The Skilled Trades Are Well Worth Investigating

Kevin M

With the job market tightening up in so many fields, and many jobs perhaps gone forever, the time has come to look into opportunities in skilled blue collar occupations.

An article appeared this morning on Yahoo HotJobs called America?s Best Paying Blue Collar Jobs discusses the highest paying jobs in the skilled trades.

Most of these jobs involve installing, servicing and repairing existing systems and technologies of the sort that are required by modern civilization, and are not likely to be eliminated through advancing technologies or even globalization. For that reason alone they merit investigation.

It?s doubtless that some of these occupations came to be precisely because of technology, since all complex systems need to be serviced and repaired on an ongoing basis. As well, the trend of young people, particularly from the middle class, to enter college norm occupations has reduced the number of applicants for these well paying jobs.

Some are very limited fields with only a small number of employees, like locomotive firers (970 employees in the entire field), while others, such as plumbers and electricians, employ several hundred thousand workers.

Certain fields have geographic restrictions. For example, oil and gas rotary drillers jobs will only be available in areas where oil and gas are produced, while aircraft mechanics and service technicians will be at airports, with the best opportunities in cities with larger airports.

Herewith, the Top 20 from the article, including average annual salary (source: Forbes):

1) Elevator Installers & Repairers, $67,750

2) Powerhouse Substation & Relay Repairers, $60,700

3) Transportation Inspectors, $59,200

4) Commercial Divers (not DRivers), $54,940

5) Oil & Gas Rotary Drill Operators, $54,370

6) Power Line Installers & Repairers, $54,300

7) Locomotive Engineers, $53,470

8 Boilermakers, $53,100

9) Locomotive Firers, $52,950

10) Telecommunications Equipment Installers & Repairers, $52,650

11) Aircraft Mechanics & Service Technicians, $51,650

12) Pile Driver Operators, $51,640

13) Precision Instrument & Equipment Repairers, $50,400

14) Millwrights, $50,030

15) Electricians, $49,890

16) Railroad Brake, Signal & Switch Operators, $49,400

17) Subway & Street Car Operators, $49,330

18) Commercial & Industrial Electrical & Electronics Repairers, $49,260

19) Plumbers, Pipe Fitters & Steam Fitters, $49,200

20) Signal & Track Switch Repairers, $49,060

Compare the average annual salaries listed for each career with the national average of all salaries of $42,270, as quoted by the article. Also, though the article doesn?t mention this, benefit packages in skilled fields can be more lucrative than what is available in many white collar occupations. This is because either the jobs themselves are in high demand or because they?re concentrated in old line, union type organizations more representative of employer compensation packages of a few decades ago.


As the article states so brilliantly,

?A high school diploma and four or five years of training may sound like a lot, but remember, that’s usually on-the-job training, which can help keep a roof over your head while you work your way up — rather than get you tens of thousands of dollars in debt, as going to college does for so many.?

Earn while you learn; it?s a dated concept now, but it?s the way people learned their livelihoods for centuries prior to the post World War II era, and as the article states, it provides the employee with the ability to earn a real living while perfecting his craft.

For young people searching for a career idea, and for the over 30 crowd looking but not finding that next solid opportunity, the skilled trades may be place to concentrate the search.

4 Responses to The Skilled Trades Are Well Worth Investigating

  1. I have recently gone back to school for nursing. While looking at programs and schools I noticed a lot of these types of classes being offered. The advisor said most people take one or two classes, get hired on somewhere, and that employer pays for them to continue the classes while they work there. The school actually sets them up with these employers who are looking for someone who shows an interest and is doing well so far in their classes.

    comment by hustler
    Wednesday, July 01, 2009 @ 8:43:24 PM

  2. Hustler–Brilliant point! Figuring out what to do is 50% of the challenge, the other half is letting go of excess baggage.

    If you have a post you’d like to add on that point, let me know!


    comment by Kevin (admin)
    Monday, July 13, 2009 @ 7:17:22 AM

  3. Well, this is a very valuable post.
    Thanks for the information you provided.
    It would be great if got more post like this. I appreciate it.

  4. Hi sbobet–I’ve been thinking about doing just that. A lot of people are still at an involuntary crossroads, career-wise, despite all the talk about a recovery. For a lot of people, it may come down to making a complete career transition into something they’ve never done before.

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