Some Blue-Collar Workers In Demand

By Staff
June 11, 2009

Blue-collar jobs--which involve manual labor and typically earn an hourly wage--comprise a large portion of some of the hardest-to-fill positions in the United States.

U.S. News & World Report notes that blue-collar workers with the right experience and training can expect competitive salaries, and listed six careers worth considering. The list was based on consultations with and the Labor Department's outlook for jobs over the next decade.

Included in the career list were electricians, who earn an average of about $54,000 in annual pay and bonuses. Other professions which made the list included auto mechanics, truck drivers and aircraft mechanics.

Openings for manufacturing technicians--who take care of operating and maintaining specialized processing equipment--were noted to be among the most difficult to fill. Pursuing such a career involves obtaining an associate's degree from a technical institute, community college or university extension program.

General maintenance workers also made U.S. News' list, in part because their skills repairing air conditioning, roofs, plumbing and windows will be in demand as more baby boomers retire. Such workers can earn about $50,000 a year.

Forbes also lists 20 best paying blue-collar jobs based on the government's Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates from 2008: Elevator installers and repairers topped the list with an average income of just over $67,000 a year, and the highest paid earning close to six figures annually. Five of the jobs listed were in the railroading industry, including subway and streetcar operators, locomotive engineers, locomotive firers, railroad brake signal and switch operators, and signal and track switch repairers.

The article notes that the highest-paid blue-collar jobs require extensive training in schools and four to five years of apprenticeships. Yet the article pointed out that those years are ". . .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."

In a related story, KTAL in Louisiana reports that state legislators are considering allowing high school students to receive career-oriented credit instead of only college credit. Bonnie Martinez, principal of the Caddo Career and Technology Center in Shreveport, remarked that the proposed bill is a good idea.

"I think that there needs to be a mindset statewide, nationwide that there are more opportunities and need for the future workforce in those types of jobs," she said.

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