8 back-breaking careers that will pad your bank accounts

Tough jobs

The following blue collar jobs could have you seeing a lot of green.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a corner office, a fancy executive title or even a college degree in order to earn the big bucks. In fact, some of the most lucrative careers are considered “blue collar” jobs, despite common misconceptions. While many “blue collar” jobs often require long hours and rigorous work, the compensation can make it worthwhile - and many don’t require more than a high school degree and some on the job training. If a typical 9-to-5 job isn’t your thing, you like working with your hands and you love making money, consider one of these careers.*

Police officer

If you grew up idolizing Die Hard’s John McClane, maybe a future as a police officer is for you. As a police officer, your job is to protect lives and property (like Nakatomi Plaza). Becoming a police officer may require a college degree or police academy training, as well as on-the-job training. While the pay is substantial (the median annual wage is $62,960), police work can be dangerous and stressful, and take a toll physically and mentally.

Locomotive Engineer

All aboard the money train: According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, the median annual wage for locomotive engineers is $65,980. Though it’s a physically and mentally demanding job, if you're mechanically inclined and enjoy traveling the country, this could be the career for you. These professionals are required to perform maintenance on their locomotives, and have a solid understanding of their operation in a variety of situations.

Elevator repairers

Why climb the corporate ladder when you can take the elevator to a high-paying job? As an elevator installer and repairer, you’re responsible for the installation and maintenance of elevators, escalators and other related equipment. You'll likely want to move to a larger city, as there are fewer elevators in small towns with one-story buildings, but if you enjoy the thought of big city life and a median salary of $79,480, this is a fantastic career choice.

Transportation Inspectors

Those with an obsession for model cars and trains can find their dream job as transportation inspectors. This profession pays around $68,000 per year to examine the safety of various modes of transportation, including airplanes, subways, cars, trucks, trains and buses. Making sure that everyone is adhering to the proper safety regulations is important and time-consuming work, and the field is expected to grow considerably in the years ahead. Combine the earning potential for this job with its ever-expanding workforce, and you've got a high paying career that's relatively easy to get into.

Construction manager

For those with a knack for leading and building, a construction manager career can be incredibly profitable. The median pay is a not-too-shabby $91,370. You'll likely need a bachelor’s degree and a considerable amount of on-the-job training. Most construction managers work their way up through the ranks of the construction industry by gaining practical experience, and many have a bachelor’s degree as well. Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish. This can mean spending a lot of time at construction sites and long hours in order to meet deadlines and respond to emergencies.


If you’ve got a fear of heights or enclosed spaces and hate the outdoors, this is not the job for you. Tasked with assembling, installing, maintaining and repairing boilers, closed vats and other large gas- and liquid-holding containers, boilermakers frequently work at great heights, in cramped spaces or in extreme weather. Boilermakers typically learn their trade through an apprenticeship program and take home about $62,260 a year.


If you have an eye for detail and a good amount of physical stamina, you might have a future as a surveyor. Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries and provide data relevant to the shape and contour of the Earth’s surface for engineering, mapmaking, and construction projects. Surveyors work both in an office and in the field, where they may have to stand for long periods of time and walk long distances, sometimes in bad weather. Surveyors, who typically need a bachelor’s degree and a license, can expect to make a median annual wage of $64,190.

Line installers and repairers

Being a line worker is not for the faint of heart. As someone who installs or repairs electrical power systems and telecommunications cables, line workers encounter serious hazards on the job, like working with high-voltage electricity, and often at great heights. The work can be physically demanding and may require evening, weekend and holiday work at time. Most line installers and repairers undergo technical instruction and long-term on-the-job training or even apprenticeships. The job can be rough, but with a median annual salary of $64,190, the pay helps make up for it.

*All salary information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Check out 10 well-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree.