“Blue-collar workers”?  “White-collar jobs”?  You have probably heard these colorful descriptions before, but do you know what they mean?

The term “white-collar” has been used since the 1920s to describe a non-manual labor job or worker because the traditional attire in an office or a professional environment is a suit, a tie and a white shirt.  It is unclear when the term “blue-collar” was first used, but it describes a manual labor job or worker because the color blue references the traditional blue denim overalls or shirts worn by manual laborers.


Blue-collar workers: 

Blue-collar workers are those that perform jobs that demand skilled or unskilled manual labor.  Unlike the unskilled type, skilled manual labor requires specialized skills, training and education (usually from a trade school) to successfully perform the job.

Examples of skilled blue-collar jobs:  Carpenters, cooks, electricians, painters EMTs, firefighters, plumbers, police officers and welders.

Examples of unskilled blue-collar jobs:  laborers, dishwashers, agricultural workers, grocery clerks, janitors, messengers, miners and oil field workers.


White-collar workers:

White-collar workers (more commonly referred to as “employees” or “professionals”) are those that occupy skilled, non-manual labor jobs.  These types of jobs typically require advanced specialized skills, training and education (usually from a four-year college or university) to successfully perform the job.

Examples of white-collar jobs:  Accountants, architects, attorneys, bankers, doctors, engineers, pharmacists and teachers.

The educational requirements, work settings, and physical and mental demands may be different between blue-collar and white-collar jobs.  However, one is not better than the other.  Traditionally, many assumed, that white-collar jobs paid higher salaries than most blue-collar ones, but that is not the case. It is not uncommon to find many blue-collar workers earning higher wages than white-collar employees.

No matter which path a worker may decide to take— both offer the opportunity to reach professional and financial success!

Vested HR Solutions are experts in both the White-collar and Blue-collar labor forces. We can help you with payroll and tax management, benefits administration, human resources and risk management to protect and grow your business with No surprises and the right-size solution every time.


Toni Curling, M.Ed., SHRM-CP

Client Service Manager