White-collar Worker definition

A term to describe those who perform administrative or information-based work, typically in an office environment or using a computer. The term refers to white shirts worn by male office workers in the 19th and 20th centuries.

American author Upton Sinclair is said to have brought the term white-collar worker into popular parlance although references appeared at least 20 years prior.

White-collar jobs are not automatically highly paid – although some people use the term to describe the class of people doing a type of work, the actual definition refers to the type of work. Many white-collar jobs, such as interns and assistants, both of which are entry-level positions.

The term can be compared with blue-collar worker, which refers to working class people employed as tradesmen or those who perform any form of manual labour. Unlike blue-collar worker, the term white-collar worker is not commonly used pejoratively.

A related term is pink-collar worker, which refers to those undertaking service-orientated work.