Is Your Job White, Blue, Pink or Green-Collared?

By: Zoe Samuel

Is Your Job White, Blue, Pink or Green-Collared?
Image: Alex Tihonovs / EyeEm / EyeEm / Getty Images

About This Quiz

While politicians tend to only notice white- and blue-collared workers, there are actually four categories in that paradigm: white-, blue-, pink- and green-collared. The white-collared workers are the middle and management class. They typically have college degrees and they are fairly immune to automation and, at higher levels, most kinds of outsourcing. They make the most money and are likely to enjoy benefits and safe workplaces.

Blue-collar workers are who politicians mean by "the working class": miners, farmers, factory workers, etc. They used to make great money, but outsourcing and automation have taken a toll, slicing their numbers and pay. Happily, those able to adapt continuously do well, though it's often more dangerous work. They're now a minority of the working class, with the majority being politically barely visible: pink-collar workers. These are workers in the caring professions, such as caregivers, nurses, teachers, nannies, and cleaners. Some of these jobs are every bit as physical, dirty and dangerous as blue-collar work, but they are typically low paid, even when they require an advanced degree. In recent years, pink collar workers have been organizing, and solidarity and cooperation between these and blue-collared workers are starting to change the conversation.

The last group is green-collared workers. These workers are a new breed, working in the transformation to a green economy. They are a mix of knowledge workers (e.g., resiliency project manager, carbon capture engineer), manual workers (e.g., solar panel installer, wind turbine tech), and carers (e.g., community organizer). This means their green collars have blue, white and pink tips, making this a great landing pad for displaced blue-collar workers who need a job that can't be outsourced, pink-collar workers who want some darn recognition and livable pay, and white-collar workers who want to do something truly valuable.

What color is your collar? Let's find out!

Where do you work?
Office
Hospital
Garage
It varies.

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What sort of hat might you wear to work?
Top hat
Hairnet
Helmet
Hard hat

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How much schooling did you need to get your job?
Master's
Certificate
Trade school
Bachelor's

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What TV show do you like to watch?
"Billions"
"Big Bang Theory"
"The Walking Dead"
"Game of Thrones"

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How do you describe yourself, socioeconomically?
Upper middle class
Working class or lower middle class
Working class
It's super complicated, but probably middle class?

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What income range do you consider to be a lot of money?
Over $250K
Over $100K
Over $150K
Over $200K

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Some jobs are more dangerous than others. How much danger is acceptable to you?
None
I don't mind danger much, even though nobody realizes that.
A great deal
It depends on the day!

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How often do you have to travel for work?
I travel about ten days a month.
I don't travel for work.
I travel for months in a block.
I stay put for months, then go for a few weeks.

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What do you always have with you in the workplace?
Money
Band Aid
Proper gloves
Sunscreen

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What's on your feet at work?
Loafers
Crocs
Steel-toed boots
Hiking boots

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What's the percentage of dudes in your workplace?
60%
5%
85%
45%

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What sort of bullying typically occurs in your workplace?
Sexual harassment and racial discrimination
Literally all the BS you can imagine
Hazing
Just generalized playground-style nonsense

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How replaceable do you think you are, in your boss' eyes?
I am irreplaceable, I think.
I don't know that they even think I'm human. Hence, totally.
Individually, very, but they dream of replacing me with a robot.
I would be very hard to replace, though not ultimately impossible.

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What's the worst thing about your job?
Office politics
Terrible pay and conditions
It's physically very demanding
I actually love my job in every way!

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What about your job makes you feel proudest?
It's exceptionally high status.
It's absolutely essential to the functioning of society.
It's good honest work.
I am doing something incredibly valuable and intellectually stimulating.

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Be honest: if you were being paid according to how much social value you actually generate during work hours, what would happen to your salary?
Oh, it'd be like 5% of what I actually get.
It'd be about 10 times higher.
It'd probably be higher or lower, depending on the project.
It would be the same, or slightly higher.

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What's your idea of a bad workplace injury?
Paper cut
Herniated disc
Limb loss
Serious bruise

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Do people tend to treat your profession with the respect it deserves?
Man, I get way more than I deserve.
No, not even a tiny bit
I get remarkable amounts of lip service, but actual respect is sometimes more and sometimes less than deserved.
It's slightly less than I deserve.

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Which part of you is most worn out when you finish work?
Brain
Soul
Back
Everything

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How do you get to your work?
Limo
Two buses and a train
Drive a car
Bike

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What item would you most like to steal from your workplace – and do you ever do it?
I once stole lots of pensions – I mean, pens. I meant to say pens.
I want to steal some petty cash. I never have though.
I sometimes wander off with a cable or a wrench. I bring it back though, when I remember.
I admit it. I steal stationery.

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What is the weirdest thing you've ever found at work?
A drawer full of white powder that I couldn't possibly identify
My employer's personal stuff, ahem
An unopened tomb
An endangered turtle. It was so cute!

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Until what age do you think you could keep doing your job, exactly as it is?
Until I have a heart attack at my desk, aged 98.
I probably should quit before age 50, but I'm stuck with it. I know that.
45, tops
I could go to 70.

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What is the scariest thing about your job?
Sometimes I gamble other people's money and I lose, and that means I only make a lot of money, instead of all the money.
Sometimes people die and I'm the only one who's there.
Sometimes there is an accident and someone is crushed.
If I fail, the planet will burn.

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What do people assume about you when they hear what you do – and is it true?
I'm evil. I am, so it's fine.
I'm not very smart, I'm lazy, I don't speak good English ... it's an endless list. They're wrong and it's really hurtful.
They think I'm some sort of unsophisticated bigot. I may be unsophisticated, but I'm definitely not a bigot.
They assume I'm a tree hugging hysteric. I'm not – I just care about things, but I'm also a business(wo)man.

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What do politicians say about you?
I'm a job creator.
Nothing. I could cease to exist and they would not change a word.
They constantly talk me up as if I am the only real American there is.
I'm a parasite.

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Putting aside what they say: what do politicians DO about workers like you?
They give me all their attention, tax breaks, favorable regulations, etc. They love me. I am the only worker they care about.
They don't care about me, so they alternate between neglecting me and passing laws that make my life a bit harder each time.
They say pretty things until the election, then they screw me. It's not intentional, they just don't care enough.
Verbally, they make me a scapegoat for everything, but they don't actually do a lot to mess with me in a big way.

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Do you think the next 40 years will be good for workers in your job?
Oh, yes! I always come out on top.
I think if we fight hard we will get better conditions and pay.
Honestly, I fear it'll be disastrous. I've told my kids to do something else.
Yes, I am in a growth industry with many opportunities.

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Have you ever had to completely change careers?
Nope
Not completely, but I have had many jobs
Yes. twice
Yes, constantly

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What do you think of the "portfolio" career, i.e., where you have several parallel tracks and move between them?
Sounds like a fancy way of saying unemployed. That or independently wealthy.
Sounds exhausting. I know, I live it.
Sounds awful.
If you can make it work, it's lucrative and liberating. If you can't, the gig economy's open maw will swallow you whole.

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You Got:

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