The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) is a career guidance resource offering information on the hundreds of occupations that provide the overwhelming majority of jobs in the United States. Each occupational profile discusses what workers in that occupation do, their work environment, the typical education and training needed to enter the occupation, pay, and the job outlook for the occupation. Each profile is in a standard format that makes it easy to compare occupations.
This page describes the content found in each occupational profile.
All profiles have a “Quick Facts” table that gives information on the following topics:
2010 Median Pay: The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey.
Entry-Level Education: Typical level of education that most workers need to enter the occupation.
Work Experience in a Related Occupation: Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.
On-the-job Training: Postemployment training necessary to attain competency in the skills needed in the occupation.
Number of Jobs, 2010: The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2010, the base year of the 2010-20 employment projections.
Job Outlook, 2010-20: The projected rate of change in employment for the 10-year timeframe between 2010 and 2020. The average growth rate for all occupations is 14.3 percent.
Employment Change, 2010-20: The projected numeric change in employment for this occupation between 2010 and 2020.
The summary section briefly describes all of the sections included in each occupational profile. In addition, a link is given to the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) system. State employment service offices use O*NET to classify applicants and job openings. For each occupation, O*NET lists descriptors, including common tasks, necessary knowledge and skills, and frequently used technology.
This section describes the main work of people in the occupation.
All occupations have a list of duties or typical tasks performed by these workers. The list includes daily responsibilities, such as answering phone calls and taking a patient’s medical history.
This section also may describe the equipment, tools, software, or other items that are typically used by people in the occupation. For example, medical records and health information technicians frequently use electronic health records to document a patient’s medical information. This section also may describe those with whom workers in the occupation interact, such as clients, patients, and coworkers.
Some profiles discuss specific specialties, job titles, or types of occupations within a given occupation. This subsection includes a brief explanation of each specialty’s job duties and how specialties differ from one another. For example, the profile on dentists lists several specialties, including orthodontists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and pediatric dentists.
This section describes an occupation’s working conditions, including the workplace, expected level of physical activity, and typical hours.
The section typically begins by noting the employment size of the occupation in 2010 and often includes a table of the industries or settings that employed the most workers in an occupation that year. The workplace is described, and whether employees work in a safe work environment (such as an office) or a hazardous one (such as a commercial fishing boat) is discussed. If the workplace is hazardous, the section lists the type of equipment an employee must wear, such as a lab coat or protective goggles. In addition to information on the general work environment, the section also notes whether employees are expected to travel, and, if so, for how long.
The section includes information on the typical schedule for workers in an occupation, noting whether the majority of workers are employed full time or part time. Full-time workers typically work 35 or more hours in a week, whereas part-time employees work less than 35 hours. For some occupations, the profile might also include the time of a day an employee is expected to work and for how long. Nurses, for example, may work all hours of the day and on weekends, because medical facilities are open around the clock. Information on occupations, such as farmers, that have seasonal employment also can be found in this section.
This section describes the typical paths to entry into, and advancement in, an occupation. All profiles have subsections on education and on important qualities of workers in the occupation. Optional subsections include information on training, work experience, licenses, certification, and advancement.
This subsection describes the education that most workers typically need to enter an occupation. Some occupations require no formal education, whereas others may require, for example, a doctoral degree or Ph.D. In some occupations, such as computer support specialist, workers have varying educational backgrounds. In these cases, the profile will discuss all of the typical paths of entry into the occupation.
This subsection also may include information on what subjects, majors, or minors people study in preparation for the occupation. Typical courses that may aid a student in preparing for an occupation may be listed. For example, high school students interested in applying to respiratory therapy programs should take courses in health, biology, mathematics, chemistry, and physics.
This subsection describes whether employers require work experience in a related occupation. For example, some managers, such as architectural and engineering managers, typically have previous work experience as an architect or engineer.
This subsection describes the typical on-the-job training necessary to attain competency in an occupation. Information is included on any practical or classroom training that workers receive after being hired. For example, firefighters must complete training at a fire academy or a similar program before they are considered prepared to combat fires.
In these profiles, apprenticeships and internship or residency programs are considered on-the-job training. For example, the profile on physicians and surgeons includes information on residency programs.
This subsection describes whether licensing is typically needed for an occupation and, if so, how workers can become licensed.
Licenses are issued by states to signify that the person has met specific legal requirements to practice that occupation. To become licensed, workers usually need to pass an examination and comply with eligibility requirements, such as possessing a minimum level of education, work experience, or training, or completing an internship, a residency, or a formal apprenticeship. States have their own regulatory boards that set standards for practicing a licensed occupation, so rules and eligibility may vary from state to state, even for the same occupation.
This subsection describes whether workers in an occupation are typically certified and, if so, how they can become certified.
Some occupations have certification either as a requirement or as a nonrequired opportunity. As an example of the latter, fitness trainers and instructors are encouraged, not required, to become certified before entering the occupation, and employers will often allow a trainer or instructor to become certified after being hired.
Certification requires demonstrated competency in a skill or a set of skills and is commonly earned by passing an examination or having a certain amount and type of work experience or training. For some certification programs, the candidate must have a certain level of education before becoming eligible for certification.
This subsection explains any prerequisites to certification and how a person would complete certification (by passing an exam, performing a certain type of work, receiving certain training or education, etc). If states require workers to be certified before they can be licensed, that information also is noted here.
Certification should not be confused with certificates from an educational institution. A certificate awarded by a postsecondary educational institution is considered to be a postsecondary nondegree award and would be discussed in the subsection on education.
This subsection describes important characteristics of workers in the occupation and includes an explanation of why those characteristics are useful.
The qualities include areas of skills, aptitudes, and personal characteristics. For example, an emergency medical technician or paramedic must be physically strong, and a medical laboratory technologist or technician relies on technical skills to complete laboratory work.
This subsection describes the possible advancement opportunities for workers in the occupation.
Opportunities for advancement can come from within the occupation, such as a promotion to a supervisory or managerial level; advancement into another occupation, such as moving from a computer support specialist to a network and computer systems administrator; or becoming self-employed, such as a dentist opening up his or her own practice.
The section often explains the requirements for advancement, such as certification or additional formal education.
This section discusses the wages of workers in the occupation.
For each occupation, pay varies by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. Almost all occupations discussed in the OOH use median wage data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, which provides data on wage and salary workers. The median wage is the wage at which half of the workers in an occupation earned more and half earned less. This section might also include wages earned by workers in selected industries—those in which most of an occupation’s workers are employed. The wage data by industry are also from the OES survey.
For all occupations for which OES survey data are used, the profile includes median wages and the wages earned by the top 10 percent and bottom 10 percent of workers in the occupation. The wage data are accompanied by a chart comparing the median wage of workers in the occupation to the median wage of workers across all occupations.
Unless otherwise noted, the source of pay data for occupations in the OOH is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some occupational profiles may cite wage data from sources other than the BLS. For example, wage data on physicians and surgeons is provided by the Medical Group Management Association.
Work schedule information, also found in the “Work Environment” section, is provided again here, and, if notable, this section might include the percentage of an occupation’s workers who are members of a union.
This section describes how employment will grow or decline between 2010 and 2020. Growth rates are from the 2010–20 occupational projections from the National Employment Matrix. In addition to presenting projections data, the outlook section cites major factors affecting the growth or decline of employment. Some common factors in employment growth or decline are industry growth or decline, technological change, fluctuating demand for a product or service, demographic change, or changes in business practices.
The outlook section sometimes also includes a “job prospects” subsection, which provides a qualitative measure of job competition.
This section links to other occupational profiles with similar job duties or required skills.
This section includes external links to associations, organizations, and other institutions that may provide readers with additional information.
The following tables explain how to interpret the key phrases used to describe projected changes in employment:
|Changing employment between 2010 and 2020|
|If the statement reads:||Employment is projected to:|
|Grow much faster than average||increase 29 percent or more|
|Grow faster than average||increase 20 to 28 percent|
|Grow about as fast as average||increase 10 to 19 percent|
|Grow more slowly than average||increase 3 to 9 percent|
|Little or no change||decrease 2 percent to increase 2 percent|
|Decline slowly or moderately||decrease 3 to 9 percent|
|Decline rapidly||decrease 10 percent or more|
Publish Date: Thursday, March 29, 2012