Definition of white collar

What is the white collar?

A white-collar worker belongs to a class of employees known for earning higher average wages doing highly skilled work, but not for doing manual labor at their jobs. Historically, white-collar workers have been the “shirt and tie” ensemble, defined by clerical jobs and management, and not “getting their hands dirty.”

This class of workers contrasts with the blue-collar workers, who traditionally wore blue shirts and worked in plants, mills, and factories.

Key takeaways

  • White-collar workers are workers in suits and ties who work at a desk and stereotypically avoid physical labor.
  • Administrative jobs are typically higher-paying, higher-skilled jobs that require more education and training than manual or low-skilled work.
  • Examples may include managerial roles or professions such as doctors or lawyers.
  • Manual workers and jobs are often portrayed in contrast to manual labor, hinting at a stratification of the working class.

Understanding the white collar

White-collar workers are workers in suits and ties who work at a desk and stereotypically avoid physical labor. They tend to earn more money than manual workers. White collar work used to mean a high level of education and the assumption of securing a comfortable job with benefits. That distinction today is blurred by the fact that white-collar employment has become the dominant working class in the United States and other advanced nations.

The American writer Upton Sinclair is partially responsible for the modern understanding of the term “white collar”, having used the phrase in conjunction with clerical work. The connotation differences between white collar and blue collar have much more to say about how we perceive the service industry compared to manufacturing and agriculture.

Typical white collar jobs include business administration, lawyers, accountants, insurance and financial jobs, consultants, and computer programmers, among many others.

Many shirt-and-tie jobs today are actually low-paying and highly stressful, especially in the modern technology and service sectors.

There are white-collar worker unions, although, historically, union membership has been a distinction of blue-collar workers.

Expectations of white collar jobs

Administrative positions are often expected to offer opportunities to advance to more important roles such as managers or executives. Also, a white-collar position is expected to generate higher salaries with the potential to continue to rapidly increase your earnings with further advancement.

These jobs are generally based in an office; however, some industries may still require a presence in the field. This is especially true for professionals who meet regularly with clients and clients, or travel to conferences and meetings.

Lawyers, accountants, architects, bankers, real estate agents, business consultants, and brokers are often described as administrative positions. Although the actual work that is typically performed is not menial, clerical positions may require the professional to commit to working long hours during the work week, as well as on weekends.

White-collar professionals can be expected to be on call even during holidays and outside of normal business hours. At higher levels, they can be part of the top management and hierarchy of a company.

A white collar crime is a non-violent crime committed by an individual, often of medium or high socioeconomic status, usually for profit.

White-collar workers are often expected to develop specialized skills over time, making them increasingly valuable intellectual assets for company growth. For example, an accountant may have to keep abreast of all regulatory changes that could affect the way their clients or the company report revenue.

An attorney should be kept informed of recent judgments and changes in jurisprudence that affect his area of ‚Äč‚Äčexpertise. Real estate agents will need to keep track of fluctuations in real estate prices and the underlying influences that drive such trends.

Other “necklaces”

White collar jobs are often contrasted with blue collar jobs. Manual jobs are typically classified as manual jobs and compensation for an hourly wage. Some fields that fall into this category include construction, manufacturing, maintenance, and mining.

Those who have this type of job are characterized as members of the working class. The blue-collar worker is often perceived as having a lower status than a white-collar worker who could work behind a desk in the service industry, while the blue-collar worker gets his hands dirty doing manual labor or manufacturing .

Other types of colored collar worker categories are used less frequently. These include pink necklace, green necklace, gold necklace, and gray necklace. Unlike the white and blue collars, the other categories are not derived from workers who traditionally wear shirts of a particular color.

Green collar workers refer to employees in the conservation and sustainability sectors. Pink necklaces are employees who work in service areas: store clerks, waiters, secretaries, receptionists, or elementary school teachers (the word “pink” refers to the fact that women have traditionally held these positions).

Gold necklaces are found in specialized fields of law and medicine; a reference, perhaps, to the high salaries demanded by these professions. Gray collars refer to those, such as engineers, who are officially office clerks but regularly perform blue-collar tasks as part of their jobs.

Frequently asked questions about the definition of white collar

What is a white collar crime?

White collar crime is a non-violent crime that is committed for profit. Examples of white collar crimes include securities fraud, embezzlement, corporate fraud, and money laundering.

Are White Collar Jobs Better?

What is considered good work is subjective and depends on a large number of personal and situational factors. That said, clerical jobs tend to pay more than manual jobs and have more generous benefits.

How can I find a white collar job?

Many administrative jobs require a significant amount of education, training, and experience. Management-level positions may require additional credentials such as MBA, CPA, or CFA. Professions such as doctors or lawyers require additional education. For qualified individuals, white collar job vacancies can be posted on job boards, but these types of jobs can also be found through word of mouth on people’s social media.

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Mark Holland

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