1. I’m a welder, moved my way around and now in aviation and have been for a while now. I cleared $100k back in October, probably going to end the year around $120k at 26. What I do is weld main component parts for jet engines. Combustors, bearing housings, vane blades, so on.
No degree, but I did go to vocational high school. This isn’t the route you’d have to take either. People can learn it on the side, as welding is more of a “show us you can” type of work. My field requires multiple tests, both written and physical(which may require some schooling on welding basics) then weld various metal together, X-ray, cut apart, so on.
I’m very fortunate to be in a laid back environment, I have an area all to myself where I’m rarely bothered. Nothing I lift is strenuous, most of my work takes place in a chair. Love it though, wouldn’t want to do much else. Also to note, my job is union and I strongly suggest union to blue collar people. You’re not harassed by management, have a higher entity protecting your rights to do the job you do, and ONLY do that job and not someone else’s. And, unions pay way more, clearly.
2. My brother-in-law’s 3 sons are all journeyman electricians (dad is a master electrician). 2 of them are high school dropouts. 2 of them make over $100,000. The youngest makes about $85,000, but is gaining on his brothers.
3. Nuclear plant operations. You can get into an Senior Reactor Operator licensing class with certain experience or education. A huge number of the SROs are are ex-Navy nukes.
The Navy requires a HS diploma. Job pays usually starting of over 100K.
4. Bartender in a high end resort town. I work my ass off during the seasons but off season is easy.
5. Husband is a union tower crane operator. He dropped out of high school, got his GED at 25, joined the union at 29 and at 34 makes almost $200k a year. It’s a good gig as long as you don’t mind heights.
Best way to get into cranes is to call your local IUOE. Go through the apprenticeship program and work your way through your certifications. Build relationships with your peers and maintain your work ethic. You won’t see the out of work list, you’ll be requested for jobs.
6. I work in IT for a major telecom. No degree but several certs. A nice easy 9-5.
7. My wife made $290,000 last year, and is estimated to make $350K this year.
She owns a business that does like $1.5 million in sales of surgical device equipment to hospitals. She sells stuff like shoulder and hip replacements, the plates and screws used to fix broken wrists, nerve grafts, and even these crazy magnetic nail things that allow people with different length legs to have length added, or for people with dwarfism to add up to 4” of total height.
She does not have a college degree, but she joined the army and did a 1-yr program to become a radiologic tech. She did that job in the operating room during surgeries for a couple years, and meeting other sales reps is how she came into her job. She was such a high-seller that her first boss was afraid she would quit, and then his business would fail… so he offered her 50% ownership of the company. Since then she has started up a 2nd business selling other, non-competing products, so that she gets 100% of the profits, versus half.
8. I’m a freight conductor for a class one railroad in the United States. $108,000 a year. Never stepped foot in a college before, I’m 22 years old.
9. I work as a “B” Pressure welder in Canada. I have my own rig (Truck with welding equipment in it) and I average $125 / Hour.
Depending on the work available and how much time you’re willing to put in, you can make anywhere from 100k-400k. Last 3 years I’ve made 250k working 9 months of the year and taking 3 months off.
10. I’m a recruiter. No college degree or certifications. I had 5ish years of retail/food experience, ending that run with a “General Manager” title before getting into recruitment.
Pretty much anyone can get into a recruiting job if you apply to work at staffing agencies (Randstad, Adecco, Robert Half, Kelly Services, etc). Agency recruiting is a grind, but you can make a ton of money with the commissions – and the base salary without commissions is normally plenty to live on. And if you pay your dues with a staffing agency for a few years, you can transition into a corporate in-house recruiting job after that. My first year in staffing, my base was $40k and I made $70k total that year including commission. My second year, my base was $42k and I made $90k including commissions.
Then I moved into a corporate recruiting job with a well-known tech company. The base was much higher, but I took a bit of a pay cut overall in exchange for better benefits and work-life balance. My first year there, I was at $70k base and around $85k total including bonuses. I just completed 3 years there, going into my 4th year now – currently at $80k base and $100k including bonuses. I have a raise going effective in January to $90k base and $115k including bonuses.
If you go into recruitment, go with either healthcare (nursing or physicians, not allied) or tech recruiting. That’s where the money is. You won’t make much recruiting for more blue collar industries.
11. Own a private jet catering company, you’d be surprised what the richest 1% of people are willing to spend on stupid things…
12. Train Conductor. Pay pretty much fluctuates depending on how often I wanna work or not. All on the job paid training, with overtime. Pretty easy job all things aside, just have to live with being on call and being gone from home 2 days at a time.
13. Air traffic controller. Made over $160k last year, but that was with a lot of forced overtime.
Most of my co-workers are veterans who got into ATC in the military. Many people–whether they have military experience or not– don’t make it through training. My facility is sitting at abysmal success rate of about 20% right now.
14. Union plumber in NYC. Around 140k a year if you work year round steady benefits included.
Got the job by waiting outside the Local 1 training facility for 3 days until they gave out the 1000 applications. Happens once every 2 years and they accept on average 200 of the applications. Pretty lucky.
15. I’m a journeyman power lineman, and my base is over $100k. With tons of over time, (most of it double time) some guys pull in over $200k. 1