14 Blue-Collar Jobs That Pay at Least $75,000 a Year

Discover the surprising blue-collar careers breaking income barriers.

happy male electrician fixing airplane turbines
Updated May 28, 2024
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Sitting in an office working a typical 9 to 5 isn’t for everyone. Fortunately, there are blue-collar jobs that pay enough to help you get ahead financially.

Blue-collar jobs tend to involve manual labor or trade skills which means a college degree isn’t always necessary, but you may still need an apprenticeship or trade school experience.

So check out these blue-collar jobs that pay at least $75,000 a year. All salary figures come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Radiation therapist

Valerii Apetroaiei/Adobe doctors preparing woman for radiation therapy

A radiation therapist administers radiation treatments to patients who have cancer or other medical conditions. You usually need an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy, and many states require you to be licensed or certified to work in that state.

As a radiation therapist, you can really boost your bank account: Workers in this job earn a median annual salary of $89,530.

Mail superintendent

jetcityimage/Adobe usps post office location

A mail superintendent coordinates operational, management, and support services for the U.S. Postal Service, usually at a specific post office location. You might also coordinate work and workers at particular post offices.

These workers earn a median annual wage of $82,760.

Power plant operator

CandyRetriever/Adobe engineers discussing work inside control room

Power plant operators are responsible for controlling the systems used by power plants to generate and distribute electricity. You can get on-the-job training to be a plant operator even if your highest education level is a high school diploma.

Power plant operators earn a median annual wage of $97,570.

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Construction manager

bannafarsai/Adobe Engineers discussing architectural plan at construction site.

A construction manager is responsible for planning construction projects. Someone in this role might coordinate personnel and materials, oversee a project budget, or supervise a construction project from beginning to end.

You usually need a bachelor’s degree for the position. Construction managers earn a median annual wage of $101,480.

Elevator and escalator installer

VIEWFOTO STUDIO/Adobe skilled male technician fixing elevator shaft

Elevator and escalator installer positions are specialized jobs that focus on installing, maintaining, and repairing elevators and escalators.

You can get an apprenticeship instead of a degree to train for this role. Most states require you to be licensed.

The median annual wage for an elevator or escalator installer is $99,000.

Transportation manager

InputUX/Adobe businesswoman standing with clipboard

Transportation managers are responsible for moving goods by planning and coordinating transportation for companies and organizations. You also may be responsible for the logistics of an organization.

Transportation managers earn a median annual wage of $98,560.

Dental hygienist

Drazen/Adobe female dentist assistant assisting senior patient

A dental hygienist assists dentists with the care of patients’ teeth. You may be responsible for preventative care such as cleanings, or you might help dentists identify issues such as gingivitis.

Dental hygienists usually need an associate’s degree and have to be licensed in the state they practice in.

The median annual wage for a dental hygienist is $81,400.

First-line supervisor of firefighting and prevention workers

Monkey Business/Adobe african american firefighter instructing team

First-line supervisors coordinate the activities of firefighters. They also develop fire prevention and control measures to reduce the risk of fires.

These workers make a median annual wage of $80,150. For comparison, a firefighter makes a median annual wage of $51,680.

Subway or streetcar operator

PaulShlykov/Adobe confident train driver besides bullet train

Subway and streetcar operators are responsible for operating trains throughout a transportation system, such as a local subway service or regional commuter service.

A subway or streetcar operator can make a median annual wage of $88,260.

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NewSaetiew DIMENSIONS/Adobe warehouse workers using tablet at work

A logistician is responsible for an organization’s supply chain. This type of worker coordinates and analyzes how products and services develop through a system from beginning to end.

You usually need a bachelor’s degree for the position. Logisticians earn a median annual wage of $77,520.

Electrical power-line installer

Prapat/Adobe skilled technician installing fiber optic system

Electrical power-line installers and repairers work in the field to install and repair cables or wires. The position can include serious hazards such as working with high-voltage electricity.

Workers in this job earn a median annual wage of $82,340.

Airline pilot

Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe pilot with flight attendants on board

Airline pilots are responsible for flying and navigating aviation transportation such as planes, helicopters, and other aircraft. You usually need a bachelor’s degree or military experience and flight training.

Airline pilots earn $148,900 in median annual wages.

Farmer and rancher

Zoran Zeremski/Adobe proud male farmer in soybean field

Farmers and ranchers are responsible for running agricultural organizations that produce food, livestock, or dairy products. You usually need a high school diploma and previous experience in the field to become a farmer or rancher.

Workers in this role earn a median annual wage of $75,760.


Maxim/Adobe suspected of drug smuggling

Detectives are responsible for investigating suspected crimes at a federal, state, or local level. Education requirements can vary. In some positions, you might need to attend a training academy and get on-the-job training.

Detectives earn a median annual wage of $86,280, which can help you move beyond living paycheck to paycheck.

Bottom line

Atelier 211/Adobe young apprentice working with professional metallurgist

Blue-collar jobs can be a great way to build wealth if you choose the right field.

So, consider some of the jobs on this list and look into an apprenticeship or trade school if you are ready to start working full-time in the field.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.