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Blue-collar jobs got their name from the dark shirts that manual laborers wore in the early 20th century, which hid dirt better than the white shirts their office-working counterparts sported.
In recent years, with the cost of college escalating, there has been a renewed focus on blue-collar positions. Case in point: Justin Friend, a welder with a two-year degree who was earning $140,000 a year from his job in 2017.
“Not everybody needs a four-year college degree,” his mother told the Wall Street Journal.
With that in mind, MarketWatch dug into blue-collar jobs that pay extremely well and put together the list below.
Can you truly land a job that lets you get your hands dirty and earn six figures? While they may not all be what you might consider “manual labor,” most do not require you to have a traditional four-year college degree. Learn what these high-paying, hands-on jobs entail.
1. Oil Rig Workers
Working on an oil rig can be a lonely and even dangerous job, but there is money to be made. On-the-job experience can give you a leg up.
As of January 2022, ZipRecruiter wrote that top earners in this field are making $130,000 annually. In 2017, this position also made the list of the 10 happiest high-paying jobs on Career Bliss.
2. Police Officers
Protecting and serving the public as a police officer or detective is possible in many locations with a high school diploma, although candidates also go through specialized training at a police academy. As of May 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the median annual wage for police officers was $65,540, but the highest 10% earned $113,860.
3. Contractors And Construction Managers
Although some employers prefer to hire construction managers who have bachelor’s degrees, many people with associate’s degrees or even high school diplomas and extensive experience can attain these positions or become self-employed contractors. Top earners bring in more than $169,070, according to the latest data from the BLS.
Who knows? Maybe you could even land a show on HGTV.
4. Farmers And Ranchers
If the idea of working the land and growing food speaks to you, farming or ranching could be your dream job. Be prepared to work your way to the top, as the BLS states that most agricultural managers have at least a high school diploma and lots of experience, and an agriculture degree is increasingly important in this field (no pun intended.) It may be worth it, though, as the highest 10% in this category earned more than $130,760 as of 2020.
Anyone who has ever tended bar will tell you that the pay is not what makes this a worthwhile job. In fact, according to the BLS, the median pay for bartenders in 2020 was $12 per hour or just under $25,000 per year. However, if you have excellent people skills, mix a mean drink and can land a gig at the right venue, you can rake in the tips. While $100,000 a year may not be the norm, it is possible. Not bad for a job that requires no formal education.
As you can see, there are special considerations and qualifications you would need to meet if you hope to land any blue collar job that pays $100,000 or more. However, if you have the skills and training plus the right connections, it is definitely a possibility.