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The 13 Top Paying Blue-Collar Jobs

Uncover the best-paying blue-collar jobs. From skilled trades to technical roles, explore careers that offer competitive salaries across various industries.

By 

Synkdup Editorial Team   

|  25 January 2024

Highest Paying Blue-Collar Jobs

The blue-collar job market is a very interesting yet complex environment. It has a lot of diversity and varying dynamics, influenced by several factors. In this article, we discuss a section of the workforce that often gets overlooked: Blue Collar Jobs.

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A lot of times, they are looked down upon, but at the end of the day, we all need to provide for our families in whatever way we can! While they might not be as challenging as technical jobs, blue-collar jobs are by no means a walk in the park, and you’ll soon find out why.

Defining Blue-collar Collar Jobs

Blue-collar refers to workers who perform physical tasks, which may include manual labor. They are often paid in terms of hourly rates. Common industries where they can be found are Mining, Maintenance, Manufacturing, etc.

These jobs tend to require lower levels of education and skill to perform. In previous eras, blue-collar workers were perceived as less educated. However, this viewpoint is now beginning to change.

Basic Examples of Blue Collar Jobs

Blue-collar jobs span across many types of industries and companies. In the past, education was not so important for landing a blue-collar job, but now, having at least completed matriculation or even high school is seen as a plus point.

This is great from a societal point of view, as it incentivizes low-income families to try and keep their kids in school longer. This helps kids as well. Some common blue-collar jobs include:

Factory Workers

This is a job title that has been around for a long time. Being a factory worker is one of the more physically demanding jobs and requires good health and fitness. The job is going to be a tiring one.

Workers may also require some basic training related to performing certain tasks, operating machines, and other work practices. Sometimes it can get really hot, so being able to withstand the heat is also necessary.

Drivers

This is a job profile that is growing massively at present. It is especially popular among younger job seekers and also has options for part-time work in some cases. There are many different types of drivers as well.

Construction Workers

Their tasks vary depending on the company and project. However, some general activities they can expect to be involved in include loading and unloading materials, using machines, assembling and applying construction materials, etc.

It also requires one to be physically healthy. They must also be taught basic safety laws and guidelines to be followed regularly. Basic training may be needed to execute certain tasks.

Electricians

They are professionals with the technical skills to repair, install, or maintain electrical devices and systems. It requires some specialized training and an understanding of electrical blueprints.

Electricians usually need to have completed high school, at least. They must also complete a formal apprenticeship and obtain a license before they can start working. They must also know how to use certain tools and equipment.

Warehouse Workers

It is a broad category that covers several roles. These include forklift drivers, stockers, pickers, etc. These jobs also have part-time work options. It is important to know how to handle different types of goods and sometimes also operate certain machines.

Other Jobs

Other such job profiles, including those of miners, conductors, plumbers, etc., are also on this list. Some of them do not exactly have the healthiest work environments, either.

Many workers employed in jobs not good for their health only do them short-term. They are only doing them temporarily because they likely could not find a better job. They don’t have intentions of committing long-term to these roles. Once they get a better job, they quickly tend to move on.

Top 13 Highest-Paying Blue-Collar Jobs

The following blue-collar jobs have been listed based on median annual salary by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

1. Nuclear Power Reactor Operators: $111,220

It’s a kind of work environment that makes for the perfect setting for the climax of a Hollywood movie. You know a nuclear power plant that’s about to explode, but the hero or heroine gets there in time, presses some buttons, pulls a few rods, and saves the day!

In the real world, though, it is a job that requires training and good problem-solving skills, too. They have to learn how to operate certain machines and devices. They may also be responsible for implementing emergency procedures, especially if they are at a senior level.

They may also have to make decisions on how to react to unexpected circumstances and take corrective action. It pays well but also involves expertise and responsibility.

2. Detectives And Police Front-Line Supervisors: $98,760

It involves the monitoring and coordination of various functions of those working for the police. They are expected to manage and assist in the investigation of criminal cases.

They also provide their expertise and guide other officers in order to ensure the investigation is carried out appropriately and complies with regulations and laws.

It may not sound as glamorous as what you’ve seen in CSI: Miami, but it is an important job nonetheless!

3. Power Dispatchers And Distributors: $95,520

They are responsible for supervising and implementing the flow of electricity from the stations where it is generated to substations and finally to end users (so now you know who to blame for those dreaded power cuts!).

They are also in charge of rerouting the flow of electricity around areas that need fixing and helping with damage control during power cuts. It is not the easiest job out there and takes some skill.

4. Storage, Transport & Distribution Managers: $94,560

They are responsible for various functions in the realm of inventory and logistics. It is a bit of a versatile role that requires an understanding of a broad range of functions. They must ensure goods are stored properly and also reach the marketplace in perfect condition.

One cannot directly reach this post and usually has to start with lower roles in warehousing and distribution. However, if they succeed in working their way up the ladder, there is a lot of opportunity that lies ahead. Also, most of the entry-level positions merely require a high school diploma.

5. Powerhouse Relay And Substation Repairers: $93,720

They are responsible for the repair and maintenance of electrical devices and systems in power stations. They are also responsible for testing and even maintaining records about repairs.

Typically, it requires candidates to have completed courses related to electronics. They will usually require on-the-job training and need to learn how to operate certain devices and machines.

6. Elevator Repairers And Installers: $91,320

Ever been stuck in a lift? Well, you know who to call when you need them fixed. You can also expect it to cost you a decent amount. But on the flip side, if you are employed in this industry, you can expect to get a good payout too.

They are not just limited to elevators but also moving sidewalks, escalators, etc. You get the picture, folks. They have to work with a lot of devices and tools. They also need to disassemble units that are defective and repair or replace them. It is one for the hardcore tech geeks!

7. Criminal Investigators and Detectives: $90,370

They usually work for law enforcement agencies and help reduce crimes in the community. They may have to cooperate with cops, forensic scientists and others to solve various crimes like vandalism, theft, homicides, etc.

It is not always a job for the squeamish ones, as you may have to look at dead bodies and other such things. It's great for all the Sherlock Holmes wannabes!

8. Power Plant Operators: $89,410

They are responsible for maintaining, controlling, and operating machinery that produces electricity. The job requires someone good with numbers, as there is going to be a calculation of figures provided by different devices.

They have to clean and manage machines well. They also have to carry out regular safety checks to avoid accidents. Although it is categorized as a blue-collar job, it requires a lot more qualifications than most blue-collar jobs.

For this job, one needs to be willing to get their hands dirty and have a good know-how about machines. You also need a license and have to complete an apprenticeship.

9. Gas Plant Operators: $76,970

They are responsible for the efficient operation of the plant. They also must possess good knowledge of numerous devices, machines, and systems within the plant.

If they make it to a senior role, they must have good people skills, as they inevitably have to work with other employees in various other departments.

10. Locomotive/Train Engineer: $ 74,570

They specialize in the operation of trains that transport either passengers or cargo. They are required to operate certain controls and monitor devices. They are required to coordinate with other railroad workers and even update train logs.

A high school diploma is the bare minimum to join an entry-level job. They typically start at a lower post, like a conductor or brakeman, before working their way up to the post of a locomotive engineer. They may be required to obtain a certificate approved by the Federal Railroad Administration.

11. Boilermakers: $66,920

Their role is to help in creating, installing, and even updating large containers like boilers where gases or fluids like oil are stored. They must also view and implement blueprints. They also test new containers and help with their maintenance.

Generally, they require high school diplomas and have to complete relevant apprenticeship programs. The Boilermakers National Joint Apprenticeship Program (BNAP) is a well-known apprenticeship program for this profession.

12. Telecommunication Technicians: $60,190

They are responsible for the installation, repair, and maintenance of telecommunication-related infrastructure. This may include internet devices, radio technology, and so on. It is a hands-on job and requires a good understanding of electrical systems.

They need at least a high school diploma for entry-level job applications. On-the-job training is required in most cases, during which they may be required to shadow an experienced professional.

13. Commercial Drivers: $49,920

They are mainly responsible for the transport of goods in large quantities from one location to another. They must drive safely and responsibly, but they must also ensure they reach their destination on time. Some examples of commercial vehicles used by those in this profession are trucks, tractors, etc.

Usually, candidates aspiring to enter this field need a high school diploma. Candidates also need a special driver’s licence called CDL (Commercial Driver’s Licence) to drive these heavy vehicles.

Note: Keep in mind that these are median salaries, and those just starting in these jobs will earn lower amounts.

Blue-Collar Jobs In Bigger Companies

It often happens in the job market that a person with the same job title but in a bigger company gets better pay and other benefits. Before, this was only prevalent in office jobs, but now blue-collar jobs are also following the trend.

This is great, as it can boost employee morale and the overall well-being of workers. It also creates good PR for the company and incentivizes more job-seekers to apply to their companies.

It is also great from an HR point of view, as more people applying increases the chances of finding a better candidate. However, the HR systems need to be well-developed to filter out the numerous candidates that will not be as suitable.

An example of this is a delivery driver in a big company like Amazon getting better pay and benefits than a delivery driver in a small company. Employees in such companies may get to learn more as well.

The Blue Collar Vs White Collar Debate

We’ve already elaborated on blue-collar jobs; now let's shed some light on the other side of the job market. The more popular options in terms of career paths are white-collar jobs. These are the stereotypical desk jobs and are assumed to be of higher status by most.

Defining White-Collar

White-collar workers usually perform office jobs that are believed to require higher degrees of skill and are typically more intellectual than physical. It is interpreted as a typical suit-and-tie job in a corporate setting.

Why Choose White-Collar?

White-collar jobs are more in demand and can be opted for if:

  1. If a person is worried about societal perceptions and fears, people will look down on them if they pick a blue-collar job.
  2. One aspires to enter an occupation that has greater potential for advancement as a worker.
  3. They prefer sitting in an office and doing computer work rather than getting their hands dirty!
  4. If a worker is highly educated and has other credentials needed to get a white-collar role.
  5. They don’t want to be in a work environment that is hazardous to their health.
  6. They are motivated by getting a higher salary and living a better lifestyle.

Why Choose Blue-Collar?

Blue-collar profiles are on the rise and can be considered as a career path if:

  1. One is just looking at immediate survival and is not too concerned about their image in society; however, the gap in status between the two is now diminishing.
  2. One is not too worried about long-term progress in their field and is fine with just getting by. Some jobs, however, do offer employees a higher scope for growth in their field.
  3. If they are comfortable with moving around and doing work hands-on. They must possess a certain baseline level of intellect to learn how to operate machines and other devices too.
  4. If a job seeker has not completed their education or only studied until high school, then a blue-collar job is the only real option they have. However, certain blue-collar jobs require college degrees but also pay well.
  5. They are willing to regularly work in dirty environments, which may not be best for their health over time. A point to consider here is that such jobs should not be done long-term. Job-seekers should also check with employers to see if health insurance is provided.
  6. Workers are not worried about their long-term standard of living but rather are just trying to make ends meet right now. The market is evolving now, though, and better-paying blue-collar jobs are available in the market.

Now that you’ve understood both, you may also like examples of jobs like the ones listed here: 20 Well-paying Jobs in Miscellaneous Fields

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is being a nurse a blue-collar job?

Ans: It is somewhat debatable whether nurses are white-collar or blue-collar. They have characteristics of both. They do manual work to assist doctors.

But they also work in office environments. You also need to be qualified to do it well. Even management experts have struggled to categorize it!

Q: What’s the difference between blue-collar and white-collar?

Ans: White-collar jobs are intellectual and are usually carried out in offices. Blue-collar ones are physical and can be done in varying work environments.

Q: Are blue-collar jobs worth it?

Ans: It depends on the individual, but if they do not have high educational qualifications and need money to survive, blue-collar jobs can be worth it.

One thing to consider, though, is the work environment and whether health insurance is provided. At present, more blue-collar job titles exist that require college graduation, making it a better choice than before.

Q: Do white-collar jobs pay more than blue-collar jobs?

Ans: It varies based on job titles, but on average, white-collar jobs usually pay more. But in modern times, some blue-collar jobs that require more education are catching up.

Q: How to get a blue-collar job?

Ans: The internet is a great way to find blue-collar jobs (or any type of job!) with online job portals growing massively. Newspapers are also a great source to find manual work jobs.

Typically, they must also be physically healthy, as many blue-collar jobs require manual work. But some of the good blue-collar jobs also require academic qualifications!

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