Basic industries or blue-collar jobs are typically manual labor and require little to no education. Despite their common perception, these jobs are not always entry-level as workers may advance their careers and even specialize in a certain type of task. These occupations often have a low unemployment rate due to the amount of positions available, but wages tend to be lower than other fields.
The median annual wage for all blue-collar jobs was $32,390 in 2017—a fair amount less than other fields but still more than enough to support a family. But that’s only true for those who are fortunate enough to find work. Competition for blue-collar job openings is fierce and growing fiercer as the economy continues to strengthen. If you’re looking for a career in basic industries, read on to learn more about wages, educational requirements, and skills needed for these positions.
What Are Basic Industries Jobs?
There are many different types of basic industries jobs, but they all require little to no formal education. In fact, 40% of all workers in the United States have a high school diploma or less. The rate of employment among this demographic is higher than ever due to ongoing advancements in automation. New technology in industries like construction, manufacturing, and mining often replaces human workers with automated systems that perform better and faster. The difference between blue-collar and white-collar is often debated, but the general consensus is that basic industries are blue-collar while white-collar jobs require more education in the liberal arts and sciences.
Blue-Collar Job Pay and Wage Basics
Blue-collar workers are often paid an hourly wage and eligible for overtime hours. This means that, if your hours exceed 40 per week, your employer must pay you time and a half for each hour worked over the standard 40-hour workweek. Most industries that employ blue-collar workers also have standard benefits packages such as paid sick leave, health care, and retirement plans. Wages for blue-collar jobs can vary greatly depending on the industry and what part of the country you work in. Some industries pay well above the national average while others only offer a minimum wage. Blue-collar workers in high-paying industries like mining, engineering, or construction earn an annual wage of $90,000 or more. Workers in lower-wage industries like food service or retail make around $19,000 annually.
Welders and Welding Jobs
Welding is one of the most common blue-collar jobs and a lucrative profession. While not all welders work in basic industries, many do. The BLS expects demand for welders to grow 12% between 2018 and 2026. A welder’s job is to join two pieces of metal together with a heated arc of electricity. This arc flows between the metal items and completes an electrical circuit by finding its path through the least conductive part of the joint.
Construction and Building Operators
Construction and building operators are responsible for managing the construction process from start to finish. Their duties include planning, ordering materials, and supervising a crew of workers as they build structures and install machinery. Employers often prefer construction workers with a high school diploma or equivalency (high school diploma/GED).
Machine Operators and Repairers
Machine operators and repairers operate and repair specialized machines in a variety of industries including manufacturing, construction, and mining. Machinee operators generally set up and operate automated systems for specific tasks such as stitching together fabrics or applying glue to boards. Machine repairers, on the other hand, are responsible for fixing broken equipment such as electrical wiring or hydraulic systems that move cranes.
Carpenters and Floor Installers – Basic Industries Jobs
Carpenters and floor installers specialize in construction and building operations by building and installing flooring materials like tile and hardwood. Employers prefer workers with a high school diploma or GED for these positions.
Concluding Thoughts – Basic Industries Jobs
Blue-collar jobs remain in high demand and pay well above the national average, but competition is fierce. If you’re hoping to get hired, you must demonstrate a willingness to work hard and be a team player. You also need to possess a few key skills like welding, carpentry, or machine operation. If you’re willing to learn new skills, even better. Basic industries jobs provide a living wage and, with hard work and perseverance, can build a rewarding career.