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.
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.
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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