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When you hear the words blue-collar and white-collar workers, it’s typical to think that blue-collar workers are of a lower class than white-collar workers. The reality is that they’re not a lower class or even a higher class. The truth is both workers are the same! This blog will explain the similarities and differences and will debunk the stigma that blue-collar workers are of a lower class.

What are White-Collar Workers?

White-collar workers are categorized as employees who usually perform job duties in an office setting. At the time when this term was coined, office workers could wear white-collared shirts without soiling them with mud, oil, or other liquids that blue-collar workers often come into contact with. Some examples of white-collar workers include accountants, real estate agents, politicians, and attorneys.

What are Blue-Collar Workers?

Blue-collar workers are categorized as employees who typically perform manual labor with their hands. It can often be physically demanding and taxing on an employee since these workers get “down and dirty” with their jobs. So where did the term come from? At the time when blue-collar was coined in the late 19th century, workers weren’t required to wear a blue uniform or colored shirt to work. But they often wore darker colors like blue or black because their clothing often got dirty anyway.

Although these less than glamorous jobs seem like they don’t require a lot of training, some jobs actually require highly skilled workers who are formally trained and board certified. Some of these occupations include aircraft mechanics, elevator installers and repairers and electrical powerline installers and repairers. These jobs can be dangerous, but important! An aircraft mechanic ensures your flight thousands of feet in the air in safe for traveling, an elevator repairer also makes sure its passengers are safe in the air, and electrical powerline installers and repairers are at a great risk of getting shocked!

Differences in Education

The type of education received varies widely between these two categories of workers. White-collar workers typically have a high school diploma, then attend college and earn an associate’s, bachelor’s, masters or doctorate degree in their field of study. And because college is expensive these days, may of these white-collar workers graduate with student loan debt.

On the other hand, blue-collar workers may not necessarily have a high school diploma, but could have a GED equivalent as well. They do not attend the traditional two-year or four-year college, but instead attend a vocational school that specializes in their field of study. Some blue-collar workers don’t attend a vocational school at all, and instead, acquire their skills on the job through an apprenticeship.

Similarities in Earnings

Yes, it’s true that blue-collar workers have the potential to earn the same salary as a white-collar worker! How is this possible? Although white-collar workers earn a salary, blue-collar workers earn an hourly wage — but those hourly wages have the potential to be exponentially high! And because these employees work by the hour, they have potential to put in more hours during the workweek than the traditional 9 to 5 office job  — thus potentially earning more money than their white-collar peers down the line!

Now that I’ve debunked some of the stigmas of blue-collar workers, are you willing to take a blue-collar job? Let me know in the comments section.