72 Types of Trades to Learn for a Successful Career

Many industries offer professionals the opportunity to learn a skilled trade through vocational school, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training. Learning a trade is an excellent way to begin a rewarding and lucrative career. If you are interested in working with your hands and starting your career while you’re young, then you may be interested in learning more about different, high-demand trades. In this article, we discuss what trades are, explore the benefits of learning a trade, and share some of the most popular types of trades across industries.

What are trades and types of trades?

The trades refer to manual labour jobs that require training or a highly specific skill set. Examples of types of trade jobs including being a plumber, hairstylist, or landscaper. While you can choose to go to a vocational school to receive occupation-specific training in your desired trade, employers may provide on-the-job training depending on which job role or industry you choose. Trades exist within a wide range of industries, making it easy for professionals to find a career that is both financially and professionally satisfying.

Benefits of learning a trade

While the benefits of learning a trade may vary slightly from one industry to the next, there are several common benefits, including:

High earning potential

Although many trade professions do not require a degree, they typically have an earning potential that equals or exceeds the average salaries of individuals who have completed an undergraduate program. Unions are also very common in many trade industries and they can empower employees to negotiate for higher wages. Once you have gained enough hands-on experience working in your chosen trade, you may even consider starting your own company, which can help you generate more income.

Less of a time commitment

One of the most popular benefits of pursuing a trade career is that you can start gaining work experience and earning a desirable salary right after high school or a two-year trade program. Entering the workforce while young can help you accumulate more wealth throughout your lifetime. It can also help you save up for large purchases, such as a new car or a house, while many of your peers are still attending school.

More cost effective

Since most trades do not require a degree, you can begin your career without collecting a significant amount of student loan debt. Trade professionals can save a lot of money by attending a cost-effective vocational program, pursuing an apprenticeship, or starting an entry-level position after they graduate high school. This can provide you with more financial stability as a young adult.

Highly satisfying careers

If you enjoy working with your hands to build, install, or create new things, you may find a trade career very fulfilling. Professionals who work in the trades hone their skills to become highly specialized. Many trades are well-respected and held in high esteem, which can help you take pride in your work.

Job security

Although the job outlook for trades may vary based on the industry, most trade jobs project strong prospects in the future. By mastering a trade, you can learn a useful skill set that is in high demand. This can provide you with job security and opportunities to advance throughout your career.

14 skilled residential trades

Some of the most popular residential trades include:


National average salary: $48,826 per year

Primary duties: a mason works with natural materials such as brick, concrete, and stone to build structures. They can work on both commercial and residential projects. Some of their primary duties include setting up project sites, diagnosing structural issues, rehabilitating buildings, and using construction equipment.


National average salary: $67,626 per year

Primary duties: a carpenter installs and repairs structures made from wood, concrete, and other raw materials. Some projects a carpenter may work on include building furniture or installing kitchen cabinets. The primary duties of a carpenter include reading blueprints, building frameworks, and repairing damaged fixtures.

Additional skilled residential trades

For more career options in residential fields, consider one of these trades:

  • Home inspector

  • Mechanical installer

  • Painter

  • Roofer

  • Construction worker

  • Housecleaner

  • Framer

  • Carpet installer

  • Mechanical insulator

  • Plumber

  • Electrician

8 skilled cosmetic trades

Some of the most popular cosmetic trades include:

Nail technician

National average salary: $41,543 per year

Primary duties: a nail technician is a cosmetic professional who specializes in caring for clients’ fingernails and toenails. Some services nail technicians offer include manicures, pedicures, and nail shaping. They may use their creativity to craft unique nail designs for clients and offer hand and foot massages to promote relaxation.


National average salary: $61,711 per year

Primary duties: barbers specialize in cutting, styling, and caring for their client’s hair. They also offer beard and moustache trimming and shaving services. Barbers may use their skill set to help their clients achieve their desired look by using different techniques, such as tapering.

Additional skilled cosmetic trades

If helping others look and feel great appeals to you, here are a few more trades you might consider:

  • Hair colourist

  • Esthetician
  • Eyebrow threader

  • Eyebrow waxer

  • Hairstylist

  • Laser hair removal technician

11 skilled medical trades

Some of the most popular medical trades include:

Registered nurse

National average salary: $80,150 per year

Primary duties: a registered nurse provides patient care and provides emotional support to patients and their family members. They usually work with a team of other nurses, doctors, and medical professionals. They may also oversee a team of licensed practical nurses, home health aides, and nursing assistants.

Dental hygienist

National average salary: $82,221 per year

Primary duties: dental hygienists are licensed dental professionals who administer preventative oral care under the supervision of a dentist. Some of their primary job duties include cleaning patients’ teeth and inspecting their mouths to ensure they are healthy. Dental hygienists also teach patients how to maintain or improve good oral health.

Additional skilled medical trades

If you are interested in pursuing a medical trade, some options you can explore include:

  • Occupational therapist

  • Emergency medical technician
  • Cardiac technician

  • Medical sonographer

  • Licensed practical nurse

  • Radiation therapist

  • Medical laboratory technician

  • Physical therapist

  • Respiratory therapist

18 skilled energy and industrial trades

Some of the most popular energy and industrial trades include:


National average salary: $51,846 per year

Primary duties: a welder uses specialized equipment to fuse pieces of metal together by applying intense heat. They also shape and polish the final metal product to ensure it adheres to all assembly and safety protocols. They may work as braziers, cutters, solderers, or with large infrastructures.

Related: What Does a Welder Do: Duties and Potential Jobs

HVAC mechanic

National average salary: $51,757 per year

Primary duties: an HVAC mechanic repairs, maintains, and installs heating and cooling systems. They may work on commercial or residential projects. Some of their primary job duties include identifying potential heating and cooling issues, recommending energy-efficient options to customers, and ensuring all units are up to code.

Additional skilled energy and industrial trades

Here are some additional industrial and energy field trades you can explore:

  • Solar installer

  • Mechanic
  • Automotive service technician

  • Wind turbine technician

  • Boilermaker

  • Steelworker

  • CNC machine tool programmer

  • Steamfitter

  • Diesel mechanic

  • Rotary drill operator

  • Electric power line technician

  • Pipefitter

  • Extraction Technician

  • Marine mechanic

  • Heavy equipment operator

  • Ironworker

8 skilled technology trades

Some of the most popular technology trades include:

Software engineer

National average salary: $75,422 per year

Primary duties: a software engineer is a skilled technology professional who designs computer programs. They start by identifying what their customers need to determine what functions and features to include and the level of security required. Then they develop software instructions to share with programmers who write and test the computer code.

Application developer

National average salary: $65,196 per year

Primary duties: application developers are IT professionals who create software applications for computers, mobile devices, and other technology platforms. They use market research and client consultations to develop user-friendly applications. Application developers are also responsible for creating upgrades for existing applications, performing maintenance tests, and staying informed about the technology industry.

Additional skilled technology trades

Technologically inclined professionals may excel in one of the following tech trades:


  • Web developer

  • Graphic designer
  • Database administrator

  • Technical support specialist

  • Game developer

  • Search engine optimization specialist


13 additional skilled trades

Some additional skilled trades you might consider include:

Interior designer

National average salary: $55,033 per year

Primary duties: interior designers develop strategies to make indoor building spaces purposeful, visually appealing, and safe. They work closely with their clients to identify their needs, ensure each project stays within the designated budget, and create blueprints or models of final designs. Interior designers often collaborate with architects, engineers, technicians, and stakeholders to make sure they complete projects on schedule.

Landscape technician

National average salary: $77,270 per year

Primary duties: a landscape technician creates gardens, lawns, and designs structures for commercial and residential properties. They work closely with their clients to sketch designs that meet their specifications and source the right plants and materials for each project. Some of the primary duties of a landscape technician include preparing job site plans, calculating costs, tracking project progress, and evaluating the environmental impact a design may have on the surrounding area.

Additional skilled trades

There are many excellent trade options to consider as a career, including:

  1. Locksmith

  • Truck driver

  • Air traffic controller

  • Elevator installer

  • Massage therapist

  • Paralegal

  • Photographer

  • Commercial driver

  • Millwright

  • Pet groomer

  • Potter