Trade jobs are crucial to the success of any economy. Apart from the fact that they offer competitive salaries and opportunities for career growth, they are also appealing because they don’t necessarily require a college or university education.
However, because so many occupations are considered blue-collar trade jobs, it can be challenging to choose among the available options, especially for those who don’t have any frame of reference to filter by.
If you want to pursue a career in these fields but need help deciding which one is right, the list below should help. Here we have highlighted 15 of the most appealing and highest-paying trade jobs and a few notes on what makes them special.
What is a Blue-Collar Trade Job?
Blue-collar trade jobs don’t necessarily require a college or university education. This does not mean that those who aspire to pursue these professions cannot choose to go to college. They definitely can.
Instead, it means that a college degree is unnecessary, as the jobs are primarily skill-based. And to acquire these skills, students only need to complete apprenticeship programs and receive training on the job.
Blue-collar trade jobs require a great deal of hands-on practical training, so apprenticeship programs are often better placed to train anyone interested in the profession. An advantage of apprenticeship programs over college programs is that apprenticeship programs, unlike college programs, tend to pair students with professionals who have already attained a higher level in the field so that they receive real-time training and supervision in a functional work environment.
Top 15 Highest-Paying Blue-Collar Trade Jobs
1. Electric Lineman
Electric linemen, or power line technicians, have an incredibly exhilarating job, as they work at heights for a significant part of the day. They install, maintain, and repair equipment that makes our electricity possible here.
Aspiring electric linemen can expect to earn an average salary of $85,000. Requirements include a high school diploma/GED, three years of apprenticeship, and professional certification.
2. Construction Inspector
Naturally, most construction inspectors spend most of their time on construction sites. They ensure critical aspects of the construction process, such as plumbing and electrical, are going as they should.
Construction inspectors earn an average salary of $57,500 and can start practicing through on-the-job training so long as they can obtain a state license.
3. Locomotive Engineer
Locomotive or train engineers are in charge of the mechanical aspects of running diesel-electric or battery-powered trains.
Requirements include on-the-job training, a certification program, and a hearing and vision test. An aspiring locomotive engineer can earn an average salary of around $58,438 annually.
4. Gas Plant Operator
A gas plant operator is responsible for producing, storing, and transporting different types of gas. To become a gas plant operator, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent. It also helps to obtain formal education from an accredited training program and a state license.
The average salary for gas plant Operators is $77,805.
5. Power Plant Operator
Power plants require complex machinery to function appropriately. Those responsible for maintaining these machinery are known as power plant operators. They constantly inspect pertinent indicators such as meters and gauges to ensure electricity flows correctly.
To become a power plant operator, an individual must possess a high school diploma or GED and, optionally, a vocational school degree.
6. Elevator Mechanic
An elevator mechanic repairs and installs elevators. To do this at a high level, you must be comfortable working at heights. For their efforts, elevator mechanics take home about $99,500 every year.
Requirements include completing a four-year apprenticeship program, obtaining a state license, and possessing a high school diploma or GED.
7. Aircraft Technician
Aircraft technicians carry out maintenance and repair activities on aircraft. To do this, they must be able to work with specialized diagnostic equipment.
Aspiring aircraft technicians can expect to earn an average salary of $68,500. Requirements include attending a part 147 FAA-approved aviation maintenance technician school and on-the-job training.
As a boilermaker, your job description will always involve working with boilers and large containers. Boilermakers may work in factories, buildings, or ships. The job is labor intensive and requires strong stamina.
The average salary for boilermakers is $61,000, and requirements include a high school diploma or its equivalent, a state license, and completing a four-year apprenticeship ship program.
9. HVAC Technician
HVAC Technicians install, maintain, and repair heating, ventilation, and air conditioner systems. While HVAC technicians may choose to acquire their skills through a college or vocational school program, most choose the apprenticeship route.
The average salary for HVAC technicians is $45,000. A high school diploma or its equivalent is often a requirement.
10. Real Estate Appraiser
Real Estate Appraiser estimates the value of real estate properties. Naturally, a real estate appraiser will have to work with other people a lot, so strong communication and interpersonal skills are needed to succeed on the job.
Real estate appraisers earn an average salary of $58,500 per year. While a bachelor’s degree is not necessary to become one, it is often recommended.
11. Radiation Therapist
A radiation therapist helps treat cancer and other diseases that can be treated through radiation therapy. Along with the technical knowledge needed to work with radiation machines, radiation therapists must also possess solid communication and interpersonal skills.
Aspiring radiation therapists can expect to earn an average salary of $68,500.
An electrician works with electrical systems, maintaining and repairing crucial components. You can expect to earn about $56,000 annually. You may have to attend a technical school and complete four years of apprenticeship. A state license is often necessary to perform specific tasks.
13. Structural Iron and Steel Worker
As a structural iron and steel worker, you will mainly fabricate steel and sheet metal for buildings, fences, dams, towers, and bridge construction.
For their troubles, structural iron and steel workers earn an average salary of $58,431 every year. Anyone interested in pursuing a career in the field must possess a high school diploma or GED and be ready to complete an apprenticeship program that may last four years.
For short, industrial mechanics, or millwrights, work with machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites. The average salary for millwrights is $65,500. All you’d need to become one is to acquire on-the-job training.
15. Ultrasound Technologist
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, or ultrasound technologists, are trained to use sonography machines or ultrasounds to conduct essential tests on patients in a non-invasive manner. In contrast, there are a lot of different specializations in the field; an ultrasound technologist can expect to earn an average salary of $62,500.