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Blue-Collar Businesses Pay Off for Entrepreneurs

Business News Daily Editor
Business News Daily Editor

Eight of the top 10 highest-earning industries for small business ownership are in the blue-collar sector.

  • A blue-collar business typically employs people who are trained in manual labor.
  • These jobs pay much higher than most people realize, and blue-collar businesses can bill large amounts monthly.
  • Because more people than ever are going to college and graduate school, there is a shortage of blue-collar workers.

Do you want to start a lucrative small business? Your best bet might be to go into a blue-collar industry like construction, plumbing or electrical work.

Based on information from a 2016 study from invoicing app Invoice2go, eight of the top 10 highest-earning industries for small business ownership came from the blue-collar sector. At the time, they billed more than $5,000 per month on average.

Bob Briski, ‎then-director of data infrastructure at Invoice2go, said the study's results challenge the perception that you need a four-year college degree to be among the top earners.

"While society tends to push everyone to get a four-year degree, and typically take on a lot of debt in the process, we are seeing countless examples of people carving out a very successful path of their own, particularly in blue-collar industries," Briski wrote on the company's blog. "There's a lot of opportunity out there, and with new technology to make it even easier to thrive as a small business operator, it's ripe for anyone's taking."

For the study, researchers examined the invoicing activity of more than 33,000 U.S.-based Invoice2go users. Earnings were determined by taking the median monthly dollar amount invoiced per month for each business account between January and September 2016. Invoice2go users are typically entrepreneurs, people with side gigs, and owners of microbusinesses (those with fewer than five employees). [Read related article: The 10 Best (and Worst) Cities for Starting a Business]

Back in 2016, the top earners were construction small businesses, which invoiced more than $18,000 a month, on average. Based on the research, here were the 25 highest-earning industries for small business ownership in the U.S. and their monthly average invoices in 2016:

  1. Construction: $18,788
  2. Roofing: $16,942
  3. Flooring: $10,602
  4. Painting: $9,486
  5. Heating and air conditioning: $8,971
  6. Carpentry: $8,950
  7. Plumbing: $8,639
  8. Electrical: $7,490
  9. Interiors: $7,347
  10. Audio: $5,587
  11. Pool services: $5,412
  12. Security: $5,283
  13. Repair: $5,195
  14. Handyman: $5,194
  15. Auto repair: $4,35
  16. Landscaping: $4,030
  17. Catering: $3,333
  18. Events: $2,963
  19. Design: $2,680
  20. Cleaning: $2,555
  21. Photography: $2,243
  22. Fitness: $2,000
  23. Technology: $1,895
  24. Beauty and salon: $1,500
  25. Bakery: $1,043

According to the National Compensation Survey: Occupational Earnings in the United States, which is published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the list has changed a bit. Here are the 10 best paying blue-collar jobs and their annual salaries as of 2019:

  1. Elevator installer and repairer: $87,518
  2. Electrical and electronics repairer (powerhouse, substation and relay): $68,084
  3. Power plant operator, distributor and dispatcher: $65,846
  4. Gas plant operator: $63,872
  5. Locomotive engineer: $63,125
  6. Electrical power-line installer and repairer: $60,354
  7. Structural iron and steel worker: $59,224
  8. Construction and building inspector: $59,144
  9. Ship and boat captain and operator: $57,910
  10. Radio and telecommunications equipment installer: $57,149

In addition to looking at specific industries, the researchers at Invoice2Go examined which cities offered blue-collar businesses the greatest earning potential. Here were the highest-earning cities for blue-collar business in the U.S. and their average monthly invoices in 2016:

  1. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina: $20,318
  2. Houston, Texas: $17,219
  3. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas: $16,085
  4. Portland, Oregon: $13,294
  5. Louis, Missouri: $12,692
  6. New York City, New York: $12,426
  7. Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, California: $12,408
  8. Seattle-Tacoma, Washington: $12,018
  9. Charlotte, North Carolina: $11,628
  10. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Florida: $11,586

Despite the high invoice amounts, it is important to remember that these blue-collar businesses might not have been making the most profit, said Mark Bartels, chief financial officer at Invoice2go. One reason construction and roofing topped the list is that the costs of those services to the businesses themselves is high, he said, but those businesses often have low profit margins.

"Remember, what invoicing value doesn't tell you is the underlying cost of goods sold associated with an invoice," Bartels told Business News Daily. "For example, building a $30,000 driveway may yield a smaller profit than someone billing for services like graphic design or consulting, where the only cost of goods sold is the person's time and laptop. "

What is a blue-collar business?

A blue-collar business is a type of business in which the employees perform manual labor. This labor can be either skilled or unskilled. This is a stark contrast to the world of white-collar jobs, where someone typically works in an office and sits at a desk or computer for most of the day.

Blue-collar businesses include those in manufacturing, mining, commercial fishing, pest control, oil fields, recycling and construction, among others. In general, a blue-collar job involves working to build or maintain something. The phrase "blue collar" originated from the blue denim that manual workers tended to wear as part of their work outfits. There is very high demand for blue-collar services, as evidenced by the monthly invoices of many of these businesses. 

These are just a few of the many blue-collar jobs that are in high demand across the U.S. Because many people are going on to earn college and graduate degrees, there is a shortage of blue-collar workers, which presents a tremendous opportunity for those looking to start and run their own blue-collar business. 


Image Credit: Sculpies/Shutterstock
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