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Blue Collar vs White Collar Job – Which Is Better?

I worked them both and here is my opinion

By AP CarpenPublished 2 months ago 6 min read
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I had no money for college when I was graduating high school and had no financial aid I could get. We had no family car so I could only get local jobs until I got my driver’s license.

From a young age I had a paper route, cut grass, shoveled snow, raked leaves, and other small tasks. When I was older, I got a job with the gas station across the street from our apartment.

Blue Collar

My first full-time regular job was in a gas and service station. I was the gas jockey and also performed minor mechanical work on cars. This included oil changes, grease jobs, fan belt changes, etc.

I worked in the station for 3 years when a customer offered me a job with his construction company. Even though I could not even swing a hammer, he wanted to hire me and teach me his way of doing things.

I stayed at this job for 10 years. We did additions to houses and renovations. We did not build entire houses as we were a small outfit. But I learned everything there was in home construction so I could have built a house. The only thing we did not do was plumbing and electrical as you needed licenses for that.

Since I could not tell a 6-penny nail from a 10-penny nail or a bundle of spruce from a 2 by 4, I took a job in a lumber yard to learn all the products. After a couple of years of weekends at the lumber yard, I started to do weekend side jobs on my own, which was okay with the boss. This was not taking work or customers from him.

After 10 years of working in the northeast winters and getting wet whenever it rained, I decided that I might like to move indoors. We did some work in offices, and I saw that the people working there did not go home cold, wet, and dirty.

White Collar

My wife and I had saved a little money over the years. We talked it over and I would go to college full-time to get a degree as quick as I could. At this time, I was about 12 years older than most of the students and I stood out a little bit.

To help pay the tuition I took part time work related to the computer industry.

I took a part-time job as a student aide working in the lab of about 30 computers. I kept the printers filled with paper and ink ribbons and helped students with their programming questions.

At the same time, I took another part-time job early in the morning before class backing up a corporate mainframe to tapes. Then a professor asked me to work with him part time to help changed a mini-computer system for a municipality to a different system.

Now I was going to school full-time and working full-time hours with the 3 jobs.

After years of experience working on the HP3000 and HP9000 mini-computer systems, the company I was working at was bought and moved halfway across the country. I then went into business for myself programming for customers with the system, and sub-contracting for other developers in business.

Then HP decided to discontinue the HP3000 system. This angered a lot of small businesses as the system was a dependable system that rarely needed maintenance. It was robust enough to handle all facets of a business and have 60 users logged on at the same time batch jobs were running.

Customers now had to spend a lot of money to completely change systems. There were a lot of consultants like me put out of business. The companies that were our customers decided not to do any more upgrades or customizations to the system since it was discontinued.

At this time, I decided to move to a warmer climate further south. I found a job there and we moved.

Which type of job was better

I am going to use the references “WC” for White Collar and “BC” for Blue Collar. Below is my opinion only based on my experiences.

Work – BC was physical labor but was more enjoyable than WC work where you were in an office the whole time. For BC work, you were at different job sites so it was not the same thing over and over like it could be in WC jobs.

Salary – BC was paid lower in prior years but has increased to today’s salaries. They can be equivalent to the WC salaries. Most WC jobs are salaried and so if you had to work extra hours (and you did) you were not compensated for the extra hours. Most BC jobs are hourly, and you may be paid for overtime hours. Depending on the company you are with, you could get time and a half or double time for holidays which could greatly increase your earnings.

My conclusion

When I started new in computers, it was a better job to have. My first job out of college paid almost double what I made in construction after years in the trade. The computer jobs, however, were not as high paying back then compared with jobs today that are for specialists.

In today’s world, you can make more money in construction jobs than you can in computer jobs, again unless you are a specialist in computers. But that can take you years to reach that level.

It can be easier to start a construction business and build it up than it is a computer business. In construction, you can start by buying a few tools and do minor jobs to start. If you are starting in computers, you either go to school or train yourself which that could take months or years to find employment.

Blue Collar work can be a lot of wear and tear on your body, but later on you most likely would have a business where you would be the boss and have younger workers do the physical labor.

My last thoughts

For me, if I had the crystal ball back then, I would have stayed in construction. Back when I started, you did not make much money, but today the money can be better than most other types of jobs.

It was a more relaxing type of work where there were no office politics. There was a mix of being indoors working and outside work. When I was in an office over the years, many times we were put in windowless rooms. With BC work, you met all different people over the years and developed connections where with WC work, you may stay with the same people for years in an office.

It would have been easier to start a business for home construction. You may not have had a 401K, but most likely you would have picked up property for rental income and future appreciation of the value of the property.

There really is no right or wrong work, This is one person’s opinion on the topic, and your results may vary.

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This article was originally posted on the Medium platform.

You can find the article here

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About the Creator

AP Carpen

semi-retired from the Computer Industry - programmer for over 40 years. Wrote a LOT of documentation for the computer world. Now I am creating a writing system for computer productivity.

Created website and Youtube Channel - Basic Tech Plus

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