Although the Great Recession is behind us, many Americans struggle to make ends meet. Being employed isn't enough in today's economy as more and more workers need skills to earn a living wage.

The middle class in the United States makes up approximately 50% of the population, which is down from 61% in 1970, according to the Pew Research Center. Although new jobs are being added to the economy, it's important to find a field of work that has solid growth potential but also pays a good salary. Below are seven jobs that pay more than $35,000 per year along with the training that's needed to land these jobs.

Key Takeaways

  • Electricians earn over $55,000 per year while computer support specialists and medical lab technicians make over $50,000 per year.
  • Wind turbine technicians are needed for the growing clean energy movement.
  • Dental assistants round out the list and earn approximately $38,000 per year.

​7 Middle Income Jobs That Pay Over $35,000

Income information for each of the jobs listed below is drawn from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook for 2018. The careers outlined below have incomes that range from $35,000 to $56,000 per year.

​1. Electrician

Electricians repair, maintain, and install electrical lighting, power, and communications systems. According to the BLS, electricians have an excellent job outlook.

In 2018, the median pay was $55,190 per year. The educational requirements include a high school diploma along with training from a technical school. Training can also entail on-the-job training from an apprenticeship or other programs, followed by licensing.

Between 2018 and 2028, the number of electricians employed in the U.S. is expected to increase by 10%. In 2018, over 74,000 new electrician jobs were added. 

2. Computer Support Specialists 

Computer support specialists are help desk technicians who provide consumers or IT specialists with help on computer-related issues. A specialist's typical role might include performing maintenance on network systems by testing and evaluating them. Computer support specialists also troubleshoot internet systems and help companies improve operational efficiency.

The typical specialist earns a median salary of $53,470 per year. The BLS projects a 10% rate of growth in the field through 2028 as more companies need to upgrade their computer software and equipment.

Although there are several different ways someone could break into the field, computer specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree. However, some positions only require an associate’s degree or postsecondary training classes.

3. Medical and Clinical Lab Technicians 

Medical and clinical laboratory technicians take samples and perform tests to analyze tissue, body fluids, including blood and urine. Technicians must be proficient with laboratory equipment such as microscopes. The technicians typically record the findings, log the data into a computer, as well as update the patient's records.

The typical specialist earns a median salary of $52,330 per year. The BLS projects an 11% growth rate in the field through 2028. The aging population in the U.S. is expected to lead to an increased need to test and diagnose health and medical conditions.

Technicians usually need at least an associate’s degree, although there are several levels within the field that might require a bachelor’s degree. Also, laboratory employees are required to be licensed, although each state has its own guidelines.

4. Wind Turbine Technicians ​

Renewable energy continues to grow in popularity, and as the technology expands, there's a need for people who can maintain it. Wind turbine technicians repair, maintain, and install wind turbines. The typical duties include climbing wind turbines to inspect and troubleshoot issues with electrical or mechanical components. Repair and maintenance can often involve replacing old or malfunctioning parts as well as collect data for research and analysis.

As of 2018, wind turbine techs are earning, on average, $53,370 per year. Through 2028, the BLS estimates that the number of wind turbine technicians on the job will shoot up by 57%. However, there were only 6,600 positions in the field in 2018. Wind turbine technicians usually require a technical school education as well as on-the-job training.

5. Industrial Machinery Mechanics 

An industrial machinery mechanic repairs and maintains factory equipment and industrial machinery, which might include production machinery and packaging equipment. Other duties might involve performing tests to make sure that the equipment is running properly. Maintenance can include tasks such as cleaning, oiling, and calibrating the machinery to the needed specifications.

Industrial machinery mechanics earn, on average, $51,630 per year. The BLS sees a 5% rate of growth in this field through 2028, which is the typical growth rate for most jobs in the economy. Industrial machinery mechanics need to have a high school diploma as well as a minimum of one year of on-the-job training.

​6. Environmental Engineering Technicians 

​An environmental engineering technician assists environmental engineers. The technician's responsibilities include testing, operating, and modifying equipment. The technician's role can also involve preventing pollution and helping with the cleanup. Oftentimes, samples need to be taken and analyzed from the air or groundwater.

​Environmental engineering technicians earn, on average, $50,560 per year. The BLS sees a 9% rate of growth in this field through 2028, which is slightly higher than the typical growth rate for most jobs in the economy. Environmental engineering technicians need to have an associate’s degree in environmental engineering technology.

7. Dental Assistants 

Taking care of your teeth is a must, and dental assistants perform a wide range of tasks, including preparing patients and work areas, sterilizing equipment, assisting the dentist when needed. Dental assistants also help with processing x-rays and performing lab tasks. Depending on the office, a dental assistant might assist with patient scheduling as well as maintaining dental records for the office.

Dental assistants earn, on average, $38,660 per year. The BLS sees an 11% growth in this field through 2028, which is much higher than the typical growth rate for most jobs in the economy. Although the education requirements can vary by state, graduating from an accredited program might be required. In other instances, on-the-job training might suffice.

The Bottom Line

Although the seven jobs profiled in this article are all different, they share similar salaries and compensation. Most of these middle-income jobs don't require an extensive amount of education, which is encouraging for someone who may not have a college degree.