15 Blue Collar Jobs That Make at Least $100k A Year

Stephanie Allen

working in a warehouse

There’s a long-standing belief that the best path to a six-figure salary is attending college and earning a bachelor’s degree or higher. While this may be the path for some high earners, it’s not necessarily true for everyone. 

Blue-collar careers don’t require a four-year college degree yet pay over $100,000 a year. Some of these jobs may come as a surprise and give you some ideas about changing occupations, 

1. Air Traffic Controller

Air Traffic Controller
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Air traffic controllers manage and guide airline traffic to ensure its safety. This is a high-stress position with a lot of responsibility, but the compensation is quite good. 

An associate’s degree is required to become an air traffic controller, and the median annual salary is $137,380. Thismay be your career if you can keep your cool under pressure. 

2. Aircraft Maintenance Mechanic

BANGKOK THAILAND - DEC 2022 : Don-Mueang International, Lavatory service vehicles for emptying and refilling lavatories onboard aircraft on duty in ground handling services
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If the field of aviation appeals to you, but being in an air traffic control tower doesn’t, there’s the job of an aircraft maintenance mechanic. As the title implies, these experts are responsible for maintaining and repairing aircraft. 

They diagnose problems, replace worn-out and defective parts, and inspect and test completed work to ensure it meets safety requirements. The highest salary range for this job is $101,249.

3. Construction and Building Inspector

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Construction and building inspectors ensure the safety of projects under construction and existing structures to confirm they’re safe and up to code. They inspect commercial buildings, houses, bridges, streets, and dams. 

They also inspect water, sewer, and plumbing systems, as well as heating, electrical, ventilation, refrigeration, and air conditioning systems. Training and certification are typically required, and the highest earners can earn as much as $106,200 a year.

4. Construction Manager

Construction Manager
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The building trades tend to be higher-paying blue-collar jobs, and construction manager is no exception. Construction managers are also known as project managers or general contractors. 

These workers use their expertise to manage construction projects, such as bridges, houses, and commercial facilities. The median salary for this occupation is $104,900 per year, with 25% of construction managers earning up to $135,550 and 10% making upwards of $172,040. 

5. Electrical Power-Line Installer and Repairer

Power Distributor
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People with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering can work for the federal government, making $104,440 a year. Electrical power-line installers and repairers work on the power grid.

Working with high-voltage equipment poses risks, and it requires a certain degree of courage. 

6. Electric Power Plant Operator

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Electric power plant operators are in different from nuclear power plant operators, but the pay is still competitive. They work with machines that generate electricity for consumer use. 

Workers usually need a high school diploma to enter the field and complete extensive on-the-job training. The median annual wage for this career is $97,010, with the highest earning between $106,780 and $123,120. 

7. Elevator and Escalator Installation and Repair

Elevator Repairer
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One of the most unheralded but crucial occupations are elevator and escalator installation and repair technicians. They install, maintain, and repair elevators and escalators to ensure they work correctly. 

Technicians must have a high school diploma and complete an apprenticeship program. It’s an excellent tradeoff for a median salary of $102,420 per year. 

8. Farmers, Ranchers, and Agricultural Managers

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Working on a farm isn’t the easiest of occupations, but it’s potentially lucrative if you don’t mind hard work. Farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers grow crops and raise livestock. 

Most of the work is hands-on, but there are opportunities to manage and supervise other workers. The 2023 median annual salary is $83.770; the highest 10 percent of workers earn more than $136,410.

9. Fire Inspector and Investigator 

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Fire inspectors proactively check buildings such as commercial properties, houses, and facilities storing hazardous materials to ensure regulatory compliance. Their duties include testing fire warning and prevention equipment. 

Fire investigators typically investigate the scenes of fires to determine their cause, collecting and analyzing evidence and interviewing witnesses. Inspectors and investigators generally have a background in firefighting or a similar job. The highest-paid professionals have an annual salary of $137,220.

10. Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

Nuclear Power
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Nuclear power plant operators are some of the highest-earning blue-collar workers. Their yearly median income is $120,350, and they have the potential to make as much as $151,980. To enter the field, an associate’s degree and on-the-job training are typically required.

The duties of a nuclear power plant operator include operating nuclear reactors and equipment and logging data. Problem management skills are needed to resolve any issues that arise. 

11. Oil Rig Operator

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Working on an oil rig isn’t an easy job. It involves a lot of physical labor, long hours, working in isolation, and accepting a certain degree of danger. 

Oil rig operators set up and operate the equipment for each oil well. The duties may vary depending on what tasks need to be completed. As of 2023, the annual median pay for oil rig operators is $117,617. 

12. Police Officers and Detectives

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If you’ve dreamed of a career in law enforcement, there’s always a demand for police officers and detectives. As of 2023, the highest 10 percent of police officers and detectives earn more than $117,100.

Not all law enforcement positions demand a college degree, but a high school diploma is needed. Age, fitness, and background check requirements must be met, as well as completing pre-employment training. 

13. Postmaster and Mail Superintendent

Handsome young postman putting letter in mail box outdoors
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Jobs with the federal government are excellent careers, providing job security, competitive pay, and above-average benefits. Mail service is always needed, making the job of postmaster and mail superintendent all the more appealing. 

Postmasters and mail superintendents are the U.S. Postal Service's administrators who manage postal workers' activities. The median salary for these positions is $88,670, but it can go as high as $104,940. 

14. Pile Driver Operators

Pile Driver Operators
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Pile driver operators use the machines to drive pilings into structure foundations like bridges, docks, and buildings. They’re a crucial part of any construction team of builders. 

Pile driver operators work on land, in the water, and the harshest weather conditions. While the median annual salary for a pile driver operator is $63,550, the top wage earners make $109,030. 

15. Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers

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The supervisors of mechanics, installers, and repairers manage the staff that works under them. They also coordinate the tasks they have to carry out. 

They also advise and recommend products and services to customers. The highest 10% of earners have an annual salary of $118,980. 

15 Lucrative Jobs Making Over $100K Without a College Degree

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The tide has turned on higher education. Student debt is the financial albatross that dominates TikTok and Wall Street Journal headlines alike, and the idea of working nine-to-five cubicle jobs is just not very…Millennial. Generation Z could embody a backlash against the established norm, with some calling them the “toolbelt generation.” Many young bucks seem to recognize that the hard skills learned in trade school can provide professional fulfillment and financial freedom without much debt, if any.

15 Lucrative Jobs Making Over $100K Without a College Degree

Beyond the 9-to-5: 13 Odd Jobs That’ll Shock You With Their Pay

Video Game Tester
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Gone are the days when a traditional 9-to-5 job was the only way to make decent money. The world is full of unique and surprising opportunities that can lead to high-paying gigs. In this article, we'll examine 13 odd jobs that may shock you with their pay. These jobs offer high salaries and provide exciting and unconventional work experiences.

Beyond the 9-to-5: 13 Odd Jobs That’ll Shock You With Their Pay

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