What are the Different Types of White Collar Jobs?

C. Daw

White collar jobs are often associated with management professions throughout the world. Many jobs are still defined by their dress code, which is the traditional work shirt worn by the employees who perform them. Blue work shirts and blue overalls are associated with workers who mainly perform manual labor or hands-on work. Teaching or secretarial jobs that are conventionally held by women are thought of as pink collar jobs. Clerical, managerial or sales jobs are typically associated with a white collar, the attire being a traditional white button-down dress shirt with a tie. As technology progresses, there is a shift of the blue collar workers to the white.

White shirts are standard dress for many office jobs.
White shirts are standard dress for many office jobs.

A white collar worker may be an hourly employee or a salaried professional. This could mean he or she may have a larger share of responsibilities and may have to work longer hours than a blue collar worker. The fact that a worker is wearing a blue collar, does not absolve him from performing manual labor, as and when the situation demands. Other white collar jobs include advertising or customer service, accounting, sales, attorneys and doctors. Clerical workers and managers are mostly encouraged to wear a formal white dress shirt to enhance their professional appearance to clients and to distinguish them from the blue collar jobs they supervise.

Doctors and other medical professionals are considered white collar workers.
Doctors and other medical professionals are considered white collar workers.

There are different types of white collar jobs, and they can vary from a clerical worker to the more educated worker, including desk jobs and several high-paying jobs. A commercial lending director is one such educated worker, and is one of the most high-paying jobs among the white collar workers. Someone working in this capacity generally oversees the portfolio of loans in banks, and administers the commercial lending activity. Another high-paying job is a general manager, who monitors the operations in an organization. General managers in the distribution and manufacturing sectors earn the most, where they oversee the day-to-day activities of all the departments, and formulate long term policies.

Working as a financial controller or finance manager is a type of white collar job.
Working as a financial controller or finance manager is a type of white collar job.

Other high-paying jobs considered to be white collar could be the engineering or finance directors. An engineering director has to oversee the selection and use of various types of technology and engineering machinery within an organization. Engineering directors working in the services sector earn the most. Likewise, finance directors working for the utilities sector earn the most because they have to oversee and control the finance sector of the organization. Their role may be to oversee the budgets, audit and accounting departments, together with financial forecasts and preparation of financial reports for the organization.

Many financial jobs, such as accounting directors, are white collar jobs.
Many financial jobs, such as accounting directors, are white collar jobs.

Finance controllers, accounting directors, and sales managers are other white collar jobs that are held by the salaried professional and are high-paying jobs. These high earners are mostly in organizations in the financial or the utilities sectors. They oversee, control and manage the finance, accounts and the sales departments of their organizations respectively.

Sales managers are white-collar workers.
Sales managers are white-collar workers.

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Discussion Comments


@KaBoom - That's a good point. Also, a lot of blue collar jobs do require some kind of education. For example, a plumber is a blue collar worker. But to be a plumber, you have to do an apprenticeship. You don't just show up on day and start working! And there are some white collar jobs (like a receptionist job) that don't require anything past a high school education!


I think if it was a contest of blue collar vs white collar, you would find that most blue collar workers work longer hours than people who hold white collar jobs. Yes, people who work white collar jobs might have more responsibility, but blue collar workers work just as hard.

A lot of times, blue collar workers don't have benefits and are hourly employees. So they have to work a pretty significant number of hours so they can make enough money. On the other hand, white collar workers usually have benefits and often get paid a salary.


@indemnifyme - I've actually had the same experience. Office work isn't always all it's cracked up to be!

I think it's interesting that this terminology has stuck around for so long. These days, a lot of people who work in white collar jobs don't have to wear the traditional white collar. Many offices have a business casual dress code, but that doesn't make whose jobs any less white collar.


@Kristee - I would actually consider waiting tables a blue collar job. It involves manual labor, and you don't have to have an education to do it. Interestingly enough, you can actually make pretty good money as a server.

I've worked as a server, and I've also worked a more white collar job in an office. I actually made more as a server! So I think @backdraft was correct in saying that comparing blue collar vs white collar jobs is almost kind of silly. Sometimes you really can't tell how much money someone makes based on what they are wearing for work.


I grew up around both blue collar and white collar workers. My mother held a blue collar job at a factory, and my dad had a white collar position at a television station.

My dad always made significantly more money than my mom. He did have longer hours and more stress to contend with, though. Also, he had to be on call once a month, and he would sometimes have to go in at odd hours of the night and morning.

My brother landed a job at a furniture factory, and he wound up making more than many white collar workers do. My mom had worked at clothing factories, though, so her pay was less than his.


I suppose that since I am a graphic designer, my position meets the white collar job definition. I work indoors at a desk, and I can't get away with wearing t-shirts and jeans. I usually wear dresses or slacks with nice blouses.

I usually don't have to work directly with the public. I go through the sales reps instead, and they have to dress more professionally than I do. However, sometimes, we will get clients who come through the office, and that is the reason that I have a dress code.


@Kristee – I would put the wait staff on my list of white collar jobs. They work in customer service, which means they have to strive to please the people whom they are serving.

They may not make much, but if they give really good service, they could make quite a bit in tips. I have a friend who is a waiter, and he makes more in tips alone than he did at his old blue collar job each week.

Higher end restaurants usually make their workers dress to impress. Anything other than a white collar shirt would probably be unacceptable in these workplaces.

If you want to get a white collar job, become a consultant.

My company hires at least one consultant any time they want to change the smallest thing. These guys come in, tinker with things a little and then leave with huge checks. You wouldn't believe what they take home just to offer up a bunch of obvious advice.


Do waiters make the white collar jobs list? I often see waiters and waitresses dressed in white button-front shirts and black pants, especially at the more expensive restaurants.

I know that they probably don't make a lot of money. Waiters depend on tips for a large portion of their income, so even if they are considered white collar workers, they may not feel like they are.


What has been the affect on white collar jobs from the recent economic downturn? We hear so much about high unemployment rates across the country. How many of these are white collar jobs?


The line between white collar and blue collar is pretty silly when you think about it. I know so many people who defy the expectations in so many ways. People that wear suits who have no real responsibilities and make bad money and guys who wear dirty t-shirts and have important jobs that pay well.

I understand why we have the distinction, I think it just counts for less than some people think.

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