The State of Michigan recently launched its “Going Pro” campaign to promote careers in skilled trades as a viable alternative to traditional four-year degree programs. The often touted selling points used to encourage students to pursue careers in skilled trades are two-fold. First, skilled trades jobs often require less schooling than other fields, which means those who pursue these occupations usually spend a lot less time in school. A highly motivating factor for many students.

Additionally, as a by product of spending less time in school, this usually means that those who pursue careers in the skilled trades typically graduate from their program with less student debt than students who pursue a four-year degree. As college tuition costs continue to rise and the student debt keeps climbing, alternative pathways to quality careers need to be presented as viable post-secondary options for students who will soon be entering the workforce.


Moreover, beyond cost and time commitment, there is another factor that is often not communicated to students – and often misrepresented entirely – when it comes to pursuing occupations in the skilled trades. That is the fact that these are some of the most in-demand skills in the job market today. Too often the perception is that if a young person is not aiming to attend a four-year institution after high school, they have in some way failed or come up short. However, in reality, those who go into skilled trades programs often come out in really great shape financially and with great job prospects.

Finally, its important to note that skilled trades careers are not just confined to the manufacturing industry. The demand for skilled workers in Healthcare, Information Technology, Construction, and Culinary Arts is significant, and likely to continue to grow in the years to come.

In light of this, below is a list of the Top 25 Skilled Trades Jobs That Don’t Require a Four-Year Degree:

Title Typical Education Needed for Entry
Automotive Body and Related Repairers High school diploma or equivalent
Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists High school diploma or equivalent
Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians Associate’s degree
Carpenters High school diploma or equivalent
Computer Network Support Specialists Associate’s degree
Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers, Metal and Plastic High school diploma or equivalent
Computer User Support Specialists Some college, no degree
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers Associate’s degree
Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers High school diploma or equivalent
Electricians High school diploma or equivalent
Engine and Other Machine Assemblers High school diploma or equivalent
Engineering Technicians, Except Drafters, All Other Associate’s degree
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers Postsecondary non-degree award
Industrial Engineering Technicians Associate’s degree
Industrial Machinery Mechanics High school diploma or equivalent
Machinists High school diploma or equivalent
Massage Therapists Postsecondary non-degree award
Mechanical Engineering Technicians Associate’s degree
Millwrights High school diploma or equivalent
Physical Therapist Assistants Associate’s degree
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters High school diploma or equivalent
Respiratory Therapists Associate’s degree
Sheet Metal Workers High school diploma or equivalent
Web Developers Associate’s degree
Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers High school diploma or equivalent


For more information on in demand careers in Michigan & Mason Count, check out the Going Pro website or visit the MDTMB website to check out Michigan’s Hot 50 for 2024.