WE HAVE heard of white and blue collar jobs. But, there is a whole string of colours to define your existence in the working world.
Today, the distinction between blue and white collar jobs has become blurred with the rising importance of skilled labour and the relative increase in the quantity of low paying white collar jobs.
This has given rise to new collar colours. While many express surprise at their existence, there are some who are familiar with some of these colours. Here’s a list we have put together for you. There may be others out there, in which case please do add to the conversation.
White collar: Skilled and formally trained professionals who usually work in an office setting —like administrative staff or in management. It could also include job functions like accounting, law, IT and the civil service. This is every parent’s ideal job placement for their children. Working in an air-conditioned environment, no job safety issues (or little, counting paper cuts and spilt coffee).
Blue collar: construction worker, repairmen, drivers, cleaners, maintenance workers. While our push towards a service industry has resulted in foreign labour taking on many of these jobs, some of the vocations are highly regarded and well compensated in other countries. Examples would be bricklayers, dental hygienist, executive housekeeper, firefighter. Some of these have some grey areas, resulting in them breaking away to form their own collar colour — grey.
Grey collar: Fire fighters, nurses, skilled tradespeople, technicians, paralegals, salespeople with certification (real estate brokers, stockbrokers, and insurance brokers) It incorporates elements of white- and blue-collar jobs and the income-earning capability is an average of both categories.
Unlike their blue-collar counterparts who can be trained on the job within several weeks, they have prior specialized knowledge and expertise in their field, having attended trade or technical schools, and have credentials like licenses, associate degrees, or diplomas under their belts.
Gold collar: Computer engineers, jobs with “technician” or “technologist” in the title, researchers, analysts, lawyers. This newly coined term describes young, low-wage workers investing in conspicuous luxury receiving financial aids from parents.
It also refers to highly skilled individuals who are valued for their problem-solving skills, creativity, and intelligence, and whose jobs entail non-repetitive and complex tasks.
For instance, the computer engineers who can navigate both the mechanical systems of traditionally designated blue-collar jobs as well as advanced IT components.
Pink collar: Retail clerks, nurses, teacher, librarians, house cleaners and flight attendants. Popularised in the late 1970s to denote employment held by women, especially relatively low-paying work, today this term encompasses all service jobs entailing customer interaction, entertainment, or sales.
Red collar: Government workers of all types. The term originates from compensation received from red ink budget. Also in China, it refers to Communist officials in private companies.
Black collar: An umbrella term referring to jobs in the mining and oil industries. These are physical jobs conducted in a dirty environment , like coal miner, ditch digger, battlefront soldier. Another explanation — working with illicit goods and untaxed goods and services. Those guys selling imported cigarettes come to mind.
Green collar: Green and environmental sector jobs. Most job functions in renewable energy, nature conservation, sustainability efforts fall under this category. It also includes organic farmers, green lobbyists, and engineers in eco-friendly vehicle manufacturing. Ivy Singh-Lim would be a good example of a green-collar warrior.
Scarlet collar: Workers employed in the sex industries. Not much needs to be said about the oldest profession, which often results in collars being whipped off…along with other raiment.
Orange collar: Prison labourers, named for the eye-catching and obvious orange jumpsuits worn by inmates.
No collar: Artists and “free spirits” who tend to prefer passion and personal growth to financial gain. Increasingly, many people aspire towards jobs that have no restraints, no matter their colour. Sadly, they lack the appropriate skills.