For workers who would rather wear steel-tipped boots instead of a three-piece suit, the salary outlook doesn’t have to be low; some blue-collar jobs have a surprisingly high salary range. These high paying jobs don’t require a college degree, but often do involve specialized training. So if you like to get your hands dirty, you can still earn a high annual salary.
Certain mechanics, equipment operators and installers are actually earning a larger annual salary than the typical American. According to the Census Bureau, the U.S. median income is $43,318. With that in mind, Forbes says that the average salary for the top ten blue-collar jobs is a little above $27 per hour. By calculating hourly wage to annual salary, we find the following: if a blue-collar worker makes $27 an hour, works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, then his or her annual salary is in the area of $56,160, which is 30% above the average Joe.
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Public Transit Salaries
One of the highest paying blue-collar jobs is a public transit attendant, also known as a subway conductor and railway engineer. These blue-collar folks do more than yell, “All aboard,” they keep public transportation moving in large cities. Subway conductors and railway engineers usually make an average salary of over $62,000.
The downside is that life is more expensive in the big city. There are not many subways in rural America.
Yearly Income for Diesel Mechanic
As we watch how Americans are coping with downsizing and layoffs, it may be comforting to know that there is still a need for diesel mechanics in the U.S. This blue-collar worker can start at a pay rate of $14.16-$21.56 per hour. Jay Wommack of the Vertical Alliance Group, an employment service for blue-collar positions, told Forbes.com, “It takes a couple of years, but then you can pretty much write your own ticket.”
Those words also ring true when it comes to heating and air-conditioning repairmen. After a year (or more) of vocational training, workers can earn a starting salary of $23.04-$30.46 per hour working for an air-conditioning repair company. Those who eventually go out on their own and start a business can earn an annual salary of up to $200,000, just for keeping people cool!
Above Average Job Salaries
Long-haul truck drivers who crisscross the country for weeks can earn an annual salary in the neighborhood of $100,000, and on top of that, many get health insurance and 401 (k) plans. The best part is you’re only required to train for four weeks to obtain your trucking license; this includes learning how to drive a truck, watching some truck driving safety videos and passing a driving test.
Of course, the downside to being a long-haul truck driver is being away from your family for long periods of time. However, if you’re stuck in a tiresome marriage or have a brood of bratty kids, long trips might actually count as a job perk. No one can accuse you of abandoning your family if you’re on the road 40 weeks out of the year to support them.
Mandatory Overtime Rights or Great Perks?
Another blue-collar job that pays well is working as a prison guard in California. It almost goes without saying, stress and prison guards are inseparable. These folks certainly deserve decent pay for the inherent dangers, but union prison guards in the Golden State enjoy a lucrative contract that earns them an annual salary of $73,428. With overtime, prison guards (with only a high school education) can easily make six figures, eclipsing the income of California judges, police and even the state attorney!
Other blue-collar positions that pay a high annual salary (outside the prison walls) include Stonemasons ($46-49,000), Power Plant Operators ($50-56,000), Locomotive Operators ($52-$54,000), Aircraft Engine Mechanics ($46-$57,000), Mining Superintendents ($88-$106,000), Oil Well Drillers ($62-$73,000) and Telephone Line Installers/Repairers ($36-$54,000).
The Hottest Future Jobs or Cooling Down
Just in case you’re thinking of taking a blue-collar job, you might want to keep this in mind — the job growth doesn’t look too upbeat. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, blue-collar jobs compose 15% of the work force, and that is not expected to increase, but rather stay where it is. However, their white-collar counterparts have a rosier future. More than 7 million jobs are projected to be added in these fields: Education, employee placement and health care. Still, someone has to deliver the medication!
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