7 In-Demand Trades That Are Easy to Learn

A four-year college degree is not for everyone. Trade schools provide a faster and easier alternative to a degree program. An added benefit is the reduction or total elimination of debt associated with long term college programs. You might consider a trade school if your goal is to acquire hands-on training that will qualify you for a job in a few weeks. Enrollment in trade programs rose by 8 percent in the last decade, as more graduates discover this path to lucrative and fulfilling careers.

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There are numerous trade schools and program offerings that cover a wide variety of industries. The training is short-term, so you can choose a few to broaden your skillset or advance your skills in just one area. By comparing the options, you can find one that works best for you. The article will cover some of the easiest trades to learn across several industries.

What Are Trade Jobs?

Trade jobs are jobs that require a specialized skill. The skill is typically gained through a trade or vocational school where you will receive training specific to the trade. Another way you can acquire the skill is through an apprenticeship or on-the-job training. A single trade may be used across several industries, which means you can start a career that is not only financially rewarding but also offers diversity and personal and professional satisfaction.

A Closer Look at Trade Schools

A trade school is a postsecondary institution that will prepare you for a specific job in a skilled job. The training is primarily hands-on so you’ll have the skills to commence entry-level employment in your chosen field. The curriculum focuses entirely on the skills required for employment and eliminates the general education and elective courses found in two or four-year college programs.

One example is that of a HVAC program. If you have in interest in becoming an HVAC technician but have no experience in the field, an HVAC program will include theory and hands-on instruction needed to perform the role and responsibilities of a technician from your first day on the job. The school will provide a simulated environment for you to practice on campus and follow the sessions with experiential learning in the real world.

Some schools focus on a single trade with multiple levels of training, starting with beginners and going all the way to advanced courses. Other schools offer several program options such as skilled trades, allied health, mechanical trades, and others.

Before enrolling in a trade school, you should have a genuine interest in your chosen field. Compare programs to see if the curriculum centers on building the skills you’ll need to succeed. The timeframe should a few months to one year depending on the trade.

What are the benefits of learning a trade?

If you’re on the fence about pursuing a trade as a career option, the benefits of learning a trade may help your decision. Some of the top benefits include:

Save money

Tuition at a state four-year university can cost more than $25,000 per year. After four years of study, the cost of your university education can exceed $100,000 for public universities and more than that for private and out-of-state tuition. Compared to a university, a trade school education is a drop in the bucket at an average cost of $36,000 for the entire program. This lower cost means little to no debt with the added benefit of earning an income right after graduation.

Save time

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A trade program is shorter and more focused than a college degree, so requires less time to complete. A certificate program may require just 12 months of study. A more advanced program may be 18 months. Ultimately, you’ll save time and begin earning a full-time income you’re your peers are still attending college.

High earning potential

Don’t think for a moment that a trade job equates to lower pay. There are many skilled trades with annual incomes that exceed careers requiring a university degree. The shortage of tradespersons and unions that advocate for members are some factors that influence wages. Another way to increase your earning potential as a tradesperson is to start your own company and offer exceptional service.

Job security

Technology and automation across many industries made and continues to make numerous workers redundant. Not so with trade jobs! The projections for trade jobs remain strong for the future, so mastering a trade will ensure your viability for many years to come.

Real-world experience

Trade programs include hands-on training on-site and a clinical internship in a real-world setting. You will not only have the opportunity to develop your skills at the school but also work alongside professionals in the field and make connections for the future. Some students have even had the good fortune of getting hired by the externship partner before they graduate.

Career focused studies

In their bid to supply a well-rounded curriculum, colleges and universities require completion of prerequisites, liberal arts, and general education courses that may not appeal to you. A benefit of a trade program is an opportunity to skip the extra classes so you can focus on what you need most. Classes are directly connected to the skill you want to learn thus preparing you for work immediately upon completion.

7 Easy-to-Learn Trades

Summary of TSNY’s Easiest Trade Jobs

  • Medical Assistant: $37,190
  • Welder: $47,010
  • Mechanic: $46,880
  • Electrician: $60,040
  • Plumber and Pipefitter: $59,880
  • HVAC/R Technician: $48,630
  • Phlebotomist

Medical Assistants
Median Salary: $37,190
Expected 10-Year Job Growth: 16 percent
States with highest employment level: New York, Florida, California, Texas, Georgia
State with the highest mean wage: California – $44,780
Educational requirements: High School Diploma, Technical Diploma
License requirements: Not required in most states
National certification: Certified Medical Assistants

Medical assistants are cross-trained to perform administrative and clinical tasks in health care facilities such as physicians’ offices, clinics, and long-term care facilities. The training includes theory and practical instruction in the administrative and clinical duties that a medical assistant will perform. One reason that MA makes our list of easy trades is the lack of governance in most states – a license is not necessary for practice. Certification is also optional but recommended if you want to maximize your income-earning potential.

Medical assistants perform some of the following tasks according to the AAMA:

  • Taking medical histories
  • Explaining treatment procedures to patients
  • Preparing patients for examinations
  • Assisting the physician during examinations
  • Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens
  • Performing basic laboratory tests
  • Instructing patients about medication and special diets
  • Preparing and administering medications, including by intramuscular, intradermal, and subcutaneous injections—including vaccinations/immunizations, as directed by a physician or other licensed provider (e.g., a nurse practitioner or physician assistant)
  • Transmitting prescription refills as directed
  • Phlebotomy
  • Taking electrocardiograms
  • Wound care and changing dressings

Administrative Duties (may include, but not limited to):

  • Using computer applications
  • Answering telephones
  • Welcoming patients
  • Updating and filing patient medical records
  • Coding and filling out insurance forms
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Arranging for hospital admissions and laboratory services
  • Handling correspondence, billing, and bookkeeping

Median Salary: $47,010
Expected 10-Year Job Growth: 2 percent
States with highest employment level: Texas, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin
State with the highest mean wage: California – $52,460
Educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
License requirements: Required in all states
National certification: AWS Certified Welder

Welders apply heat to metal to fuse two or more metal parts. They use different welding methods to complete a weld. Factors that influence the method used include the type of metal, the purpose of the bond, and the environment. Common methods that students will learn in a welding program include gas metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, shielded metal arc welding, and flux cored arc welding. Welding has become so essential across many industries that welders can work in automotive manufacturing, ship building, construction, industrial maintenance, natural gas distribution, and electrical power generation.

Welders perform a variety of tasks depending on the industry, these include:

  • Study and interpret blueprints and measurements
  • Weld components
  • Read sketches and specifications
  • Monitor the welding process
  • Identify flaws in a weld
  • Use and maintain welding machines and equipment
  • Control and monitor the flame and materials
  • Inspect materials or structures before welding

Auto Mechanics
Median Salary: $46,880
Expected 10-Year Job Growth: 1 percent
States with highest employment level: Texas, Florida, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois
State with the highest mean wage: California – $54,190
Educational requirements: Post-secondary non-degree award
License requirements: Required in some states
National certification: ASE – Automotive Service Excellence

Mechanics are trained to build, maintain, and repair mechanical equipment such as automobiles, trucks, boats, and other transport. An auto mechanic deals specifically with autos. They acquire their training through an apprenticeship with an experienced mechanic or a trade school. Formal mechanic programs cover the skills needed to work on a wide variety of vehicles. Some programs are highly specialized, dealing with one area in particular such as diesel engines, passenger cars, or even a specific manufacturer. A career as a mechanic may start with an apprenticeship at a mechanic shop where you’ll learn the basics and decide if this is the trade you want to pursue. You can then enroll in an auto mechanic trade program such as a service technician program, automotive engineering, or mechanical design. The program will provide the knowledge and skills you need to manage a variety of maintenance and repair tasks. The hands-on experience provided within the program is designed to support the development of skills and confidence in the diagnosis, maintenance and repair of vehicles. Through an internship at a dealership or a local garage, you will be prepared to transition to full employment. Some states require certification, so the program will include preparation for the exam and eventual certification as a mechanic. While preparation for this trade is simple, you must commit to continuing education to stay on top of the newer technologies which are a huge part of the industry.

Auto mechanics perform some of the following tasks:

  • Conduct diagnostic tests to identify potential issues before repair
  • Use specialized tools to make a diagnosis
  • Repair and replace faulty parts
  • Perform scheduled maintenance to ensure roadworthiness of vehicles
  • Test mechanical components after completing repairs
  • Conduct vehicle inspections
  • Create a budget for repairs

Median Salary: $60,040
Expected 10-Year Job Growth: 7 percent
States with highest employment level: California, Texas, Florida, New York Ohio
State with the highest mean wage: New York – $81,700
Educational requirements: High School Diploma, Technical Diploma
Certification requirements: Vary by state
National certification: Certified Professional Electrician

Electricians work anywhere that there’s an electrical supply, including residential, commercial, and industrial facilities. They install and maintain all the electrical and power systems through which electricity flows. There are two major areas in electrical practice – construction and maintenance. Construction involves the installation of wiring systems in new homes, businesses, and factories. Maintenance includes the repair and upgrade of existing electrical systems and equipment. Electrician schools may focus on one area or both.  The program will cover essential topics such as reading blueprints, installation of wires, electrical tools, electrical safety, state and local building codes, repair of motors and transformers, and personal protective equipment. Apprenticeship programs provide another option for training. They will include classroom instruction and paid on-the-job training. Apprenticeship programs are longer than programs offered at trade schools but are comprehensive with up to 4,000 hours of hands-on work.

Some of the standard skills you’ll need as an electrician include:

  • Reading and interpreting complex diagrams and blueprints
  • Repairing and replacing equipment, fixtures, and wiring
  • Diagnosing problems in circuit breakers, transformers, and electrical wiring
  • Performance of electrical upgrades
  • Inspecting buildings to see that they adhere to local and state building codes

Plumber and Pipefitter
Median Salary: $59,880
Expected 10-Year Job Growth: 2 percent
States with highest employment level: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois
State with the highest mean wage: Illinois – $86,200
Educational requirements: High School Diploma, Technical Diploma
License requirements: Required in most states
National certification: N/A

If you’re mechanically inclined, you might enjoy plumbing as a career. This is another trade where the preparation is simple but the rewards are abundant. A plumber installs, maintains, and repairs pipes in residential and commercial buildings. The opportunities are numerous, since plumbers work in shopping centers, residential homes, construction companies, development companies, the agricultural sector, city corporations, and other places. Plumbing schools offer certificate or diploma options that may be completed in 6 to 12 months. Apprenticeships are conducted under the supervision of a journeyman or a master plumber and may last up to 4 years including paid on-the-job training.

Plumbers perform some of the following tasks:

  • Repair water pipes
  • Install new water pipes and plumbing systems in residential and commercial properties
  • Install fixtures such as taps, toilets, sinks, and bathroom showers
  • Diagnose problems within a plumbing system before conducting repairs
  • Inspecting plumbing and drainage systems to ensure compliance with regulations
  • Install sewage treatment systems

Median Salary: $37,380
Expected 10-Year Job Growth: 10 percent
States with highest employment level: California, Texas, New York, Florida, New Jersey
State with the highest mean wage: California – $50,470
Educational requirements: Post-secondary nondegree award
License requirements: Vary by state
National certification: Certified Phlebotomy Technician

A phlebotomist is a medical professional specifically trained to draw blood from children and adults. The phlebotomist draws blood for testing at a medical lab or for donation or blood transfusions. The blood sample is collected through venipuncture, finger pricks, or heel pricks. There are other medical professionals who are capable of drawing blood, such as nurses and medical assistants. However, a phlebotomist’s primary duty is to draw blood in response to a healthcare provider’s request for a sample. An accredited phlebotomy program comprises of classroom theory and hands-on training. It will provide a minimum of 40 hours of practical experience and preparation for a certification exam. There are seven certifying agencies for phlebotomists.

Phlebotomists perform some of the following tasks:

  • Prepare patients for blood draws
  • Put patients at ease – those who are fearful of needles
  • Verify the identity of the perform performing the blood draw
  • Correctly label blood samples
  • Perform blood draws and transfusions
  • Provide support to those who might have an adverse reaction to a blood draw
  • Assist physicians and other medical professionals
  • Follow up with lab after sending a blood sample
  • Maintain an inventory of supplies

HVAC/R Technician
Median Salary: $48,630
Expected 10-Year Job Growth: 5 percent
States with highest employment level: California, Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania
State with the highest mean wage: New York – $66,180
Educational requirements: Post-secondary diploma or certificate
License requirements: Required in all states
National certification: NATE, EPA 608, HVAC Excellence

HVAC systems are essential to the indoor air quality in residential and commercial facilities. HVAC technicians possess specialized skills to ensure effective heating and cooling. Their role cannot be replaced by automation or technology. The projection for steady growth in the field, makes this job appealing. The ease of preparation is another benefit to consider. Most technicians start out without a college degree. An HVAC certificate or diploma program will teach the fundamentals of refrigeration, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning required for entry-level employment. You will receive theory and hands-on training a lab. The program will also include preparation for HVAC certification.


HVAC/R technicians perform some of the following tasks:

  • Read and interpret blueprints
  • Repair or replace defective equipment
  • Test pipe or tubing joints for leaks
  • Improve HVAC system performance
  • Inspect and maintain existing systems