Best Paying Manual Labor Jobs

Updated on February 26, 2024

The manual labor sector is teeming with opportunities that not only promise a rewarding career but also offer attractive financial incentives. From constructing the very foundations of infrastructure to ensuring the smooth operation of complex machinery, these roles are indispensable to the fabric of society. Here, we explore the top-paying manual labor jobs, shedding light on their responsibilities, average salaries, and the educational pathways to embark on these careers.

Air Traffic Controller

  • Average Salary: $129,750
  • Job Description: Air traffic controllers are responsible for monitoring and directing the movement of aircraft on the ground and in the air, ensuring safe distances between planes.
  • Responsibilities: Include using radar, computers, or visual references to manage aircraft movement.
  • Required Education: An Associate degree coupled with a training program.

Commercial Pilot

  • Average Salary: $99,640
  • Job Description: Commercial pilots navigate airplanes, helicopters, or other aircraft for businesses, individuals, or organizations.
  • Responsibilities: Flying and navigating aircraft, managing the flight crew, and ensuring the safety of passengers and cargo.
  • Required Education: Requirements vary, including federal requirements for age, flight hours, and a physical exam.

Nuclear Technician

  • Average Salary: $99,340
  • Job Description: Nuclear technicians assist in nuclear research and energy production under the supervision of physicists and engineers.
  • Responsibilities: Operating and monitoring nuclear reactors using specialized equipment.
  • Required Education: An Associate degree in nuclear science, nuclear technology, or a related field.

Elevator and Escalator Mechanic

  • Average Salary: $97,860
  • Job Description: These mechanics install, maintain, and repair elevators, escalators, moving walkways, and other related equipment.
  • Responsibilities: Includes testing, maintaining, and repairing electrical systems and keeping inspection records.
  • Required Education: A high school diploma or equivalent, with an apprenticeship program for hands-on training.

Radiation Therapist

  • Average Salary: $82,790
  • Job Description: Radiation therapists administer radiation treatments to cancer patients under the direction of oncologists.
  • Responsibilities: Preparing patients for treatment, operating radiation equipment, and monitoring patient reactions.
  • Required Education: An Associate degree in radiation therapy.

Dental Hygienist

  • Average Salary: $77,810
  • Job Description: Dental hygienists work with dentists to provide oral healthcare services, including cleaning teeth and examining patients for signs of oral diseases.
  • Responsibilities: Cleaning teeth, taking X-rays, and educating patients on oral hygiene.
  • Required Education: An Associate degree in dental hygiene.

MRI Technologist

  • Average Salary: $77,360
  • Job Description: MRI technologists operate Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners to create diagnostic images.
  • Responsibilities: Preparing patients and operating MRI equipment to obtain images as directed by physicians.
  • Required Education: An Associate degree and completion of an accredited MRI technologist program.

Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians

  • Average Salary: $65,550
  • Job Description: These professionals are responsible for maintaining and repairing aircraft to ensure they are safe for flight.
  • Responsibilities: Diagnosing mechanical issues, repairing systems, and installing new equipment.
  • Required Education: Education requirements vary, with many entering the field through FAA-approved aviation schools or military training.

Final Thoughts

The realm of manual labor presents a diverse array of high-paying jobs that cater to a wide range of interests and skill sets. Whether it’s guiding aircraft safely through the skies, navigating the complexities of nuclear energy, or ensuring the health and safety of patients through advanced medical procedures, these roles offer both financial rewards and the intrinsic satisfaction of contributing to the critical operations of society. The path to these careers often bypasses the conventional four-year degree, offering a quicker entry into the workforce and the opportunity to earn while learning through hands-on training and apprenticeships.

Other Jobs in Industrial and Manufacturing Sectors


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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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