15 Blue-Collar Jobs That Pay at Least $60,000 a Year

Dive into the rewarding realm of skilled trades with substantial incomes.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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If college isn't the right fit for you — or you want to avoid pursuing a degree in a white-collar field where job prospects are dim — perhaps a blue-collar job is a better option.

Fortunately, plenty of blue-collar jobs that pay well are available. And many don't require you to pursue a typical four-year college degree.

Whether you're looking for a career change or an alternative to a college job that helps you move beyond living paycheck to paycheck, here are 15 blue-collar careers to consider.

All salary figures are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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Plumber, steamfitter, or pipefitter

grinny/Adobe Professional plumber repair

Median annual salary: $60,090

Plumbers, steamfitters, and pipefitters install, inspect, maintain, repair, and replace piping systems.

While some folks in these jobs deal with residential plumbing only, you may choose to work with commercial or industrial plumbing.

Although you might not be able to retire early on this salary, you can still earn a good living.

Surveyor

RTimages/Adobe An architect in construction gear surving a new building plot.

Median annual salary: $63,080

Surveyors precisely calculate property boundary lines prior to the start of construction work. The data they compile is crucial to engineering and construction projects.

A bachelor’s degree is typically required to become a surveyor.

Construction and building inspector

Brian/Adobe home inspector standing on a ladder

Median annual salary: $64,480

Construction and building inspectors verify that buildings are constructed safely and are up to code.

While the BLS expects job openings in this area to slip 2% over the decade ending in 2032, there should still be about 15,700 new jobs in the field each year.

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Water transportation worker

dusanpetkovic1/Adobe mechanic on his knees repairing the inside of a ship engine

Median annual salary: $66,100

Water transportation workers operate, oversee, and maintain water transportation vessels, such as container ships, ferries, cruise ships, and oil tankers.

You might also hear workers in this field referred to as “merchant mariners.”

Boilermaker

Bartek/Adobe merging metal and might

Median annual salary: $66,920

Boilermakers build, maintain, and repair boilers, which heat water and generate heat for residential and commercial buildings.

The best-paying boilermaker jobs are in the chemical manufacturing, petroleum and coal, and railway industries.

Railroad worker

PaulShlykov/Adobe confident train driver besides bullet train

Median annual salary: $68,960

Railroad workers include train drivers, those who coordinate train activities, and rail yard switch and signal operators.

You could work with freight trains, passenger trains, or both as a railroad worker.

Telecommunications technician

Joaquin Corbalan/Adobe checking a telecommunication tower connections

Median annual salary: $69,190

Telecommunications technicians repair and install crucial telecommunications equipment.

Depending on the job, this could include working with telephone lines, fiber optic cables, or radio towers.

Aircraft equipment mechanic or technician

Andrii.Adobe happy male electrician fixing airplane turbines

Median annual salary: $70,740

Aircraft equipment mechanics and technicians attend a Federal Aviation Administration-approved school and/or receive on-the-ground training to perform repairs and routine aircraft maintenance.

Landscape architect

pressmaster/Adobe landscape designers examine a model of city's layout.

Median annual salary: $73,210

Landscape architects help design outdoor spaces for government entities, homeowners, commercial businesses, and other clients.

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Gas plant operator

Grispb/Adobe employee of oil refinery

Median annual salary: $79,460

Gas plant operators help distribute or process gas for city utility companies and other entities.

Gas plant operators who work in chemical manufacturing tend to earn the highest salary (nearly $100,000) in this field. Those working in natural gas distribution and electric power generation typically earn above $80,000.

Transportation inspector

APchanel/Adobe checking work on railroad station

Median annual salary: $79,570

Transportation inspectors review cargo carried by trains, planes, boats, and trucks. They also help ensure the safe transportation of people.

You will make the most money in this field by working for the federal government, where your earnings can top $120,000.

Electrical power line installer

Prapat/Adobe skilled technician installing fiber optic system

Median annual salary: $82,340

Electrical power line installers install, repair, replace, and maintain electrical transmission towers and their corresponding elements.

You might erect poles, repair cables, and otherwise ensure the electrical infrastructure stays intact.

Streetcar or subway operator

Mulderphoto/Adobe female tram driver on workplace

Median annual salary: $88,260

Streetcar or subway operators help to keep public transportation moving.

Just keep in mind that not every city offers this form of transportation. So, job prospects will depend on where you live.

Power plant operator, dispatcher, or distributor

Gorodenkoff/Adobe project engineer talks to female operator

Median annual salary: $97,570

Electric power plant operators, dispatchers, and distributors are responsible for managing electric power systems.

While opportunities in this field are likely to decline over the next decade, the high salary and continued demand for electric energy could still make it a good career to consider.

Elevator and escalator installer or repairer

Kirill Gorlov/Adobe specialist adjusting lift mechanism in elevator shaft

Median annual salary: $99,000

Elevator and escalator installers and repairers can find themselves working anywhere from shopping malls to department stores.

These workers might also install and repair moving walkways like those in busy airports. The job pays well, which can help you build wealth over time.

Bottom line

gpointstudio/Adobe carpenter

Blue-collar jobs are more than just in high demand: Depending on the job and industry, they can also pay exceptionally well.

So, if you want to get ahead financially, consider pursuing one of the jobs on this list.

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Author Details

Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith has spent a decade writing for and about small businesses. She specializes in all things finance and has written for publications like G2 and SmallBizDaily. When she's not writing for work at her desk, you can usually find her writing for pleasure near large bodies of water.