Apply For our 2024 Scholarship Today!

Are Healthcare Workers Blue Collar?

Jill Caren
By Jill Caren
Updated December 17th, 2023

Healthcare workers play an essential role in our society, providing care and treatment for the sick and injured.

But, many are confused as to whether healthcare workers should be considered blue-collar workers.

The truth is, there is no easy answer.

Healthcare workers are more commonly considered white collar workers, but in some cases depending on job duties can also be considered blue collar. Healthcare workers have no official collar classification.

Let’s look at nurses for example.

Nurses might be thought of as blue collar because they clean bedpans, change bedding, and distribute medication which are all physical work duties. But others may consider it white collar because of the level of education, paperwork, and desk work that is required.

The term “blue-collar” typically refers to manual laborers who work in industries such as construction, manufacturing, and transportation. But, they can also be people who are skilled or unskilled.

But, let’s look at how Merriam-Webster actual defines a blue collar worker: “of, relating to, or constituting the class of wage earners whose duties call for the wearing of work clothes or protective clothing”

Since most of the health care industry does in fact require uniforms and protective gear, that definition would label the industry as blue collar.

So, if you are confused, let’s take a deeper look at healthcare and its place in a blue collar world.

The difference Between White Collar and Blue Collar

To understand where different healthcare jobs fall, it is important to understand the differences between blue collar and white collar classifications.

  • Blue-collar work refers to manual labor jobs that typically require physical strength and involve working with machinery or tools. They can be skilled or unskilled labor.
  • White-collar work, on the other hand, refers to non-manual jobs that typically require mental or administrative skills, such as office work or management.

Over time, the terms have come to be associated with broader social and economic implications.

Blue-collar workers are often seen as part of the working class, while white-collar workers are seen as part of the middle class.

However, it is important to note that these terms are not always accurate indicators of social class, as many white-collar workers may earn less than some blue-collar workers.

Social and Economic Implications

The distinction between blue-collar and white-collar work has significant social and economic implications.

Blue-collar workers are often associated with lower wages, less job security, and fewer benefits compared to their white-collar counterparts. They may also have limited opportunities for advancement and face greater risks of workplace injuries.

White-collar workers, on the other hand, are often associated with higher wages, more job security, and better benefits. They may also have greater opportunities for career advancement and may be less likely to face workplace injuries.

However, it is important to note that these generalizations do not always hold true.

There are many blue-collar jobs that pay well and offer good benefits, and many white-collar jobs that pay poorly and offer little job security.

Are Certain Healthcare Jobs Blue or White Collar?

As I noted above, this is not an easy question to answer.

It may even fall into a more “personal” assessment. You may call it white collar, your bestie may call it blue collar.

You could both be right. So, do not go fighting about it!

Below are examples of where certain jobs might fall based on education, training, and job duties. This is not an exact list, but where people may most commonly place them.

Some jobs in healthcare that would definitely be white-collar include:

  • Psychiatrist
  • Psychologist
  • Medical transcriptionist
  • Medical biller
  • Medical office management
  • Therapists

Jobs in healthcare that might be more white collar than blue collar:

  • Doctor
  • Nurse
  • Dentists
  • Pharmacists

Jobs in healthcare that might fall under blue collar:

  • Dental assistant
  • Radiology technician
  • EMT
  • Phlebotomist
  • Sleep technologist

Healthcare Education and Training

The level of education and training required for healthcare workers is a key factor in the debate over whether they are blue collar or white collar.

Many healthcare professions require advanced degrees or specialized training, such as medical school or nursing programs.

However, there are also healthcare roles that require less education and training, such as medical assistants or home health aides. These roles may be considered more blue collar due to the emphasis on physical tasks and the lower education requirements.

Overall, while the debate over whether healthcare workers are blue or white collar may never be fully resolved, it is clear that the industry includes a diverse range of roles with varying levels of education and physical demands.

Emerging Healthcare Collar Categories

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, new job categories have emerged.

These jobs require specialized skills and expertise, and are often considered to be part of the blue-collar workforce. But the additional education for some of them make them less clear as to what collar they would fall under.

In this section, we will explore two of these emerging job categories: Gold Collar Jobs and Green Collar Jobs.

Gold Collar Jobs

Gold Collar Jobs are a new category of jobs that require highly skilled workers with specialized knowledge. These jobs are typically found in the healthcare industry and require extensive training and education.

Some examples of Gold Collar Jobs might include:

  • Biomedical Engineers
  • Medical Device Technicians
  • Health Information Managers
  • Clinical Research Coordinators

These jobs require workers to have a deep understanding of electronics, computer science, and other technical fields. They are highly sought after, and workers in these fields can expect to earn high salaries.

Green Collar Jobs

Green Collar Jobs are a new category of jobs that focus on sustainability and environmentalism. While they may not seem directly related to healthcare, many healthcare facilities are beginning to embrace green initiatives. Some examples of Green Collar Jobs in healthcare include:

  • Energy Managers
  • Sustainability Coordinators
  • Environmental Health and Safety Specialists

These jobs require workers to have a deep understanding of sustainability, energy management, and environmental regulations.

They are becoming increasingly important as healthcare facilities seek to reduce their environmental impact.

Overall, these emerging job categories are a sign of the changing nature of the healthcare industry. As technology continues to advance and sustainability becomes a top priority, workers with specialized skills and knowledge will be in high demand.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the question of whether healthcare workers are blue collar is complex and multifaceted. While some argue that healthcare workers fit the traditional definition of blue-collar workers due to their manual labor and technical skills, others contend that the highly specialized and educated nature of their work sets them apart.

Ultimately, the classification of healthcare workers as blue collar or not may depend on the specific context and perspective. For instance, in terms of job duties and working conditions, many healthcare workers may indeed fit the blue-collar mold. However, when considering factors such as education, training, and salary, it becomes clear that healthcare workers occupy a unique position in the labor market.

Regardless of how healthcare workers are classified, it is clear that they play a vital role in society and deserve recognition and respect for their hard work and dedication. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve and face new challenges, it is important to recognize the contributions of these essential workers and support them in any way possible.


Jill Caren is an international SEO consultant and founder of 2Dogs Media. She is also a trainer, journalist, and speaker who helps brands increase their organic search visibility, traffic, and conversions. She is also the co-founder of Blue Collar Brain, a resource for those looking to enter a trade career.

She has been featured on MSN, Wealth of Geeks, Hubspot, SEO Powersuite, and other publications for her work as an SEO and advocate for skilled trades.