Top-Paying Blue Collar Jobs That Can Earn You Six Figures

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Doctors, lawyers, and corporate executives aren’t the only professions that rake in big bucks. Blue-collar jobs can give you just about as much earning opportunity as any white-collar job. In fact, some of these blue-collar jobs have an income potential that breaches the six-figure mark.

What is a blue-collar worker?

A “blue-collar job” is a type of employment that is characterized by the involvement of manual labor and an hourly wage. Blue collar workers are sometimes called “working class” people. Typically, they are under the construction, manufacturing, mining, and maintenance industries although there are other industries with blue collar workers as well.

The term “blue collar” originates from the early 1920s where coal miners, welders, and brick layers would typically wear darker colors that do not easily show stains they might get from performing their duties. Denim was a tough material that was not uncommon among manual laborers, and it happens to be mostly in the color blue.

Other collar color categories

White collar

In comparison of job types, it is always the whites getting pitted against the blue collar jobs. White collar jobs are typically office-based and do not involve any manual labor. Clerks, administrators, and managers all fall under this job type.

Pink collar

Pink collar jobs are derived from the fact that it was traditionally women who held these roles. These jobs are usually service-oriented such as secretaries, receptionists, preschool teachers, nurses, and childcare workers.

Green collar

As the color implies, green collar jobs are those that are within the environmental sector. Examples of these jobs include green-building design, solar panel installation and maintenance, dealing with biofuels, waste management, and composing. 

Gold collar

Gold collar jobs are a fairly-new classification. Beginning only in the 2000s, gold collar workers are usually highly skilled and highly knowledgeable. They combine the expertise of blue collar jobs with high academic achievements, which is why the average salary for a gold collar job can be quite high. Examples of these jobs include doctors, scientists, engineers, accountants, and lawyers. 

No collar

Artists, people who do not necessarily work for money, and people who work more for passion and personal growth fall under this category. No collar jobs do not usually have an average salary as financial gain is not a priority. 

Why go into blue-collar jobs?

If you feel unsatisfied with a regular office job, there are several advantages in skilled work that you may find appealing. Here are a few good reasons why you should consider shifting into a blue-collar job: 

  • Training is cheap. Most of the time, you don’t need to complete a college degree to go into these occupations. Training is generally shorter and more affordable. Apart from that, all you need are the right skills, work ethic, and experience. 
  • You don’t bring home any work. Once you clock off, you’re off the hook, and you can focus more on family, leisure, or anything else outside of work. The same cannot be said for white-collar jobs that may demand that you answer calls or submit reports even outside of office hours.
  • Active lifestyle. Skilled work mainly involves the use of your hands. A lot of skilled workers, such as construction, are physically demanding. If you want to avoid a sedentary lifestyle or hate having to go to the gym, having a blue-collar job can count as exercise.
  • Visible and concrete accomplishments. You can immediately see the effect of your efforts in manual labor. Buildings rise, rooms get clean, plants bear harvest, and so on. It is rewarding to see the fruits of your labor with your own eyes.

High-income blue-collar jobs

If you think you need to be a big-shot professional in a fancy office to earn a lot, you are greatly mistaken. You can actually enjoy the perks of working with your sleeves rolled up in the field while earning no less than other high-earning white-collar occupations.

Below are some of the best examples of high paying blue-collar jobs nowadays. 

Truck driver

You don’t need a college degree to drive. All you need is a license. The same principle applies to when you want to become a truck driver, albeit the licensing requirements are more stringent, and some additional training is required.

Top earning truck drivers bring home as much as $142,151 as a median annual salary. Just be prepared to drive long hours (sometimes through the night) and sacrifice some leisure and family time. 

Construction manager

The field of construction is probably the most popular one among the blue-collar community. Constructions are constant as cities and suburbs constantly expand, upgrade, and update. You don’t need a college degree to get into construction. Starting out with entry-level positions and working your way up with skills and experience can be just as good as slaving over in the academe for four or more years.

Someone who takes this path and is in the managerial level of construction can earn as much as $160,000 a year with an annual median salary of $97,180. Construction managers are responsible for supervising construction projects, planning, budgeting (cost estimation), and coordinating.

Electrical and electronic repair workers

Just like construction, electrical works and electronics is a lucrative blue-collar field. So much of industry, technology, and even medicine and education rely on electricity. It is no wonder that people who work as electrical repair personnel, such as electrical power line installers and repairers, have great value to the community. People know exactly how much they are worth.

To become an electrical and electronics repair technician, all you need is a high school diploma and some special training or apprenticeship. You can earn as much as $102,000 median annual salary inspecting, testing, repairing, and maintaining electrical equipment in power generating stations.

Farmer or rancher

Everybody needs to eat. All of our food is sourced from farms, either as raw materials for processing or market produce. As such, everybody’s daily sustenance depends on farmers. That is probably why gardening is a popular hobby, and farming will always be “in.”

While it may not apply to farm laborers who may still earn the minimum hourly, farmers who plan, direct and manage farms, ranches, nurseries, aquaculture, or other agricultural operations can have an annual take-home pay of as much as $132,760, with a median annual salary of $76,810 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Bartender

On average, bartenders only earn a median annual salary of about $25,000 annually as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the total take-home pay can be anywhere from $45,000 to $75,000 if you include tips. In larger cities that have bigger and wealthier populations, paired with an excellent work ethic and outstanding customer service, that means that it is totally possible to breach six figures with bartending.

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Police officer

If you like the idea of having a higher calling in your job, a good blue-collar occupation is law enforcement. Police officers are responsible for protecting the lives and property of those within their communities, so they are usually well-respected and looked up to by members of the community.

To reward this dedication of risking your own safety for that of others, governments make sure that their police officers are well-compensated. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, police officers can earn as much as $105,230 a year with a median annual salary of $67,290. 

In-N-Out Manager

Fast Food managers do not easily come to mind when you think about jobs that pay six-figure incomes. However, some chains like the In-N-Out are known to pay their employees well. Workers begin with an hourly wage of $13, and everyone has a chance to rise into managerial ranks even without a degree.

Managers in this famous burger chain earn as much as $160,000. As a testament to how well the chain treats its employees, they also offer other benefits like healthcare plans, paid vacations, and 401Ks.

Oil rig workers

Oil rigs have workers with various educational achievements. Geologists and engineers are understandably people with Bachelor’s degrees, but they are not the only ones employed by oil rigs. 

Foremen, drillers, and oil rig managers are usually positions that place more importance on skill than diplomas. Still, they earn roughly six figures per year due to the nature of the job. Working in oil rigs can be lonely, exhausting, and risky, with several oil rigs reporting fatality rates as high as 17.7 per 100,000 compared to the national average of 3.4 per 100,000.

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