The term blue collar job typically refers to a job that involves manual labor and receives an hourly rate of pay rather than an annual salary. The term blue collar stems from the uniforms worn by many industrial workers that were typically made of heavy duty, blue fabric and consisted of blue shirts and pants or blue coveralls. The automotive manufacturing and repair industries, as well as the construction industry, have been referred to as blue collar for decades.
Though this type of job was once thought to be reserved for people with no education or skills who were seemingly only qualified to perform manual labor, the defining qualities of a blue collar job no longer fit in some industries. For example, many computer and high tech jobs pay by the hour, and some construction industry positions pay an annual salary. In modern times, a higher education may also be required for a number of positions, which are categorized as “skilled trades.”
People who have traditionally held a blue collar job are referred to as blue collar workers. The stereotype and social class of the blue collar worker has changed over the years. This is due in part to the increase in technology, which requires training, and the increase in pay among some industries.
A blue collar job is often within an industry governed by a labor union. Automotive, construction, electrical, and food industries all have labor unions that bargain for worker’s collective rights. In contrast to white collar jobs, or those involving no manual labor and with no supporting labor union, these jobs remain predominantly hourly positions. In terms of pay, such a job may be equal to an office or sales job, but benefits such as health care, vacation, and bonuses are often lacking.
Blue collar jobs within some industries have seen a decline, especially in the manufacturing industries, as manual labor has become outsourced at an increasing rate. Construction, HVAC, and automotive repair remain leading industries offering blue collar jobs in the US.