What are white-collar jobs? (With examples and salary info)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 12 October 2022

Published 4 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A white-collar job is generally one that requires applicants to gain an undergraduate degree or another type of higher qualification before they can start in a role. It first received its name because employees typically worked in smarter attire, dressed in a suit and tie or other pieces of formal wear. There are many examples of these types of jobs, ranging from work in accountancy to political occupations. In this article, we look at what a white-collar job is and list some of the most popular examples of such roles.

What are white-collar jobs?

A white-collar job typically refers to an occupation that works from behind a desk. They're named as such because these professionals typically wear suits and ties or more formal smart wear. This is appropriate due to their work, as they tend to work administratively, avoiding physical labour. They earn more than their counterparts, who are commonly referred to as blue-collar employees, as they take a salary rather than an hourly wage. In the past, numerous distinctions marked white and blue-collar employees as different, but such boundaries have since changed.

Related: White collar vs blue collar jobs: what is the difference?

Types of white-collar jobs

Many people consider white-collar jobs to be more 'professional' than other types of jobs. This means that an undergraduate degree is typically required to work within the following occupations, though the exact type varies according to the role. Popular examples of these types of jobs include:

1. Accountant

National average salary: £35,270 per year

Primary duties: An accountant is someone who works with numbers to prepare and analyse financial documents. They often help clients to budget their spending and pay their taxes. Accountants also work with executives to create budgets and forecast future earnings. Some accountants may work as specialists in certain areas, such as auditing or taxation. Accountants use their mathematical skills to organise and interpret financial information. This allows them to spot trends and identify potential problems early on. By keeping on top of finances, accountants can save their clients a lot of money in the long run.

Related: How to become a qualified accountant (definition and steps)

2. Civil engineer

National average salary: £36,922 per year

Primary duties: Civil engineering refers to the planning, designing and management of structures such as bridges, transportation links and buildings. Civil engineers typically split their time between working in the office and at a construction site. For example, the beginnings of a project may call for them to spend more time at the office, as they use computerised technology to outline plans for new structures. The latter stages of the project may call for more onsite work. Here, they help construction managers reduce environmental risks while also navigating any planning issues.

Related: Types of civil engineering jobs and their primary duties

3. Dentist

National average salary: £75,792 per year

Primary duties: A dentist is responsible for ensuring the health and hygiene of our mouths. Their daily responsibilities include removing tooth decay, filling cavities and repairing any other damage to the teeth and gums. Some dentists may choose to do general dentistry in a practice, whereas others may decide to work as an emergency dentist. Regardless of the route they take, dentists are typically required to study for at least five years at dental school. After this, they work under the supervision of a fully qualified dentist for a year or two before becoming fully certified.

Related: How to become a dentist

4. Human resources manager

National average salary: £41,954 per year

Primary duties: A human resources manager is responsible for recruitment and performance management in an organisation. This may include settling any employee grievances about pay or conflicts with other people on their team. HR managers are the people who create compensation packages and set employee benefits, ensuring that talent is either attracted or retained. HR managers may also reprimand inappropriate employee behaviour as and when this occurs. This means they're generally required to be an approachable, authoritative staff member.

5. Real estate agent

National average salary: £27,277 per year

Primary duties: A real estate agent is responsible for assessing a property's value, putting the property on the market and ensuring they get as close to this amount as possible, negotiating on their client's behalf. Becoming a real estate agent is slightly different from the other white-collar jobs listed in this article, as it doesn't require a degree. Although some employers look for candidates who have previously studied a sales course, this isn't necessary. Nevertheless, real estate agents require relevant certification, such as that from Propertymark, formerly the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).

Related: How to become an estate agent

6. Politician or Political affairs officer

National average salary: £30,945 per year

Primary duties: Local politicians are responsible for representing the concerns of their community. While anyone can run for political office, the constituents always elect their local MP. The responsibilities of local politicians vary depending on their position within the political hierarchy. For example, an MP may find themselves making trips to London to represent their constituency from the parliamentary backbenches. Other types of politicians or political affairs officers might work more often in their local community or for a specific organisation.

7. Physician

National average salary: £59,696 per year

Primary duties: A physician's responsibilities can vary depending on their chosen speciality, but there are some common duties that all physicians perform. These include examining patients and taking their medical histories, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, prescribing medications and treatments and counselling patients and their families on healthcare decisions. Physicians effectively communicate with other members of their healthcare team, including nurses, pharmacists and therapists, each day so that they can consistently offer their patients a high standard of care. These professionals are also meticulous organisers, as they're responsible for maintaining all relevant patient records and documentation accurately.

Related: How to become a physician in 3 steps (plus responsibilities)

8. Teacher

National average salary: £16,260 per year

Primary duties: Teachers help students learn by teaching new material, providing support and grading assignments. Through this, a teacher can get to know their students by identifying their needs, tailoring their feedback to help them improve in certain areas and tracking their progress over a set period. Additionally, teachers are generally required to maintain their subject matter expertise so they can continue to provide the best education possible for their students. Teachers also play an important role in the community by helping students develop into well-rounded individuals.

9. Pharmacist

National average salary: £46,912 per year

Primary duties: Pharmacists are responsible for filling prescriptions, providing information on medications and educating patients on the safe use of medications. They work in a variety of settings, including retail pharmacies, hospitals and long-term care facilities. Their exact responsibilities shift depending on their setting. In retail pharmacies, pharmacists fill prescriptions and provide medication counselling to patients. They may also be responsible for managing inventory and maintaining records. In hospitals and other healthcare settings, pharmacists may be responsible for dispensing medications to patients, reviewing medication orders for safety and providing drug information to nurses and physicians on their team.

Related: Pharmacist education requirements (and types of careers)

10. Software engineer

National average salary: £48,699 per year

Primary duties: A software engineer is responsible for the development and maintenance of software applications. They use various programming languages to write code and create software programs that solve problems or meet specific requirements. For this white-collar job, they typically work in teams with other engineers and developers and may collaborate with business analysts or customers to understand their needs and develop solutions. Their work can be very technical, meaning that they require an understanding of complex systems. Software engineers may also be responsible for testing and debugging applications and identifying and correcting defects for a more streamlined product.

Related: How much does an entry-level software engineer make? A guide

11. Marketing executive

National average salary: £28,708 per year

Primary duties: A marketing executive is responsible for planning, developing and executing marketing campaigns. They work with other members of the marketing team to create cohesive strategies that promote a product or service. Marketing executives also track data and analytics related to their campaigns and use this information to improve future marketing efforts. In addition to campaign planning and execution, marketing executives may also be responsible for budget management and vendor relationships. Overall, marketing executives ensure that a company's marketing efforts are effective and efficient at interacting with its target demographic.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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