High Paying Blue-Collar Jobs That Earn Over $100,000

In today’s economy, high paying jobs are not limited to white-collar professions. There are many blue-collar roles that offer salaries exceeding $100,000 for workers with the right skills and experience.

If you’re looking for a well-compensated career that doesn’t require a college degree, read on to learn about some of the best options.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Some of the top-paying blue-collar jobs are airline pilots, transportation inspectors, power plant operators, elevator installers, and nuclear technicians, with average salaries over $100,000.

This article will provide an in-depth look at 5 lucrative blue-collar careers where seasoned professionals can earn over $100,000 per year. We’ll overview the job duties, education requirements, earning potential, and job outlook for each position.

Airline Pilots

Job Overview and Responsibilities

Airline pilots are responsible for safely operating aircraft to transport passengers and cargo to their destinations. They are in charge of all aspects of the flight, including pre-flight checks, takeoff, landing, and communicating with air traffic control.

Additionally, they must ensure the safety and comfort of passengers on board. Airline pilots often work in teams, with one pilot flying the plane while the other monitors instruments and communicates with air traffic control.

Education and Licensing Requirements

Becoming an airline pilot requires extensive training and education. Typically, pilots start by obtaining a private pilot’s license, followed by further training and flight hours to earn a commercial pilot’s license.

They also need to obtain an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, which requires a minimum number of flight hours and passing written and practical exams. In addition to these certifications, pilots must undergo regular medical exams to ensure they are physically and mentally fit to fly.

Average Salary and Job Outlook

Airline pilots are among the highest-paid blue-collar workers, with salaries exceeding $100,000 per year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers was $160,970 in May 2020.

However, it’s important to note that the salary of airline pilots can vary based on factors such as experience, type of aircraft flown, and the airline they work for. In terms of job outlook, the demand for airline pilots is expected to grow at a rate of 3% from 2020 to 2030, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Transportation Inspectors

Job Duties and Work Environment

Transportation inspectors play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and efficiency of our transportation systems. They are responsible for inspecting various modes of transportation, such as airplanes, trains, buses, and commercial vehicles, to ensure compliance with safety regulations.

These professionals conduct regular inspections, investigate accidents, and enforce regulations to prevent potential hazards. Transportation inspectors often work in the field, visiting different transportation facilities and conducting inspections both indoors and outdoors.

It is an exciting and challenging career that requires attention to detail and a strong commitment to safety.

Necessary Qualifications and Training

To become a transportation inspector, certain qualifications and training are necessary. Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent, although some may prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as engineering or transportation management.

Additionally, transportation inspectors must undergo specialized training to gain knowledge of safety regulations, inspection procedures, and investigative techniques. Some organizations offer certification programs that can enhance job prospects and demonstrate expertise in the field.

Strong communication and analytical skills are also essential for transportation inspectors to effectively communicate findings and write reports.

Salary Potential and Career Advancement

Transportation inspectors can earn a lucrative salary, with the potential to earn over $100,000 per year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for transportation inspectors was $77,180 in May 2020. However, top earners in this field can make well above this figure.

The salary can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and the specific industry. As transportation infrastructure continues to develop, the demand for qualified transportation inspectors is expected to grow.

With experience and additional training, transportation inspectors can advance to supervisory or managerial positions, leading inspection teams or overseeing safety and compliance programs. It’s a career path that offers both financial stability and the opportunity for professional growth.

If you are interested in learning more about transportation inspection careers, you can visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics website for detailed information and statistics on job outlook, salaries, and educational requirements.

Power Plant Operators

Daily Work Activities

Power plant operators are responsible for controlling and maintaining the machinery and equipment used in power generation. This includes monitoring and adjusting controls, reading meters and gauges, and performing regular maintenance tasks.

They also respond to alarms and emergencies, troubleshoot any issues that arise, and ensure that the power plant operates safely and efficiently. Power plant operators often work in control rooms, where they have access to a wide range of monitoring and control systems.

Education and Training Needed

To become a power plant operator, a high school diploma or equivalent is typically required. However, some employers may prefer candidates with postsecondary education in power plant technology or a related field.

Additionally, on-the-job training is provided for new operators to familiarize them with the specific equipment and procedures used in the power plant.

Salary and Job Outlook

Power plant operators earn a high salary, with the potential to earn over $100,000 per year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for power plant operators was $83,020 in May 2020.

The job outlook for power plant operators is expected to decline slightly in the coming years, primarily due to advancements in technology and a shift towards renewable energy sources. However, there will still be a need for operators to maintain and operate existing power plants.

Elevator Installers and Repairers

Overview of Role and Responsibilities

Elevator installers and repairers are highly skilled professionals who are responsible for assembling, installing, maintaining, and repairing elevators, escalators, and other lifting equipment. They work in a variety of settings, including residential and commercial buildings, hospitals, airports, and shopping malls.

Their primary goal is to ensure the safe and efficient operation of these vertical transportation systems. From inspecting and diagnosing problems to replacing faulty parts and conducting routine maintenance, elevator installers and repairers play a crucial role in keeping people and goods moving smoothly.

Apprenticeship Requirements

To become an elevator installer and repairer, individuals typically need to complete an apprenticeship program. These programs provide a combination of classroom instruction and on-the-job training, allowing aspiring professionals to develop the necessary skills and knowledge.

During the apprenticeship, individuals learn about electrical and mechanical systems, safety protocols, blueprint reading, and troubleshooting techniques. It usually takes about four years to complete an apprenticeship, although the exact duration may vary depending on the program and the individual’s progress.

Average Compensation and Career Prospects

Elevator installers and repairers enjoy excellent earning potential, with many professionals earning over $100,000 annually. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for elevator installers and repairers was $88,540 as of May 2020.

The top 10% of earners in this profession made more than $120,440 per year. In addition to competitive salaries, elevator installers and repairers often receive benefits such as healthcare coverage, retirement plans, and paid time off.

The demand for elevator installers and repairers is expected to grow in the coming years. As urbanization continues and buildings become taller and more complex, the need for skilled professionals to install and maintain elevators will rise.

Additionally, the aging infrastructure in many countries will require extensive repairs and upgrades, further fueling the demand for elevator installers and repairers. This makes it an excellent career choice for individuals looking to enter a stable and lucrative field.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming an elevator installer and repairer, you can visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics website for detailed information and resources.

Nuclear Technicians

Are you interested in a high-paying blue-collar job? Look no further than the field of nuclear technology. Nuclear technicians play a crucial role in the operation and maintenance of nuclear power plants, ensuring that they operate safely and efficiently.

Job Description and Work Setting

Nuclear technicians work under the supervision of nuclear engineers and scientists. They are responsible for monitoring and operating the equipment used in nuclear power plants. This includes conducting tests, collecting samples, and analyzing data to ensure that the plant is running smoothly and meeting all safety regulations.

Nuclear technicians often work in power plants, laboratories, or research facilities. They may be required to work in shifts, including nights and weekends, as nuclear power plants operate around the clock.

Required Education and Training

To become a nuclear technician, a high school diploma or equivalent is typically required. However, most employers prefer candidates who have completed an associate’s degree program in nuclear science or a related field.

These programs provide students with the necessary knowledge and skills to work in nuclear power plants.

In addition to formal education, nuclear technicians also receive on-the-job training. This training covers topics such as radiation safety, plant operations, and emergency procedures.

Salary Potential and Employment Outlook

One of the most appealing aspects of a career as a nuclear technician is the potential for high earnings. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for nuclear technicians was $82,080 in May 2020. Some technicians even earn over $100,000 per year.

The employment outlook for nuclear technicians is also positive. While the demand for nuclear power has remained relatively stable, there is a need for technicians to replace those who retire or leave the field.

This creates opportunities for individuals seeking a career in this high-paying blue-collar job.

If you’re interested in learning more about nuclear technology and becoming a nuclear technician, visit the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission website for further information.


While white-collar jobs tend to get more attention, there are many lucrative blue-collar roles like the ones profiled here. These positions offer the chance to earn a great living without having to work in an office or get a four-year degree.

With the right technical skills and field experience, blue-collar professionals can make over $100,000 doing hands-on, challenging work they enjoy.

For those willing to undertake intensive training and apprenticeships, blue-collar careers can provide excellent compensation along with job stability and solid future growth. By exploring these high-paying roles in-depth, you can find the right fit based on your interests, abilities and income goals.

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