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10 New Blue-Collar Jobs

Rachel Zupek, CareerBuilder.com writer

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In the old days, there were blue-collar workers and white-collar workers. These days, there are white-, blue-, green-, gold-, pink- and gray-collared workers, too. (Seriously.)

The problem with these classifications is that not only are they based on stereotypes but for the most part, they're inaccurate. Pink-collar workers, for example, supposedly work in jobs that have traditionally been considered female, like hairdressers, nannies and nurses. One can argue, however, that a significant percentage of these jobs are also occupied by men in today's work force. Gray collar allegedly classifies workers who work beyond typical retirement age (an allusion to gray hair?) and gold-collar workers are apparently young, low-wage employees who spend most of their paycheck on luxury items.

While today's labor force is a far cry from the segregated one that existed in the first half of the 20th century, worker classifications still exist. Perhaps the worst typecast group is blue-collar workers, often assumed to have poor education and minimal capabilities. In reality, these physically demanding jobs actually require extensive training and certifications and usually involve work that no one wants to do themselves.

Here are 10 blue-collar jobs that are following the ways of the world as technology, the environment and the population rapidly changes. These labor-intensive jobs offer decent (though not the highest) pay and job growth through 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some of them you might not have heard of -- but when you read the job requirements, you'll realize how often you utilize their work.


Landscaping and groundskeeping worker

Many homeowners can't find time to take care of their lawns and also desire to entertain outdoors in an attractive setting. Hence, groundskeeping workers remain vital to our work force. Salary: $10.22/hour; $21,260/year


Electronic home entertainment equipment installer/repairer

If you tried to lift or install the new 60-inch flat-screen TV you just purchased, you know it's not easy. Plus, such equipment isn't cheap, so buyers are willing to spend the extra money to have it professionally delivered and installed, or to get it fixed when it goes on the fritz. Salary: $14.42/hour; $29,980/year


Terrazzo worker and finisher

As people become as concerned with image as function, terrazzo finishers will continue applying decorative and attractive finishes to hallways, patios, floors and panels in households around the world. Salary: $15.21/hour; $31,630/year


Highway maintenance worker

Roads require constant maintenance, conforming to safety standards or repairing damaged roadways. Since cars don't seem like they'll fly anytime soon, maintenance workers will be around for a while. Salary: $15.67/hour; $32,600/year


Security and fire alarm systems installer

Though there was a 2.6 percent decrease in property crime in the first six months of 2007, according to the FBI, robbery, burglary and larceny-theft still pose a threat. To continue fighting crime, security and fire systems installers will work to ensure people feel safe in their homes. Salary: $16.73/hour; $34,810/year


Computer, automated teller and office machine repairer

Computers and office equipment are vital to the day-to-day activities in both business and home, like the convenience of banking and bill-paying online. These machines always need to be up and running and we need professional repairmen to make sure they are. Salary: $17.54/hour; $36,480/year


Tile and marble setter

Along with the population, businesses are growing, too. Tile and marble are becoming more popular for use in shopping malls, hospitals, schools and restaurants. These, along with other nontraditional housing materials, are also popular in homes nationwide. Salary: $17.59/hour; $36,590/year


Heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanic and installer

Environmental concerns continue as both people and companies strive to "go green." For many, this means installing new, energy-saving heating and cooling systems in their homes and offices. Those who already have such machines require them to operate at the highest efficiency, which means professionally maintaining them. Salary: $18.44/hour; $38,360/year


Structural and reinforcing iron and metal worker

Similar to people, structures get older. As they do, buildings, bridges, power plants and highways need to be rehabbed, repaired, replaced or maintained and these are the people who will do it. Salary: $19.46/hour; $40,480/year


Subway and street-car operator

With our ever-growing population and the strong push to improve the environment, public transportation like subways, street cars and light rails will become more prevalent in the next few years. Salary: $23.55/hour; $48,980/year

*Salaries and figures based on median annual/hourly earnings, according to the BLS.

Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.



Last Updated: 20/02/2009 - 3:21 PM


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