High-Paying Manual Labor Jobs To Consider In 2023

In today’s economy, finding a well-paying job without a college degree can be challenging. However, there are still many opportunities in manual labor that offer competitive wages and good benefits. If you don’t mind working with your hands and have the physical stamina for physically demanding work, a career in manual labor may be right for you.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Skilled trades like electricians, plumbers, and HVAC technicians are some of the highest paying manual labor jobs, with average salaries of $50,000 to $80,000 per year.

In this article, we will explore some of the best manual labor jobs that require little to no college education yet pay over $40,000 per year on average. We will look at salaries, job outlook, and steps to get started in each field.

Whether you are looking for a first career or want to switch to a better paying blue-collar job, read on to find out which manual labor roles offer the best opportunities today.

Construction Jobs

When it comes to high-paying manual labor jobs, the construction industry offers a wide range of opportunities. Skilled workers in this field play a crucial role in building our cities and infrastructure. Here are some lucrative construction jobs to consider in 2023:


Electricians are in high demand in the construction industry due to the increasing complexity of electrical systems in modern buildings. They are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical wiring and components.

Electricians need a combination of technical knowledge, problem-solving skills, and attention to detail. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for electricians was $56,180 in 2020, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $98,720 per year.

To learn more about becoming an electrician, you can visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.


Plumbers are essential in the construction industry, as they install and repair water supply lines, drainage systems, and fixtures. With the growing population and urbanization, the demand for skilled plumbers is expected to remain strong.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for plumbers was $56,330 in 2020, with the top earners making over $97,170 per year. If you enjoy problem-solving and working with your hands, a career as a plumber can be both financially rewarding and fulfilling.

For more information on becoming a plumber, you can visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

HVAC Technicians

HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) technicians are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing heating and cooling systems in buildings. With the increasing focus on energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, the demand for skilled HVAC technicians is on the rise.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for HVAC technicians was $50,590 in 2020, with the top 10 percent earning more than $80,820 per year. If you have a knack for troubleshooting and enjoy working in a variety of settings, a career as an HVAC technician can be a promising choice.

To explore more about HVAC technician careers, you can visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

These high-paying construction jobs offer not only financial stability but also opportunities for growth and advancement. By honing your skills and staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends, you can carve a successful career in the construction field.

So, if you’re looking for a manual labor job that pays well and provides job security, consider exploring the construction industry.

Equipment Operators

When it comes to high-paying manual labor jobs in 2023, equipment operators are in high demand. These skilled professionals are responsible for operating heavy machinery and equipment, ensuring that construction projects run smoothly and efficiently.

Equipment operators play a crucial role in various industries, including construction, manufacturing, and transportation.

Crane Operators

Crane operators are highly sought after in the construction industry. They operate large cranes to lift and move heavy materials and equipment on construction sites. This job requires precision, skill, and a strong understanding of safety protocols.

Crane operators are responsible for ensuring that loads are properly secured and that all operations are carried out safely.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for crane operators was $55,810 in 2020. With the increasing demand for construction projects in the coming years, the need for skilled crane operators is expected to rise.

Training and certification programs are available for individuals interested in pursuing a career as a crane operator.

Excavator Operators

Excavator operators are responsible for operating excavators, which are used to dig trenches, foundations, and other excavations on construction sites. They also handle the transportation and placement of materials using the excavator’s bucket or other attachments.

Excavator operators need to have good hand-eye coordination and a strong understanding of excavation techniques.

The demand for excavator operators is expected to grow in the coming years due to increased construction and infrastructure projects. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual wage for excavating and loading machine operators was $46,990 in 2020.

This high-paying job offers opportunities for career advancement and specialization.

Forklift Operators

Forklift operators are responsible for operating forklifts to move and transport materials in warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and construction sites. They load and unload trucks, stack pallets, and organize materials in an efficient and safe manner.

Forklift operators need to have good spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination, and a strong focus on safety.

The demand for forklift operators is expected to remain steady in the coming years, as these professionals play a vital role in logistics and supply chain operations. According to the Occupational Employment Statistics, forklift operators earned a median hourly wage of $17.84 in 2020.

With experience and additional certifications, forklift operators can increase their earning potential.

Transportation Jobs

Truck Drivers

Truck driving is a high-paying manual labor job that continues to be in high demand. With the growth of e-commerce and online shopping, the need for truck drivers to transport goods across the country has skyrocketed.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers was $45,260 in 2020, with the top 10% earning more than $66,840 per year. Additionally, truck drivers often enjoy the freedom of the open road and the opportunity to explore different parts of the country.

Delivery Drivers

Delivery drivers play a crucial role in ensuring that goods reach their intended destinations in a timely manner. From food delivery to package delivery, these individuals are responsible for transporting items directly to customers.

With the rise of online shopping and the convenience of home delivery, the demand for delivery drivers has grown significantly. Many companies offer competitive pay and flexible schedules to attract and retain talented individuals.

Delivery drivers can earn an hourly wage, plus tips in some cases, making it a potentially lucrative career option.

Railroad Workers

Railroad workers are an integral part of the transportation industry, responsible for operating and maintaining trains and railway infrastructure. From locomotive engineers to conductors and track maintenance workers, there are various roles within the railroad sector.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, the average annual wage for railroad workers in 2020 was $64,920. This industry offers stable employment opportunities with the possibility of advancement.

Additionally, railroad workers often enjoy the opportunity to travel and see different parts of the country while on the job.

For more information on transportation jobs and career opportunities, you can visit the official website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the Federal Railroad Administration.

Skilled Trade Apprenticeships

Skilled trade apprenticeships offer a promising career path for individuals looking for high-paying manual labor jobs in 2023. These apprenticeships provide hands-on training and experience in specific trades, allowing individuals to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their chosen field.

With the demand for skilled labor expected to rise in the coming years, apprenticeships in carpentry, masonry, and welding are excellent options to consider.


Carpentry apprenticeships provide individuals with the opportunity to master the craft of woodworking and construction. As an apprentice carpenter, you will learn how to read blueprints, measure and cut materials, install fixtures and fittings, and build structures from the ground up.

Carpenters are in high demand in various industries, including residential and commercial construction, remodeling, and furniture making. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for carpenters was $48,330 in 2020, with opportunities for advancement and higher pay as skills and experience increase.


Masonry apprenticeships focus on the art of building or repairing structures using materials such as brick, stone, and concrete. Masons are responsible for constructing walls, chimneys, patios, and other structures that require durability and aesthetic appeal.

During the apprenticeship, individuals will learn how to mix mortar, lay bricks, and use specialized tools and equipment. The demand for skilled masons is expected to grow due to the increasing need for infrastructure development and restoration.

The median annual wage for masons was $47,710 in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Welding apprenticeships provide individuals with the skills necessary to join and manipulate metal parts for various applications. As a welder, you will learn different welding techniques, such as arc welding, MIG welding, and TIG welding.

Welders are employed in industries such as manufacturing, construction, and transportation, where their expertise is essential for creating and repairing metal structures and equipment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median annual wage of $44,190 for welders in 2020, with opportunities for higher pay in specialized areas such as underwater welding or pipeline welding.

It’s important to note that while skilled trade apprenticeships may require physical labor and demanding work conditions, they offer rewarding careers and the potential for long-term success. These apprenticeships provide individuals with practical skills that are highly sought after in the job market, offering stability and competitive wages.

If you enjoy working with your hands, have a passion for craftsmanship, and are looking for a high-paying manual labor job, consider exploring skilled trade apprenticeships in carpentry, masonry, and welding.

Steps to Start a Manual Labor Career

Research Job Options in Your Area

If you are considering a career in manual labor, the first step is to research the job options available in your area. Manual labor jobs can vary greatly, ranging from construction and carpentry to plumbing and electrical work.

By identifying the different types of manual labor jobs available, you can get a better understanding of the skills and qualifications required for each position. Websites like Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provide valuable information on job outlook, average salaries, and the required education or training for various manual labor careers.

This research will help you make an informed decision about which career path aligns with your interests and goals.

Get Required Licenses or Certifications

Once you have identified the manual labor career you want to pursue, it is crucial to determine if any licenses or certifications are required. Many manual labor jobs, such as electrician or plumber, require specific certifications to ensure that workers have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform the job safely and effectively.

Research the licensing requirements in your area and find out where and how to obtain the necessary certifications. This might involve completing an apprenticeship program or attending vocational schools.

It is important to invest time and effort into obtaining these credentials as they enhance your credibility and make you a more competitive candidate in the job market.

Apply to Jobs and Apprenticeships

With the right research and necessary certifications in hand, it is time to start applying for manual labor jobs and apprenticeships. Networking can be incredibly helpful in finding job opportunities in this field.

Reach out to trade organizations, attend job fairs, and connect with professionals already working in the industry. Additionally, check job boards, both online and offline, that advertise manual labor positions.

Craft a well-written resume that highlights your relevant skills and experiences, and customize it to align with each job application. Remember, persistence and determination are key when starting a manual labor career, so don’t get discouraged if you face rejections along the way.

Keep applying, continue honing your skills, and eventually, you will land a rewarding job in the manual labor industry.


While manual labor jobs are physically demanding, they can be a great option for those seeking good wages without a college degree. Skilled trades like electrician, plumber, and HVAC technician are some of the highest paying roles, often with salaries of $50,000 or more.

With an aging workforce in many manual labor fields, the job outlook is strong for the next decade. If you are willing to work hard and learn a skilled trade, there are ample opportunities to make a good living and have job stability without student loan debt.

Just be sure to research which jobs are most in demand in your area and take steps to get the proper training and licenses. With the right preparation, you can have a successful and lucrative career in many types of manual labor.

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