“Blue-Collar” Blessings


I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve had people make a big deal out of the fact that my husband doesn’t have a college degree. Almost always I hear, “What if something happens? What if he gets injured? Or fired?” When I was in graduate school, disclosure of this fact often earned me raised eyebrows, followed by a snooty “Oh.” Even the Army makes a fairly clear distinction between blue-collar and white-collar positions: there are enlisted soldiers, and commissioned officers. (There are exceptions, of course.) My husband and I even had to work on my own family a bit in order to stop hearing, “But he’s not college-educated.”

Why does our society have such an aversion to the blue-collar worker? What about a hard working person, without a traditional education is so terrifying?

My blue-collar husband is amazing. Physical. And smart. His resume certainly looks a lot different from my own — but what stands out to me, more than any specific skill or certification, is this: the man can do anything. Learn anything. Be anything. Now nearly 30, we joke that he’s simply going to fall on an engineering degree, thanks in part to the generosity of a former employer. And if that indeed happens, we will both be proud. But I’m fairly certain, as our life together moves forward, that we will look back on this season of our life with pride … degree or no degree.

I think some people are scared of the successful blue-collar worker because this success goes against what our generation of Americans was told, that to “go anywhere in life,” you must have a 4-year degree in hand. I’ve even talked to people who told me we won’t make it. That sometime, somewhere along the way, failure is inevitable, because he needs a college degree. More often than not, I think roughnecking just doesn’t fit into their definition of success. It’s not how it’s done. It confuses them. Maybe even makes them angry.

It’s difficult to measure up to an invisible standard. It’s easy to get caught up in societal expectations, instead of celebrating those who choose a different way, and find that the path suits them perfectly. When you really think about it, isn’t that the true American Way? Hard work? Taking pride in the hours spent away from family and friends? Working to live, instead of living to work?

His office is a corner of our garage. You won’t find manila envelopes and fancy pens, but old hard hats, clean coveralls, and boots practically worn to dust (that neither of us can quite bring ourselves to throw away). In the driveway you’ll find a truck, caked with mud when he’s just come home — full of calculations written in company notebooks, duffle bags of laundry, and favorite family photos, faded by the sun.

One of the greatest blessings in my life, is my blue-collar husband. I’m so very, very proud of him.

Don’t wanna miss a thing? Subscribe to Real Oilfield Wives here.

Follow along with the Mitchell family’s “blue-collar” life here.

About Katie

Katie lives in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, where she raises her sweet daughter, Maile, who just turned two! Katie has been married to the love of her life for going on 6 years; every one of those years as a roughneck wife. The family also includes two spaniels, a very persnickety old cat, and two aquatic frogs. Katie spends most of her time reading books with her little one, going down the slide at the park 10,000 times, painting and playing pretend, and dreaming of growing all her own food. You can also find her at her family lifestyle blog, See You There.


  1. Amen!

  2. i loved this katie. college degree or not, hard work is what matters. and i love that you say it’s a much better way to work to live, not to live to work.

  3. Love this! 🙂 My husband is a martial arts instructor, no college degree there…..only 25 years of physical experience. People ask us all the time, “What if his body gives out?” Our answer is that we will deal with it, just like we deal with everything else: together. He loves his job ~ and how many people can truly say that??

    Your family is very blessed!

    • Thanks, Amanda! As I read your answer to that question, I found myself nodding; we say almost exactly the same thing, and I think it’s a wonderful answer!

  4. I think with the (admittedly small at the moment) rebellion against public education and standardized testing, you’ll see a lot more people in the next 50 years with resumes like Tim’s, Katie. At some point, we will ALL need to acknowledge that a shallow but wide knowledge base (such as one gains from a traditional liberal arts education) is not as valuable as a deep, specific knowledge base when it comes to one’s life work or employment.

  5. Brittany says:

    I had to ignore the negative comments of blue collar workers at a Bunco gathering last month. I figured my mother pushed a friend to start the bashing as she disproves of our lifestyle and frankly if she doesn’t get it, oh well!

    • It’s really too bad, isn’t it, Brittany? Although we can’t change everyone’s mind, I know Tim and I do try hard to show people that this kind of negative stereotyping is just bad, bad, bad!

  6. Amber R. says:

    This is the best post I have seen in a long long time. I completely agree with your ideas and that our husbands may not be “scholarly” educated, but by golly they know A LOT of information about a multi-million dollar operation. I too have a graduate degree and have had people scoff at the idea that my husband has a high school diploma and a mechanic certificate. I just laugh and say that books won’t get you through all of life. Yet, with a masters degree people still can’t find work and those without degrees are doing 10x better than most. I support my hardworking oilfield man and all families his business affects. God bless oilfield families 🙂

Speak Your Mind