Who says hard work doesn't pay? These 10 blue-collar jobs show that the color of your collar doesn't necessarily dictate the level of your income.

What Does it Mean to be a Blue-Collar Worker?
Blue-collar jobs are typically classified as involving manual labor and compensation by an hourly wage. Some fields that fall into this category include construction, manufacturing, maintenance and mining. (Learn the pros and cons of unions and how they fit into today's economy, in Unions: Do They Help Or Hurt Workers?)

What it Does Not Mean
Do not mistake blue-collar jobs for easy to land, easy to keep or low-paying ones. Although some blue-collar jobs do not require a four-year degree, many of them require additional education by way of specialized training, a certification or an apprenticeship.

There are several blue-collar jobs that offer competitive compensation packages, relative to their white-collar counterparts.

Elevator installers and repairers sit atop the list with an average hourly wage of $42.08. This hands-on occupation involves many tasks, including assembly, testing, maintenance and repair of elevators, escalators and moving sidewalks. On average, an elevator installer or repairer can bring in over $87,000 dollars per year.

Ship and boat captains and operators earn an average of $24.86 per hour for navigating their vessels through a variety of waterways. On average, a captain or operator brings in almost $58,000 each year, but these captains have to work a bit harder for the money - the average work week is 51.8 hours.

The pressure is on, literally, for gas plant operators who control compressors to keep gas flowing through pipelines. This essential job pays workers just under $64,000 or approximately $30.71 on an hourly basis.

There are several specialties within the electrical and electronic repair industry. The most lucrative area involves inspecting and repairing electrical equipment at generating stations, substations and in-service relays. These workers bring in an average salary of $68,000 per year. (Education and training benefit not only the worker, but also the employer and the country as a whole. Find out more in How Education And Training Affect The Economy.)


The Top 10 List

1. Elevator Installer and Repairer

  • Average salary: $87,518
  • Average hourly wage: $42.08
  • Average work week: 40 hours

2. Electrical and Electronics Repairer – Powerhouse, Substation and Relay

  • Average salary: $68,084
  • Average hourly wage: $32.75
  • Average work week: 40 hours

3. Power Plant Operator, Distributor and Dispatcher

  • Average salary: $65,846
  • Average hourly wage: $31.50
  • Average work week: 40 hours

4. Gas Plant Operator

  • Average salary: $63,872
  • Average hourly wage: $30.71
  • Average work week: 40 hours

5. Locomotive Engineer

  • Average salary: $63,125
  • Average hourly wage: $28.27
  • Average work week: 42.5 hours

6. Electrical Power Line Installer and Repairer

  • Average salary: $60,354
  • Average hourly wage: $29.02
  • Average work week: 40 hours

7. Structural Iron and Steel Worker

  • Average salary: $59,224
  • Average hourly wage: $28.55
  • Average work week: 39.9 hours

8. Construction and Building Inspector

  • Average salary: $59,144
  • Average hourly wage: $28.31
  • Average work week: 40.2 hours

9. Ship and Boat Captain and Operator

  • Average salary: $57,910
  • Average hourly wage: $24.86
  • Average work week: 51.8 hours

10. Radio and Telecommunications Equipment Installer

  • Average salary: $57,149
  • Average hourly wage: $27.48
  • Average work week: 39.9 hours

About the List
The jobs are ranked by annual salary, from highest to lowest, excluding overtime. The data was pulled from the National Compensation Survey: Occupational Earnings in the United States, 2008, which is published by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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