What are “new collar” jobs and what do they require?

You know what white-collar and blue-collar jobs are, but what if you never went to college, and still scored an intellectually stimulating and challenging job that paid over $100,000 a year?

Well, then, you’d be a “new collar” worker.

What is a “new collar” worker?

New collar working takes the intellectual gatekeeping out of the hiring process. Whereas you used to have letters after your name representing the degree you earned, or an Ivy League school on your resume, these days, new collar workers are judged on their innate abilities rather than how much money their parents could afford to drop on higher-level academia. As a new collar worker, you could be a white collar worker in an office or a blue collar worker in their field.

Coined by IBM’s former CEO Ginni Rometty, new collar jobs are described as “roles in technology that prioritize skills and capabilities over degrees or having a traditional career path.” To Rometty, the most important facet of a new collar worker isn’t just their skills, it’s their commitment to lifelong learning.

Companies that want some sort of edge are specifically targeting new collar workers these days. Many firms are forging relationships with colleges and high schools to train new collar workers so that immediately upon graduation, they’re ready to start working.

Delta and United Airlines have both partnered with aviation schools and community colleges to ensure jobs upon graduation, and many hiring managers are being instructed to judge new hires based upon how they perform on various tests, not how many times the word “Harvard” pops up on their resumes.

What are some “new collar” jobs?

For the most part, new collar jobs are in tech. Data, programming, analytics, and other self-taught skills are invaluable to employers looking to shift into hybrid workplaces.

You might even be recruited as a new collar worker by the FAA, who are now actively recruiting video gamers to be air traffic controllers, whose median salary is $120,000 per year. So rather than telling your teenagers to put down the video games, maybe you should start picking some up yourself, as the job prospects can be quite lucrative.

Thankfully, new collar jobs aren’t just popular, they pay six figures. Here are a few new collar roles listed by Ladders.

–   Software Development Engineer

–   Digital Art Director

–   Data and Insights Analyst

–   Cybersecurity Account Executive

–   Research Informatics Analyst

–   Digital Content Specialist

–   Senior Graphics Engineer

How do I become a “new collar” worker?

For the most part, new collar workers are young, and many companies are looking for young talent. But don’t cry “ageism!” just yet – anyone can be a new collar worker if you’ve got the drive and will to try something… well, new.

New collar workers don’t need to have formal education, and their skills are usually based upon various specialized programs. This means that you have just as many tools at your disposal to become a new collar worker as anyone else with internet access. That makes this field competitive, yet self-driven, so you can be the arbiter of your own success.

If you’d like to become a new collar worker, you’ll need skills. These can come from online courses, upskilling programs at your own job, or certificates from companies like IBM. If you’re better at learning within hierarchical institutions, you can also start on a low rung of the corporate ladder with apprenticeships. If you’ve been thinking about career changes, this could be the roadmap to your future.