7 blue-collar jobs with high salaries

When you hear about “hot” jobs these days, they’re typically white-collar or traditional office jobs in the tech or healthcare sectors. But there are also lots of high-paying, fulfilling jobs that are more physical, or that operate outside of the 9-to-5 cubicle life. If you’re looking for something outside an office, here are some highly paid alternative paths to consider.

Nuclear power reactor operator

The name of the job may conjure up images of Homer Simpson kicking back in Sector 7G with some donuts, but in reality, nuclear power reactor operators handle the day-to-day safety and productivity of nuclear power plants.

What you’ll need: A high school degree, plus extensive on-the-job training.

What it pays: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nuclear power reactor operators make a median annual salary of $94,350, or $45.36 per hour.

Police detective

When it comes to evergreen industries, fighting and stopping crime is one of the all-timers. The need for qualified professionals to handle crime on the streets and investigate cases will always be there. Detectives gather facts and collect evidence against potential crimes and criminals. It can be a very physical, demanding job, depending on what kind of investigation is needed.

What you’ll need: A high school degree, plus completion of a training academy program. Detectives also need to be qualified to handle firearms and pass rigorous physical tests and personal background checks.

What it pays: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, detectives make a median annual salary of $85,020, or $40.88 per hour.

Elevator installer and repairer

If you get right down to it, how many of us are terrified at the idea of being stuck in an elevator somewhere? Yet 99.99% of the elevator rides people take are safe and issue-free—and that’s because of the elevator installers and repairers who work behind the scenes to make sure elevators run smoothly and safely. This job combines strong mechanical skills and attention to detail to ensure that elevators, escalators, and other people movers are running as they should.

What you’ll need: A high school degree, plus completion of an apprenticeship program. This is also a job that may require you to work at significant heights or in small spaces, so it can be physically challenging as well.

What it pays: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, elevator installers and repairers make a median annual salary of $79,780, or $38.36 per hour.

Transit police officer

Transit and railroad police are responsible for ensuring safety and order on public transportation like trains, subways, and buses. They’re often the first line of defense when there’s an emergency on public transit, and are there to protect passengers, transit employees, and agency property.

What you’ll need: A high school degree, plus completion of a training program similar to other police officers’.

What it pays: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, transit police officers make a median annual salary of $74,450, or $35.79 per hour.

Signal and track switch repairer

Also in the transit world, signal and track switch repairers are the professionals who make sure the trains literally run on time. (If you’ve ever been on a subway or a train and gotten stuck, only to hear the conductor announce that there are signal problems and to hold tight, then you know how crucial these professionals are.) Signal and track switch repairers are responsible for installing, maintaining, and fixing the electric track, gate crossing, and signal equipment, and communications systems. And as many cities’ infrastructure tries to keep up with digital technology, it’s a role that will continue to grow and change.

What you’ll need: A high school degree, plus on-the-job training.

What it pays: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, signal and track switch repairers make a median annual salary of $70,490, or $33.89 per hour.

Power distributor or dispatcher

With power grids under more stress all the time, power distributors and dispatchers will continue to be in high demand. These professionals operate equipment that monitors, coordinates, and distributes electricity and steam to keep power systems running.

What you’ll need: A high school degree, plus on-the-job training.

What it pays: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, power distributors and dispatchers make a median annual salary of $82,310, or $39.57 per hour.

Supervisor of fire fighting and prevention workers

These professionals coordinate and organize firefighters and other emergency first-responders. While they’re not on the front lines, they make sure that the first responders are responding quickly, effectively, and safely to fire emergencies or other accidents or disasters. This is often a role filled by someone with direct experience as a firefighter or first responder.

What you’ll need: A high school degree, plus on-the-job training.

What it pays: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, supervisors of firefighters and fire prevention workers make a median annual salary of $76,330, or $38.61 per hour.

If you’re looking for a job that gives you a fulfilling career but doesn’t require advanced degrees or the traditional office grind, you might want to consider one of these essential, hands-on opportunities.

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