March 17, 2021 • Finding Your Path
5 Top Blue-Collar Skills You Can Teach Yourself
You already know you can have a great career without going to college, but many blue-collar jobs still require some amount of formal training or education to get licensed. After all, you’re probably not going to pick up what you need to know to become an elevator installer or power plant operator around the house!
Still, there are many blue-collar skills you can teach yourself that will help your bank account. These are skills that can save you money, add value to your home, keep you and your family safer, or earn you income on the side. And if you decide to make a career change down the road, they’re also something you could potentially turn into a full-time job or business.
Here are my top 5 blue collar skills that can save and make you money — no school required.
Many people have been doing simple carpentry since they built their first birdhouse as a kid. Carpentry is a great blue collar skill to have. In addition to improving your home’s value and saving money by adding a new deck or fixing a squeaky stair yourself, you can use your carpentry skills to make your home more accessible and safer for older relatives with upgrades like ramps and handrails. Most states allow you to handle small jobs as a handyman without getting a special license, although you should check requirements in your area.
If woodworking is your thing, you can also furnish your home or make extra money by building and selling custom furniture and bookshelves.
While you need to be licensed to handle more complex projects, plumbing is another great skill if you want to pick up extra work repairing leaky pipes or fixing clogged drains as a handyman. You can also use your plumbing skills to add value to your own home and save money by upgrading your kitchen sink, replacing an old toilet, and replacing your faucets with low-flow fixtures to reduce your water bill.
Having plumbing skills can also save you big bucks down the road and even avoid potential safety problems by spotting problems early — like noticing a slow leak before it causes long-term water damage.
If you’re a car enthusiast you probably already love getting grease on your hands and tinkering around under the hood. Of course, teaching yourself basic car maintenance is also a great way to save money. In addition to things like regular oil and filter changes, knowing how to fix your car yourself can save you the cost of an expensive tow or roadside assistance if you break down on the road.
Most states require you to be licensed to work as an auto mechanic or to open your own shop, but you can still use this blue-collar skill to make money on the side by fixing up cars for resale or making upgrades like nicer wheels or a dual exhaust system to increase the value of your own vehicle.
As anyone who made money mowing lawns as a teenager knows, learning landscaping skills can be a quick and easy way to earn extra income. And while you usually need to be licensed for larger landscaping projects, and you need special certification for things like tree surgery or pesticide application, in many states you can perform basic lawn or yard maintenance without any special requirements.
Landscaping is also a great skill to have around your own house. Adding trees, planting a privacy hedge, and installing an automatic irrigation system not only make your home more enjoyable to live in, they can increase your property value. You can also improve your home’s safety by knowing how to keep plants pruned and disposing of dead leaves and debris, reducing fire hazards.
If you enjoy tinkering with things like entertainment systems or home electronics, you can develop your skills as a low-voltage technician. While rules vary from state to state, in general there are far fewer licensing requirements for low-voltage work than for other electricians. With this blue-collar skill you can bask in the glory of a tricked-out home theater or outdoor speaker system, while also adding value to your home.
Understanding low-voltage electronics is also a great way to upgrade your home’s safety features, such as by installing security cameras at your front door, or adding some outdoor landscape lighting to improve visibility and reduce stumbles at night.
Want to learn more about how you can use your blue-collar skills to make money? My book Blue Collar Cash will show you how you can have a great career without going to college.