No Degree? Here Are 10 of the Best Paying Blue-Collar Jobs

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A college education can help, but it's not the only way to sure financial footing. Check out these jobs in the trades and related areas that have the potential for solid salaries, without the student loan debt.

Although a four-year college degree is often touted as the first step to scoring a job that pays well, it’s not always required. Blue-collar jobs in industries like construction, maintenance, warehousing and technical installation often offer impressive salaries and an opportunity for workers to cultivate specialized skills.

“Though it may require self-employment, the support of a labor union and, in some cases, not a small amount of risk to your safety, you can earn over $100,000 at a traditionally blue-collar job,” MarketWatch explains.

Some blue-collar careers require short-term vocational or career training, but that’s typically much cheaper than ponying up the bucks required to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Many of the highest-paying blue-collar jobs “are in the trades,” said Rutgers public policy professor Carl Van Horn, speaking to MarketWatch.

Job analysis site CareerTrends, listed 10 of the highest paying blue-collar jobs in the United States, below. (Yes, there are some that pay even more, but this list includes only occupations with at least 10,000 full-time employees.):

  • Power distributor: $73,446
  • Elevator installer: $68,792
  • Powerhouse equipment installer: $67,128
  • Water vessel captain: $63,032
  • Power plant operator: $62,908
  • Power line installer: $62,094
  • Transportation inspector: $62,018
  • Landscape architect: $60,696
  • Gas plant operator: $59,388
  • Aerospace engineering technicians: $58,961

Click here to see CareerTrends’ list of the top 25 highest-paid blue-collar careers.

My dad had a blue-collar job as a railroad locomotive engineer, a position that earned itself  a spot (#22) on CareerTrends’ list. Though his work conditions were far from ideal – no set schedule, no set days off, being called to work at all hours of the day and night and being away from home a lot – he earned an impressive salary and he was able to provide for his wife and five children.

What do you think about the top-paying blue-collar jobs and their earning potential? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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