Skip to Content

What jobs are considered working class?

The working class comprises of workers that perform manual labor or work in service industries. Working class jobs typically do not require extensive education or training and tend to provide lower pay and fewer benefits compared to professional, managerial, and technical occupations. Some key features that define working class employment are:

Manual/Physical Labor

Many working class occupations involve manual or physical labor. This includes jobs like:

  • Construction workers
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Mechanics
  • Factory and warehouse workers
  • Landscapers
  • Custodians
  • Commercial cleaners
  • Truck drivers

These jobs require physical exertion and skills related to working with one’s hands. The work is often strenuous and performed on one’s feet for long hours. Most of these occupations do not require extensive formal education, but do involve some on-the-job training or apprenticeship programs.

Service Industries

Working class jobs are also concentrated in the service sector. These include occupations like:

  • Retail sales associates
  • Food service and restaurant workers
  • Hotel room attendants
  • Home health and personal care aides
  • Childcare workers
  • Security guards
  • Office clerks
  • Mail carriers
  • Bus drivers
  • Flight attendants

Service industry jobs involve assisting or serving customers, patients, guests, or the general public. Most of these jobs require interpersonal and customer service skills along with physical stamina, but do not need extensive formal qualifications.

Lower Pay and Benefits

Compared to professional and office jobs, working class occupations tend to provide lower wages and compensation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for all occupations in 2020 was $41,950. However, wages for many working class jobs were significantly lower:

Occupation Median Annual Wage (2020)
Retail Salespersons $24,340
Cashiers $23,230
Food Preparation Workers $26,520
Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners $25,960
Stock Clerks and Order Fillers $26,640
Driver/Sales Workers and Truck Drivers $37,710
Construction Laborers $37,890

In addition to lower wages, many working class jobs do not provide health insurance, retirement plans, paid vacation and sick days, tuition reimbursement, or other benefits that are more common among middle and upper class professional occupations.

Limited Career Advancement

There is often limited opportunity for career development, advancement, and salary growth in working class jobs. For example:

  • A retail salesperson may advance to department manager or store manager, but their earnings are unlikely to significantly surpass middle-income levels.
  • A hotel housekeeper or fast food worker has very few advancement prospects without transitioning fields or obtaining higher education.
  • A construction worker may pick up new skills, but their salary growth is constrained unless they start their own business or move into management.

This contrasts with many professional careers that have extensive career ladders within an industry or company. Working class jobs generally offer fewer opportunities for promotion to higher positions, responsibilities, and pay.

Limited Education Requirements

Most working class occupations do not require education beyond a high school diploma or equivalent. Only short-term on-the-job training, an apprenticeship, vocational certificates, or associate degree are needed for many working class jobs such as:

  • Retail salespersons
  • Home health aides
  • Automotive service technicians
  • Paralegals
  • Dental assistants
  • Machinists
  • Welders
  • Bus drivers

This contrasts with professional careers like nurses, engineers, accountants, teachers, and managers that require at least a bachelor’s degree, if not a master’s degree or higher. The limited education requirements for working class jobs reflect lower wages and career advancement prospects.

Manual and Service Labor Combined

Some occupations combine elements of both manual/physical labor and customer service or caregiving. Examples include:

  • Ambulance drivers and EMTs
  • Commercial pilots
  • Correctional officers
  • Security guards
  • Landscapers
  • Passenger vehicle drivers
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians

These jobs involve hands-on physical work along with the customer and public service aspects of working class employment. The combination of manual and service skills shapes their training requirements and working conditions.


In summary, working class jobs share features like manual labor, service industry work, lower pay and benefits, limited advancement, and minimal education requirements. The working class comprises around 60-70% of all jobs, filled by electricians, drivers, clerks, carpenters, cleaners, servers, home care aides, cashiers, and numerous other occupations that keep our society running every day. While professional careers receive more prestige, working class employment remains essential, valuable, and deserves fair pay and benefits.