Eleana Bowman
Community Specialist
Community Specialist
Posted June 30, 2021

The highest-paying labor jobs

Discover the top 20 highest-paying manual labor jobs. Plus, how much you can make in each and any specific skills you need.
Eleana Bowman
Community Specialist
Community Specialist
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The highest-paying labor jobs
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Manual labor jobs require you to do physical work for the majority of your shift. Because of this, some people are hesitant to seek out a manual labor job.

But there are lots of reasons why you should consider one. A big draw? The possibility of earning a good salary.

In this article, we’ll talk about what manual labor jobs are and the financial benefits of pursuing one.

We’ll also list some of the highest-paying manual labor jobs and their requirements so you can find the job that’s right for you.

What exactly are manual labor jobs?

Manual labor jobs are positions where you perform physical work. They’re sometimes called “blue-collar” jobs, as opposed to “white-collar” jobs, which usually take place in an office setting.

Industries like construction, manufacturing, transportation, and utilities typically offer a large number of manual labor jobs.

As you can see from the chart below, these industries, along with a few other physical-labor-intensive fields, make up a huge portion of the US economy:

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Although many manual labor jobs don’t require extensive experience or education, you can still earn a good salary.

Sometimes, all you’ll need is a high school diploma to get an entry-level position.

Do manual labor jobs pay better than other jobs?

Like many jobs, the pay for manual labor jobs depends on a range of different factors. One key thing to remember is that, in general, manual labor jobs are more likely to pay at an hourly rate rather than a weekly salary.

And while hourly workers may not receive as many benefits as salaried workers, this trend may be changing.

Manual labor jobs increasingly require more complex activities, which has led to a shortage of workers with the right skills for the job.

As a result, white-collar salaries have increased by 7.5% over the past three years, while other workers, many of whom only have a high school diploma, have seen salaries increase by 10%.

The top 20 highest-paying labor jobs

There are dozens of manual labor jobs available in many different fields, from carpentry to landscaping to welding.

This list of manual labor jobs will give you an idea of the available positions and their requirements.

Plus, we’ll tell you how much you can expect to earn based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

1. Construction worker

Construction workers, sometimes called construction laborers, perform all kinds of manual labor tasks on construction sites. These may include moving and unloading building materials, operating power tools, and more.

Entry-level construction workers report to supervisors, while laborers with more experience may supervise others.

What do you need to be a construction worker?

Construction workers typically hold a high school diploma and can have less than one year of work experience.

Some construction workers need to be certified in scaffold building or rigging. To get a construction job, you'll need to be physically fit, confident in operating machinery, and safety-conscious.

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How much does a construction worker make?

The average salary for construction workers is $17.83 per hour or $37,890 per year. The median wage for a construction manager is $97,180 per year.

Where to look for a construction worker job

You can browse construction worker positions on our job board.

2. Landscaper

Landscapers perform outdoor manual labor tasks such as mowing, planting, and watering a variety of trees and plants.

Depending on the job site, landscapers may also dig holes for planting trees or installing irrigation systems, perform electrical or masonry work, or lay concrete.

Landscapers work on new homes and renovations. Some landscapers visit clients regularly to help maintain their yards.

What do you need to be a landscaper?

General landscapers usually have a high school diploma and some landscaping experience. If you want to work as a landscape architect, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree.

You’ll need high attention to detail and physical strength. Most landscapers have a forklift license.

How much does a landscaper make?

General landscapers make a median salary of $32,220 per year. If you have a bachelor’s degree, you can make $70,630 per year.

Where to look for a landscaper job

You can browse landscaper positions on our job board.

3. Automotive technician

Automotive technicians repair cars and trucks in a repair shop or dealership setting. They need to identify problems and make repairs according to manufacturer specifications.

Some automotive technician positions may focus on a specific make of car.

Others focus on a specific type of repairs, such as oil changes, tire maintenance, or auto body repair.

What do you need to be an automotive technician?

Automotive technicians typically need a high school diploma and some experience working with cars. Most automotive technicians have an associate’s degree or technical training.

Some entry-level automotive technician jobs that don’t require previous experience are also available. Automotive technicians need math skills, computer skills, and problem-solving skills. You’ll also need to be physically fit.

How much does an automotive technician make?

The median annual salary for an automotive technician is $44,050, or $21.18 per hour. If you work in an automobile dealer, you can earn an above-average salary.

Where to look for an automotive technician job

You can browse automotive technician positions on our job board.

4. Carpenter

Carpenters work on a range of building projects. For example, they may work on framing on construction sites or indoor projects such as finishing cabinets and remodeling homes.

It's a skilled trade, and carpenters must be able to read blueprints and other design plans. They need to carry out those plans according to the client’s needs.

Many carpentry jobs require you to own and be familiar with basic tools, such as hand tools and power tools.

What do you need to be a carpenter?

To work as a carpenter, you’ll either need to complete an associate’s degree or an apprenticeship.

Carpenters need math skills, analytical skills, and dexterity. Most carpenters need a driver’s license.

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How much does a carpenter make?

The average salary for carpenters in the US is $49,520 per year or $23.81 per hour.

Where to look for a carpenter job

You can browse carpenter positions on our job board.

5. Electrician

Electricians install, repair, and maintain indoor and outdoor wiring, fixtures, and other equipment. They work in both residential and commercial buildings.

Inside electricians tend to work exclusively on the wiring in buildings, while outside linemen are electricians that work on telephone and power lines.

Electricians may also specialize in working on construction sites, marine equipment, or in hospitals.

What do you need to be an electrician?

To work as an electrician, you’ll need to complete an apprenticeship or get a technical school certificate. Most apprenticeships take four years, with on-the-job training and theoretical assessments.

Electricians need to be licensed. You’ll also need good critical thinking skills, dexterity, and physical fitness.

How much does an electrician make?

The median annual wage for an electrician is $56,900, or $27.36 per hour.

Where to look for an electrician job

You can browse electrician positions on our job board job

6. Plumber

Residential plumbers work to repair leaks, clogs, and other issues in pipes in residential buildings. They may also create new pipe systems.

It's a skilled-labor job, and plumbers can also specialize in other areas. They may work in construction to make sure new plumbing meets local building codes or collaborate with architects to decide on the best placement for pipes and plumbing fixtures.

Many plumbers are self-employed, but plumbing jobs are available.

What do you need to be a plumber?

Most plumbers complete an apprenticeship with both hands-on and technical training. There are also technical schools with plumbing courses.

In most states, plumbers need a license before they can work without supervision. Plumbers need to be physically fit, with good problem-solving skills.

How much does a plumber make?

The average salary for a plumber is $27.08 per hour or $56,330 per year. If you run your own business, you can make more.

Where to look for a plumber job

You can browse plumber positions on our job board.

7. Welder

Welders have a specialized skill set for joining or fusing metal together using high heat tools. Welders work in many different industries, including manufacturing and construction.

Less experienced or unskilled welders typically work on assembly lines and perform a small set of repetitive tasks. Skilled welders may specialize in working on ships or oil rigs, joining steel beams on construction types, or even laboring on car racing teams or NASA projects.

What do you need to be a welder?

Most welders have earned a high school diploma or a welding degree or certificate. Unskilled welding positions require little prior experience, while skilled welders usually need additional training or apprenticeships.

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To work as a welder, you’ll need physical strength and manual dexterity.

How much does a welder make?

The average annual salary for welders is $44,190, or $21.25 per hour.

Where to look for welder jobs

You can browse welder positions on our job board.

8. Stone or brick mason

Masons use stone or brick to build walls, paths, and other structures. They need to accurately plan layouts, mix concrete or grout, and assemble the project.

Some masons also repair old brick or masonry work, such as chimneys, walls, or houses.

What do you need to be a stone or brick mason?

Most masonry jobs do not have a minimum education requirement, although you can earn a certificate in masonry. Typically, masons learn the necessary skills on the job or through an apprenticeship.

Stone and brick masons must have strong attention to detail. It's a physically demanding job, and you should be able to lift a significant amount of weight.

When working on residential projects, masons also need to be comfortable with customer interactions.

How much does a stone or brick mason make?

The average salary for a stone or brick mason is $22.94 per hour or $47,710 per year.

Where to look for a masonry job

You can browse masonry positions on our job board.

9. Housekeeper

Housekeepers are professional cleaners that work in private residences, offices, or hotels. They dust, mop, vacuum, clean bathrooms, and make beds.

Housekeepers need to meet all cleaning requirements and expectations laid out by their employers.

Some housekeepers are contracted through a house cleaning service and are assigned work through the company. Others work independently with their own roster of clients.

What do you need to be a housekeeper?

Most housekeeping jobs do not require any education and provide on-the-job training.

To work in this role, you’ll need to be physically fit, have good time management skills, and pay close attention to detail.

How much does a housekeeper make?

The average salary for a housekeeper is $13.47 per hour or $28,010 per year.

Where to look for housekeeper jobs

You can browse housekeeper positions on our job board.

10. Custodian or janitor

Custodians perform some cleaning duties like housekeepers, but they also do a variety of other manual tasks.

In addition to sweeping, mopping, and other general cleaning, custodians are typically responsible for some maintenance and repair duties. This could include mowing lawns and other landscaping tasks, sorting trash and recycling, and coordinating repairs with other service experts such as electricians or plumbers.

Custodians typically work in schools, office buildings, or public venues like theaters and stadiums.

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What skills do you need to be a custodian or janitor?

Most custodial jobs require a high school diploma and some janitorial experience. Recruits often learn on-the-job under the supervision of an experienced team member.

You should be physically fit with good problem-solving skills.

How much does a custodian or janitor make?

The average salary for janitors and custodians is $13.98 per hour or $29,080 per year.

Where to look for custodian jobs

You can browse custodian positions on our job board.

11. Firefighter

Firefighters combat active fires and also work on fire safety and prevention measures.

The job may include driving to emergency scenes, operating ladders and hoses, and rescuing people from burning structures. They may work within schools or community settings to offer advice and guidance.

Firefighters are often the first to arrive on the scene at an emergency.

Firefighters may assist in other emergencies, such as car accidents, gas leaks, and natural disasters. Some firefighters also provide emergency first aid care while waiting for paramedics or EMTs to arrive on the scene.

Firefighters often work approximately ten 24-hour shifts throughout the month.

What do you need to be a firefighter?

Firefighters typically need a high school diploma and firefighter training. Training requirements vary by state. Firefighters also need to be in excellent physical condition.

How much does a firefighter make?

The average income for a firefighter is $52,500 per year or $25.24 per hour.

Where to look for a job as a firefighter

You can browse firefighter positions on our job board.

12. Commercial fisher

Commercial fishermen plan and oversee fishing trips and sell their catch to restaurants, grocery stores, or other retailers.

They need to comply with all local fishing regulations, supervise a crew, and prepare the fish for preservation or sale.

Fishers also maintain their fishing equipment and vessels. They need to maintain their nets and traps as well as navigational tools and fish-finding equipment.

Many commercial fishers go out to sea for extended periods of time, which can be anywhere from three to six months. While at sea, they may work up to eighteen hours a day. Some commercial fishing jobs have shorter excursions, with trips lasting 24-36 hours.

What do you need to be a commercial fisher?

Entry-level commercial fisher jobs don’t require any formal education. In most cases, you’ll learn on the job.

Fishing workers need to work well in a team, be physically fit, and have critical thinking skills.

How much does a commercial fisher make? The average salary for a commercial fishing worker is $41,950. However, these workers are normally paid based on the amount of fish they catch.

Where to look for a commercial fisher job

You can browse fishing worker positions on our job board.

13. Truck driver

Truck drivers drive tractor-trailers long distances while hauling commercial goods. Most commonly, they’ll transport goods from warehouses or manufacturing plants to retail locations.

In addition to loading and unloading the truck, drivers also must stay on schedule and know how to complete basic truck repairs. They are responsible for running the truck safely and efficiently.

Many long-haul truckers are gone for several weeks at a time as they carry multiple loads between destinations.

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What do you need to be a truck driver?

Most truck drivers have a high school diploma. You’ll also need a commercial driver’s license and a clean driving record.

Truck drivers need good hand-eye coordination, eyesight, and hearing. To drive a truck, you’ll need to be confident on the road and be comfortable driving long distances.

How much does a truck driver make?

The average salary for a truck driver is $47,130 per year or $22.66 per hour.

Where to look for a truck driver job

You can browse truck driver positions on our job board.

14. Agriculture worker or farm laborer

Agriculture workers and farm laborers do many different kinds of manual labor tasks in order to cultivate crops and livestock.

They may work on small family farms or large-scale commercial farms.

Agriculture workers typically care for crops throughout their life cycle. Their tasks often include planting, watering, pest control, and harvesting. They may use fertilizer, pesticides, and other tools to do so. They also use farm equipment and machinery.

Farm laborers who work with livestock are responsible for caring for animals such as cows, pigs, and chickens. They may clean out pens and cages, herd animals into different pastures or areas, and identify animals who are sick.

What do you need to be an agricultural worker?

Most agriculture and farm jobs do not require any formal education. Training is usually done on the job and takes a few weeks.

Agricultural workers need to be physically fit, with good mechanical skills and listening skills. To work in this blue-collar job, you'll need to enjoy the outdoors and be comfortable working long hours.

How much does an agricultural worker make?

The average income for an agricultural worker is $28,900 per year or $13.89 per hour.

Where to look for agricultural worker jobs

You can browse agricultural worker positions on our job board.

15. Manufacturing technician

Manufacturing technicians work in factories, warehouses, and other industrial settings to produce goods.

They follow blueprints and quality assurance checklists to make sure the products they assemble are high-quality and up to the brand’s standards.

Manufacturing technicians work in a range of different industries. They may assemble medical devices, technology or computer components, or vehicles.

Some manufacturing roles may require technicians to work with heavy machinery or robotics tools.

What do you need to be a manufacturing technician?

Entry-level manufacturing technician jobs typically require a high school diploma.

Higher-level manufacturing jobs may require additional education, certification, or training. You’ll need analytical skills, manual dexterity, and observational skills.

How much does a manufacturing technician make?

The average annual wage for this blue-collar job is $34,970, or $16.81 per hour.

Where to find a manufacturing technician job

You can browse manufacturing technician positions on this job board.

16. Painter

Painters work on construction sites or in private residences to give the finishing touches to a room or building.

Painters choose the supplies for a given job and prepare the space and surrounding area to be painted.

Before they apply paint, they may need to remove wall fixtures, cover furniture and floors, and fill in holes or cracks.

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What do you need to be a painter?

Painters usually have a high school diploma and some painting experience. But if you do want training, some technical schools offer short painting courses.

Painters need high attention to detail, manual dexterity, and physical strength. You should be comfortable working on a ladder.

How much does a painter make?

The average painter’s salary is $42,130 per year or $20.25 per hour.

Where to look for painter jobs

You can browse painter positions on our job board.

17. Chef or line cook

Chefs and line cooks prepare food in restaurants and hotels.

Typically, chefs coordinate the entire kitchen, including managing staff, planning menus, and ordering supplies. Line cooks, on the other hand, operate just one station, such as the grill.

Food-service positions in fast food or casual dining establishments may have shorter shifts or hourly requirements, while higher-end restaurants may be more demanding and require longer hours.

What do you need to be a chef?

Chef and line cook job requirements do vary. In general, no formal education is required. Some cities or states may require certain certifications or food-handling training prior to employment.

To boost your chances of employment, you can enroll in a course at a technical school or a college degree. Chef’s need to be creative and able to spend long hours on their feet.

How much does a chef make?

The median wage for a cook is $27,250 per year or $13.10 per hour. If you’re a qualified chef, the average is $53,380 per year or $25.66 per hour.

Where to look for chef jobs

You can browse chef positions on our job board.

18. EMT (Emergency Medical Technician)

EMTs attend emergency situations. They work with paramedics to administer first aid and transport patients to the hospital.

They can give CPR and offer wound care. The EMT may drive the ambulance or monitor the patient until they arrive at their destination.

EMTs assist with reporting and may need to relay details of the case to the hospital care team.

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What do you need to be an EMT?

To work as an EMT, you’ll need a high school diploma or equivalent. EMTs need CPR certification and further training. EMT programs take approximately one year to complete.

EMTs need to be compassionate and patient. You should have good problem-solving and communication skills. You’ll need to be calm under pressure.

How much does an EMT make?

The average salary for an EMT is $36,650 per year or $17.62 per hour.

Where to look for EMT jobs

You can browse EMT positions on our job board.

19. Police officer

Police officers protect citizens and their properties. They investigate crimes and respond to emergencies.

They’re often the first people on the scene and may need to diffuse volatile situations. Police officers make arrests, monitor traffic, and issue citations.

Police officers write reports and may need to testify in court. Some police officers patrol areas and look for illegal behavior.

What do you need to be a police officer?

To work as a police officer, you’ll need a high school diploma. The process can vary depending on your location, but you can expect to attend a training academy, followed by on-the-job training.

Police officers need a clean record, physical fitness, empathy, good judgment, and knowledge of the law.

How much does a police officer make?

The average salary for a police officer is $67,290 per year or $32.35 per hour.

Where to look for police officer jobs

You can browse police officer positions on our job board.

20. Personal trainer

Personal trainers work with people to improve their physical fitness. They demonstrate exercises and make sure their clients are doing them safely.

Personal trainers instruct and motivate, and they offer modified fitness programs for those with limited mobility.

These workers may need to give first aid and can share healthy food and lifestyle advice.

What do you need to be a personal trainer?

If you want to be a personal trainer, you’ll need a high school diploma. And, you’ll need an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in recreation and fitness. Personal trainers need to be certified.

Personal trainers need to be physically fit and motivational. To be successful, you’ll need to have good communication, listening, and time-management skills.

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How much does a personal trainer make?

The median annual earnings for a personal trainer is $40,510, or $19.48 per hour.

Where to look for personal trainer jobs

You can browse personal trainer positions on our job board.

Find a high-paying manual labor job that’s right for you

With this list in hand, you can start pursuing a labor job that fits your needs and interests — and earn a good salary while doing it.

Pay close attention to the job requirements to make sure you’ll be comfortable in the manual labor job you’re interested in. For most positions, you’ll need to be physically fit and able to spend long hours on your feet.

Before you apply, craft a strong resume that showcases your skills.

For more hints and tips, check out the Jobcase Getting Hired Resource Center. Ready to start your job search? Browse our job board for job openings in your area.

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