As the cost of college tuition continues to rise, many parents are encouraging their kids to consider alternative careers. While a college degree will still earn you the highest salary, there are numerous blue-collar jobs that offer excellent pay and benefits.
Here are five high-paying jobs that don’t require a college education.
1. Police Officer
Law enforcement officers play an important role in our society by protecting people and property. Their duties include:
- Responding to calls
- Patrolling areas – sometimes entire jurisdictions
- Enforce laws
- Issue citations
- Make arrests when necessary
- Testify in court cases (on occasion)
Police officers earn, on average, $60,270 per year, but some officers earn more when working in certain cities. Salaries for officers in the New York Police Department can earn up to $131,000 per year, depending on their rank or tenure.
2. Construction Workers
Construction workers are responsible for repairing and building a wide variety of structures, from buildings to roads, bridges and even highways. While a college degree isn’t required (in most cases), some employers do require a high school diploma or GED.
Construction workers have numerous duties, including:
- Loading and unloading building materials
- Cleaning and preparing the job site
- Mixing and pouring concrete
- Digging ditches and trenches using picks, shovels and jackhammers
- Operating construction-related equipment
The median salary for a construction worker, according to PayScale is $38,408 per year. The top 10% earns $66,000 or more per year. Pay rates largely depend on the worker’s location and the nature of the job.
3. Oil Rig Workers
Oil rig workers start their careers as roustabouts and work their way up from there. Roustabouts are responsible for cleaning, inspecting and maintaining equipment, including pipes, mud pumps and cranes.
Drillers are on the higher end of the ranks. Those in this position are responsible for operating the rotary drill and watching the pressure gauges to ensure that everything is working properly.
While strenuous and dangerous, this is one of the only jobs that does not require a high school diploma. The pay is also high.
In 2011, the average oil rig worker earned $99,175. Even roustabouts, the lowest workers on a rig, earn about $34,680 per year.
Plumbers install and maintain plumbing systems. They know how to read blueprints and drawings to plan the layout of the plumbing, water supply and waste disposal systems.
If a pipe bursts in your home, you’re going to call a plumber.
Other duties might include:
- Repairing fixtures (e.g. sinks) and appliances (e.g. dishwashers or washing machines)
- Maintain and install liquid and gas heating systems (e.g. radiators and air conditioning units)
College education isn’t required, but plumbers still undergo extensive training. After graduating from high school, plumbers must enroll in a technical course, find an apprenticeship and take a test.
In many cases, professional plumbers take new personnel under their wings to train and prepare them for the job.
“I have 14 employees all of whom are trained by me personally,” says Bob of Bob Oates Plumbing.
5. Power Plant Operators
A power plant operator is responsible for controlling systems that generate and distribute power. Their duties and responsibilities include:
- Maintaining control of power-generating equipment, which may be powered by coal, natural gas or nuclear fuel.
- Check indicators and equipment for signs of operating problems.
- Read gauges, charts and meters to monitor electricity flow and voltage.
- Start and stop turbines, generators and other equipment.
- Adjust controls to regulate power flow.
Power plant operators must meet training and experience requirements and pass the NRC licensing exam.
Operators earn a generous salary, with the median annual wage being $68,230 per year.