What Are Blue-Collar Jobs?

Team Umwuga | March 11, 2021

When looking for jobs online, you may come across the term “blue-collar”. It can be difficult to understand the difference between these job roles and others. In this article, we are going to detail exactly what blue-collar work is and provide examples of these jobs. We’ll also look at the highest-paying blue-collar jobs and the current state of the job market.

What is a blue-collar job?

A blue-collar job often involves something being physically built or maintained and generally requires manual labour. Examples of this type of work include manufacturing, farming and waste collection. Other popular blue-collar jobs include driving and maintenance; these jobs are physical and labour-intensive.

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The term “blue-collar” was first used in a newspaper in Iowa in 1924. The colour blue is associated with the jeans or shirts that were often worn as part of the uniform. The blue colour helps to hide dirt on uniforms. They are a better choice for labour workers than white shirts that are usually worn by office workers.

Many uniforms include embroidery with the name of the company or worker. Blue-collar jobs are also often segregated by social status, but this is changing rapidly. The average pay for white-collar jobs is reducing while the same for blue-collar jobs is increasing. As a result, blue-collar jobs are becoming more well-known and popular.

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

White-collar work is normally done in an office environment. It usually involves the worker sitting at a desk or computer to get their work done.

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Pink-collar jobs are another category of work that aren’t talked about much. These are service industry jobs that typically include the beauty industry, nursing, social work, teaching, customer service roles, or childcare.

One of the regular stereotypes about white-collar workers is that they tend to have a better education. Of course, this is not always the case, especially now that blue-collar jobs are in high demand.

Examples of blue-collar industries

A wide range of industries employ blue-collar workers. Their work is often physically taxing. It's also often related to manufacturing and warehouse work. Mining, power plant workers, oil field jobs, and fishing are all examples of blue-collar employment.

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Drivers and truckers are blue-collar workers in one of the most in-demand jobs. Another example of blue-collar staff is the waste and recycling collection crew. Blue-collar jobs, as you can see, span a wide range of industries.

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As with all industries, certain roles require more training and education than others. Landscaping and pest control, for example, require specialised training and certification. Blue-collar employees undergo training unique to their job position. Naturally, this is not as formal as it would be for white-collar employees.

High-paying blue-collar jobs

Although blue-collar workers are often associated with the working class, that does not mean they aren't well paid. Staff in the structural iron and steel industry earn a high hourly wage.

A construction or building inspector is also a blue-collar worker, but they aren’t regularly associated with this type of work. They are, however, very well paid for their time and experience.

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Another well-paid blue-collar career is that of a boilermaker, who instals and builds boilers. Although some positions entail extra preparation, the payoff is well worth the effort.

Train engineers are yet another well-paid blue-collar occupation. While you may start in an entry-level role, you can work your way up over the years to this high paying job. Although it's a very responsible role, elevator engineers are also well compensated.

Finally, one of the best-paying blue-collar work is that of a powerplant operator. All these roles need years of training and work experience. But the payoff is worth it overall, when you begin to command higher salaries.

What is the job outlook for blue-collar work?

Around the world, one of the biggest concerns for any type of worker is the threat of automation. As many blue-collar jobs need little training and use manual labour, there is a risk of automation. Many people can lose their jobs if self-driving cars and trucks become a reality. The same goes for robot cleaning devices.

However, the more likely result will be a shift in the types of jobs that workers perform. In the future, society will most likely use a combination of humans and automation to get work done. The two will work hand in hand for the best results. The value of blue-collar workers in daily life cannot be overstated. So, it’s very unlikely computers will take over soon.

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In comparison to some white-collar jobs, blue-collar jobs are much safer. Certain roles, such as engineering and inspection roles, will exist for many years to come. It’s unlikely that robots will completely replace humans.

The world will not feel safe with this for a long time still. Technology is still quite a way off replacing humans as drivers and operators. Most companies will opt to keep their blue-collar workers for the time being.

Conclusion

Blue-collar jobs are in high demand around the world. Without their vital work, our society will not be able to function. Without drivers and cleaners, life will come to a halt, so these workers are here to stay.

For blue-collar job opportunities, ensure you check the training and education requirements. Each role varies in its entry requirements and may need qualifications or training. But they often need less formal education than white-collar jobs.

Many employers have on-the-job training or apprenticeship opportunities. Although these occupations are mostly associated with the working class, many of them pay well because few people choose to do manual labour. As a result, you should expect to be well paid for your time and effort in blue-collar work.

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