I'm curious about what blue collar trade requires the most academic knowledge to perform in a competent manner. I'm not asking what blue collar trade requires the most knowledge or skill to perform competently. I'm asking about academic knowledge only. Both HVAC technicians and electricians have to be capable at using arithmetic and algebra to perform competently. For instance, frequently HVAC technicians and electricians deal with three traits on an electrical system: Voltage (V), current (I), and power (P). Power= Voltage X Current -- Often, HVAC technicians and electricians will know two of the three variable, and then the HVAC technicians and electricians will have to solve for the third variable by isolating it and dividing (or multiplying) both sides by the same thing. This is a linear equation type of algebraic equation. This is what people learn in Algebra 1.

Automobile mechanics need to know the physics principle that liquids cannot be compressed. Understanding this principle of physics is vital to understanding hydraulic brake systems. I believe the principle is called something like Pascal's Law.

I know other blue collar trades use academic knowledge as well. By academic knowledge, I mean strictly academic subjects such as English, mathematics, and science as opposed to technical knowledge.

Possible blue collar trades as answers to the question of this thread include but are not limited to the following: automobile mechanic, plumber, HVAC technician, aircraft mechanic, and machinist.

In what blue collar trade does a person have to know the most academic knowledge to perform the work of that blue collar trade in a competent manner?

Please elaborate on why you think that the blue collar trade that you mention requires the most academic knowledge.

Last edited:

russ_watters
Mentor

Evo
Mentor
I
In what blue collar trade does a person have to know the most academic knowledge to perform the work of that blue collar trade in a competent manner?

Please elaborate on why you think that the blue collar trade that you mention requires the most academic knowledge.

Members, please no replies until we get this thread under control. Thank you.

I'm surprised that you people don't know the meaning of a blue collar trade. The following is a link to Merriam Webster dictionary's definition of blue collar: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blue collar

Evo, I've pretty much already said the extent of my knowledge on this. I am the person asking the question, not the person answering the question! I don't understand why you would ask me to provide citations to my research on this matter as I am not really making any assertions here. I didn't make this thread to provide information. I made this thread to learn information.

gracy
russ_watters
Mentor
I'm surprised that you people don't know the meaning of a blue collar trade. The following is a link to Merriam Webster dictionary's definition of blue collar: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blue collar
I know the term, but I don't know how clear-cut the definition is.
Here's that definition: "requiring physical work : relating to or having jobs that require physical work"

How much physical work? Any? Predominantly? I think it would be very difficult to draw a line to separate "blue collar" from "white collar".

Evo
Mentor
I'm surprised that you people don't know the meaning of a blue collar trade. The following is a link to Merriam Webster dictionary's definition of blue collar: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blue collar

Evo, I've pretty much already said the extent of my knowledge on this. I am the person asking the question, not the person answering the question! I don't understand why you would ask me to provide citations to my research on this matter as I am not really making any assertions here. I didn't make this thread to provide information. I made this thread to learn information.
Surely there is some information that you could find on this subject if you tried as a starting point. It is unfair to expect our members to do everything to research this from the ground up. We aren't here to teach, we are here to answer well informed questions.

Russ, okay, if you are having difficulty with understanding what a blue collar trade is, I will just give you a list of blue collar trades. Please just give you opinion on which of the blue collar trades I give you requires the most academic knowledge.

Here is my list of some blue collar trades: automobile mechanic, plumber, electrician, HVAC technician, machinist, aircraft mechanic, and welder.

phinds
Gold Member
2021 Award
But without having done any research it sounds like you are saying "Here is an ill-defined area where I lack knowledge. Please provide it for me, so that I won't have to do any research on my own." That may not be your intent but it's what it sounds like and that doesn't go over well here on PF.

EDIT: I see Evo beat me to it.

Evo, I don't want anyone here to do any research at all to answer my question. I am just asking people to give me their opinions on what blue collar job requires the most academic knowledge.

Why are you people being so hostile? I just asked people to give their opinions on what blue collar trade requires the most academic knowledge. I'm not asking anyone to do any research.

Tosh5457
But without having done any research it sounds like you are saying "Here is an ill-defined area where I lack knowledge. Please provide it for me.

Isn't that a definition of the one of the main purposes for this message board and the purpose of most of the posts here?

phinds
Gold Member
2021 Award
Russ, okay, if you are having difficulty with understanding what a blue collar trade is, I will just give you a list of blue collar trades. Please just give you opinion on which of the blue collar trades I give you requires the most academic knowledge.

Here is my list of some blue collar trades: automobile mechanic, plumber, electrician, HVAC technician, machinist, aircraft mechanic, and welder.
This is an excellent example of why this is such a vague question, really. Do you have any concept of the complexity of modern aircraft and the amount of knowledge required to do that job? I don't think aircraft mechanic fits well with a "manual labor" description because they have to know a LOT more these days than how to wield a monkey wrench.

One trade that occurs to me as a likely candidate is general contractor. I've got a guy who does a lot of different work for me and he knows a large range of subject that include at least a modest amount of technical information that is equivalent to academic information in terms of having to study to get it.

russ_watters
Mentor
Russ, okay, if you are having difficulty with understanding what a blue collar trade is, I will just give you a list of blue collar trades.....
[separate post]
Why are you people being so hostile?
This isn't hostility, it is trying to help you recognize and deal with what is a fairly ill-formed and thin question. The answer to the question is essentially exactly where you would choose to draw the line between "blue collar" and "white collar".

Evo
phinds
Gold Member
2021 Award
Isn't that a definition of the one of the main purposes for this message board and the purpose of most of the posts here?
No it is not. As Evo said, we aren't here to teach, we are here to answer well informed questions. This means questions that show some attempt on the questioner's part to have already found the answer and is stuck in a particular part or needs specific additional information

Evo
You people are responding in the way that I would respond if someone asked the same question I asked but also asked for references for all his information.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I thought maybe we had some Jack-of-all-trades types of people here who could give me interesting information without doing any research.

Evo
Mentor
You people are responding in the way that I would respond if someone asked the same question I asked but also asked for references for all his information.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I thought maybe we had some Jack-of-all-trades types of people here who could give me interesting information without doing any research.
What type of information do you expect from people that consider themselves "jack of all trades"? What exactly are you looking for?

If Ed works in sanitation, what would you expect him to say?

strangerep
Gotta say, I'm kinda sympathetic to @bluemoonKY. But it's unlikely that a forum with (mostly, presumably,) white-collar members would be able to answer the original question to the extent desired. A bit like asking Sam Eagle how to snorkel.

I have some experience with both blue and white collar jobs -- though I often wore a blue-collared shirt when performing a traditionally white-collar job.

I'd have said that something like an electronics technician needs a reasonable academic background. A (good) builder benefits from some understanding of structural engineering. Then there's nursing: would you consider that blue- or white-collar? Or maybe pink collar?

Some blue-collars (e.g., woodwork, metalwork) leave school at year 10 or earlier. Some go on to do industrial arts to at least year 12, or further, at a tech college. So it depends on what kind of academic knowledge you have in mind. I'm pretty sure none of the tradies who come to do work at my home have ever performed an integral, or inverted a matrix.

gracy
I'm thinking it would probably be an electronics tech. They guy who checks and maintains the electronics on a jet, for example, probably needs to know more than the jet mechanic.

russ_watters
Mentor
Then there's nursing: would you consider that blue- or white-collar? Or maybe pink collar?
Good example. A nurse is on his/er feet all day and a lot of the work is with the hands. I don't know what to call it. Of course, we'd have the same issue classifying a doctor: Is a surgeon a repair technician?

Staff Emeritus
2021 Award
These sorts of threads go nowhere.

"How about X?" "No, that's not really blue collar?"
"How about Y?" "That's blue collar, but it's not really academic knowledge."

They go on in circles because the question is not well-posed.

Evo and Nidum
Nobody outside of a few people on this message board would classify a nurse or a surgeon as blue collar. If a job has a requirement of a university education, it's not blue collar.

The question is well posed. It's meaning is clear and unequivocal.

phinds
Gold Member
2021 Award
Nobody outside of a few people on this message board would classify a nurse or a surgeon as blue collar. If a job has a requirement of a university education, it's not blue collar.
yeah, I agree w/ you on that one.

The question is well posed. It's meaning is clear and unequivocal.
The technical term for that statement is ... oh, wait ... forum rules prevent my using that phrase.

micromass
Staff Emeritus
Homework Helper
Can we please be sympathetic to non English speakers or non-US people please? I have no idea what blue or white collar is supposed to mean. Do people who do physical labour wear shirts with blue collars?? I'm very confused...

Ryan_m_b
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
The question is well posed. It's meaning is clear and unequivocal.
I believe folks are objecting to the fact that an answer to the question would require a fair amount of knowledge of craft and trade jobs and their academic prerequisites, besides the fact that the question is fairly broad.

I'd have said that something like an electronics technician needs a reasonable academic background. A (good) builder benefits from some understanding of structural engineering. Then there's nursing: would you consider that blue- or white-collar? Or maybe pink collar?

Some blue-collars (e.g., woodwork, metalwork) leave school at year 10 or earlier. Some go on to do industrial arts to at least year 12, or further, at a tech college. So it depends on what kind of academic knowledge you have in mind. I'm pretty sure none of the tradies who come to do work at my home have ever performed an integral, or inverted a matrix.
When I was in high school, students who were not inclined to attend university were encouraged to take vocational training, e.g., auto-mechanics, woodworking/carpentry, electronics, with the understanding that they would get a job in some technical area. Rather than academic training, such students would tend to learn on the job, usually as an apprentice to a craftsmen.

Nidum
Gold Member
@micromass ' I have no idea what blue or white collar is supposed to mean. Do people who do physical labour wear shirts with blue collars?? '

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collar_workers

It never was a very reliable classification system and it has certainly become meaningless in modern times .

Last edited:
russ_watters and micromass
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Can we please be sympathetic to non English speakers or non-US people please? I have no idea what blue or white collar is supposed to mean. Do people who do physical labour wear shirts with blue collars??
Blue collar = labor (crafts and trade), White collar = management (office workers, professionals, e.g., management, scientists, engineers, . . . .).

With modern technology the lines of blue and white collar have blurred a bit. Some traditionally blue collar jobs do require more academic experience, i.e., some skills/trades do require some formal education or training. Often such jobs are in manufacturing.

I think about welding, where in the past, the welder (blue collar) simply performed an operation, while a welding engineer (white collar) supervised the process.

micromass
Can we please be sympathetic to non English speakers or non-US people please? I have no idea what blue or white collar is supposed to mean. Do people who do physical labour wear shirts with blue collars?? I'm very confused...

I provided a link to the definition of blue collar at the Merriam-Webster's online dictionary. What more do you want?

I'm startled that so many English speaking people here at physicsforums don't know the difference between a blue collar job and a white collar job! When I created this thread, it never occurred to me that that would even be an issue.

phinds
Gold Member
2021 Award
I'm startled that so many English speaking people here at physicsforums don't know the difference between a blue collar job and a white collar job! When I created this thread, it never occurred to me that that would even be an issue.
You don't seem to have been paying any attention to the real issue. Sure there is a dictionary defintion of "blue collar job" but it just isn't all that helpful in modern society. This has been stated by several posters but you keep ignoring it.

Hepth
Gold Member
The problem is that if you transport yourself back 50 years the line is more clear-cut than it is now. It's better to define things in your own terms. Lets nail some down first:

Academic Knowledge : Knowledge or training that is usually learned in a course-setting rather than by observation or trial and error.
"Blue Collar Trade" : A CAREER TRADE that generally does not require a college degree. (though many courses can be found)

How hard is that? Let's just agree to not argue semantics and keep the error bars a bit more forgiving.

I like to think I've experienced a lot of these and I'd put my top two at

1. Electrician
2. Nursery[plant] management

Both of these seem to require a lot of "academic" knowledge. You're not going to learn by trial and error or by second-hand training a lot of what you need to know to be successful. Especially trades where memorization and understanding of MANY properties or characteristics are required (such as having 8 different types of creeping thyme and needing to know which can work in full sun, etc).

While I'm sure you could say that there ARE courses for these things, that's against the nature of the question. Most nursery owners/management that I know (and some landscaping contractors) know a LOT of information about their trades that seem academic in nature.

Plumbing and carpentry on the other hand (having done both) are MUCH more about learning by trial and error, or in the moment mental thought. Both still as difficult as the other two but the skill comes from practice. I'd throw welding in there too. Practice makes perfect.

1oldman2