Office Jobs vs. Manual Labor Jobs: 16 Things to Consider (Differences, Pros, Cons,…)  

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

What’s the right type of job for you; an office job or manual labor job? Many people aren’t sure which one is best suited to them until they really consider the differences, pros, cons, and finer intricacies of each type of job. There are several things to consider when comparing an office job vs. a manual labor job. There are pros and cons to both types of jobs.

When considering the right job for you, you need to ensure that you’re choosing a job that suits your skillset, physical strength, and need for stimulation. Also, the earning potential needs to be taken into consideration. It should come as no surprise that, in many industries, manual laborers are paid less than the “thinkers” working in an office space. There is a lot to consider, so take the time to go through each point below.

16 things to consider when comparing office jobs vs. manual labor jobs:

1. Office jobs can be bad for your posture.

Let’s be honest, sitting at a desk all day can take its toll on your posture. We all know how to choose the right desk and chair and how to sit properly, but in most instances, that knowledge takes a back seat. You may suffer neck and back pain and even develop poor posture while at work.

2. Manual labor gives you a healthy amount of activity/exercise daily.

If you’re worried about losing your strength and physique while sitting behind a desk, perhaps a manual labor job is for you. Manual labor jobs can include anything from gardening or construction work to delivering items for a company. You will get in a lot of steps each day and potentially even increase your fitness levels, depending on the job, of course. 

3. Office jobs present fewer opportunities for injury.

There’s less risk of getting injured sitting at a desk taking phone calls and typing at a computer than there is on the road all day or working on a site. If you’re afraid of getting hurt or if you are looking for a job that’s considered safer, an office job would be preferable over a manual labor job.

4. Manual labor jobs can be far more physically exhausting than office jobs.

If you have never worked as a manual laborer before, beware…it can be physically grueling. Take, for instance, a construction worker who arrives on site and has to be physically involved in the heavy lifting, digging, moving of things, and actual building of things all day long. This particular job is going to be far more exhausting than working as an administrator in a busy office or a cashier at a small local store

5. You don’t have to get your hands dirty if you have an office job.

There are many workers out there who quite simply don’t want to get their hands dirty. The good news is that there are also many workers who do want to get their hands dirty. Manual labor jobs are better suited to those who don’t mind getting involved, rolling up their sleeves, and getting their hands dirty. Office jobs are for those who want to remain clean all day. What type of worker are you?

6. You might find that you need to retire sooner from a manual labor job than an office job.

When you get into the job market, the goal is obviously to work until it is suitable for you to retire. While you might want to retire at the regular age from a manual labor job, if you have worked physically hard for many years, you might find that you feel ready to retire sooner (although you might not be able to). It’s certainly easier to work right up until retiring age in an office job. 

7. There’s limited opportunity for advancement with manual labor jobs.

Let’s give some thought to the type of jobs that are available in the manual labor market. These are typically delivery drivers, gardeners, construction workers, cleaners, farmworkers, chauffeurs, hairdressers, and so on. If you think about it, there’s not much opportunity to advance in these careers. However, in-office jobs, there’s more scope to advance and climb the ranks over the years.

8. There’s a risk of stagnating with an office job.

Office jobs might offer the opportunity to climb the ranks, but what if you aren’t the type of person to seek out advancement and career growth? What if you get stuck in an office job and simply never go anywhere? Stagnation is a real risk for many people. 

9. Manual labor jobs may rob you of quality time with family and loved ones.

Most manual labor jobs are demanding on time and energy. You may find you get home from work and simply want to flop down on the couch or shower and head for a nap. You may not have the energy to play a bit of soccer with your son or watch your partner’s favorite movie with them after work. If you tire easily and choose a highly demanding manual labor job, you might find yourself missing out on quality time with your loved ones, thanks to tiredness and exhaustion. 

10. You may never reach your true potential with an office job.

Many people think that getting an office job opens doors to a career that sparkles, but what if you can’t find the perfect door-opening office job? Many office jobs require you to do a set of tasks each day and demand nothing more of you. Are you motivated enough to ensure that you consistently reach your true potential? If not, you might never reach your career goals. This is not to say that you will reach your true potential in a manual labor job, of course!

11. Manual labor jobs are often perceived as menial jobs/tasks.

If you’re worried about your image, you might be concerned that taking on a manual labor job will reflect poorly on you. You might feel embarrassed to tell fellow peers that you are working as a gardener or pizza delivery guy. If your image is important to you, manual labor jobs aren’t going to help. Of course, the reality is that there is no shame in manual labor jobs. This may be a mindset that you need to work on.

12. Working in an office is effectively working for someone else (not great for self-starters).

When working as a manual laborer, there may be more time and opportunity for you to start your own business instead of simply working for someone else for the rest of your life. Manual labor might inspire you to get your own thing going…

13. There’s a career growth opportunity with most office jobs.

Office jobs often offer the opportunity for growth within the business. For instance, someone who starts out simply answering the phones may develop skills and eventually move on to being a high-profile sales representative in the company. Not every office job comes with this opportunity, but many do. On the other hand, manual labor jobs don’t often offer room for growth and advancement. 

14. It’s easier to get a manual labor job than an office job (in many instances).

Most office jobs out there have specific requirements attached in terms of education, experience, and qualifications. On the other hand, manual labor jobs seem to have fewer requirements attached. On-the-spot training is often possible with manual labor jobs, whereas office jobs expect you to come into the position with some knowledge and know-how. 

15. There’s often less responsibility involved in manual labor jobs.

If you aren’t keen on too much responsibility, a manual labor job might be the right choice for you. Office jobs typically require workers to meet certain daily responsibilities and be answerable to management and supervisors. Of course, manual labor jobs do have some level of responsibility involved, but workers are typically more easily replaced, and so the level of responsibility is deemed far lower than that of an office job. 

16. An office job provides scope for further education and skills development.

When working in an office job, you will most likely have access to in-house courses and training to develop your skills and help you advance in your career. When it comes to manual labor, this is very rarely the case. Most manual labor workers won’t receive ongoing or further training as there isn’t often anywhere to advance to in the business. 

In short

When it comes to choosing between manual labor jobs vs. office jobs, it’s important to consider all the differences, pros, and cons so that you don’t find yourself in a job that just doesn’t work for you. Keep all of these pointers in mind during your next job search.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He mainly focuses on content about faith, spirituality, personal growth, finance, and sports. He graduated from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Marketing. He is a certified tennis instructor who teaches in the New York City Metropolitan area. In terms of finance, he has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.