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Top Four Vocational School Jobs for High Pay

As our society progresses, it is becoming more and more clear that the cost of a four-year college degree is not always worth its benefits. Sure, these degrees lead to jobs. However, the jobs are often hard to get without experience and they do not always pay enough to make up for the student loan debt that their workers incur. One great way to stay away from this problem is by attending a vocational school.

What is a Vocational School?

Vocational Schools, often referred to as “Trade Schools”, are higher-education facilities that offer degrees that pertain to specific career fields. For example, a student who attended a welding program would graduate and find a job as a welder.

Vocational Schools typically offer a wide variety of programs that include associate’s degrees and certificates. These colleges offer general credit courses as well, since associate’s degrees require these typical college courses for graduation.

Which Careers Can be Obtained Through Trade Schools?

A wide variety of careers can be obtained by attending a trade school and getting a degree or certificate in that specific field. Some high-paying job fields that require a Vocational School degree are Construction Management, Dental Hygiene, Ultrasound Technology, and CNC Programming.

Construction Management

  • Degree Time: 2 years
  • Average Salary: $103,110

Construction Management is one of the best Vocational School careers in regards to income. It is one of very few jobs that will bring in a six-figure annual average. The field has a growing demand as well, making it a smart choice overall.

Construction Managers are in charge of building projects and the people who work on them. They could work in a variety of areas from houses and commercial buildings to roads and bridges. Their days may be spent estimating project costs and analyzing risks, scheduling and supervising workers, or obtaining permits and licenses. They may also order tools and materials and ensure that each order is delivered correctly. With this list of responsibilities, a day in a Construction Manager’s shoes may never be the same as the last.

This job typically requires a 2-year Associate’s Degree from a Vocational School. The training teaches construction basics and well as skills needed to manage a project and a team of people.

Dental Hygiene

  • Degree Time: 2 years
  • Average Salary: $74,680

Dental Hygiene is another high-paying Vocational School job with a large number of job openings each year. This job does require its students to pass a licensing exam before they can enter the career field.

Dental Hygienists have a variety of work-related responsibilities. The one that most people are most familiar with is the process of cleaning teeth. Hygienists clean and polish teeth, as well as perform an in-depth exam before the dentist provides a final review of the patient’s mouth. They may look for oral health issues including cavities and gum disease. They often perform x-rays or other treatments such as fluoride application as well. Dental Hygienists are even in charge of patient education. Their job title may make their career seem extremely focused, but they do perform a wide variety of important tasks.

This job typically needs a 2-year associate’s degree. It is important to ensure that the degree is from an accredited Vocational School. It also requires the passing of the NBDHE exam after completion of the 2-year program.


  • Degree Time: 1-2 years
  • Average Salary: $71,410

Sonographers, or Ultrasound Technicians, have a rewarding and high-paying career. Their pay is one of the highest possible coming from a Vocational School and they spend their days helping people who need it most. As Ultrasounds are being used in more and more areas of medicine, this field is growing quickly. It has many job opportunities for qualified individuals.

Sonographers have the special opportunity of helping doctors see what is happening within the bodies of their patients through safe, non-invasive techniques. They use Ultrasound machines to look at various areas of the body including the abdomen and the heart. They perform Ultrasounds on pregnant women and their babies in utero as well.

Outside of performing Ultrasounds, Sonographers are typically assigned to a variety of administrative tasks in their area of the clinic or hospital as well. They may spend their time performing tasks such as updating records or preparing reports.

In Vocational School, Ultrasound Technician students learn how to work the Sonography machine as well as which images to capture in each separate situation that they may encounter in their work days. They also learn to interact with patients in a kind and caring manner, as they will meet people who are in extremely difficult health circumstances.

This career requires a 2-year degree from a Vocational School. If students have already earned a Bachelor’s Degree in a previous setting, they can become an Ultrasound Technician through a 1-year certificate program instead.

CNC Programming

  • Degree Time: 1 year
  • Average Salary: $60,258

CNC (Computer Numerical Control) Programmers have the unique opportunity of earning a high-paying career with just one year in Vocational School. They also have the benefit of a career field that is growing at an exponential rate as our society becomes more and more electronically focused.

CNC Programmers work on CNC machines. These machines are typically in hard-labor shops that create objects from metal, though the machines can be used for materials like wood and plastic as well. They are used for a variety of acts such as cutting, drilling, threading, and grooving.

Programmers rely heavily on technology and math. They often need to read blueprints and code their machine to create what the blueprint is asking for. Their coding needs to be made with extreme accuracy. They will often need to run a part through the machine, examine it, and recode the machine if the part is not exactly what it was meant to be. They need to take a large variety of topics into consideration while coding, including feed rates and speeds, size, and dimension.

CNC Programming is typically a 1-year certificate program at a Vocational School. The training teaches the basics of the CNC machine and provides the opportunity to gain experience programming it as well.

By looking through the average salaries of these four careers, it is clear that Vocational Schools are a great alternative for students looking for high-paying careers without the typical burden of student loan debt. These careers can be obtained quickly and for a lower cost that four-year programs, and they can provide equal or more compensation as well.

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