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What are Skilled Workers?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Feb 03, 2024
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Skilled workers are people possessing certain skills usually attained through training. The type of training varies and a skilled worker doesn’t have to be highly educated or possess much job experience. There are different definitions of skilled workers too, and some people believe that this field is comprised of specialty workers who have at most a bachelor’s degree. Others extend the definition to any person who has a specialized field of work, and a defined training path in order to be able to work in that specialty. The simplest definition is that skilled workers have a certain skill set necessary to work in a certain field.

In the more rigidly constructed definition, skilled workers could possess technical or artistic certificates, A.A. degrees, or training up to the bachelor’s degree level. A number of medical jobs require this type of skilled worker, and people who are nurses, emergency medical technicians, x-ray technicians, or ultrasound technologists are considered skilled. Automotive technicians, construction workers, fashion models, chefs, photographers, computer programmers, manufacturing technicians, and others are grouped under this heading as well.

If the definition for skilled workers includes attaining higher levels of education then doctors, lawyers, business management experts, nurse practitioners, senior level programmers, teachers, professors, researchers and many more are also skilled. It would be difficult to do any of these jobs without some training. It’s easy to see a defined training path for many of these jobs, though this may not always be the case. A person can become a model with a little on the job training, as can a talented chef or photographer. These careers don’t necessarily require extensive formal study or training, although some schools do have instruction in these areas, and either formal or informal training would be needed to get work in these fields.

Skilled workers are contrasted with unskilled workers or labor — unskilled labor doesn’t necessarily lack a skill set. A person picking fruit for a living must learn how to do this efficiently and well to keep working. Physical strength might be a requirement. The main difference is that the skill set required is usually innate (like strength and endurance) or learned with minimal training.

Typically, unskilled workers have lower paying jobs, fewer benefits, and many people progress from unskilled jobs to skilled ones over their lifetime. A retail salesperson isn’t necessarily a skilled worker, but given time and experience a good salesperson might become a fashion merchandiser, a store manager, an inventory control specialist or an employee trainer.

The other reason people move from being unskilled to skilled workers is because they begin working in high school or college, before acquiring set skills. Many can attest that working at unskilled jobs is still a fantastic teacher. Such jobs convey needed lessons about basic work skills, responsibility, and relationships to employers that aid in any skilled job someone takes later.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
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Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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