The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) is under development by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) National Compensation Survey (NCS) program in association with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The ORS seeks to provide job characteristics data to help the SSA in their disability determination process. Specifically, the ORS will gather job-related information regarding physical demands, environmental conditions, and vocational preparation requirements.


Testing Activities

BLS testing of the Occupational Requirements Survey includes:

  1. Evaluating whether the National Compensation Survey (NCS) can produce estimates of sufficient quantity and quality to meet the needs of the SSA;

  2. Determining survey design options and developing processes, protocols, aids, and collection procedures to meet SSA data needs; and

  3. Providing documentation to the SSA summarizing the work performed by the BLS, conclusions drawn, and recommendations for future data collection, testing, and research.


ORS Preproduction Testing

Fiscal Year 2015 preproduction documentation:

  1. Occupational Requirements Reliability and Validity Literature Research - the report provides advice on achieving high levels of reliability, validity, and accuracy given the ORS' parameters. The views expressed in this document are those of the author and not necessarily those of BLS or SSA.

    • Executive Summary (PDF)

    • Full Report (PDF)
  2. ORS Preproduction Collection Activities Report, June 2015 (HTML) (PDF)


ORS Materials

  1. Occupational Requirements Survey Visual Aid NEW
  2. ORS Information Sheet - October 2014 (PDF) (en Español) (PDF)
  3. Watching Work: The 2015 Job Observation Test (HTML) (PDF)
  4. NEW


ORS Testing Information

Fiscal Year 2015 Plans

In Fiscal Year 2015, BLS plans to:

  • Conduct a large-scale nationwide pre-production test to complete the evaluation of whether ORS can produce estimates of sufficient quantity and quality to move the survey into a production environment.
  • Continue working on areas from the Fiscal Year 2014 testing, including further refinement and testing of the new mental cognitive data elements, survey design processes, protocols, aids, and collection procedures; developing best practices to collect data from large employers and conducting additional research regarding the methods of collection and approaches for testing the validity and reliability of occupational requirements data.

Fiscal Year 2014 Occupational Requirements Testing Results

In Fiscal Year 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics successfully completed a series of tests to assess the viability of using the National Compensation Survey platform to accurately and reliably capture data relevant to the Social Security Administration's (SSA) disability program. These tests can be grouped into two categories: (1) tests of the feasibility of collecting mental-cognitive requirements of work that were not part of prior phases of collection test efforts but are essential to the SSA disability program and (2) tests to aid the BLS in refining survey operations for the collection of the Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS).

The outcomes confirmed that mental-cognitive requirements of work are collectable and fit within the collection of NCS information that is typically obtained when determining the duties and responsibilities and work level for the occupation. Although additional refinements to survey operation to support ORS collections will continue, the BLS believes the NCS survey platform is viable for the collection of occupational requirements survey data for use by the SSA.

For additional information, see the Fiscal Year 2014 Summary Report.

  • Fiscal Year 2014 Test Plans (PDF)
  • Phase 3 Summary Report (PDF)
  • Phase 2 Summary Report (PDF)
  • Phase 1 Summary Report (PDF)
  • Article - Testing the Collection Requirements Data (PDF)
  • Article - Sample Design Evaluation (PDF)
  • Article - Estimation Considerations (PDF)
  • Article - Analysis of Approaches to Validating Data (PDF)


ORS Frequently Asked Questions


  • Occupational Information System Project—provides information from the Social Security Administration on the Occupational Information System.
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook—provides data for 250 occupations, by nature of the work, working conditions, employment, job outlook and earnings, related occupations, sources of additional information, and training, other qualifications, and advancement.
  • National Compensation Survey—change over time in labor costs and level of average cost per hour worked, and comprehensive data on incidence and provisions of selected employee benefit plans.
  • Current Population Survey—Labor force, employment, and unemployment statistics for persons with or without a disability. These are estimates for the nation as a whole; data are not available by state.
  • Occupational Employment Statistics—data on employment and wages for over 800 occupations and for about 400 nonfarm industries for the nation, plus occupational data for States and metropolitan areas.
  • Testing the Collection of Occupational Requirements Data presented at the 2013 Joint Statistical Meetings.


Contact Us


The Office of Compensation Levels and Trends, Branch of Survey Information and Publications, will be glad to assist you with questions about any of the components of the Occupational Requirements Survey.

Ways to Contact BLS Directly

Email: Contact us

Telephone: (202) 691-6199 (Monday - Friday, 8:30 A.M. - 4:30 P.M.)

Information and assistance is also available from any BLS regional office.


Information voice phone: (202) 691-5200 The Federal Relay Service: 1-800-877-8339

Write or Personal Visit

Bureau of Labor Statistics
2 Massachusetts Ave., N.E. - Suite 4175
Washington, D.C. 20212-0001