5 blue-collar jobs that pay workers over $100,000 a year

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A college education is still considered the best path to a successful and high-paying career, however, it isn’t the only path.

Rising tuition costs have led a lot of people to consider alternatives to a traditional four-year degree, especially if it means avoiding years of student loan payments.

Blue-collar jobs in industries such as construction, maintenance, warehousing and technical installation can provide some pretty solid salaries, as well as an opportunity for workers to develop specialized skills.

Read more: Top 50 companies hiring for part-time, work-at-home jobs

Blue-collar jobs with potential six-figure salaries

According to MarketWatch, workers in traditionally blue-collar jobs can end up making over $100,000 a year. While most of the jobs with potential six-figure salaries require some type of special training, getting those necessary skills will cost you less than a bachelor’s degree from a traditional college or university.

In fact, The Wall Street Journal interviewed a 24-year-old welder who now earns $140,000 a year after attending a technical college in Waco, Texas. On top of that, the folks at MarketWatch found that workers in these five other blue-collar jobs also have the potential to make over $100,000 a year:

  • Police officer: New York Police Department salaries can reach up to $131,000 a year, depending on rank and tenure.
  • Bartender: According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, bartenders only make about $18,000 in salary pay. But when you factor in tips, most bartenders bring home between $45,000 and $73,000 a year. And when in the right situation, many bring home more than $100,000 a year.
  • Contractors & construction managers: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pay for construction managers can range from $82,790 to $144,520. And this is a field in which special training/certifications/licensing may be required for certain projects.
  • Farmers & ranchers: Farmers can make up to nearly $120,000 a year, depending on their specialty and location. According to the BLS, farmers in California have the highest annual mean wage of all states in this industry — about $93,630 a year.
  • Oil rig workers: While some oil rig jobs require a bachelor’s or other degree, many don’t. In fact, some of the jobs that don’t require a degree can reach salaries of over $100,000 a year, depending on the specific role.

Other opportunities that don’t require a degree

There are also a lot of other traditionally blue-collar jobs that may not offer six-figure salaries, but workers can still bring home a pretty solid annual income.

Job site CareerTrends put together a list of the top-paying blue-collar jobs in the U.S. And while some can provide six-figure salaries, only occupations with at least 10,000 full-time employees were included on this particular list. Check it out below.

Read more: New study reveals the top 10 jobs that don’t require a 4-year degree

Top 20 highest-paying blue-collar jobs (with at least 10,000 full-time employees)

20. Production Supervisors: $52,271


19. Surveyors: $52,322

18. Avionics Technicians: $52,671

17. Electrical Engineering Technologists: $54,067

16. Subway Operators: $54,471

15. Petroleum Pump Operators: $54,492

14. Boilermakers: $54,942

13. Solar Energy Installation Managers: $55,598

12. Cartographers: $55,932

11. Mechanics Supervisors : $56,133

10. Aerospace engineering technicians: $58,961


9. Gas Plant Operator: $59,388

8. Landscape Architect: $60,696

7. Transportation Inspector: $62,018

6. Power Line Installer: $62,094

5. Power Plant Operator: $62,908

4. Water Vessel Captain: $63,032

3. Powerhouse Equipment Installer: $67,128

2. Elevator Installer: $68,792

1. Power Distributor: $73,446

You can see the full list and more information from CareerTrends here.


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