The collars are no longer blue and white. New collar jobs are those that don’t require a degree but can pay a high salary. Tom Merritt explains.

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Image: Shutterstock\/FS Stock

It used to be that if you wanted a high-paying job you needed to go to school, get a degree and get a white-collar job, so called because of the white dress shirts management wore. Other jobs were called blue-collar jobs for the blue shirts often worn by uniformed workers.

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But people are ditching those collars and showing that if they have the skills, they don’t need the degree. These are sometimes called new collar jobs.

Here are five things to know about new collar jobs.

  1. The phrase “new collar” was coined by IBM Chairwoman, President and CEO Gina Rometty at the world economic forum in January 2017. She said jobs in the future would not be white collar or blue collar but new collar.
  2. New collar jobs evaluate your skills, not where you are educated. And many of the jobs are in tech. Theladders.com lists several jobs that often only require training or certificates, not college degrees. Among them are information security analyst, database administrator, systems admin and more.
  3. The switch has begun. The Wall Street Journal cited research from Oliver Wyman showing that more than 10% of people in the U.S. in low-paying roles switched to higher-paying skilled jobs during the past two years. That includes folks in warehouses, manufacturing, hospitality and other hourly positions.
  4. A December 2021 survey by Oliver Wyman also found that 59% of workers who switched or planned to switch to a better job acquired new skills using a free course. Similarly, LinkedIn Learning reported that completions of certificate-eligible classes rose more than 1,300% between 2020 and 2021.
  5. Companies are changing their policies to adapt. Examples include Okta, which removed college-degree requirements for some sales positions last year and formed a business development associate program to train candidates on the job. Another example is Flatiron School, which offers a coding boot camp that costs $15,000 and in nine months can get you a software engineering certificate.

I know more than one person who has done just this, and they all have successful tech careers. Here’s hoping it works out for even more folks.

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