The New Blue Collar Worker

Blue Collar Worker

Forbes’ list shows degrees at DCTC can lead to six-figure salaries

Many things come to mind when you hear the term “blue collar.” Some might associate it with manual labor. Others might think working class. Have you ever thought of “blue collar” as six-figure salaries and 40 million job openings? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that’s exactly where our skilled professionals are headed and they don’t even need a bachelor’s degree to get there.

Every year, Forbes magazine sifts through data from BLS, a division of the Labor Department, to package together a list of the top 20 highest paying blue collar jobs. The results? Seven programs at Dakota County Technical College provide the fundamentals to obtain 12 of the top-20 jobs on Forbes’ list.

Electrical Construction and Maintenance TechnologyElectrical Construction and Maintenance Technology
  • No. 1 Elevator Installers and Repairers
  • No. 2 Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Powerhouse, Substation, and Relay
  • No. 11 Signal and Track Switch Repairers
  • No. 13 Electricians
  • No. 14 Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers, Except Line Installers
  • No. 15 Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Commercial and Industrial Equipment

“Electrical work is electrical work,” said Mike Buck, Electrical Construction and Maintenance Technology instructor. “The theory, why, and how things work the way they do applies to all types of electrical work.” Six professions on Forbes’ list all start with an education in electrical construction, installation, operation, and maintenance.

Elevator Installer and Repairer
Average Annual Salary: $73,560
Average Hourly Wage: $35.37
Annual Pay for Top 10%: $105,750

Consider an Elevator Installer and Repairer, reaching number one on Forbes’ list with a top annual salary of $105,750. They assemble, install, repair, or maintain passenger and freight elevators, escalators, or dumbwaiters (bls.gov). Did you know that travelling in an elevator is actually the safest way to travel?

Passenger elevators are raised and lowered by a system of cables or a hydraulic cylinder, depending on the application. Elevator Installers put in the electrical wiring and run tests to ensure the elevator works properly. The other part of the job is maintaining and repairing elevators so we can travel safely from the 1st floor to the 30th. Think about how many elevators you see on a weekly basis.

An Elevator license is one of several types of electrical licenses and is limited to this scope of work. Another classification of personal electrical license is the Power-Limited Technician, which refers to Forbes’ number 14, Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers. Power limited is a term associated with the National Electrical Code, which describes the amount of energy available to a particular circuit. Such circuits are typically are Electrical Construction and Maintenance Technologyused for telephone, computer cabling, internet, security, fire alarm, audio/visual, home theater, and a gamut of other data/communications in the security industry. This is all covered in the Electrical Construction and Maintenance Technology program at DCTC!

Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Powerhouse, Substation, and Relay
Average Annual Salary: $65,950
Average Hourly Salary: $31.71
Annual Pay for Top 10%: $87,460

Buck explains that numbers two, 11, and 15 are professions that may involve working on specific equipment, but the fundamentals of electrical work still apply. Signal and Track Switch Repairers (11) are electricians that work specifically with a railroad system and Commercial and Industrial Electricians (15) deal more with control systems, computers, and automation.

Signal and Track Switch Repairers
Average Annual Salary: $53,210
Average Hourly Wage: $26.06
Annual Pay for Top%: $72,450

According to Buck, it’s a discipline of electrical work that involves troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining, which is well-covered in the Electrical Construction and Maintenance Technology Program.

Electrical and Electronics, Repairers, Commercial and Industrial Equipment
Average Annual Salary: $52,420
Average Hourly Wage: $25.20
Annual Pay for Top 10%: $73,010

“Industries look to people graduating from a technical electrical program or a technical mechanical program to go into these types of things through an apprenticeship program,” Buck said. “There are an awful lot of things that run on electricity.”

You don’t have to specialize in a unique field to make the big bucks. An electrician can get back to the basics and, well, simply be an electrician. Making number 13 of Forbes’ list, an electrician’s salary has the potential to reach Electrical Construction and Maintenance Technology$82,680 annually. Someone licensed as a master or journeyman electrician typically works with electricity that has to do with heat, light, and power in commercial or residential dwellings.

Electricians
Average Annual Salary: $52,910
Average Hourly Wage: $25.44
Annual Pay for Top 10%: $82,680

A graduate of the Electrical Construction and Maintenance Technology program has several avenues to choose from, a plentiful job market at his or her fingertips, and high paying salaries. Some folks say that’s a ‘win, win, win.’

For detailed information regarding personal electrical licenses, visit the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry website.

For more information about the Electrical Construction and Maintenance Technology program at DCTC, contact:
  • Mike Buck
    Electrical Construction and Maintenance Instructor
    651-423-8494

…to be continued in The New Blue Collar Worker — Part 2.