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What skilled trades jobs actually pay updated

Our second most read post recently is a 2016 post on what skilled trades jobs pay. I wrote the 2016 post because I was then––and am now––skeptical of the claims about the number of jobs and pay in the traditional blue collar trades. Given the interest in the topic here are updated data for those occupations. And a best place to find up to date information on occupational wages.

The 2016 post listed the occupations (non supervisors) in the four main blue collar sectors––construction, extraction and mining; factory and other production; installation, maintenance and repair; and transportation and material moving––that employed at least 1,000 (out of four million employed Michiganders then) and had an average annual wage of more than the statewide average of $45,100. What follows is updated median wage data on those 22 occupations. I have not redone the analysis of which occupations meet the “employed at least 1,000 and had an average annual wage of more than the statewide average” calculation.

As I noted in 2016, you read that right: only 22 occupations met those criteria. “No carpenters, truck drivers, welders and automotive service technicians. And all the other hundreds of so called high paid/high demand blue collar skilled trades. If the list was for occupations that pay at least the statewide average and employ at least 5,000 the above number of occupations would decline from 22 to 7.”

The updated data come from the Michigan Education and Career Pathfinder website. It is THE place to go for updated information including occupational wages for more than 600 occupations.  Worth checking out. Far more reliable than what you hear from political and business leadership or the media.

Construction, Extraction and Mining

  • Brickmasons/blockmasons: $46,400
  • Electricians: $58,080
  • Plumbers/pipefitters/steamfitters: $63,610
  • Structural iron and steel workers: $50,200

Factory and Other Production

  • Chemical plant and system operators: $57,290
  • Chemical operators and tenders: $46,200
  • CNC tool programmers (not CNC machine operators): $48,970
  • Engine and other machine assemblers: $47,620
  • Model makers, metal and plastic: $68,070
  • Painters, transportation equipment: $40,540
  • Power plant operators: (average wage of $66,950 in 2016, not listed in 2018)
  • Tool and die makers: $51,880

Installation, Maintenance and Repair

  • Aircraft mechanics and technicians: $52,220
  • Automotive body repairers: $47,100
  • Control and valve installers and repairers: (average wage of $59,760 in 2016, not listed in 2018)
  • Electrical and electronics repairers, commercial and industrial: $54,100
  • Electrical power-line installers and repairers: $75,260
  • Heating, air conditioning, refrigeration installers and repairers: $46,460
  • Industrial machinery mechanics: $50,870
  • Millwrights: $68,930
  • Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers: $52,550

Transportation and Material Moving

  • Commercial pilots: $52,550
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Lou Glazer

Lou Glazer is President and co-founder of Michigan Future, Inc., a non-partisan, non-profit organization. Michigan Future’s mission is to be a source of new ideas on how Michigan can succeed as a world class community in a knowledge-driven economy. Its work is funded by Michigan foundations.

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