Skilled, Unskilled, Semi-Skilled: Which Job Category are You?

Depending on your chosen job, you may have to possess a very particular set of skills (hello, Liam Neeson). Not all jobs share the same set of required skills; some occupations required applicants to have specialized skills while others, not so much. Some may even require special training or obtaining specific requirements, like a CSCS blue skilled worker card.

Initially, the idea of a “skills set” may not seem as pressing as it should be. After all, isn’t it easy to adapt to a job that may be outside of your skills? Not really. Plus skills may affect your benefits, like disability benefits. If you’ve applied for disability benefits and the Social Security approves your application, the agency will check your skill levels to assess the type of jobs you can do if you can transfer to another skills-set or do a new job.

There are three types of skill levels: unskilled work, skilled work and semi-skilled work. Many businesses and agencies use the “Dictionary of Occupational Titles” to classify jobs according to these categories.

But here’s a breakdown of the three levels.

Skilled Work

Skilled labor refers to work that requires a certain amount of skills or training. These workers must have a specialized set of skills to effectively perform their jobs. Skilled labor also requires workers to use their judgment to make better decisions. Jobs under this category require applicants to estimate, red, calculate or measure.

Skilled labor often has particular qualifications such as professional training or educational degree, which requires problem-solving skills and intellectual reasoning. It often takes six months to a year to train for a skilled job.

Examples of skilled jobs include the following:

  • Customer service representative
  • Administrative assistant
  • Secretary
  • Teacher’s aide or teacher
  • Office clerk
  • Nurse
  • Fast food cook
  • Office clerk
  • Mortgage processor
  • Travel agent
  • Law enforcement officer
  • Carpenter
  • Plumber
  • Registered nurse
  • Sales representative
  • Truck driver
  • Electrician
  • Physician
  • Lawyer

Semi-Skilled Work

Semi-skilled labor does not require advanced training or specialized skills. However, a semi-skilled worker should have at least three to six months’ worth of experience in their job. Also, semi-skilled laborers have a high school diploma or post-secondary education, such as a few courses or a certificate. But most semi-skilled jobs don’t require specialized education.

Workers under the semi-skilled category possess skills that are highly transferable, which means they can use their skills to work in different industries. Other roles require excellent communications, personal initiative, repetitive tasks and people skills.

Examples of semi-skilled jobs include the following:

  • Security guard
  • Laundry operator
  • Waiter/waitress
  • Retail salesperson
  • Flight attendant
  • Bartender
  • File clerk
  • Nurse’s assistant
  • Fisherman
  • Taxi driver

Unskilled Work

construction worker

Unskilled labor refers to people who don’t possess a particular set of skills or formal education. This type of work involves simple duties that don’t require logical reasoning or judgment. In some cases, however, unskilled labor requires physical exertion and strength.

Unskilled work makes up a significant part of the labor market. Employees under this category perform daily production tasks that do not depend on technical skills or abilities. Repetitive or menial tasks fall under unskilled work. The same applies to jobs that can be mastered in less than 30 days.

Due to the fact that unskilled work does not require higher levels of training or education, unskilled laborers earn lower than average salaries, compared to their skilled counterparts.

Sadly, the number of unskilled labor jobs is dwindling due to advances in technology, which leaves fewer jobs for people who qualify for unskilled labor.

Examples of unskilled jobs include the following:

  • Janitor
  • Parking lot attendant
  • Line operator
  • Sewing machine operator
  • Messenger
  • Vegetable picker/harvester
  • Construction worker

How Do You Determine if a Job is Skilled, Unskilled or Semi-Skilled?

Some job types hover between two categories. For example, a cashier can be classified as either a semi-skilled worker or an unskilled worker. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles categorizes grocery checkers as semi-skilled workers, as well as lists down other types of cashiers, such as change-booth cashiers, parking lot attendants, self-service gasoline attendants and more.

How to Communicate Your Job Skills?

Today’s job markets are continuously changing due to the advancements n technology. Many unskilled jobs are being replaced by machines. So, if you’re looking to move up from your current skills set or transfer to a different position, highlight your transferable skills on your resume. Remember to use the right terminology.

Good luck on your next job hunt!

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