The color of your collar

When I was in middle school, my teacher taught me the terms “blue collar” which refers to unskilled, manual workers and “white collar” which means educated, intellectual, office workers.


The terms made no sense to me. There was something very unfair, unkind about this way of categorizing human-beings by the colors of the top they wear to work. Or I am just too sensitive.

I recently learnt that blue and white are actually not the only colors in this career spectrum. So I am sharing them all with you here. In case you (or my future self) are interested.

  • A green-collar worker is a worker who is employed in the environmental sectors of the economy. Eg: environmental consultants, environmental scientists, “green business” owners, organic farmers, environmental lawyer.
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  • Red collar – Government workers of all types; derived from compensation received from red ink budget.
  • Grey collar – Skilled technicians, typically someone who is both white and blue collar, an example of this kind include Information Technology workers. They are principally white-collar, but perform blue-collar tasks with some regularity, such as engineers. May also be used to refer to old aged workers after retirement age.
  • Orange collar – Prison laborers, named for the orange jumpsuits commonly worn by inmates.
  • Pink collar – A pink-collar worker is also a member of the working class who performs in the service industry such as waiters, retail clerks, salespersons, and many other positions involving relations with people. The term was coined in the late 1990s as a phrase to describe jobs that were typically held by women; now the meaning has changed to encompass all service jobs.
  • Black collar – Manual laborers in industries in which workers generally become very dirty, such as mining or oil-drilling; has also been used to describe workers in illegal professions.
  • Scarlet collar – Female workers in the sex industry
  • Gold collar – Highly skilled professionals who may be in high demand, such as chartered accountants, surgeons, anesthesiologists, engineers and lawyers. (Oh so I gave up a gold collar job didn’t I?)
  • No collar – Artists and “free spirits” who tend to privilege passion and personal growth over financial gain. (Isn’t it awesome to refer to yourself as someone doing a “no-collar” job?

So the next time you need to decide which career path you’d like to pursue, simply pick a favorite color of your collar and save yourself the trouble.

Source of definitions: wikipedia


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