10 Highest-Paying Blue-Collar Jobs

blue-collar jobsTisa Silver, Investopedia

Who says hard work doesn't pay? These 10 blue-collar jobs show that the color of your collar doesn't necessarily dictate the level of your income.

What Does it Mean to be a Blue-Collar Worker?

Blue-collar jobs are typically classified as involving manual labor and compensation by an hourly wage. Some fields that fall into this category include construction, manufacturing, maintenance and mining.

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What it Does Not Mean?

Do not mistake blue-collar jobs for easy to land, easy to keep or low-paying ones. Although some blue-collar jobs do not require a four-year degree, many of them require additional education by way of specialized training, a certification or an apprenticeship.

There are several blue-collar jobs that offer competitive packages, relative to their white-collar counterparts.

Elevator installers and repairers sit atop the list with an average hourly wage of $42.08. This hands-on occupation involves many tasks, including assembly, testing, maintenance and repair of elevators, escalators and moving sidewalks. On average, an elevator installer or repairer can bring in over $87,000 dollars per year.

Ship and boat captains and operators earn an average of $24.86 per hour for navigating their vessels through a variety of waterways. On average, a captain or operator brings in almost $58,000 each year, but these captains have to work a bit harder for the money -- the average work week is 51.8 hours.

The pressure is on, literally, for gas plant operators who control compressors to keep gas flowing through pipelines. This essential job pays workers just under $64,000 or approximately $30.71 on an hourly basis.

There are several specialties within the electrical and electronic repair industry. The most lucrative area involves inspecting and repairing electrical equipment at generating stations, substations and in-service relays. These workers bring in an average salary of $68,000 per year.

The Top 10 List

1. Elevator Installer and Repairer

Average salary: $87,518

Average hourly wage: $42.08

Average work week: 40 hours

2. Electrical and Electronics Repairer – Powerhouse, Substation and Relay

Average salary: $68,084

Average hourly wage: $32.75

Average work week: 40 hours

3. Power Plant Operator, Distributor and Dispatcher

Average salary: $65,846

Average hourly wage: $31.50

Average work week: 40 hours

4. Gas Plant Operator

Average salary: $63,872

Average hourly wage: $30.71

Average work week: 40 hours

5. Locomotive Engineer

Average salary: $63,125

Average hourly wage: $28.27

Average work week: 42.5 hours

6. Electrical Power Line Installer and Repairer

Average salary: $60,354

Average hourly wage: $29.02

Average work week: 40 hours

7. Structural Iron and Steel Worker

Average salary: $59,224

Average hourly wage: $28.55

Average work week: 39.9 hours

8. Construction and Building Inspector

Average salary: $59,144

Average hourly wage: $28.31

Average work week: 40.2 hours

9. Ship and Boat Captain and Operator

Average salary: $57,910

Average hourly wage: $24.86

Average work week: 51.8 hours

10. Radio and Telecommunications Equipment Installer

Average salary: $57,149

Average hourly wage: $27.48

Average work week: 39.9 hours

About the List

The jobs are ranked by annual salary, from highest to lowest, excluding overtime. The data was pulled from the National Compensation Survey: Occupational Earnings in the United States, 2008, which is published by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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I never realized until after I retired from the elevator industry 15 years ago that elevator installers etc. were held in such high regard. To us it was just a very good paying job that required a lot of skill and knowledge to do. Getting used to working on a 4" beam w/o a safety net or harness wasa probably the most difficult, but once mastered, everything else fell into place. There are old elevator men and there are bold elevator men. BUT, there are no old & bold elevator men. I understand now that OSHA requires the use of safety nets and harnesses. If it gets any easier they'll have girls doing it. Yes, I know that they do employ girls now, but they don't work on 4" beams 40 or more stories up.

October 20 2013 at 2:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

my brother is a welder with an 8th grade education. as an adult he found out he has dyslexia. going thro kidney failure and transplant and other complications, he could no longer do under water welding, but he did quite well. he is still welding some 25 years later.

September 17 2010 at 9:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Please Proofread Yourselves!

I mean this in the most respectful way possible; Please go back through some of these replies and read them again. Look at the grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc.

Now...do you think someone would want to hire based on some of these replies? Many of you are talking about "pride in craftsmanship" and "hard work." And, I believe you. I believe in America. But it all starts with a first impression. And I am worried.

Unless you have a professional to write and/or edit your resume(s) and/or fill out job application(s), some of these replies are bordering on illiteracy. Seriously. How difficult would it be to proofread all of these meaningful, heartfelt replies?

I don't buy into this whole "relax, man, it's just the internet, it's meant to be informal." BULLSHIT. I buy into putting your best foot forward ALL the time, because you never know who is reading your handiwork.

When I hear complaints about "all the illegals taking our jobs," I think about many of the forums I've read (such as this one), and have come to realize that a majority of replies are as bad and unreadable as the broken English coming from the very group that is replacing the American worker.

Instead of worrying about football, American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance? The OC, Wii, PS3, XBox, Britney, Miley, Lady Gaga...perhaps there should be some remediation to catch up with the rest of the civilized, productive world.

Again, no malice, disrespect or smart-ass"ness" meant here. This is an observation from someone, like most here, that just rolled in to see what will work for the coming year. I have been unemployed for over a year, too.

Happy Holidays, Happy New Year...and Good Luck To One and All.
...and please proofread yourselves!

December 26 2009 at 2:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Way to go jayser, that is the best advice out of all of this.
Fall back to some old bridges ( that have not been burned )
and cross over them again. At least you know the bridge and are one step quicker then the next guy that is crossing it for the first time.

December 17 2009 at 11:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jack carney

you bet,
the problem is that some companies don't it...highly skilled workers get the job done fast and accuately for a better bottom line price than unskilled $10.00/workers.

the problem is this is what starts unions....but i do not agree or disagree....pay for good work, and the bottom line for companies is the best solution...you need to work for a well managed company that pays you what you are worth.
Quit and look for a good company that appreciates your skills.

December 17 2009 at 9:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

all these people talk about joining a union!the doors are closed.u dont get a fair shot.all the b.s. nepitism.its who u know not what u know.

December 07 2009 at 8:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am facing losing my job in 2 years...I'm 52 years old and not a happy camper over this! Who wants to hire someone my age?
I have limited education, only a year of college, no degree.
Currently I work in a Pharmaceutical plant packing out skin care products.

December 07 2009 at 6:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well i just move back to ala. after some years of working all typ of jobs. im a cook . a construction working' work in sheetrock worker. work in the sign company,few type of restaurant. my last job i was making 1150 an hour. but now im willing to work for a lot less. because i have learn to get along with a lots less. so any one need a good working person that love to work call me. at 3344790099 think i want answere i been maken it off 300,00 a week now for last pass yr, im ready to go back to work

November 28 2009 at 1:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nice Pun``````````` 2 cute

November 26 2009 at 12:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I work for fast food competing with workers half my age with low minimun wage hoping that a promotion will be in the future every time I feel confident it feels my supervisor humilates me infront of my co workers,and she has said changes will be made after the holidays that she has no intention of ruining any ones christmas ,
I am hard working and very dedicated to my job,
My question is how do you professionally handle a situation like this any advice will be helpful...........

November 20 2009 at 6:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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