Blue-collar Jobs that Make a Good Living

man cleaning the tires

For a long time, many people believed that white-collar jobs were the only jobs that could earn you as much as six figures. But that isn’t the case. Certain trade jobs can earn more than the average white-collar job. There’s also the bonus of not needing a college degree to qualify. If you’re thinking of a career change, trade could be the field for you.

There are a lot of advantages to working a blue-collar job. One of the most appealing traits is that it doesn’t require a four-year college degree. This is important to many job hunters today because college tuition continues to rise, and student debt is at an all-time high. Many college graduates are burdened with having to pay off their debts for years after graduation. Working in trade is a student debt loan-free endeavor. Blue-collar workers typically acquire their training through certification programs. This can be supplemented by apprenticeships or on-the-job training.

Many companies are open to hiring those that don’t have college degrees. Among them is tech giant Apple, whose CEO Tim Cook has said that much of the company’s 2018 hires were made up of people who did not have four-year degrees.

Related: 15 More Companies That No Longer Require a Degree

The job landscape is also changing. The World Economic Forum predicted that many white-collar jobs such as accounting, administration, and data encoding would decrease in demand in the 2020s. Tomorrow’s most in-demand jobs require a mix of soft and hard skills.

Contrary to popular belief, blue-collar jobs are not just about hard skills. They also require soft skills such as critical thinking. Blue-collar workers often need to assess landscapes, machines, and materials when they work. A construction manager, for instance, needs to inspect the construction site before they proceed with the actual construction. They need to take measurements, gather information about the local protocols regarding construction sites, and determine the materials and labor that the project requires. Another soft skill that trade workers need is communication skills.

Here’s a list of 4 trade jobs that can earn you more than the average white-collar job.


It’s a well-known fact that electricians are expensive to hire by the hour, but there are good reasons for this. Their training enables them to work with dangerous electrical currents. Because their jobs involve high risks, they also have high insurance costs.

Electricians can work in many different settings, so there are many specializations to choose from. One can work as a domestic, automotive, aviation, marine, or industrial electrician, to name a few.

handyman with a drill and plank

HVAC technician

HVAC refers to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. In some cases, refrigeration is part of the group, making it HVACR. An HVACR technician’s job involves the installation, maintenance, and repair of these systems. Apart from offering expertise on a wide range of HVACR systems, it is also possible to specialize only in one or two of the systems. For instance, you can specialize only in heating and air conditioning systems.

An HVACR technician’s hourly rate is about $22-24, giving a median annual salary of about $47,600.

Construction manager

This person’s job is to oversee the operations of a construction site. He or she arranges a budget and timeframe for the project, determines the materials and type of labor needed, and supervises the workers on-site. They are also in charge of obtaining and accomplishing paperwork such as contracts, licenses, and permits.

The hourly rate of a construction manager ranges from $47-$62 per hour.

Dental hygienist

Not to be confused with a dentist, a dental hygienist is not a doctor. A dentist is a doctor of the teeth, indicated by the title Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.). A dental hygienist undergoes shorter and less extensive education but is still a licensed dental professional with the title Registered Dental Hygienist (R.D.H.).

Dental hygienists clean their patients’ teeth and advise them on the proper practices for taking care of their oral health. They can do some tasks that dentists can do, such as apply fluoride treatments and take oral x-rays. However, more intensive dental work such as tooth repair, cavity, and decay treatment require a dentist’s more specialized training.

An aspiring dental hygienist needs a two-year associate’s degree and a license to do the practice. Hourly rates fall between $31-$42 per hour.

With the pandemic driving many to unemployment or underemployment, it may be worth considering a trade work career. The education and training required are not as costly or as time-consuming as college degrees, and a person can still make a good living out of them.

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