Occupational Requirements in the United States News Release

For release 10:00 a.m. (EST) Wednesday, November 29, 2017				USDL-17-1572

Technical Information:	(202) 691-6199  ORSinfo@bls.gov		www.bls.gov/ors
Media Contact:		(202) 691-5902  PressOffice@bls.gov

			OCCUPATIONAL REQUIREMENTS IN THE UNITED STATES – 2017

About thirty percent of workers had jobs that required between 4 hours to 1 month of preparation time 
to successfully perform a job, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Occupations with 
this short preparation time requirement include 89.0 percent of fast food cooks and 77.0 percent of 
amusement and recreation attendants. Preparation time refers to the minimum formal education, 
training, and work experience required for a typical worker to successfully perform a job.

This release provides data from the Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS). ORS provides job-related 
information about the physical demands, environmental conditions, education and training, and mental 
requirements for jobs within the U.S. economy.

Preparation time
Occupations with a high percentage of jobs that required preparation time of over 10 years include 
architectural and engineering managers (57.1 percent) and chief executives (56.9 percent). 
Occupations with a high percentage of jobs that required 4 to 10 years of preparation time are 
nurse practitioners (85.8 percent), lawyers (76.2 percent), and electricians (49.6 percent), while 
those occupations that typically required 2 to 4 years are elementary school teachers (59.9 
percent), industrial machinery mechanics (48.0 percent), and food service managers (39.3 percent).

Some occupations in chart 2 required minimum education levels that include more advanced formal 
degrees. For example, 87.8 percent of lawyers typically required a professional degree, 76.0 percent 
of nurse practitioners required a master’s degree, and 96.2 percent of elementary school teachers 
required a bachelor’s degree. This contributes to longer preparation time for these occupations.

Prior work experience, and not necessarily high levels of formal education, may also result in 
greater preparation time for an occupation. For example, 81.9 percent of industrial machinery 
mechanics required prior work experience, and 59.0 percent required a high school diploma. The 
average time of prior work experience for industrial machinery mechanics, when required, is about 
2.5 years (998 days). Similarly, 65.8 percent of electricians require an average prior work 
experience of about 3.5 years (1,247 days).  

For architectural and engineering managers and chief executives, typically both a bachelor’s degree 
(78.9 percent and 61.3 percent, respectively) and about 8.5 years of prior work experience were 
required (3,112 days and 3,183 days, respectively).

Strength and selected physical demands
Physical demands refer to the effort generally required to successfully perform work-related tasks. 
The strength required for a job is based on how much weight a worker is required to lift or carry, 
how often they lift this weight, and the amount they stand or walk in some special cases. Strength 
is measured in five levels, from sedentary to very heavy. 

Only 3.4 percent of workers had jobs classified as a very heavy strength level. About half (57.3 
percent) of emergency medical technicians and paramedics had jobs considered a very heavy strength 
level, along with 25.4 percent of lifeguards, ski patrol, and other recreational protective service 
workers, and 22.5 percent of laborers and freight, stock, and material movers (hand). These 
occupations required lifting or carrying an average maximum weight of between 60 to 120 pounds.

Occupations with a high percentage of workers in jobs considered sedentary include telemarketers 
(91.6 percent) and computer programmers (86.7 percent). These two occupations required workers to 
spend about 90 percent of the workday sitting. Although most advertising sales agents are 
sedentary, they only spend about 80 percent of their workday sitting. 
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			Upcoming Changes to the Occupational Requirements Survey
The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) procedures are currently being revised. BLS has taken 
steps to revise procedures to align more closely with a narrower scope of work that pertains to the 
hiring and pay factors of the job. Beginning with the 2018 release, ORS data will reflect these 
revised concepts. For more information see www.bls.gov/ors/ors_improvements_09142017.htm. 


						Technical Note

Data in this release are from the Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS), conducted by the U.S. 
Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The ORS is an establishment-based survey and 
provides job-related information about the physical demands, environmental conditions, education and 
training, and mental requirements of jobs in the U.S. economy. Excluded are the federal government, 
the military, agricultural workers, private household workers, and the self-employed. 

Additional estimates for detailed occupations and occupational groups are available at 
www.bls.gov/ors/#data.

Sample size
The 2017 estimates are from two samples of data collected from the Occupational Requirements Survey. 
The ORS is an establishment-based survey and uses a national sample design. To maximize the amount 
of publishable information, the BLS is combining data across three annual ORS samples to produce the 
2018 estimates. The number of publishable occupations and the level of occupational detail is 
expected to increase with the addition of each subsequent year’s sample until the full ORS sample 
size of 26,500 sampled establishments is reached in 2018.

Data for the 2017 reference period were collected from 2 samples consisting of 14,000 private 
industry and 2,000 state and local government establishments. The ORS estimates represent 
138,400,000 workers in the United States. 

Measures of reliability
To assist users in ascertaining the reliability of ORS estimates, standard errors are made available 
shortly after publication of the news release. Standard errors provide users a measure of the precision 
of an estimate to ensure that it is within an acceptable range for their intended purpose. Collected and 
imputed data are included in the standard error calculation. BLS will continue refining estimation 
processes including evaluating the impact of sampling and nonsampling errors on the ORS estimates. For 
further information see: www.bls.gov/ors/se.htm. 

Occupational classification
BLS uses the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system, www.bls.gov/soc. The ORS classifies 
occupations by eight-digit codes used by O*NET’s detailed occupational taxonomy referred to as 
"O*NET-SOC 2010 Occupations." See www.onetcenter.org/taxonomy.html for more information regarding O*Net 
occupation classification. Military specific occupations (55-0000.00) are out of scope for the ORS. 
Additional information about occupational classification can be found in the ORS Handbook of Methods 
“Design” section at www.bls.gov/opub/hom/ors/design.htm. 

Definitions of major terms
For definitions of major terms used in the ORS, see the glossary beginning on page 108 of the ORS 
collection manual at www.bls.gov/ncs/ors/occupational_requirements_survey_collection_manual_052016.pdf, 
or the “Concepts” section of the ORS Handbook of Methods at www.bls.gov/opub/hom/ors/concepts.htm. 

Obtaining information
More information can be obtained by calling (202) 691-6199, sending email to orsinfo@bls.gov, or by 
visiting www.bls.gov/ors. Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired 
individuals upon request — Telephone:(202)691-5200; Federal Relay Service:(800) 877-8339.

Last Modified Date: November 29, 2017