10 Best-Paying Blue-Collar Jobs

Staff Sgt. Tyler Hester welds a metal sign together at Kunsan Air Base.
Staff Sgt. Tyler Hester, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron structural journeyman, welds a metal sign together at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, April 8, 2022. (Staff Sgt. Mya M. Crosby/U.S. Air Force photo)

Your military training gives you the opportunity to transition -- easily -- into most jobs in the service, manufacturing and labor industries. In fact, many "blue-collar" jobs in the service, manufacturing and construction industries pay good money. For example, if you land a job as a power plant operator, you could make as much as $55,000 a year -- $26.44 an hour, according to Forbes.com.

What's more, employers in these industries look to former service members to fill these positions. For example, websites such as HelmetstoHardhats.org and Military.com, connect military personnel to good jobs in the construction and labor markets.

Related: Search for Construction jobs.

"Together, the military and the construction trades have built America over the past several hundred years ..." says Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, in a Helmets to Hardhats press release. "No other industry in the history of the United States has ever made a total commitment to support the armed forces by providing access to the best jobs in construction."

If you're looking to start your career in the civilian workforce, check out Forbes.com's list of the best-paying blue-collar jobs:

1.) Elevator installers and repairers: Annual salary is reported to be about $63,620, or $30.59 an hour.

There is low turnover for installers and repairers; employees tend to stay in these positions for a long time, reports Forbes. What's more, job prospects should be best for those with post-secondary education in electronics.

2.) Locomotive engineers: Annual salary is $57,990; $27.88 hourly.

This position would require you to operate large trains and carry cargo and passengers between stations.

3.) Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation and relay: Annual salary reported to be $57,400, or $27.60 an hour.

The federal government uses sophisticated radar and missile control systems to provide for national defense, and to direct commercial traffic, reports Forbes. Electrical repairers and installers are responsible for maintaining these machines.

4.) Railroad conductors and yardmasters: Annual salary is $55,530, or $26.70 an hour.

Conductors and yardmasters ensure the safety of cargo or passengers that board their trains.

5.) Power plant operators: Annual salary is $55,000, or $26.44 an hour.

This position would require you to control and monitor boilers, turbines, generators and auxiliary equipment in power-generating plants. Additionally, power plant operators maintain generators and circuits.

Search for Power Plant Operator jobs.

6.) Ship engineers: Annual salary is $54,820, or $26.36 an hour. Merchant marine vessels usually have four engineering officers: a chief engineer and a first, second and third engineer.

Search for Ship Engineer jobs.

7.) First-line supervisors/managers of construction trades and extraction workers: Annual salary is $53,850, or $25.89 an hour.

Managers supervise and coordinate activities of construction workers, such as earth drillers, blasters and explosives workers.

8.) Gas plant operators: Annual salary is reported to be $53,670, or $25.80 an hour.

Distribute or process gas for utility companies and others by controlling compressors to maintain specified pressures on main pipelines.

9.) Farm, ranch and other agricultural managers: Annual salary is projected to be $52,070, or $25.03 an hour.

In addition to managing farms or ranches, managers make business decisions with the owner's consent.

10.) Transportation inspectors: Annual salary is reportedly $50,390, or $24.23 an hour.

Transportation inspectors examine equipment or goods in connection with the safe transport of cargo or people.

Search for Transportation jobs.

If you're ready for a job in the labor, manufacturing or service industries, visit HelmetstoHardhats.org or Military.com Veteran Jobs Center for more information.

Related: For the latest veteran jobs postings around the country, visit the Military.com Job Search section.

The Next Step: Find the Right Job

Whether you want to polish up your resume, find veteran job fairs in your area, or connect with employers looking to hire veterans, Military.com can help. Sign up for a free Military.com membership to have job postings, guides and advice, and more delivered directly to your inbox.

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