8 Great Cities for Trade School Graduates
The growing cost of higher education have made earning a two-year degree or certificate a smart move for many students. Since trade school often takes less time to complete, graduates may have more time to transition to full-time work and begin earning a living.
Some cities offer more opportunities for trade school graduates than others. Using 2014 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, adjusted for cost-of-living, we analyzed wages offered by 50 major metropolitan regions in the U.S. to create a list of high-paying regions for trade school graduates. The following cities had the most lucrative opportunities for jobs with a two-year degree. Students considering a trade school education might be wise to check out these cities for trade careers.
New Orleans, Louisiana
With a location so close to the water, it's no wonder that New Orleans has a number of high-paying jobs for trade school graduates. In addition to needing professionals to run the city's thriving tourism industry, the area needs skilled workers to run the city's extensive network of levees, build their growing infrastructure, and run the fisheries that keep much of the city's economy running. While some trade school jobs in the New Orleans region require an apprenticeship and several years of experience, others, like drafters, usually require a two-year degree.
Jobs where pay was highest in the New Orleans/Metairie/Kenner metro
- Motorboat Operators: $61,849
- Avionics Technicians: $70,899
- Mechanical Engineering Technicians: $76,260
- Drafters: $81,932
- Industrial Engineering Technicians: $93,616
Pueblo, Colorado is one of the largest steel-producing cities in the United States, and the area's thirst for skilled workers reflects that. The city's growing population has also put pressure on the rest of the area's industries, driving up the need for additional workers in health care, administration, and construction. With a rocky and mountainous landscape nearby, Pueblo is perfect for graduates who enjoy outdoor recreation in their spare time. As a whole, the most lucrative jobs for trade school graduates in Pueblo require a two-year degree and/or some on-the-job training.
Jobs where pay was highest in the Pueblo metro area
- Nursing Assistants: $33,191
- Medical Records and Health Information Technicians: $51,820
- Civil Engineering Technicians: $69,303
- Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers: $71,478
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Known for its funky shops and art galleries, its dramatic and extensive dessert landscape, and its history, Albuquerque is an ideal place for new graduates to settle down. Not only can they soak in some of the nation's beautiful scenery on a daily basis, but they can earn a living as well. Two of Albuquerque's biggest industries are health care and higher education.
Jobs where pay was highest in the Albuquerque metro
- Medical Transcriptionists: $49,131
- Skincare Specialists: $59,425
- Electro-Mechanical Technicians: $79,729
As the 16th most populous city in Texas, Brownsville has a growing population that bodes well for trade school graduates in particular. Because of its needs in health care and education, trade school jobs in these fields come with exceptional demand and offer high pay as well. Brownsville's historic downtown district lures in the city's share of tourists while it constant array of festivals keep everyone entertained. Fortunately, trade school graduates can also earn a living in this city. All three of the following trade careers require a two-year degree or better.
Jobs where pay was highest in the Brownsville/Harlingen metro
- Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education: $57,343
- Surgical Technologists: $59,422
- Physical Therapy Assistants: $113,075
Dallas is one of Texas's largest cities, and a great place to attend trade school. The city's major industries include food manufacturing, information technology, logistics, media, telecommunications, and health care, which has led to ample opportunities for trade school graduates who have skills in these areas. With its own major airport, a dynamic city skyline, and plenty of nightlife and recreation for singles and families, Dallas is a great place to build a foundation. While students generally need a two-year degree to work in either technician position listed, court reporters usually need advanced certification.
Jobs where pay was highest in the Dallas/Plano/Irving metro
- Respiratory Therapy Technicians: $59,204
- Sound Engineering Technicians: $68,901
- Court Reporters: $86,921
As one of the largest cities in Tennessee, Knoxville offers various career opportunities in a number of technical fields. From higher education to health care and manufacturing, many trade school jobs in several industries offer high pay and an excellent standard of living. Knoxville's culture is rich in the arts and entertainment industries, and several festivals are offered in the area each year. That list includes the Dogwood Art Festival, which lasts seventeen days. All of the jobs below begin with either on-the-job training, and internship, or a trade school education.
Jobs where pay was highest in the Knoxville metro
- Prepress Technicians and Workers: $52,434
- Embalmers: $59,127
- Radio, Cellular, and Tower Equipment Installers and Repairers: $68,393
With the Mississippi River and several freight railroads and highways nearby, Memphis is ideally situated for a thriving transportation and shipping industry. With several Fortune 500 companies having headquarters there, the region also boasts executive-level careers for professional workers as well. The technology scene in Memphis is also bustling with several employers in manufacturing and information technology nearby. All three of the below careers can begin with a two-year degree or apprenticeship, although some on the job training is also helpful.
Jobs where pay was highest in the Memphis/TN-MS-AR metro
- Electric Equipment Installers and Repairers, Motor Vehicles: $53,852
- Computer Network Support Specialists: $79,274
- Nuclear Technicians: $97,717
Springfield is the capital of Illinois and a hub for commerce and government-related industry. While its biggest employer is local and state government, Springfield also boasts ample jobs in industries such as trades, transportation and utilities, and health care. Visitors and residents alike are surprised by Springfield's commitment to the arts -- with festivals, opera, and a wide range of artistic performances on display throughout the year. Jobs for trade school graduates span from technology to human resources. Each of these jobs can be started with an apprenticeship and some on the job training, although employers prefer to hire engineering technicians with a two-year associate degree.
Jobs where pay was highest in the Springfield metro
- Human Resources Assistants, Except Payroll and Timekeeping: $51,502
- Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers: $79,147
- Engineering Technicians, Except Drafters: $84,232
- Brownsville, Texas Website: http://brownsville.org/
- Court Reporters, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/court-reporters.htm#tab-1
- Drafters, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/drafters.htm#tab-1
- Nuclear Technicians, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/nuclear-technicians.htm#tab-1
- State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, Dallas, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/48/4819000.html
- Surgical Technologists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/surgical-technologists.htm#tab-1