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Types of Employees

A big part of fitting into the workplace is understanding the types of employees with whom you might be working.


A junior professional learning the necessary work skills under the supervision and direction of a senior professional. Usually used in the trades or skilled occupations such as electricians, plumbers and even architects or engineers. Training can last several years and include on-the-job training in conjunction with classroom training.

Baby Boomers

Boomers make up the post World War II generation of Americans born between 1946 and 1964. Baby Boomers currently make up just under 30% of the workforce.

Blue Collar Worker/Blue Collar Job

You will find these positions in the skilled trades and manufacturing sectors. You might also hear the expressions blue collar worker, working-class or lunch bucket worker used to describe employees. While some find it a derogatory description others are proud to be known as a hard working blue-collar worker. Be careful when and how you use these terms because you never know how they will be perceived. Your goal should be to treat all employees, regardless of their role, with respect. As I always say to emerging professionals; all work is good work.


A professional who is engaged by a company to provide expert advice about a specific process. Consultants have a vested interest in the company outcomes which is one of the major differences between a consultant and a contractor. Current employees can work side-by-side with consultants who are in service to the. Consultants can provide expertise in a wide range of areas. They can be engaged to offer research and recommendations, for example, to help companies grow, compete, identify future areas of opportunity and target markets.


A person or a company that is hired by another company with a specific contract for services on a specified project or in a specific assignment. Contractors typically have an interest just in the specific work to be done and not necessarily in any long term goals of the organization.

Essential Services

An occupation that will require employees to work as scheduled despite the hours. Police officers, air traffic controllers and fire fighters are examples of essential services employees who are not allowed to take certain strike action or who are expected to be available as necessary. These positions are considered necessary for the safety and well being of the general public.

Exempt Employee

Employees who are considered salaried employees with higher level decision-making responsibilities are most times exempt from the rules in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). For example if you work in retail, the store manager might not be paid overtime if they stay late because they are considered exempt. The store clerk, however, is not exempt from the FLSA and therefore has to be compensated at a premium (overtime) rate for hours in excess of 40 hours worked in a week.


Someone who works for various companies on specific projects. Freelancers typically are paid as contractors where no taxes are deducted from payment and no employee benefits are covered by a company for a freelancer. Freelancers are generally considered to be self employed.

Full Time Employee

This is a type of working or employment relationship that an employee will have with a company. The number of hours worked is typically 40 hours in a work week, but can be less. The number of hours required to be full time may be determined by the employer or is the result of negotiations with a collective bargaining unit (union). Usually employees who are full-time earn benefits as part of their compensation package.

Generation X (Gen X)

This is the generation born after the Baby Boomers roughly during the twenty year period between 1961 and 1981.

Generation Y (Gen Y)

This is another name for the millennial generation or those people born between 1980 and 2000.

Gold Collar Employee or Gold Collar Job

This is a relatively new term used to describe younger workers in the 18-24 who may even still be in college, but who spend much of their limited earnings on high dollar items from mobile devices, to entertainment. It could be used in a somewhat derogatory way to describe high debt college grads with huge loans and a false sense of financial security.

Green collar worker; Green collar job; Green job; Green economy

These are terms used to describe work, workers and the larger economy in the environmental sector. Futurists are predicting the green economy will be a major growth sector for future jobs.

Hourly/Skilled worker

Employees in the skilled trades who get paid by set hourly rates.


Student or recent graduate working for a specified time either in exchange for wages, academic credit or just experience.

Migrant Worker

A worker from another country with specific permission to be employed in the United States for a specific time period.


A term used to describe those who were born between the years 1980 to the year 2000. These millennials make up a significant portion of the US workforce. Their familiarity with and use of technology are revolutionizing the way many companies do business. This is the generation that has come of age in the 21st century.

On-call Employee

These employees are not permanent workers hired, but are called in to work as needed. Sometimes they can be called at relatively short notice. When they are called in, they might be scheduled for more than one day or one shift at a time. Substitute elementary school teachers are a great example of on-call employees.

Part Time Worker

Employees who work less than full time hours. Some part time employees may receive benefits from the employer.

Piece Worker

Workers gets paid according to the number of items or “pieces” produced. Typical in some manufacturing environments where the more of a widget the worker is able to produce, the more they will get paid.

Pink Collar Worker; Pink Collar Job

A pink collar worker is a woman who works in what some people might generally refer to as women’s work such as secretarial work, part-time retail, nursing etc. The term originated back in World War 1 when the military needed workers to do administrative work such as typing letters. Often these are jobs that some will say women work because of their responsibilities to raise families. These jobs are called pink-collar jobs.

Seasonal Job

Temporary job where the employee is hired for a limited time based on increased need for workers during certain times of the year eg. summer jobs in beach resorts or holiday retail workers.


Workers doing work in a physical location away from their company offices. In most cases telecommuters work from their own homes. See Telecommuting.

Temporary worker or Temp

Workers who have short-term assignments such as seasonal projects.

Virtual Employee

Technology has enabled all kinds of new employer-employee relationships including the virtual employee. This typically refers to someone who works for a company, but is not located in the same geographical area as the company. For example, a company in Delaware may hire a web designer who lives in California or a software company in Pennsylvania might hire a computer programmer who lives in Canada or administrative support staff in Australia. There are lots of “Virtual Assistants” out there.

White Collar Worker

The term white-collar job refers to a job at the professional, managerial, or administrative level. These employees are usually known as white-collar worker.

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