It wasn’t too long ago that skilled trade jobs paled in comparison to careers that required four-year college degrees. Salaries in the trades were lower and, in many cases, working conditions for the so-called “blue-collar worker” were far from ideal. There was also a certain higher status attached to leaving for work in a suit and tie or a skirt and heels.

Fast forward to 2018. New trades are emerging, and manufacturing jobs have re-emerged to a shortage of workers who are trained to do them. Pay rates are up (in some trades, way up!) and it’s become harder to distinguish between someone who works in an office and someone who works on the shop floor by the way they dress.

Houston is no exception to these trends in the skilled trades. Here is a short list of jobs, along with their projected salaries, in growing fields that do not require a four-year degree:

Solar Technician

Solar technicians could be residential or commercial installers of solar panels. The job requires good math skills, the ability to read and interpret blueprints, and up-to-date knowledge of solar technology. Training can come from apprenticeship programs, community college classes or on the job.

The growth rate for these jobs is 24 percent with a projected salary of $67,000.

CNC Machinist

CNC machining involves creating a manufacturing program for a computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tool that can produce complex parts from a variety of materials. Knowledge of manufacturing software and the equipment—typically lathes, milling machines and laser cutters—is required, along with being able to interpret blueprints. Training comes from community colleges, trade schools or apprenticeship programs.

CNC machinist jobs could grow at a rate of 17 percent or more. The projected salary is $55,000.


Electricians are needed in every facet of life. They work on residential issues, new home construction, inside businesses for maintenance and repair, and commercial development. They must understand city codes and safety protocols, be able to read blueprints and be good at troubleshooting. There are training programs at community colleges and apprenticeship programs at larger companies.

The growth rate for jobs as an electrician is 14 percent, and the annual salary is around $52,000.


Like electricians, plumbers have a host of options. Businesses hire plumbers to do construction or maintenance, while homeowners need them to repair leaks, install sinks and toilets, and service water heaters. Plumbers need to take training courses in hydraulics, pneumatics, plumbing codes, septic systems and more.

The growth rate for plumbing jobs is estimated to be 12 percent with a projected salary of $51,000.

Industrial Machinery Mechanic

Somebody has to troubleshoot and repair those complicated CNC machine tools and a slew of other industrial equipment. That task falls to the industrial machinery mechanic. You might find jobs listed under titles such as maintenance machinist or millwright, but whatever it’s called, the work entails installing, repairing, and maintaining industrial machinery. Many technical schools can provide the necessary training, and the growth rate for jobs is phenomenal at 17 percent.

Future salaries should be in the range of $50,000.

Are you looking for skilled trades jobs?

We’re here to help. The experts at 365RSS understand the need for experienced professionals and highly skilled workers in the light industrial and power generation industries. And we are hiring experienced engineers, technical advisors, repair technicians, precision millwrights, welders and more.

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