of tasks you're naturally good at. Take SkillPointe's assessment quiz to help translate that list of strengths into potential jobs. From there, head to our Explore Careers page. 

Each job description on SkillPointe explains what the job is, how much training is required plus what training is available in your area, median salary, jobs available near you, and a “You May Be A Good Fit” section. (For example, the ability to work well in a fast-paced environment is one of the "good fit" criteria of a successful MRI technician.)

Here are eight in-demand, good-paying jobs across several industries to give you a sense of skills that employers are looking for and how your qualities might apply to them. (And for further exploration, you'll find a link to every job on the site at the bottom of this file.)

Medical sonographers: These highly trained technicians are best known for showing expectant parents images of their baby in the womb. They also use this specialized equipment to see inside many other parts of the human body and to aid with patient diagnoses. 

  • You may be a good fit if: You like working with complex machinery and have good people skills.
  • Median salary: $74,318

Medical records and health information technicians: These information managers make sense of the massive amount of data flowing into and out of the health care system — from patient data to insurance claims to physician reimbursement and even payment plans.

  • You may be a good fit if: You are detail-oriented, have excellent communication skills and are good at multi-tasking.   
  • Median salary: $42,640

Electricians: These troubleshooters design, install, maintain and repair wiring and electrical systems for all types of buildings. 

  • You may be a good fit if: You have excellent problem-solving skills, good dexterity and are good at math.
  • Median salary: $56,181

Architectural drafters: Drafters take an architect or engineer's design and create the technical drawings that bring a building or machine to life. They are also known as CAD operators because they use computer-aided design (CAD) software.

  • You may be a good fit if: You work well on a deadline, have a creative streak and have good interpersonal skills.
  • Median salary: $56,347

Electrical and electronics engineering technician: These widely needed research technicians help design, develop, test, manufacture and repair electronic components. They run tests on every kind of product or system imaginable, though they typically specialize. 

  • You may be a good fit if: You have good mechanical and reasoning skills as well as an eye for detail.
  • Median salary: $65,270

Industrial machinery mechanic: These are the problem-solving technicians who maintain and repair a wide array of machines used in commercial and industrial settings. 

  • You may be a good fit if: You have excellent mechanical skills and good eye-hand coordination. 
  • Median salary: $56,153

Systems analyst: These specialists study computer systems and find ways to use technology efficiently and effectively. This often includes weighing the costs and benefits of a company's software and hardware purchases.

  • You may be a good fit if: You have strong analytical skills, are good at innovative problem-solving and are a great communicator.
  • Median salary: $90,917

IT support specialist: These technicians use their knowledge of computer science to help others get the most out of their technology. They troubleshoot problems, work one-on-one with people to solve issues and sometimes provide computer maintenance.

  • You may be a good fit if: You have great problem-solving skills, are patient and are able to translate technical material for those who aren't technically inclined.
  • Median salary: $52,270

How We Selected The Jobs for SkillPointe 

examples of best trade jobs in 2021 in illustrations
We dug into the data so you don't have to. (Credit: Smart Design/Shutterstock)

First, we dove into Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, the Occupational Outlook Handbook and other data sources to create a list of jobs that met our initial requirements. We came up with a list of about 150 jobs. From there, we dug into the data and narrowed the list to include only jobs that met additional criteria — short-term and/or long-term job growth, good return on investment for training and a manageable timeframe for gaining that experience.

The list of data sources used in our analytics include: 

Of course, there’s a human element to our list as well.

“When we talk about the best, we aren’t just talking about the data,” says Art Oleszczuk, SkillPointe's chief marketing officer. "We also spoke with dozens of employers who confirmed our initial findings."

The algorithm may sound complex, but the end result is not: We rate jobs as Good, Great or Best and let you sort the jobs based on the factor that means the most to you.

It's an evolving platform. As the skilled trade job market changes, so will this list. For example, we've recently partnered with Emsi (economicmodeling.com), a labor market analytics firm, to offer more fine-tuned data. In the future, we'll provide increasingly local details about job and training opportunities. We're always on the lookout for new job options that fit the criteria. 

The Most In-Demand Skilled Trade Jobs

Best trade job opportunities, in illustrations
There's no better time to set a clear direction for your future. (Credit: Smart Design/Shutterstock)

To help you find your path, we've done the work of finding the best jobs in a variety of industries. Pick one that sounds exciting and start exploring!

There’s no better time to set a clear direction for your future. 

Information technology: 

Construction:

Energy:

Healthcare

Manufacturing:

Transportation:

Public service: 

Communication: 

Pick your path. Find the training. Get the job. 

More News + Advice

SkillPointe has released an e-book, “Let’s Celebrate Skills-Based Careers,” which spells out the career conundrum faced by many students and proposes smart alternatives.
two welders make sparks fly, showing benefit of getting trained in the skilled trades
By Katherine Gustafson America has a skills problem, or more accurately, a massive skills gap. There are too many open jobs and too many job hunters with skills that don’t match up. Even those who
Black male worker wears soundproof headphones and yellow helmet working at a cutting machine
Are you overwhelmed by all of the options out there and not sure which career path is right for you? SkillPointe can help!
Illustration of many different job types, take a skill-based assessment quiz
By Daniel Bortz Need a good job, fast? America’s skilled labor shortage means plenty of companies have skilled trade jobs sitting empty, even now. And it’s possible to get some of those jobs with less
Through an apprenticeship, you learn a trade while earning a paycheck. (Credit: goodluz/Shutterstock)