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Knowledge Worker

Vangie Beal
Last Updated May 24, 2021 7:47 am

A knowledge worker is the phrase used to describe an employee tasked with collecting, preparing, processing and also distributing the information as part of their daily job. In general, knowledge workers “think” for a living. In their job roles, they apply theoretical and analytical knowledge, acquired through years of formal training to master the information needed.

Examples of Knowledge Workers

There are plenty of examples of knowledge workers found in information technology (IT) jobs, including programmers, technical writers, and system analysts and programmers. The phrase is also used outside of IT and may include physicians, teachers, investors, architects, or pharmacists.

History of the Phrase

The phrase “knowledge worker” was first used by Peter Drucker in his 1959 book, Landmarks of Tomorrow.

In an article archived on The Atlantic Monthly (1994), Drucker wrote, “But–and this is a big but–the great majority of the new jobs require qualifications the industrial worker does not possess and is poorly equipped to acquire. They require a good deal of formal education and the ability to acquire and to apply theoretical and analytical knowledge. They require a different approach to work and a different mind-set. Above all, they require a habit of continuous learning.”