The Highest-Paying Skilled Trade Jobs in Canada: Explore Traditional and Unique Possibilities

High-Paying Trade JobsSkilled trade jobs have a lot of appeal. Quite often, they come with good earning potential, numerous openings across the country, and the opportunity to work with your hands on a regular basis. And a lot of the highest-paying trades careers can be obtained with only two to four years of post-secondary schooling—or even less.

An additional benefit of working in some of the best trades is that you earn while you learn. For many skilled trades jobs, you typically start out by taking a foundational or first-year program that may only take a few weeks to complete. Once you've successfully finished it, you can begin working as an apprentice in the field. Essentially, you're paid to learn on the job and may return to school for a few weeks every year until you've reached the journeyman level.

That said, there are many different trades, and the education and training requirements do vary between them. For some vocations, you may need to complete all of your training up front, so it really depends on what trade you go into. To get help with making that important decision, check out some of the highest-paid trades below. And don't forget to take a look at other careers in trades that don't necessarily fit into the traditional "skilled trade" category.

The hourly wages cited below are based on 2014-2015 data, and the projected job openings are for the period from 2015 to 2024.1, 2

1. Construction Manager

Are you in awe of major construction projects like skyscraper, subdivision, and road and bridge developments? Just imagine being the person who is in charge of it all. That's exactly what can happen if you take the steps needed to become a construction manager. You can be in charge of construction projects and handle almost anything from preparing estimates and budgets to working with architects and engineers to hiring and directing workers.

Construction management is one of the best-paying trades because getting into it takes commitment. You'll need a solid combination of post-secondary education (most likely a bachelor's degree) and relevant work experience. But all of that hard work and dedication will probably be more than worth it. Start acquiring the expertise you need by attending a skilled trades school.

  • Median hourly wage—$38.46
  • Top-end hourly pay—$58.50 and higher
  • Projected job openings—26,700
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC, Manitoba, Nunavut, Ontario, and the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region of Quebec

2. Oil and Gas Driller

Historically, some of the best trades to get into are found within the natural resources sector. In fact, a lot of people are able to find great-paying, in-demand jobs within that sector—including in the oil and gas drilling trade. Drillers are often team leaders, and they're responsible for putting petroleum engineers' plans into action.

You may oversee an oil rig crew as well as the rig itself. You'll make on-the-spot decisions regularly and ensure that safety practices are being followed in order to prevent an emergency situation. You could also be responsible for training workers, ensuring that all equipment is properly maintained, and updating and managing drilling records.

  • Median hourly wage—$35
  • Top-end hourly pay—$55 and higher
  • Projected job openings—5,500
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—Alberta (specifically, the Edmonton region)

3. Power Line Technician

Electrical power is often taken for granted. People don't usually think about the amount of work that takes place behind the scenes to ensure that electricity runs continuously into their homes and businesses. Power line technicians are largely responsible for making sure that happens. They set up, repair, and maintain overhead and underground power lines.

Most power line technicians have to complete apprenticeship programs that their employers provide. However, taking an electrical pre-apprenticeship program can help you advance through your power line technician training more quickly. That's because you'll likely possess the required foundational knowledge. So, depending on your background, you could be working in a high-paying trades position before you know it.

  • Median hourly wage—$34.65
  • Top-end hourly pay—$44 and higher
  • Projected job openings—8,400 (includes telecommunications line workers)
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC, Ontario, the Camrose-Drumheller region of Alberta, and the North Central and South Central regions of Manitoba

4. Pipefitter

Also known as steamfitters, pipefitters work with high-pressure piping systems in industrial settings. Those systems carry substances like chemicals, fuel, steam, and water. You may start out by creating sketches and blueprints to install a piping system, or you may need to work with existing drawings. You'll have to use your bending, brazing, cementing, soldering, and welding skills—as well as other manipulation tactics—in order to properly install and connect the pipe.

Once a system is installed, you'll likely be responsible for testing it and making adjustments in order to ensure that everything is working correctly. Then, you may also be responsible for ongoing maintenance and repairs. Many people consider pipefitting to be one of the best trade jobs because the work is interesting, the earning potential is excellent, and a large number of openings is expected over the coming years.

  • Median hourly wage—$34
  • Top-end hourly pay—$45.69 and higher
  • Projected job openings—9,800
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC, Manitoba, the Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake region of Alberta, and the Halifax region of Nova Scotia

5. Industrial Electrician

Industrial electricians not only work in some of the highest-paying trades jobs out there, but they're also expected to be in strong demand over the coming years. It's projected that many new jobs will be created in addition to a large number of vacated positions due to retiring workers. So this could definitely be the promising, hands-on career field that you're seeking.

Like other electricians, you'll be responsible for installing, testing, maintaining, and repairing a wide range of electrical equipment. However, your work will be focused on industrial settings, such as manufacturing facilities, mining companies, and steel producers. The work is often interesting and satisfying since you get to work with your hands and power tools in order to complete a number of different tasks that help keep industrial sites and facilities running properly.

  • Median hourly wage—$33
  • Top-end hourly pay—$45 and higher
  • Projected job openings—12,500
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, the Northwest region of Ontario, the Saskatoon-Biggar region of Saskatchewan, and the North and Parklands regions of Manitoba

6. HVAC Mechanic

For most people and businesses, having properly functioning heating, cooling, ventilation, and refrigeration systems is imperative. Just imagine working in a large building with no air flow, living in a house in the middle of winter with no heat, or trying to preserve a huge amount of perishable food in the summer without a commercial fridge. HVAC mechanics work hard to make sure that those things never happen. And they repair HVAC and commercial refrigeration systems as quickly as possible when they do malfunction. Although a lot of HVAC mechanics work as employees, many choose to run their own businesses, which makes this occupation one of the most versatile jobs in the trades.

  • Median hourly wage—$29.76
  • Top-end hourly pay—$43 and higher
  • Projected job openings—14,700
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec

7. Civil Engineering Technician

Can you picture yourself working among civil engineers in order to help them shape the physical landscapes of the world? You can prepare to take on that role by completing a program in civil engineering or design technology at a vocational college or skilled trades school. That kind of program typically takes just two years or less to complete, so it's a short and worthwhile investment that can help you access opportunities related to one of the top-paying trades.

By acquiring knowledge related to civil engineering, architectural design, and building construction, you can set yourself up to assist a team of engineers who design and plan a variety of construction projects. Those can include roads, bridges, subdivisions, and utility systems. You could be out in the field and working with special equipment to create development specifications or assisting back at the office to create scale drawings for each project.

  • Median hourly wage—$29
  • Top-end hourly pay—$47.12 and higher
  • Projected job openings—10,600
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—Ontario, Quebec, and the Lower Mainland-Southwest region of BC

8. Residential or Commercial Electrician

When people talk about jobs in the trades, electrical work is often one of the first occupations that come to mind—for good reason. Electricians usually earn good money, have ample job opportunities, and enjoy activities that keep them busy working with their hands. Taking a short pre-apprenticeship program can start preparing you to design, install, test, maintain, and repair electrical systems in residential and commercial settings. And if you diligently work through your apprenticeship training, you can become a journeyman electrician within approximately four years.

  • Median hourly wage—$29
  • Top-end hourly pay—$43 and higher
  • Projected job openings—39,200
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC, Manitoba, and the Northeast, Northwest, and Toronto regions of Ontario

9. Heavy Duty Mechanic

Are your best days the ones that end with you feeling like you've really accomplished something? If so, then you may be cut out for a career as a heavy duty or diesel mechanic. Along with diesel-powered trucks, you could be responsible for working on equipment like bulldozers, cranes, excavators, graders, and paving machines. Using your hands, sophisticated tools, and modern technology, you'll run diagnostic tests, repair problems, and perform maintenance so that those vehicles and machines continue to operate as intended. Many automotive schools offer the kind of training you need to get started.

  • Median hourly wage—$28
  • Top-end hourly pay—$42 and higher
  • Projected job openings—31,400 (includes all auto mechanics)
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, the Laurentides region of Quebec, and the North Central, South Central, and Southeast regions of Manitoba

10. Plumber

As almost any good list of trade jobs will show, plumbers are some of the most appreciated professionals out there. That's because when your water line breaks, toilet overflows, or septic system backs up, you need the help of a plumber—and fast. Plumbers are also essential for the construction of new housing and commercial developments. You can prepare to join their ranks by taking a short pre-apprenticeship or foundational program. Before you know it, you could be making great pay, choosing from abundant job opportunities, enjoying varied and interesting work, and even thinking about the prospect of starting your own plumbing business.

  • Median hourly wage—$28
  • Top-end hourly pay—$39 and higher
  • Projected job openings—13,900
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—PEI, the Interlake region of Manitoba, and the Cariboo, Nechako, and North Coast regions of BC

11. Carpenter

If you want to see the results of your hard work at the end of each day, then a carpentry career may be an excellent choice. Just imagine the feelings of pride and accomplishment that can come from creating perfect pieces of furniture, making beautiful cabinets, or driving by new homes or buildings that you helped build. Preparing to work as an apprentice in the field doesn't take long. And before you know it, you could become a journeyman carpenter with your own contracting business.

  • Median hourly wage—$25
  • Top-end hourly pay—$36 and higher
  • Projected job openings—39,900
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC, the Toronto region of Ontario, and the North Central, North, Parklands, and South Central regions of Manitoba

12. Welder

Can you imagine getting paid well to work with high-powered torches every day? Doesn't that sound more like fun than work? You get to spend your days building tangible objects while using your hands and high-powered equipment. Most welders find the work interesting and engaging since many different job opportunities and areas of specialization are available. Some of the welding processes you can learn include shielded metal arc (SMAW), gas tungsten arc (GTAW), and gas metal arc (GMAW).

Employers often say that it's difficult to find welders who can read blueprints, adhere to proper safety practices, and use a variety of modern equipment. So if you focus on those areas during your training, then you should have little trouble finding a great job.

  • Median hourly wage—$23.17
  • Top-end hourly pay—$39 and higher
  • Projected job openings—30,800
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—Nova Scotia, the Lower Mainland-Southwest region of BC, and the Interlake region of Manitoba

13. Automotive Mechanic

Does the thought of getting paid to work on a variety of cars and trucks make you smile? Do you like the idea of working with modern tools and technology in order to keep people's vehicles running in top shape? If you answered yes to those questions, then you'll likely experience a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction from an auto mechanic career. A short automotive technology program can help you get ready for an apprenticeship.

  • Median hourly wage—$23
  • Top-end hourly pay—$35 and higher
  • Projected job openings—31,400 (includes diesel/heavy duty mechanics)
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC, Nova Scotia, and the Interlake, North Central, South Central, and Southeast regions of Manitoba

Other Types of Trades

Other Types of TradesIf you were to make your own skilled trades job list, you might be tempted to stick to so-called blue-collar careers in sectors like construction, mechanics, manufacturing, mining, and oil and gas. But take a moment to consider what a trade really is: Most dictionaries define it as a skilled job that typically requires specialized training and hands-on skills and abilities. So, by that definition, many vocations in beauty, the culinary arts, design and media arts, healthcare, law enforcement, and technology can certainly be classified as skilled trade jobs. With that in mind, check out the following high-paying careers that you may not have considered until now.

1. Software Engineer

Take on a behind-the-scenes role and create some of today's best software applications and programs. In approximately two to four years, you can learn how to design, develop, test, implement, and update software programs and applications. You can acquire in-depth knowledge of computer engineering, mathematics, programming, and science so that you can become an integral member of a technology team.

  • Median hourly wage—$42.31
  • Top-end hourly pay—$60 and higher
  • Projected job openings—18,400
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan

2. Police Officer

Take responsibility for your community and help keep the streets safe by going after a job in law enforcement. Few jobs are as hands-on, meaningful, and fulfilling as those of police officers. As long as you meet the requirements to join the law enforcement field, you can take a police foundations program in order to help fast-track your career. A large number of openings are expected across Canada, so after successfully completing your police academy training, you may have little trouble finding a job.

  • Median hourly wage—$39.23
  • Top-end hourly pay—$48.56 and higher
  • Projected job openings—23,100
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC, Northwest Territories, the Red Deer region of Alberta, the Swift Current-Moose Jaw and Yorkton-Melville regions of Saskatchewan, and the Interlake, North Central, South Central, and Southeast regions of Manitoba

3. Network Engineer

If you possess strong technical aptitude, then consider pursuing a career in which you'll be responsible for designing and implementing computer networks. In today's interconnected world, skilled network engineers are more important than ever. In fact, network outages can spell disaster for some businesses. You'll likely be responsible for analyzing an organization's needs, developing a plan, and making sure that all of the hardware, wiring, and other technological requirements are in place prior to implementation. You may also monitor networks and resolve any issues to help ensure that they run seamlessly without any glitches or outages.

  • Median hourly wage—$38.46
  • Top-end hourly pay—$59.62 and higher
  • Projected job openings—10,400 (includes all computer engineers, except software engineers)
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC, Ontario, and Quebec

4. Database Administrator

In our data-driven world, it's critical for organizations to have technology in place that stores and manages all of that information. Companies need to be able to store, sort, and retrieve all of their data with ease, and database administrators help make sure that they can do just that. You could be working with highly sensitive information like financial records or customer shipping and contact information. So, as you build your databases, you'll need to ensure that the data is only available to those who are authorized to access it. Protecting that information is just as important as ensuring that it's accessible to authorized individuals.

  • Median hourly wage—$30.81
  • Top-end hourly pay—$48.36 and higher
  • Projected job openings—13,700
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, and the Saskatoon-Biggar region of Saskatchewan

5. Video Game Designer

Just think: All of those hours of playing video games may actually pay off. Take your passion for gaming and turn it into a viable career that often pays quite well. In less than two years, you can learn essential skills like game level planning, programming, scripting, and sound design. You can prepare to join the forefront of the game industry and work on some of today's hottest video games.

(Note that video game designers are grouped into the broader graphic arts technician occupational category.)

  • Median hourly wage—$25.82
  • Top-end hourly pay—$43.96 and higher
  • Projected job openings—6,100
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC and Ontario

6. Computer Support Technician

When your computer isn't running properly, you probably restart it, maybe give it a little knock, and then what? You call for professional help. Just like thousands of other computer users who rely on support specialists. That's one of the main reasons why computer support technicians are in such high demand. They often work in IT departments for large organizations and offer support to other internal staff members or external customers. After completing your training, you may also have the opportunity to start your own computer repair business.

  • Median hourly wage—$25.30
  • Top-end hourly pay—$43.27 and higher
  • Projected job openings—24,700
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, PEI, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and the Lethbridge-Medicine Hat region of Alberta

7. Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

One of the most active, hands-on healthcare jobs is that of an LPN. This type of nurse works on the front lines, caring for patients in a variety of medical settings, including hospitals, clinics, and senior homes. LPNs offer important support services and take care of tasks like observing patients, taking vital signs, dressing wounds, and administering medications. In two years or less, you could be prepared to enter the field and make a real difference.

  • Median hourly wage—$25
  • Top-end hourly pay—$32.96 and higher
  • Projected job openings—25,900
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—Alberta, BC, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, PEI, Quebec, and Saskatchewan

8. Flight Attendant

Do you enjoy interacting with people and like the idea of getting paid to travel around the country or the world? That's the life of a flight attendant. In a short time, you can develop the skills needed to accommodate passengers during their flights and ensure that they feel safe and comfortable. You can start working for a small, local carrier or go straight for a major airline. You could soon be enjoying employment perks like free or discounted travel and paid overnight stays in exciting locations.

  • Median hourly wage—$24
  • Top-end hourly pay—$46 and higher
  • Projected job openings—1,700
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan

9. Graphic Designer

Creating awesome graphics for websites, designing logos, and developing online and print ads are just some of the things that you may do as a graphic designer. Ultimately, you'll be a visual communicator. You'll be responsible for creating incredible graphics that inform and engage consumers. You may be helping a company heighten its presence in the community or increase its product sales. Depending on your employer or clients, your designs and layouts will often need to balance artistry, creativity, and practicality.

  • Median hourly wage—$22.60
  • Top-end hourly pay—$36.54 and higher
  • Projected job openings—17,400
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, PEI, Quebec, and Saskatchewan

10. Massage Therapist

No other job may be as "manual" as massage therapy. Primarily using your hands, you'll help your clients find relief and feel better mentally and physically. A short massage therapy program can teach you about techniques like deep tissue, hot stone, and Swedish massage. You'll develop new skills and abilities so that you can offer massages that help relieve muscle pain and tension, encourage muscle injuries to heal, and provide stress relief.

  • Median hourly wage—$21
  • Top-end hourly pay—$40 and higher
  • Projected job openings—18,700 (includes other practitioners of natural healing)
  • Areas expecting the highest demand—BC, Nova Scotia, Quebec, the Kingston-Pembroke region of Ontario, and the Regina-Moose Mountain and Swift Current-Moose Jaw regions of Saskatchewan

Get Ready for the High-Paying Trades Career That You Desire

You likely know which one of the skilled trade jobs is right for you. So are you ready to reach your full potential? Are you ready to access great earning opportunities and abundant job possibilities? Don't wait any longer to start working toward your goals. Enter your postal code into the school finder below to locate programs in your area. You deserve a bright and prosperous future!



1 Government of Canada, Job Bank, website last visited on April 3, 2017.

2 Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS), website last visited on February 8, 2017.