What Are The Trade Skills With The Highest Demand

What Are The Trade Skills With The Highest Demand
Last Updated: December 29, 2022

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Indeed Career Guide (2020) states that the need for extra workers serving in specific jobs could increase if the world changes. Professional trade employees who have earned appropriate certifications and training will fill many of those positions in demand. High school graduates, college-educated students and, highly qualified workers can acquire the skills required to fill such positions with good job prospects.


Professional trade work is a career sought by an individual that either attends education to learn a particular skill set for their chosen position or through on-the-job training they obtain these required skills. They can receive a certificate after they have completed vocational courses, college classes, or training. It helps them to be prepared for the work they wish to do. Any teaching or schooling for skilled trade jobs can last approximately three months to four years.


The need for workers with a good range of specialized skills will continue to expand in the next few years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecast the employment prospects for various positions and calculated which work titles over the next ten years would either continue or increase in demand. Many of these positions have in the past remained in demand and are expected to remain steadily in demand (Indeed Career Guide, 2020).



Many will expand rapidly as the demand for jobs in these positions rises, owing to more people who need the services they provide. According to the BLS, because the demand for these professional trading staff ranges from steady to faster-growing than others, demand for these positions will range from 4 percent to 30 percent over the next decade.


Skilled Job Trades in Demand

According to Lee (2020), the good news for the graduating class of 2020 is that the job market for college graduates is hot and should continue to expand. According to a report by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI), employers who planned to hire in 2019-2020 said that the following majors are the most in-demand at their companies. (The percentage represents the number of respondents who indicated they would hire at least one graduate from each subject area. Business—68 percent, Computer science—67 percent, Engineering—62 percent, Communications (including public relations and advertising)—61 percent, Arts, humanities, and liberal arts—52 percent, Science and math—49 percent, Education—43 percent, Social science—40 percent, Agriculture and natural resources—39 percent and Health science—38 percent.


What is the best trade to learn?

The most challenging qualified vacancies for employers to fill were not engineers, nurses, or sales managers, according to ManpowerGroup 's annual Talent Shortage Survey. The number one hardest to find are professional tradespeople like electricians and welders. It is expected that the need for professional traders will get even more acute as more baby boomers hit retirement age and exit the workforce. Trades are particularly affected by this trend because tradespeople are on average older than many other labor force groups (Ward, 2019).


Ward (2019) suggests that during the past few decades, participation in trades has decreased, as many young people misperceive the occupations that are poorly paid for. We see them as not intellectually challenging and "behind them." In some North American areas, more than 60 percent of professional tradespeople are 45 or older. High demand is one reason why the skilled trades are perfect for those who wish to become self-employed and start their own business. One is that most companies may be run as home-based companies because the work is usually done on the job site of the client.


A third factor is that start-up capital costs are fairly small for most trades for products like vehicles and equipment, at least as opposed to many other forms of industry. Skilled trades can not be automated to any degree, ensuring the security of potential jobs. Also in the welding industry, which in manufacturing is to some degree automated, several forms of employment can not be feasibly automated.


Ward (2019) lists some of the best business opportunities in the skilled trades as follows:


Electricians design, install, maintain, and repair electrical wiring and electrical/electronic control systems in homes, commercial buildings, and industrial installations. Although electricians are employed in a wide variety of industries, most electricians work in construction. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth rate of 14 percent through 2024 in the demand for electricians. This is much higher than the average for other occupations, making it an excellent career choice and an ideal business opportunity. Becoming an electrician normally requires four to five years of apprenticeship and in-school training leading to certification.


Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC) Technicians

HVAC technicians install, maintain, and repair residential and commercial heating, air conditioning, ventilation and refrigeration systems. Some HVAC professionals specialize in related areas such as fire protection and sprinkling systems, oil and gas burners, and building and facilities maintenance. As with electricians, HVAC specialists are expected to experience high growth in demand for the next decade. The HVAC industry is also well suited to those wishing to become self-employed. Unlike with some other skilled trades, HVAC systems require regular maintenance after installation. Selling service contracts can provide steady cash flow. Starting a career in HVAC usually involves one to several years of post-secondary education and on-the-job apprenticeship training. Due to the increasingly technical nature of the industry, certification is mandatory in most states and provinces.



Masonry is another profession that is projected to have much higher growth in demand than average. Masons use a variety of mortared bricks, stone, and concrete to construct walls, patios, and walkways. Highly-skilled masons who can create artistically designed masonry structures will never lack employment. Becoming a mason normally requires three to four years of apprenticeship training along with classroom instruction. The job requires lifting heavy materials, so a mason must be strong and physically fit. Given the high demand for skilled masons, masonry can be an ideal business opportunity for those wishing to become self-employed. Starting a business as a self-employed mason may require licensing in some locales.


Plumbers, Pipefitters/Steamfitters

Plumbers design, install and repair piping, waste disposal systems, and related appliances and fixtures in homes, businesses, and industrial plants. Pipefitters and steamfitters install and repair piping systems that carry pressurized liquids or gases used for heating and cooling, energy production, and manufacturing. The demand for plumbers and pipefitters or steamfitters is expected to be very strong through 2026, making either profession an excellent business opportunity. Training normally requires several years of apprenticeship in combination with technical school instruction. Most locales require plumbers to be licensed or certified.



Welders use a variety of different types of equipment to cut or join metal parts. Welding is used in many different industries, including construction, auto body repair, forestry, oil and gas, metal fabrication, and shipbuilding. Welding can be manual or semi-automated. Welding is expected to experience average job growth, but skilled welders are always in demand. A willingness to travel and the ability to work in remote locations and/or under difficult conditions can enable a skilled welder to earn a substantial income. Becoming a welder normally requires technical training along with an apprenticeship, eventually leading to certification. Different industries tend to use specific types of welding so mastering the correct type is essential for working in a particular industry.  The nature of the welding business makes it a good candidate for self-employment. A typical welding contractor starts with mobile welding equipment and may eventually require shop space if the business expands.


List of skilled trade

Some of the fastest-growing jobs highlighted in the research carried out by Lee (2020) are as shown in the table below.

Table 1: 10 fastest-growing jobs from 2016 to 2026



% Change


Solar Energy Technicians



Wind Energy Technicians



Home Health Aides



Personal Care Aides



Physician Assistants



Nurse Practitioners






Physical Therapist Assistants



Application Software Developers






Averager for all occupations


Table 1 Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections, 2016-2026


Exploring high-demand jobs is a good move for anyone trying to decide on a career path. After all, if you look through the careers in demand in 2020 and find one that draws on your interests and passions, your future could be one of unlimited potential. Also, since in-demand jobs can be found in a wide variety of industries, from hospitality and health care to technology and the skilled trades, you have plenty of career options to consider.



  1. Indeed Career Guide (2020). 21 Skilled Trade Jobs In Demand. [online] Indeed Career Guide. Available at: https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/skilled-trade-jobs-in-demand.
  2. Lee, C. (2020). These High-Demand Jobs Need People Like You to Fill Them. [online] trade-schools.net. Available at: https://www.trade-schools.net/articles/high-demand-jobs.
  3. Ward, S. (2019). Best Picks for Starting a Trade Business. [online] The Balance Small Business. Available at: https://www.thebalancesmb.com/best-skilled-trade-businesses-to-start-4107037 [Accessed 11 Aug. 2020].


Ifeoma is a Business Analytics and Research Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business management and human resources consulting firm.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ifeoma-obi-92b4b9121/

Phone: +263 242 481946-48/481950

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Email: ifeoma@ipcconsultants.com

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Ifeoma Obi
This article was written by Ifeoma a Guest at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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