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40 Top-Paying Blue Collar Jobs

Anthony Balderrama, writer

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If you turn on the TV, you're probably going to see a character who has one of the following jobs: lawyer, doctor, criminal investigator or generic business professional who must wear a suit.

Not that we don't love those jobs (and those shows), but the media in general seem to forget about the millions of workers who are in other  fields. To give some coverage to other occupations, we decided to highlight 40 jobs that are in one of these industries: construction, maintenance, operations, production and material handling. These careers are typically considered blue-collar jobs and are some of the top-earning in each field.

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and, here are 40 top-paying blue-collar jobs and their mean annual salaries:

1. Aircraft mechanics: $54,506
2. Aircraft service technicians: $41,604
3. Boilermakers: $50,091
4. Brickmasons: $48,439
5. Carpet installers: $42,682
6. Chemical plant and system operators: $51,464
7. Construction and building inspectors: $51,815
8. Electricians: $55,188
9. Electrical and electronics installers and repairers, transportation and equipment: $44,450
10. Electrical and electronics repairers, commercial and industrial equipment: $49,260
11. Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse substation and relay: $60,700
12. Elevator installers and repairers: $66,642
13. First-line supervisors/managers of construction trades and extraction workers: $61,280
14. First-line supervisors/managers of mechanics, installers and repairers: $59,160
15. First-line supervisors/managers of transportation and material-moving machine and vehicle operators: $53,960
16. Gas plant operators: $64,608
17. Line installers and repairers: $54,300
18. Locomotive engineers: $70,116
19. Machinists: $49,626
20. Millwrights: $54,969
21. Mining machine operators: $45,570
22. Mobile heavy equipment mechanics, except engines: $44,300
23. Model maker, metal and plastic: $44,700
24. Nuclear power reactor operators: $73,510
25. Numerical tool and process control programmers: $46,360
26. Petroleum pump system operators, refinery operators and gaugers: $54,950
27. Power distributors and dispatchers: $58,401
28. Power plant operators: $74,061
29. Plumbers: $49,169
30. Radio and telecommunications equipment installers and repairers: $52,650
31. Rail car repairers: $44,981
32. Railroad brake, signal and switch operators: $49,400
33. Rail-track laying and maintenance equipment operators: $44,870
34. Ship and boat captains and operators: $67,730
35. Ship engineers: $50,754
36. Stationary engineers and boiler operators: $50,098
37. Structural iron and steel workers: $47,170
38. Subway and streetcar operators: $55,318
39. Tool and die makers: $48,180
40. Transportation inspectors: $46,984

Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for and its job blog, The Work Buzz. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow him on Twitter at

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Last Updated: 01/02/2010 - 4:19 PM

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