The Best Manual Labor Jobs


Manual labor is work performed using physical skill and energy. While machines have replaced many of the jobs traditionally performed manually, many types of work can still be by a human being. Manual labor jobs often require specialized skill and knowledge. Trained and experienced laborers command the highest rates of pay.

Journeyman Jobs

  • A journeyman is a worker who is qualified to perform a certain type of work without supervision. Journeymen typically receive special training and complete an apprenticeship at which they receive on-the-job experience under supervision. Journeymen sometimes travel within a country or internationally. Journeyman jobs requiring travel typically pay a higher rate of pay and offer benefits, such as health insurance and paid time off. Journeyman jobs involving travel include construction and electrical work.

Elevator Installers and Repairmen

Transportation Jobs

  • The highest paying jobs in the transportation industry go to transportation inspectors. Other high-paying transportation blue-collar jobs include subway conductors and locomotive engineers. Training for this type of work includes an apprenticeship equivalent to the time investment of earning a bachelor's degree. The five states with the highest employment rates for this occupation are North Dakota, Kansas, Indiana, New Mexico and Missouri. The five states paying the highest wages for locomotive engineers are New Mexico, California, Colorado, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Power Plant Operators

  • Power plant operators are responsible for activities involved in generation of electrical power. Training for this job include classroom instruction and several years of on-the-job training. Strong math and computer skills and understanding of science are basic requirements. The market outlook for this type of work is strong. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Power plant operators control and monitor boilers, turbines, generators and auxiliary equipment in power-generating plants."

Home Appliance Repair

  • The market outlook for home appliance repair is strong. Job locations include in-home and in-store. Training varies, with minimum requirements of a high school diploma or GED and demonstrated proficiency in the skill involved in the particular area of home appliance repair. On-the-job training and classroom product-specific instruction is provided by many of the larger companies. Training for appliance repair is offered as an associate-degree program in many community colleges. The Environmental Protection Agency requires that all refrigerator repairers are certified in handling refrigerants.

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