Densely populated states like Texas, California, and New York are among those with the highest employment level of plumbers, but some of the top-paying metropolitan areas for this field might surprise you: The BLS reports that Vineland, N.J., Peabody, Mass., and Madison, Wis., compensate plumbers especially well.
Average Salary: $41,620
In this profession, you absolutely cannot be afraid of heights: glaziers cut, install, fasten, seal, and remove glass for windows, skylights, and storefronts. And it also helps to be multifaceted, since the BLS reports that employers prefer glaziers who can handle a range of tasks. The majority of those currently employed are working in foundation, structure, and building exteriors, but new commercial construction and the need to retrofit and repair existing structures could drive hiring demand for indoor projects as well.
If previous hiring trends are any indication, you'll want to look west: California, Texas, and Washington have some of the highest levels of employment, plus the metropolitan areas of San Jose, Calif., and Oakland, Calif., tend to pay particularly well.
[Read: 19 Hot Jobs That Pay $80K or More.]
Cement Mason & Concrete Finisher
Average Salary: $39,370
Concrete is a common foundation for many construction projects, and using it involves installing rebar and other reinforcing materials, pouring a cement mixture, spreading and leveling that mixture, monitoring its hardening, and applying sealants. Like other construction workers, cement masons and concrete finishers learn their trade during a formal apprenticeship, but those who also take masonry-related courses should experience the best job opportunities, according to the BLS.
Although work in this industry is often dependent on dry, warm weather, the top-paying metropolitan areas are northern locales: Nassau, N.Y., Fairbanks, Alaska, and Bloomington, Ill., each paid average salaries that were higher than $75,000 in 2011.
Average Salary: $38,830
One plus to painting is that those with limited or no experience could find work. The basic qualifications to wield your first brush are a minimum age of 18, a high school diploma or GED, and the physical ability to do the work. But the greenest painters could face tough competition finding—and keeping—employment when competing with union workers who have completed a three- or four-year apprenticeship program and have become certified. If you're hoping to make painting a career, it's prudent to begin an apprenticeship where you'll receive both technical training and practical experience.
In 2011, the BLS noted the states that employed the most painters were California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas. Illinois also shelters the best-paid in the field. In 2011, the average annual wage for a painter in the Kankakee, Ill., area was $69,880.
Brickmason & Blockmason
Average Salary: $50,760
Brick and stone exteriors are expensive but they still remain popular building materials due to their durability. As the economy and housing market rebounds, new buildings should be erected that use these materials and require the skilled masons to lay them. Older brick buildings will need repair. For these reasons, the BLS predicts employment for brickmasons and blockmasons could balloon 40 percent before 2020. It's possible to learn some basics on the job, but studying masonry at a technical college or entering an apprenticeship are also a common training pathways. Programs usually last at least three years.
Large cities like Boston, Detroit, and San Francisco compensate brickmasons and blockmasons particularly well. Although the average salary in 2011 was a little more than $50,000, according to the BLS, workers in the aforementioned cities earned more than $70,000 annually. Boston brickmasons nearly eclipsed $90,000 in 2011.