If University isn’t for you, there are plenty of options. How about a trade career, for one? Plumber, brickie, electrician – the list is pretty long. And often, these roles are in-demand and highly paid in the UK and abroad.

Before you choose a trade though, you’ll need to think about which one is right for you.  Money isn’t everything so you’ll need to think about your own personal interests, and what role matches your personality, as well as your salary expectations.

According to a 2018 poll by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), the average bricklayer earns 10% more than the typical architect. The poll found that bricklayers earned £42,034 on average compared to £38,228 for architects across the UK.

Rethinking your life choices yet? Here are some more amazing trade careers to consider.


Salary: According to the Office of National Statistics, electricians can bring home a generous pay packet. In 2015 they brought in £30k annually, but the poll from the FBM revealed that the average salary is now £47,265 for those at the top end of their career. Electrical apprentices, are at first, paid the minimum wage for their age while getting trained up. But once qualified they can earn £21-25k as an electrician’s mate, or up to £11 p/h. Then skilled tradesmen usually charge an hourly or day rate, which varies significantly depending on location/the type of job.

How to do it:  In order to train up, you’ll need to have an industry recognised qualification, so a Level 3 diploma in electrotechnical services, which can usually be done through an apprenticeship. It takes around two-four years to qualify.


Salary: The FBM revealed that bricklayers at the top end of their career earn around £42,034.

How to do it: Bricklayers need some maths skills to measure and mix materials correctly, and a formal qualification is not always needed as the BBC reports. However, the best way to qualify is still to do an apprenticeship. The National Careers Service also notes that “you could take a college course in basic construction skills or bricklaying, then try to find a trainee job with a building company.”


Salary: According the FBM research, this is one of the best trade careers as it’s the most lucrative, with average earnings of £48,675 a year at the top end of qualifying.

How to do it: The National Careers Service notes that you’ll usually need GCSEs or equivalent at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in maths, English and science. An industry-recognised qualification such as a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Domestic Plumbing and Heating is also needed. Then when it comes to working with gas, there’s another qualification. Plumbing courses are available at college level, or you can search for apprenticeships to learn and earn.

Civil engineers

Salary: When qualified, you can expect to earn around £44,253.

How to do it: So although this is a trade career, you really need qualifications for this one. The Institution of Civil Engineers  has information on courses, but usually  you’ll need an engineering degree (BEng) or a Master’s degree (MEng) in civil engineering. Some courses include a year in industry.


Salary: £42,303 at the top end, according to the FMB data.

How to do it: You don’t always need formal qualifications, but specific training like the Level 2 Diploma in Roof Slating and Tiling is often in demand from employers. Plus, you’ll need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on building sites. Apprenticeships are the best way to start off in this career. The NCTS is  good place to start looking for a route-in.

Carpenters and joiners

Salary: You could earn £41,413 when qualified, making this one of the best trade careers around.

How to do it: There are no set entry requirements but employers sometimes ask for a qualification in carpentry or joinery, such as an NVQ, certificate or diploma, so that often means doing an apprenticeship or heading to college. Employers may ask for qualifications or experience in painting and decorating.


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