Blue-collar vs White-collar Jobs: Which is For You?

Blue-collar vs White-collar Jobs: Which is For You? By Dylan Miller - July 29, 2021

Blue-collar vs White-collar Jobs

White-collar and blue-collar are terms in the English language that conjure various meanings. People perceive a white-collar employee to make more money compared to a blue-collar employee. The blue-collar employee also gets their hands dirty doing manual labor. On the other hand, the white-collar employee may work behind a desk. 

Perhaps the blue-collar employee has a less rounded education compared to a white-collar employee. The unique characteristics between the two forms of workers go on. However, no definition in the dictionary can provide a more concise meaning as to what the phrases indicate.

One of the most common ways to define these two terms is that a white-collar worker belongs to a different social class compared to a blue-collar worker. 

However, stating white-collar employees exist in a different social class won’t explain the quantitative differences of the skills, education, and annual income each employee possesses. 

What Does White-Collar Mean?

White-collar employees are people who work inside an office. The term comes from many years ago. Before, office employees typically wore a white, collared shirt at work. 

Oftentimes, white-collar industries need at least an undergraduate degree for them to accept an employee. A couple of industries that have a lot of white-collar jobs include:

  • Law
  • Engineering
  • Consulting
  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Health service providers
  • Software development
  • Technological innovation

The term white-collar has now slowly been expanded to include any worker in an office environment whose tasks include managerial, administrative, or clerical duties. The job description of a white-collar employee stereotypically will not include physical labor. 

What Does Blue-Collar Mean?

Oftentimes, blue-collar industries have a related trade union. While they don’t require an undergraduate degree, the worker will require an apprenticeship or technical training to enter the job. 

A couple of industries that have a lot of blue-collar jobs include:

  • Agriculture
  • Maintenance and repair
  • Pest control and cleaning
  • Municipal services
  • Landscaping
  • Logistics and transportation
  • Construction
  • Foodservice
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail

Blue-collar employees usually don’t work in an office. Instead, they make money by doing trade-related or manual labor. 

Traditionally, a blue-collar job will focus on physical exertion instead of mental attention. Unlike white-collar jobs, blue-collar employees typically cannot work remotely.


It is normal for white-collar jobs to provide a yearly salary based on a constant 40-hour workweek. 

On a lot of occasions, blue-collar jobs provide an hourly wage. A manager will designate particular shifts or hours per week. Both professional categories can earn high wages based on position, skills, and experience. 

Responsibilities and Roles

Typically, white-collar jobs have roles that need skills. You can usually obtain these skills via formal education.

For instance, in a restaurant, an accountant will require formal education to work. On the other hand, a waitress will need on-the-job training for her job. 


The difference between the forms of responsibilities is also not clear. For example, a foreman in a construction site has a blue-collar job. However, their duties need managerial and leadership skills. These two things are usually attributed to white-collar jobs. 

A helpful distinction may be that the blue-collar job description does not specify the level of skill or the form of pay workers obtain. Blue-collar workers can be salaried or waged, unskilled or skilled. 

More unskilled workers perform blue-collar jobs. Thus, blue-collar work implies needing fewer skills. 

Work Setting

The clearest distinction between blue-collar and white-collar jobs is that a white-collar worker works with a computer and desk in an office setting. Blue-collar employees can work in different non-office settings.

This includes outdoor areas, production lines, workshops, construction sites, warehouses, and factories.

These guys are also skilled in physical work using machines, such as dealing with short run injection molding processes, which are already becoming the norm in the industry due to their efficiency and quality procedure.

Most, if not all blue-collared workers today are also required to wear face masks because they are more exposed to the risks outside in this time of the pandemic.


Usually, white-collar jobs need some type of higher education. These employees might require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or a high-school diploma. They sometimes have higher earning potential with more education.

On the other hand, blue-collar jobs usually provide on-the-job training via vocational schools or apprenticeships. A couple of more specialized and higher-paid blue-collar positions also need technical skills or particular certifications.

The Difference Between Blue-Collar and White-Collar Employees

The differences in implication between blue-collar and white-collar reflect how Western societies utilized to distinguish the service industry in comparison to the agricultural and manufacturing industries.

Since it reflects a focus on mental attention, the office setting was implied as being a superior work setting. It is also safer for the employee. People see white-collar employees have a more crucial part in the economy and have more responsibilities. 

However, these distinctions became unclear in the 21st century. Today, these distinctions aren’t as crucial as they once were. A lot of CEOs conduct excellent innovation in integrated workspaces.

For instance, Elon Musk. In his company, the manufacturers, engineers, and physicists all work on the same part of the factory. These people work together through a horizontal organizational structure. 

More individuals are now recognizing the mental work and skill that goes into traditional blue-collar industries, such as agriculture and manufacturing. 


The terms blue-collar and white-collar are traditional shorthand. They’re intended to define differences in salary, and job duties.

Fortunately, the distinctions between blue-collar and white-collar are becoming a blur in the current world economy. 

In addition to that, the terms also do not accurately classify people who take part in the gig economy or working freelance jobs. Various worker descriptions based on a horizontal organization structure might be more helpful for the current century.

Nonetheless, whichever career path you choose, always remember that it’s always best to draw inspiration from success stories to be more enlightened and motivated to be successful in your work.

So, what job is for you? Well, it all depends on your preferences

By Dylan Miller - July 29, 2021

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