What Are Blue Collar Jobs?

blue-collar jobs

We all have jobs that we consider to be “blue-collar” in some way. Some people work with their hands every day, while others come home from a hard day of desk work and do chores around the house.

What are blue collar jobs? Anyone who has a job outside of an office setting falls into this category. Is it dirty work? No, not necessarily. Does it require physical labour? Yes, sometimes. But what is most important about these types of jobs is that they are often overlooked by society because they don’t involve sitting at a desk or wearing fancy clothes as your typical white-collar worker does on any given day.

Blue-collar jobs are the backbone of our country. This blog post will explore what blue-collar workers do for their careers and provide a list of blue-collar jobs that fall into this category. We’ll also look at the most well paid blue collar jobs and the current job market. 

What is a blue-collar job?

A blue-collar job frequently involves the physical construction or maintenance of something and generally necessitates manual labour. Occupations in blue-collar fields often involve operating or working with machinery, equipment, or tools. Manufacturing, farming, and waste collection are all examples of this type of work. Driving and maintenance are two other popular blue collar jobs; both are physically and labour-intensive. 

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An Iowa newspaper first used the term “blue-collar” in 1924. Blue is associated with jeans or shirts, which were frequently worn as part of the uniform. The blue colour helps uniforms hide dirt. They are a better option for labourers than white shirts, which office workers typically wear. 

Blue-collar jobs are frequently segregated by social status, but this is rapidly changing. The average pay for white-collar jobs is decreasing, while it is increasing for blue collar jobs. As a result, blue collar jobs are becoming more popular and well-known. 

What are the differences between white-collar and blue-collar jobs?

Educational requirements

While a high school diploma is typically sufficient for blue-collar positions, most white-collar roles require a bachelor’s degree.

One of the common misconceptions about white-collar workers is that they have a better education than blue-collar workers. Of course, this is not always the case, especially given the high demand for blue collar jobs. Interestingly, if we look back at history, white-collar jobs were once blue-collar, but they became more specialised over time, requiring more education and special training.

Work environment

Some of the most common white-collar jobs occur in an office setting with a desk and computer. These employees may also work remotely or from home, depending on their company’s policies for job flexibility. Occupations such as warehousing and shipping could involve working outdoors. In contrast, others might require more indoor work, like accounting data entry positions where keyboards aren’t always accessible due to weather conditions outside.

Cranes on a project site

Functions and responsibilities

The most common types of blue collar jobs require physical labour with machinery, vehicles or equipment. They might also need specific software and tools for a task at hand to complete successfully- this is an example where the knowledge base would be considered “specialised.”

Although the roles and responsibilities of white-collar workers vary depending on the occupation, they generally involve a lot of office work. They may include sitting in front of a computer for long periods, performing data entry in an office setting, or meeting with co-workers or clients. White-collar jobs also require a large amount of managerial responsibility to ensure that the workplace runs well and efficiently.

Wages

Salaries for white-collar jobs are often based on a 40-hour workweek. In some instances, blue-collar positions offer an hourly wage. You get assigned a certain number of hours or shifts per week to complete your job duties in this category, leading to higher wages with experience.

What is the highest-paid blue-collar job?

The best-paying blue collar jobs today include:

  • structural iron and steel workers: they install or repair huge steel frameworks that hold up buildings such as skyscrapers;
  • electrical power-line installers: they make sure electricity flows through household wires without losing too much energy along the way (just like insulation);
  • construction site inspectors: they ensure building codes meet all requirements for safety before city officials approve them;
  • boilermakers: they build huge, metal vessels for industrial purposes;
  • radio telecommunication equipment installers: they install, check and repair telecommunications equipment such as broadcast towers;
  • locomotive engineers: they drive trains for transportation purposes; and
  • gas plant operators: they run natural gas processing plants;

Examples of blue collar jobs

Blue-collar workers are employed in a variety of industries. Their work is frequently physically demanding. It is also often associated with manufacturing and warehouse work. Here are a few examples of blue collar jobs.

Construction worker

Construction workers are primarily responsible for the construction of roads, bridges, buildings, and homes. Carpenters are blue-collar workers who mainly focus on building things with wood. They build desks, cabinets, beds, chairs, bookshelves, tables, cupboards-pretty much anything made of wood. When working inside a building or home to build furniture or other items out of wood, these blue-collar workers are called carpenters. They are called roofers when they work outside to build houses or larger structures from wood beams and boards.

Electrician

Electricians do electrical wiring in both homes and businesses. They install the wires, outlets, fixtures and lighting for things like houses or office buildings. Some electricians work on large machines in factories. They might be responsible for the blueprints that show where the wiring needs to go within a machine to get it running.

Manual labourer

These blue-collar workers often fill manual labour roles such as unloading trucks, moving heavy metal beams, lifting heavy equipment, digging trenches, sandblasting and painting surfaces, and putting together prefabricated walls and parts of buildings or homes. In other blue-collar positions, labourers work alongside carpenters and electricians to get a house or building built from the ground up.

Agricultural worker

One of the most common blue collar jobs is working on a farm. Agricultural workers plant and harvest crops. They also look after the animals on the farm. Essential tasks for blue-collar workers on farms include scooping up chickens, moving cattle to new pastures, and making sure all farm equipment (tractors, trucks, etc.) are clean and in good working order.

Farmer harvesting crops

Aggregate worker

A blue-collar job that’s not as common as others is an aggregate worker: someone who produces gravel and crushed stone by smashing rocks at a quarry. This blue-collar job requires more careful labour than other blue-collar work because of the dangerous machinery involved in aggregates production (heavy-duty blasting equipment; conveyor belts transporting large rocks from one quarry area to another; heavy-duty trucks and dumpsters used to haul gravel and stone).

Heavy equipment and machine operator

One job that requires specific training is being a heavy equipment worker. Heavy equipment operators control various types of heavy machinery; they work on construction sites, quarries, and mines. They can also be required to move animals (such as cattle) from one location to another using heavy vehicles like tractors or backhoes.

Gardener

Gardeners have one of the most colourful jobs around! Gardeners tend to gardens and landscapes that include lawns, trees, hedges, flowers, bushes, ponds and shrubs. Planting flowers is an essential part of being a blue-collar worker in the garden. Gardeners also make sure lawns are mowed, hedges are trimmed, and buildings (sheds, gazebos) are painted. They might also need to rake up grass cuttings or clears away old brush.

Welder

A blue-collar job that’s available to people with all levels of training (from formal blue-collar apprenticeships to blue-collar certifications) is being a welder. Welders work on machinery, vehicles, and other equipment; they also join together pieces of metal used in blue collar jobs like construction sites or manufacturing facilities.

Carpet installer

One job that requires specific training is being a carpet installer. Carpet installers are needed to lay carpets in homes or businesses with the aid of tools.

Mining industry workers

Some blue collar jobs require workers to use heavy machinery. One example is working in the mining industry; blue-collar workers extract minerals and metals from mines. These blue-collar workers can work on mineral sites or processing facilities where metal is smelted, melted down and purified.

Plumber

Plumbers work specifically on plumbing systems inside homes or businesses; plumbers may also be responsible for checking if these systems are in working order.

Dockworker

Dockworkers perform labour involved with loading and blue-collared unloading ships that come into ports. They tie ships down to the docks, load and unload cargo, clear away hazardous materials, and check that equipment is working.

Foodservice workers

Another job that doesn’t require specific training is being a food service worker. This is one of the fastest growing blue-collar jobs. Food service workers serve food and drinks at restaurants and other businesses; they take orders from customers, bring the order to tables and clean tables when customers leave.

Waiter serving burgers on street from food truck

Cab driver

Another one of the fastest growing blue collar jobs is being a cab driver. Cab drivers drive cars to take people from one place to another and help carry luggage from the curb into businesses and homes.

Aircraft mechanic

Aircraft mechanics repair and inspect aeroplanes. They also do work to make sure these aeroplanes are safe to fly.

As you can see, blue collar jobs cover a wide range of industries. Some positions require specialised training. For example, becoming a skilled tradesperson with a formal apprenticeship can qualify you for work as a carpenter or electrician, while earning a college degree or certificate from a vocational school would prepare you to work as an emergency medical technician (EMT) or computer network analyst.

Other colour collared jobs

What is a white-collar job?

A white-collar job is a term used to refer to office jobs, sometimes also known as professional or management positions. It’s important to note that this term isn’t as formal as it once was and can be used interchangeably with the word “office worker.”

White-collar jobs vary depending on the industry across administrative, front office, business/financial, customer service, and managerial positions.

White collar blue collar 1

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for entry into the workforce. Many companies now prefer applicants with at least some postsecondary education, such as a certificate or associate degree in fields related to their job function (i.e., finance), but this isn’t necessary for all professions.

What is a pink collar job?

A pink collar job is a service-oriented, traditionally female role. There is no official information on how or why this term came into use. Still, some researchers claim it started in the 1950s and 60s when pink was regarded as a colour more commonly associated with women than men (although some say the term originated from prostitutes who wore pink ribbons on their uniforms). However, the label is becoming less popular, and some younger generations may not recognise the phrase at all.

There are many examples of stereotypical pink-collar jobs: teacher, receptionist, nurse, bookkeeper, file clerk, cleaners, secretary, and flight attendant. Nowadays, many of these jobs are performed by men and women, and the colour pink is not nearly exclusive to women anymore. On the contrary, it is worn by men and women alike.

As such, it’s often viewed as supporting staff that run the business side of things rather than directly interacting with customers and clients. These roles tend to be lower paid than other similar white-collar jobs.

Pink collar jobs are still held mainly by women, who make up an estimated 80% of the labour market in these roles. This is due to many factors, including social norms that value caring for children or others as primarily a woman’s responsibility, lack of access to courses needed for technical skills training (in countries where women are not likely to attend university), and plain old discrimination.

What is a red collar job?

A red collar worker can be anyone from an office worker to a company manager, government official or teacher in the public sector; they all share one defining characteristic: they work for the state and not private companies.

What is a green-collar job?

A green-collar worker is a person who works in the environmental sectors of an economy. They often implement environmentally conscious design, policy and technology to improve conservation efforts while working for firms seeking this expertise. Examples of green-collar jobs include:

  • Recycling.
  • Wastewater treatment.
  • Protecting air and water quality.
  • Restoring ecosystems and installing clean energy systems.

What is a gold collar job?

Gold-collared workers are highly skilled, multi-discipline professionals who combine intellectual labour with manual work. They hold highly specialised knowledge in academic/scientific research or engineering technicians to solve problems creatively through complex technical tasks.

Gold collar workers have immense responsibility because they need white-collar skills (i.e., analysing data) while also performing blue-collar duties like installing networking equipment at companies.

What is a yellow collar job?

Yellow-collared workers are frequently individuals in the creative industries. Examples include photographers, video editors, graphic designers, and copywriters.

What is a grey collar job?

There are several types of work that grey-collars can do, including elderly individuals working past retirement age and those in-between blue or white-collar jobs.

What is the job outlook for blue-collar work?

The threat of automation is one of the most serious concerns for any worker all over the world. There is a risk of automation in many blue-collar jobs because they require little training and rely on manual labour. If self-driving cars and trucks become a reality, many people may lose their jobs. The same is true for robot cleaning machines. 

However, the more likely outcome will be a shift in the types of jobs performed by workers. In the future, society will almost certainly use a combination of humans and automation to complete tasks. For the best results, the two will collaborate. The significance of blue-collar workers in everyday life cannot be overstated. As a result, computers are unlikely to take over anytime soon. 

Human and Machine

Blue collar jobs are far safer than some white-collar jobs. Specific jobs, such as engineering and inspection, will be around for a long time. Humans are unlikely to be replaced entirely by robots. 

Robots will not make the world feel safe for a long time. Humans are still a long way from being replaced as drivers and operators by technology. For the time being, most businesses will prefer to keep their blue-collar employees. 

In conclusion

We hope this article has helped you better understand what it means to be in the blue-collar workforce. It is time we stop making assumptions about people based on superficial labels like “blue-collar” or “white-collar.” The reality is, every job requires hard work and dedication no matter where someone falls on the socioeconomic spectrum. Whether you’re looking for a new opportunity now or down the road, don’t give up.

Blue-collar jobs are in high demand worldwide. Our society will be unable to function without their vital work. Life would come to a halt if drivers and cleaners did not exist, so these workers are here to stay. 

Check the training and education requirements for blue-collar job opportunities. The entry requirements for each role vary and may necessitate qualifications or training. However, they frequently require less formal education than white-collar jobs. 

If you’re looking for a job, we can help. Umwuga is a professional social network like LinkedIn but focused on blue-collar and pink-collar workers. We can help you build an excellent reputation for your work and use it to bring you more and better job opportunities. Sign up now for free if you’re interested.

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