Jump to: trade school programs

Here’s a list of jobs where you can make good money with the least amount of schoolwork. The length of the programs listed here are generally:

  • 3-6 weeks certificate or license training
  • 3 month certificates
  • 6 month certificates
  • 12 months to 2 years certificates and associate’s degrees

High Paying Careers – 6 Weeks to 2 Years of School

You can get training in the classroom and online for certificates like nursing assistant, CDL truck driver, and medical assistant in 3 weeks to 3 months. There are 3 and 6 month certificate programs in the skilled trades, medical careers, criminal justice and dental fields too.

The one and 2 year degrees in IT, advanced criminal justice and other STEM careers do take longer but the pay is normally better. Earning one of the highest paying trade school jobs usually takes over 2 years but that money may be worth the time!

Certified Nursing Assistant

Certified Nursing Assistants, also called nurses aides, assist nurses in providing care to people in facilities such as assisted living, or nursing homes. Nursing Assistants will help give the patient’s baths, re-position them in their beds, take vitals and record health information in the patient’s records, as well as help around the facility itself. To become a CNA, attend a vocational school or community college that offers nursing programs. Program lengths vary from 6 week accelerated to a few months. Upon completing the necessary education, a competency exam must be taken in order to be considered a Certified Nursing Assistant. The average annual salary of a CNA is $27,510. CNA’s that work on the government level earn nearly $33,000. Employment of CNA’s is predicted to grow 18% through 2024. The average occupation increases 5%-7%, so this is much higher than most other professions. Students who attended accredited programs and passed the competency exam shouldn’t have a hard time finding a job in this increasingly competitive field. Find a CNA program.

Dental Hygienist

In as little as two years from an accredited program, you can have what is considered one of the best jobs. To research, teach, or work in the public school system, you’d need a master’s degree. Dental hygienists work alongside dentists to clean patients teeth and look for any signs of dental or oral problems. Dental hygiene is one of the highest paying careers that do not need years of schooling. The Bureau of Labor Statistics quotes the median annual salary for dental hygienists at about $74,000 with the top 10% making over $100,000. Huge growth in the employment outlook is predicted, topping 19% over the next ten years. Even though there will be plenty of job openings, the field is becoming extremely competitive due to more people going into it. Find a dental hygienist program.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (Ultrasound)

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers are trained to use specific equipment that takes images which help doctors best assess and diagnose medical conditions. Hospitals and colleges offer one-year certificate programs. Employers prefer their candidates be certified through programs accredited by Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Becoming certified by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers is highly recommended, as well as favored by employers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that, as of 2017, Diagnostic Medical Sonographers earned an annual salary of $65,620 with the more experience 10% bringing home $90,000+ per year. Between now and 2026, employment growth for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers is projected to be 17%. The average job growth is between 5%-7%, so DMS is growing much faster than average. Certified DMS’s will have an easier time finding employment in this competitive job market.

Electrical and Electronics Engineer Technician

Electronics and Electrical Engineer technicians have a few things in common but are otherwise somewhat different jobs. As of 2017, both electrical and electronic engineer technicians earned over $63,000 annually. Top pay for each career rolls in at over $93,000. Both jobs are predicted to see a decline in employment growth through 2026; engineering firms will still look to contract out, which will create jobs. Both careers work to help engineers design and create electronic equipment that would be used in every aspect of life. To become an electrical or electronics engineer tech, all that is necessary beyond a high school diploma or GED is an associate’s degree in electrical or electronic engineering which takes two years as a full-time student. Find an electrical technician program.


Electrician’s repair, install, and maintain power in virtually every structure throughout the country (and world). Many electrician’s begin as an apprentice but they must be 18, have a high school diploma or GED, pass a drug screening, and pass an aptitude exam. Many aspiring electrician’s choose to attend a trade school for their formal electrician training(about 1 year) but they still have to complete an apprenticeship, too. Apprenticeships last 4-5 years. The majority of states require that electricians be certified to perform their service. The average salary of an electrician is $54,110 but the more experience the electrician has, they’ll make closer to $93,000. Between now and 2026, job growth for electricians is expected to increase 9% which is much faster than all other occupations. Find an electrician training program.

Graphic Designer

Using design software or creating by hand, Graphic Designers can communicate and connect to an audience in a variety of capacities. Graphic designers work in the digital, marketing, print, trade, and many other spaces. Although there are bachelor’s degrees available in graphic design, most community colleges offer 2 year associate’s degrees where the programs focus solely on the industry, instead of having to take core subjects such as math and sciences. Many graphic design students obtain their initial experience through internships which usually serves them well once they are looking for their first job. The average annual salary for graphic designers is $48,700 however, with experience and talent it’s not uncommon to make over $83,000 annually. There is little to no change expected in the job outlook of graphic designers through 2026. Don’t let that be discouraging; there are always available positions for those who excel at graphic design. Find a graphic design program.

Medical Assistant

Medical assistants provide administrative and clinical duties for medical facilities such as doctors offices and hospitals. Medical assistants may work at the front desk, or they may get the patient ready for the doctor. There are a few different types of medical assistants: administrative, clinical, podiatric, and ophthalmic. While most states have no set schooling requirements for medical assistants, most employers prefer to hire medical assistants who have completed formal training. Medical assisting programs through trade schools can take as little as 6 weeks for certificate training or up to one year to earn a diploma. Associate’s degree programs through community colleges take two years if the student attends full time. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states the median annual pay for medical assistants is $32,480 with the top 10% of the MA’s earning $45,900 per year. The field of medical assisting is expected to grow a lot through 2026. This is much faster than all other occupations. Certified medical assistants with knowledge of electronic health records will have the edge over the competition. Find a medical assistant program.

Medical Billing & Medical Coding

Although they are usually lumped together(like i’m doing here), medical biller and medical coder (certified coding specialist) are two different positions. They both work within the medical health field, gathering patient, doctor, and insurance information. Medical coders, however, inspect patient records to ensure the diagnosis code given to insurance companies coincide with procedures performed on the patient. Medical billers use those codes to bill insurance companies, so the patient and healthcare facility receive accurate reimbursement. After their 1-2 years of training, both medical biller and medical coder are similarly paid, earning over $39,000 annually on average. Both medical biller and coder employment are predicted to grow 13% through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Find a medical billing or a medical coding program.

Medical Transcriptionist

Medical transcriptionists take voice recordings and transcribe them into written reports for doctors and medical facilities. Through a certificate program at trade schools, it only takes about a year become a medical transcriptionist. There are some associate degree programs available, although it’s not the traditional way to becoming a medical transcriptionist. The average annual pay for medical transcriptionists is $35,250. Those who have established themselves in the business can earn over $51,000. Pay is dependent on a variety of factors such as which segment of the medical industry is the employer, geographic location, and amount of experience as a medical transcriptionist. There is a decline of 3% as far as job outlook goes for medical transcriptionists. This is due to speech recognition technology.

Non-airline Commercial Pilot

To become a Commercial pilot, all you need is your high school diploma or GED and a Commercial Pilot’s License from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). However, many pilots begin their education at a flight school, which is offered by some community colleges. Another necessary license is the Instrument Rating which allows pilots to fly in low visibility weather. Commercial Pilots are manning the planes that are involved in putting out fires, crop dusting, aerial photography, and tours. The median salary for a commercial pilot is over $77,000 annually. The highest 10% of commercial pilots make close to $150,000 per year while entry-level commercial pilots earned over $35,000. Commercial pilot jobs will experience average growth through 2026. The more flight hours and experience a commercial pilot has, the better job prospects there will be. Find pilot training.

Pastry Chef

Pastry chefs specialize in creating and making tantalizingly tasty treats. Focusing on culinary arts through a community college or culinary school is the quickest way to go when considering a career as a pastry chef. Normal length of time here is 1-2 years. Some pastry chefs do choose the 4 year bachelor’s degree route, however. According to bls.gov, the annual salary of all types of chefs is almost $46,000. The top 10% of chefs made more than $78,000. Employment for chefs is predicted to grow 10% which is a little quicker than average. Talent and experience will help obtain jobs in this increasingly competitive space. Find a pastry chef program.


A Paralegal’s job is to assist their employing lawyer by working up cases, doing legal research, drafting documents, and anything else their employer has them in charge of. Paralegals can do most of the work necessary for a case, aside from presenting it to the court. There are a few different routes to take to become a paralegal. An associate’s programs through a community college is one of the most common ones and, if a student attends full time, it only takes two years to complete. The average salary for a paralegal is over $50,000 per year. Entry-level paralegals earn right around $31,000 while paralegals who have been in the industry for some time will make closer to $81,180. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an 15% employment growth through 2026 for paralegal positions. This is a faster than average. Experienced and formally trained paralegals have the best job prospects. Find a paralegal program.


Those pipes that carry liquids and gasses to and from buildings? Those are all installed, maintained, and repaired by plumbers. Drinking and sanitation are vital to human life, which makes plumbers crucial to human life, as well. Becoming a plumber can be achieved through 2 year apprenticeships or through starting out at a 6 month to 1 year trade school program leading to an apprenticeship. 4-5 year apprenticeships are a necessary part of the plumber’s training. In 2017, plumbers brought home an average of $52,590 annually. The more experienced plumber earned over $91,800. With a shortage of qualified plumbers, the job growth between now and 2026 is expected to exceed 15%. The majority of plumbers are coming up on retirement age, which will open up even more job opportunities for plumbers. Find a plumber training program.

Police Officer

Like their world famous motto states, the duty of a police officer is to protect and to serve. To allow civilians to easily recognize them, a police officer wears a uniform. A police officer needs to have a high school diploma or GED. Most police departments require their candidates to have the minimum of an 2 year associate’s degree before heading off to police academy. However, successfully completing the department’s police academy is the only way to become a police officer. The national average for the salary of a police officer is $62,960. The highest 10% earned over $105,000 as of 2017. Average employment growth is expected between now and 2026 for police officers. However, there are always positions opening due to retirement or other determining factors. Find a police officer training program.

Registered Nurse

Registered Nurses provide care to patients. There are many areas an RN can specialize such as cardiology, critical care, addiction, neonatology, and pediatrics. To become a Registered Nurse, it only takes 2-3 years through an associate’s degree program in nursing, or a diploma through an accredited and approved nursing school. Programs should include both practical and clinical application. All RN’s must be licensed to practice. The average salary for a Registered Nurse is $70,000. The top 10% earned over $104,100 in 2015, and entry level RN positions brought in over $46,000. Employment for Registered Nurses is expected to increase 15% through 2026. Find an RN program.

Truck Driver

Truck driving is not your typical 9-5, but it’s a great way to make a living. With an alarmingly increasing shortage of drivers, all your would need to get is your Commercial Drivers License (CDL) and there would be a job (or two) waiting for you to fill. Training for your CDL license takes 6 weeks to 3 months. Besides a nice paycheck, most truck drivers get great benefits. The employment outlook for truck drivers is 5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average annual pay for heavy and tractor-trailer drivers is over $42,000 annually. However, at the top of your game, you’ll start earning over $64,000 per year. The downside is, the hours can keep you away from home for semi-extended periods of time. Find a CDL class.


The job of a welder, in a nutshell, is to bond metals using heat. In broader terms, welders are needed in every aspect of life, from auto racing to building bridge, to keeping airplanes in the sky. Most employers prefer hiring welders who have completed formal training programs (6 months to 1 year) and who have been certified. In 2017, the average salary for welders was $40,240. However, underwater welders make over $100,000. So, for welders, salary is heavily determined by which industry they work in. Job growth will remain average through 2026. However, there is a growing shortage of experienced welders so job prospects should remain fairly stable for those who fit the bill. Find a welding training program.

Web Developer

Web developers design and create websites. Web developers control everything from how the website looks to its audience to how it works on the backend for the users. The most common path for Web Developers is through a community college where an 2 year associate’s degree is obtained. Some employers may look for Web Developers with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or another related field for backend developers, and some experience with graphic design for the front-end or visual aspect of websites. The average annual salary for Web Developers is $67,990. Web developers with more experience can earn over $122,000 per year. Because of the heavy reliance on the internet experience, the job growth for Web Developers is expected to rise to 15% through 2026.


Share This