Blue Collar Jobs in Demand for 2010

Payscale

blue collarReady for a career change but dread getting another desk job? Then how about trying your hand at, well, working with your hands?

"There is a blue collar renaissance going on right now," says Joe Lamacchia, author of Blue Collar and Proud of It: The All-in-One-Resource for Finding Freedom, Financial Success, and Security Outside of the Cubicle. "These are necessary jobs and they're not going to go anywhere. Our nation's infrastructure is crumbling. We want to turn this country green, and we don't have enough workers to do it. There's a lot of opportunity here."

Following is a list of blue collar jobs experts say are most in demand this year, and their median annual salary according to online salary database, PayScale.com. To check out more blue collar job salaries, see our salary calculator.

Training for many of these positions includes a paid on-the-job apprenticeship, and the work can be physically rigorous. None of these jobs require education beyond a two-year associate's degree.


1. Plumber, pipefitter, or steamfitter

"With all the alternative energy sources that people are coming up with -- like solar heating, geothermal heat, and biofuel -- there's a big need for these workers," says Dr. Laurence Shatkin, co-author of "300 Best Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree." According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these occupations are among the highest paid in the construction industry. Most of these workers receive their training in a technical school or community college, in addition to a four- or five-year apprenticeship, the BLS reports. In most states and municipalities, plumbers need to obtain a license.

Median annual salary: $49,773

Who's hiring: Plumber jobs


2. Carpenter

Do you have a strong back, a propensity for math, and a love of power tools? Then you might enjoy carpentry. Although the construction industry took a beating during the recession, the demand for environmentally friendly, energy-efficient buildings has helped hasten the field's recovery, the BLS notes. "These are the people who are going to green this country," Lamacchia says. In fact, the BLS expects carpentry opportunities to grow by 13 percent this decade. According to the BLS, a third of carpenters are self-employed. In addition, many acquire the necessary skills by training on the job, enrolling in a vocational program, or working as an apprentice for three or four years.

Median annual salary: $38,473

Who's hiring: Carpenter jobs


3. Electrician

According to the BLS, employment growth in the field will increase 12 percent this decade. Those with the widest range of skills -- such as voice, data, and video wiring -- will be the most marketable, the BLS reports. Factor in the nation's move to green energy sources, says Shatkin, and you have a thriving occupation. As the BLS notes, electricians usually get their training during a four-year apprenticeship. As with plumbers, state and municipal licensing is usually required.

Median annual salary: $45,218

Who's hiring: Electrician jobs


4. Automobile mechanic

No matter what the economy's doing, this is one job in demand. "When a recession hits, people want to keep their cars running longer instead of buying new," Shatkin says. A vocational training program in automotive technology (often six to 12 months) or a two-year associate degree is usually needed to be competitive in the marketplace, the BLS reports.

Median annual salary: $35,889

Who's hiring: Automobile mechanic jobs


5. Heating, air conditioning, or refrigeration mechanic/installer

Thanks to the government offering consumers tax incentives to upgrade their appliances to more energy-efficient models, the demand for such technicians remains generous, Shatkin says. In fact, the BLS estimates that job opportunities will increase by a whopping 28 percent this decade. To compete in the job market, the BLS says, a six-month to two-year vocational program or an apprenticeship are usually required. Same goes for state and local licenses.

Median annual salary: $48,494

Who's hiring: Mechanic jobs


6. Roofer

If you're strong, comfortable with heights, and don't mind getting dirty, you might like this line work. Since much of the work revolves around repairing or replacing outdated roofing systems, the occupation is fairly recession proof, the BLS says. Another variable that can keep roofers busy: "There's more concentration now on making green roofs that keep buildings cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter," Shatkin says. Training is often obtained on the job or through a three-year apprenticeship, the BLS reports.

Median annual salary: $38,026

Who's hiring: Roofer jobs


7. Elevator installer/repairer

This is one of the best-paid blue collar positions, Shatkin says. What's more, he says, it's incredibly recession-proof, as most of the work entails maintenance or repair. According to the BLS, most elevator technicians start their career in a four-year apprenticeship program and belong to a union. In addition, city and state licensing is often required.

Median annual salary: $49,036

Who's hiring: Elevator repairer jobs

Still not sure you can leave the cubicle life behind? Then, Lamacchia says, consider this: "You're home in the evening. You're not at the airport or living out of a suitcase. You can go to your daughter's play or your son's little league game. It's a nice life."

Next: 10 Companies Hiring Right Now


Michelle Goodman is a freelance business journalist and author of "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide" and "My So-Called Freelance Life."

Source: Salary data from PayScale.com, a leading online provider of employee compensation data. The salaries listed are median annual salaries for full-time workers with 8 years of experience and include bonuses, commissions, and profit sharing.


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Larry

A lot of us carpenters out here in california are all wondering is it this bad all over I can see it is thats to bad i am a third generation carpenter we;ve been building in my family for close to a 100 years my grandpa told me storys about the big D as kids we all thought he was telling paul byunion tales. I guess not all i can is this is bullshit if i build something for somebody and i screw up i have to fix it no problem pop always said you maid that mess you clean it up how come those ***holes in washinton dont have to clean their mess something is bad wrong i;m just an old carpenter but even i can see this

September 03 2010 at 3:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
scott

The union will jack you around big time. It is all who you known on getting in. I know it for a fact.

June 19 2010 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kyle

I am a Union Journeyman Ironworker and have never seen it this bad. I hear stories and have seen documentary on when unions were strong and our American industry was booming, it's kinda funny how one spouse could work, the other could if they chose to. You could have a new car, nice home, and even send your kids to college without going into huge debt. This is for the uninformed out there: average union dues is 30 bucks a month; average wage for a jouneyman is 30 bucks an hour; you are guarenteed a secure wage; we have very good insurance; we have the right to a safe workplace; WE HAVE A VOICE ! Last but not least have any of you smart ones out there heard of the term "prevailing wage". If you haven't noticed union or non-union, the unions are the ones who have helped to raise everyones standard of living, if it wasn't for what unions fight for there would have never been a middle class! One more thing we have is the right to vote our union delegates out! When is the last time you voted your CEO out of office because you didn't like what they were doing? UNION=UNITED=DEMOCRACY

June 17 2010 at 1:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sandy S.

If anyone is in the Houston, TX area then they should check out MisterSparky-Houston.com I used their electrical services and their electrician was great. Their customer service team was very helpful and showed me their iPhone app so I could keep in touch with them easier. Maybe they have some jobs!! Good luck electricians and Thank you MisterSparky! Houston Heights Electrician

June 08 2010 at 9:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Paul

Whom ever did this study is oblivious to reality,
I am an ASE Master Auto Tech W/ 100K in tools that can't get a job
changing oil.
I am over qualified and a management threat since I also have 7 1/2
years as a Service manager / Store Manager with corporate Firestone/
Goodyear.
My resume' goes into the trash when the younger then me and works
for less kid taking the app feels job threatened after seeing he will
lose his promotion to manager because the old guy smokes his
credentials.
Of-course the kid fits the new coperate profile since he will work
longer hours for 1/3 of the money he should be paid, because he is
hungry and likes the title of manager.
With little handle on what is really required of a manager, or how
the business really works, you get poor quality craftsmen, and shoddy
repairs from the lesser experienced parts changers and the customer
gets ripped off.
another example of corporate greed and cost cutting measures to
increase profits.
Sadly the American consumer gets less then they pay for, and an
industry gets the reputation it deserves.

March 16 2010 at 9:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chuck

The stats come from The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an Osama ran institution. Of course they are going to make the grass greener than it really is. As usual most of america will buy into this crap and re-elected that and the rest of the idiocy in Washington. Just like the unemployment rate is still at 10% you believe that I have some bridge stock to sell you. This is the same dept. who reports the unemployment figures. They go by new claims, what about the hundreds og thousands that have used up their benefits, they are off every statistic. If AOL would stop puttng this bullshit up maybe their stock would be better. Hey AOL how about sending out reporters to get the truth. Like how many people are unempoyed in this country, How to help people keep their homes. Etc. Give us the truth we can use.

March 16 2010 at 8:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob

These articles are always a JOKE! Except the joke is on us. Numbers taken from overly small samples and outdated references. $45K a year Electrician jobs! As has been stated above that is a rough average IF you can even find a job! 10% Unemployment??? Almost every tradesman I know is out of work, and they have been for over a year! Home Foreclosures are everywhere.
That 10% unemployment, that's just the ones they know about. What about the ones that were no longer eligible for unemployment? They fall through the cracks and are not counted. I am 61 years old and I have NEVER seen the economy this bad. The media promotes the lies and distortions given to them by our government and by the political parties that drive it. It is always sunny and wonderful when you have a 6 figure+ job at a news desk at CNN or CNBC! Look around people. Whole industries are folding up that have been American staples for decades. Jobs by the tens of thousands are being sent to China for the benefit of a very few at the top of those companies. Even shareholders are being dupped and given pennies on every dollar as these corporate theives steal millions. Look around. Everywhere you look Latino's are working and taking union and nonunion jobs! All you hear is how Mexicans only take jobs Americans won't do. That is a huge load of crap, fed to us by the robber barons and bosses.
Illegal Immigrants keep the wages low. They help management bust the unions, and look the other way and hire more Illegal workers. The company managers and business owners that openly hire Illegal Immigrants should all be procecuted and sent to prison!
They are destroying this country! STOP HIRING ILLEGALS and DEMAND your congressman do something about Illegal immigrants NOW!! HIRE AMERICANS FIRST !!

March 01 2010 at 11:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kachina321

WHEN THE ECONOMY GOES BAD PEOPLE WANT TO EXCAPE. SO WHERE DO THEY GO? THEY GO TO THE MOVIES OR RENT A VIDEO. NOW YOU CAN EVEN BUY A MOVIE FROM YOUR T.V. MY BROTHERS GET A $1.00 RAISE EVERY AUG. SO IF YOU WANT TO WORK AND CAN READ A TAPE MEASURE. GO TO THE STUDIOS AND TRY AND GET A JOB BUILDING SETS. YOU WILL BE VERY HAPPY WHEN YOU SEE YOUR FIRST CHECK.
BY THE WAY, NOBODY CAN TAKE ANYTHING AWAY FROM RETIRES. WHEN YOU WORKED FOR 30 YEARS IN ONE BIZ. YOU KEEP GETTING WHAT IS DUE YOU. PLUS FULL MEDICAL FROM MY HEAD TO MY TOES.

February 13 2010 at 9:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kachina321

YES I MIGHT BE SMUG. PEOPLE WILL BE WATCHING T.V AND GOING TO THE MOVIES UNTIL THE END OF TIME. OUR FUNDS ARE SO LARGE IN MY LOCAL. IT HAD TO BE BROKEN UP IN HALF. WE GET OUR FUNDS FROM PEOPLE THAT GO TO THE MOVIES AND REENT MOVIES. PLUS AS YOU SEE NOW MANY MOVIES GO TO RENTAL STORES. SO EVERYTIME SOMEONE RENTS, WE GET A PIECE OF THAT FOR OUR MEMBERS OF LOCAL # 44. WHEN YOU WATCH THE CREDITS TO A MOVIE 99% OF THEM ARE DONE BY UNION MEMBERS. WHEN I RETIRED WE WERE UP TO $33.00 AN HOUR. AFTER 8 HOURS WE GOT TIME AND A HALF. AFTER 10 HOURS WE GOT DOUBLE TIME. DO THE MATH BRO EVERYONE IN CALIF. WANTS IN THE MOVIE BIZ. NOW YOU KNOW WHY THEY WANT IN.

February 13 2010 at 9:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dirk Diggler

How about all you $50 an hour braggers learn to spell. I think you actually learn that in second grade.

February 13 2010 at 1:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dirk Diggler's comment
Robert H.

I'm sorry Dirk, but your grammar fails. It would be better grammar to use "$50 per hour" instead of "$50 an hour". And your second sentence "I think you actually learn that in second grade." fails because it is strictly present tense, whereas many of your accused, myself included, studied our lessons in reading and writing many years ago, so you should be using past tense. Your sentence is presumptive with your implication that spelling education is limited to the second grade only. Students study spelling, and reading and writing, in nearly every year of Oregon public school education, for example, and at ever progressive levels. So take a refresher course to bring your grammar up to the second grade level, if that's the level of education that you feel will suffice, and then re-write your sentences so that you might set a proper example for those of us that you accuse and condemn. As soon as you get your grammar up to passing, then you and I can discuss the notion of many top educators that people with high mechanical aptitudes tend to have difficutly with reading and writing, and those with exceptional aptitude in reading and writing often find that they don't have enough mechanical aptitude to accomplish a mechanical task as simple as changing a doorknob. Have a nice day.

April 05 2010 at 4:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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