What Are ‘New-Collar’ Jobs? Understanding the Current Demands of the Workforce

new collar jobs

In the past, American jobs have generally been classified into one of two categories: white collar and blue collar. The former typically includes jobs performed in an office setting by highly skilled and formally trained professionals, while the latter generally refers to labor jobs that often require professionals to work with their hands.

Today’s workforce, however, is chock-full of job opportunities that don’t necessarily require a Bachelor’s degree but do call for a highly specialized skill set. It was in response to this widening need that Ginni Rometty, president and CEO of IBM, coined the term “new-collar” jobs.

As national focus on this developing sector of the workforce increases, we’re digging into the definition of new-collar jobs to uncover how they can impact entire industries.

Join us as we explore our findings and look into several examples of new-collar jobs you might come across in today’s labor force.

What are new-collar jobs?

Rometty has defined her coined phrase as including jobs that may not require a traditional college degree. In doing so, she hopes to help entire industries acknowledge a shift that needs to occur amidst hiring managers to look beyond the four-year degree and focus instead on a candidate’s relevant skills—particularly when obtained through valuable hands-on experience.

That being said, there’s no set-in-stone definition of the term or master list of jobs that fit the bill. Generally speaking, new-collar jobs are defined as skilled positions that don’t require a Bachelor’s degree and often require some degree of technological know-how. 

7 New-collar jobs to consider

Many new-collar jobs can be found in the fields of healthcare and technology, and many of these positions offer respectable compensation levels. They’re also among some of the most in-demand jobs in today’s market.

Whether you’re looking to enter the workforce for the first time, you’re hoping to transition back to the workplace after taking some time off or you’ve been eager to change your career path, there are plenty of promising opportunities with new-collar jobs. Consider the following examples.

1.     Pharmacy technician

Professionals who pursue a career as a pharmacy technician are able to enjoy the numerous benefits of working in the medical field without having to spend a handful of years immersed in formal medical training. So what do they do? In simple terms, pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of a pharmacist to prepare medications for customers.

Typical duties include measuring, mixing, counting, labeling and recording dosages of medications from prescription orders in addition to some basic clerical work like obtaining patient information, data entry and filing.

2.     Cyber security analyst

With an increasing amount of valuable data being stored online, it should come as no surprise that information security has become a hiring focal point for many organizations—in fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of information security analysts to grow 28 percent by 2026.* Cyber security is one area of new-collar expertise that is so in-demand that Congress has actually considered passing a bill that would grant tax credits to employers who pay for workers to receive specialized training in it—though that bill still has a ways to go before becoming law.

Political wrangling aside, working as a cyber security analyst requires a wealth of hands-on experience with common security technologies and a working knowledge of networking services, protocols and design principles. These tech pros are responsible for designing and developing security architectures and frameworks within dynamic and adaptive online environments.

3.     Physical therapist assistant

As a physical therapist assistant, you would team up with physical therapists to help patients regain their full range of motion after an injury or when an illness provides temporary setbacks. This is an ideal career path for those who want to get out from behind a desk and be able to directly observe the ways your work can impact the lives of others.

Physical therapist assistants spend a lot of time working one-on-one with patients, observing their progress and showing them new stretches and exercises to help get them functioning at their peak levels. In addition to working to help patients regain typical range of motion, these medical professionals can contribute to the design of a patient’s treatment plan and provide any necessary education to patients and their families.

4.     Web developer

As you may have assumed, web developers specialize in building websites, but their duties span much further that. These tech pros are tasked with analyzing user needs to ensure the right content, graphics and underlying structure is used to both meet the goals of the user and the goals of the website owner.

Typical duties of a web developer include using authoring or scripting languages to build websites; writing, designing and editing web page content, or delegating others to do so; identifying and correcting problems uncovered by user testing and converting written, graphic, audio and video components to compatible web formats.

5.     Medical assistant

Professionals in patient care, medical assistants can work in a wide range of settings, from large hospitals to ambulatory care. They work under the direction of a supervising physician as they perform various administrative and clinical tasks. Administrative duties include updating patient records, scheduling appointments and navigating billing and insurance.

The clinical aspects of the medical assistant job include assisting the physician in taking and recording patients’ vital signs, explaining procedures to patients and their loved ones, administering medications, drawing blood, sterilizing equipment and conducting a variety of tests in the lab.

6.     Radiologic technologist

With millions of baby boomers reaching retirement age and additionally needing more medical care, it’s no surprise technical medical support roles are in-demand. One of the key components to medical care, diagnostic imaging, is performed in part by radiologic technologists—a career that fits the “new-collar” label very well. Radiologic technologists are healthcare professionals who use specialized equipment to create X-ray images or mammograms that help doctors diagnose ailments and determine treatment options.  

7.     Computer user support specialist

We live in a digital world—practically every business and organization relies on a host of computers, networks and devices to keep things running smoothly. While most people do a good job of using this technology for their specific jobs, things get a bit dicey when the technology they use isn’t working as intended. That’s where computer user support specialists come in.

Computer user support specialists, often called help desk specialists, are the tech professionals who work directly with users to ensure their devices are working properly. They troubleshoot issues, install and remove hardware and software and perform regular maintenance to keep computer networks up and running.

Could a new-collar job be your dream career?

New-collar jobs present a bevy of new opportunities for American workers of all ages who don’t have four-year college degrees. If you’re looking for your chance to enter into a new field, these careers may be an excellent starting point to consider. 

As you begin to assess your qualifications and consider the various new-collar job opportunities you come across, you’ll want to make sure you’re ready for every aspect of the job search—that includes having a robust, eye-catching resume. Learn what business leaders and hiring experts list among the most important things to include in your resume by heading over to our article, “8 In-Demand Skills to Learn That Will Complement Any Resume.”


*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [career information accessed June 26, 2018] www.bls.gov/ooh/.

Jess Scherman

Jess is a Content Specialist at Collegis Education. She researches and writes articles on behalf of Rasmussen College to help empower students to achieve their career dreams through higher education.

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