There is a talent shortage in America’s blue-collar sectors, and it’s projected only to grow. In manufacturing alone, 57% of the 3.5 million jobs that analysts predict will exist by 2025 are expected to go unfilled. While the aging baby boomer population, growing economy and widening skills gap have each played a part, nearly all industry executives agree that a negative perception of such work has contributed to a lack of interest from job seekers, who are more often attracted to the safety and hefty paychecks associated with white-collar roles. But there are a number of blue-collar jobs that bank big bucks.
To determine the blue-collar jobs paying the most, Forbes looked to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates from May 2017, which are calculated using data from employers throughout the United States. Based on the BLS’s definition of blue-collar and service occupations—which includes “precision production, craft and repair occupations,” as well as “machine operators and inspectors” and “handlers, equipment cleaners, helpers and laborers”—we identified the 10 highest-paying positions, excluding any managerial or supervisory roles.
Topping the list yet again are nuclear power reactor operators. The 6,010 individuals employed in this role are responsible for operating and monitoring equipment, recording data and, when necessary, implementing emergency procedures—and they make an annual mean wage of $94,350 to do it. Most workers are employed in Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, and like all power plant operators, those working at nuclear facilities must have a high school diploma (or the equivalent) and on-the-job training. A license may be required as well.
Not only do all the top blue-collar jobs earn annual mean wages well above the $50,620 national average for all occupations, but each position experienced a pay raise over the past year. Electrical and electronics repairers (powerhouse, substation and relay), for instance, saw an annual mean wage increase of 4.33%, enough to boost workers’ salaries up to $77,770 and the role’s rank up one spot to No. 2. Unlike nuclear power reactor operators, the 24,430 electrical and electronics repairers employed in the U.S. can inspect, test, repair and maintain electrical equipment in every state, as long as they have a high school diploma. Additional education or apprenticeship training may be necessary, depending on specialization.
While electrical and electronics repairers did see a salary increase well above the May 2017 national average of 2.5%, signal and track switch repairers (No. 9) received the biggest boost: a 4.84% raise in earnings bringing workers’ annual mean wage up to $65,750. The nation’s 8,300 signal and track switch repairers—the majority of whom are employed in California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York and Washington—install, inspect, test, maintain and repair electric gate crossings, signal equipment and track switches and, like most railroad workers, must have a high school diploma and on-the-job training to do so.
Whether a gas plant operator (No. 6) making $69,600 or an electrical power-line installer and repairer (No. 7) earning $68,710, the workers employed in these high-paying blue-collar jobs are fairing above average. Considering the tight nature of the labor market and the projected talent shortage, it might not be far-fetched to think that this trend will continue.
Source: Forbes, https://goo.gl/yrDG6G