30 blue-collar jobs with the highest salaries

  • Some traditionally blue-collar jobs pay very well.
  • BLS has data for jobs typically viewed as blue-collar, such as construction and extraction occupations.
  • Here are the 30 blue-collar jobs that have the highest median salaries as of May 2020. 
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

30. Commercial and industrial equipment electrical and electronics repairers had a median annual salary of $62,010, and 55,200 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Repair, test, adjust, or install electronic equipment, such as industrial controls, transmitters, and antennas.

29. First-line supervisors of production and operating workers had a median annual salary of $62,850, and 599,900 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Supervise production workers and machine operators.

28. Construction and building inspectors had a median annual salary of $62,860, and 113,770 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Inspect buildings and other structures to make sure they are in safe condition and comply with building codes and other regulations.

27. Occupational therapy assistants had a median annual salary of $62,940, and 42,750 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Assist occupational therapists in treatments and other procedures.

26. Pile-driver operators had a median annual salary of $63,370, and 3,820 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Operate pile-drivers that install piles for building foundations and other construction projects.

25. Wood model makers had a median annual salary of $64,050, and 800 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Construct full-size and scale wooden precision models of products.

24. Fire inspectors and investigators had a median annual salary of $64,610, and 14,010 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Inspect buildings for fire hazards and to enforce fire ordinances, or investigate fires to find their causes.

23. Stationary engineers and boiler operators had a median annual salary of $64,680, and 29,550 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Operate boilers or similar machinery to provide heat or other utilities to buildings or for industrial processes.

22. Wood patternmakers had a median annual salary of $65,120, and 190 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Plan and make wooden patterns for forming sand molds for castings.

21. Boilermakers had a median annual salary of $65,360, and 14,020 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Build and maintain steam boilers and related equipment.

20. Police and sheriff's patrol officers had a median annual salary of $65,540, and 654,900 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Patrol a designated area to enforce laws and prevent crime.

19. Chemical plant and system operators had a median annual salary of $65,960, and 29,710 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Control chemical processes or operate machinery that regulates chemical reactions.

18. Aircraft mechanics and service technicians had a median annual salary of $66,440, and 128,300 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Repair and maintain aircraft and their engines.

17. Avionics technicians had a median annual salary of $67,840, and 21,390 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Repair and maintain avionics systems on aircraft, like radios, radar, and guidance systems.

16. First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers had a median annual salary of $67,840, and 614,080 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Supervise construction or extraction workers.

15. Electrical transportation equipment installers and repairers had a median annual salary of $70,200, and 10,390 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Install or repair electronics equipment for trains or other vehicles.

14. First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers, and repairers had a median annual salary of $70,240, and 475,000 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Supervise mechanics, installers, or repairers.

13. Transit and railroad police had a median annual salary of $72,580, and 3,800 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Protect transit equipment, employees, and passengers.

12. Gas plant operators had a median annual salary of $72,970, and 14,990 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Operate equipment that distributes natural gas for power plants and other utilities.

11. Electrical power-line installers and repairers had a median annual salary of $75,030, and 114,930 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Install and repair electrical lines for power distribution systems.

10. Signal and track switch repairers had a median annual salary of $76,210, and 7,250 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Repair and maintain the signal and track-switching equipment that guides trains in railroad systems.

9. Petroleum pump system operators, refinery operators, and gaugers had a median annual salary of $78,840, and 40,480 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Operate oil refining and pumping systems.

8. First-line supervisors of fire-fighting and prevention workers had a median annual salary of $78,870, and 69,000 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Supervise fire fighters and other fire prevention workers.

7. Power plant operators had a median annual salary of $84,650, and 32,960 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Operate electrical power generation equipment.

6. Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers had a median annual salary of $85,340, and 23,070 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Maintain and repair electrical equipment in power plants, substations, or other electrical distribution facilities.

5. Detectives and criminal investigators had a median annual salary of $86,940, and 105,980 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Run investigations to solve criminal cases or prevent crimes.

4. Elevator and escalator installers and repairers had a median annual salary of $88,540, and 24,730 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Install, repair, and maintain freight and passenger elevators in buildings.

3. First-line supervisors of police and detectives had a median annual salary of $92,970, and 122,310 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Supervise members of a police force.

2. Power distributors and dispatchers had a median annual salary of $95,100, and 9,940 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Operate equipment that distributes electrical power or steam.

1. Nuclear power reactor operators had a median annual salary of $104,040, and 5,310 were employed in the US.

What they do, according to O*NET: Operate and maintain nuclear reactors in power plants.

Method and data source

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program releases annual estimates for employment and earnings for hundreds of detailed occupational groups. Using data from May 2020, the most recent period available, we found 30 traditionally blue-collar jobs with high median annual earnings.

All of the jobs on the list earned more than $60,000 in 2020, above the overall median annual earning of $41,950. Some of the jobs are operators and first-line supervisors of different sectors. 

There isn’t really a formal definition for what makes a job “blue collar,” so to make our list, we looked at seven of the major groups defined by the BLS that are predominantly made up of traditionally working-class or blue-collar occupations: Healthcare support, protective service, food preparation and serving, building and grounds cleaning and maintenance, construction and extraction, installation, maintenance, and repair, and production occupations.

The above slides are the 30 occupations from those groups that had the highest median annual earnings in 2020, along with the number of people employed in the US in each job and a description of what workers in the occupation do, according to the Labor Department’s O*NET Online jobs database.

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