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Economic News Release
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ORS ORS Program Links

Occupational Requirements Survey Summary

For release 10:00 A.M. (ET) Tuesday, December 22, 2020					         USDL-20-2307

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  2020

On average, civilian workers spent 4.25 hours of the workday standing in 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor 
Statistics reported today. Workers stood for 57.3 percent of the workday and spent the rest of the workday 
sitting. The choice to sit or stand to perform critical tasks in support of critical job functions was 
available to 42.5 percent of civilian workers. (See table 1.) 

Workers in healthcare practitioners and technical occupations spent 64.5 percent of the workday standing.
These workers stood an average of 5.47 hours a day. Within this occupational group, medical records 
specialists spent 1.50 hours, or 19.1 percent, of the workday standing and surgical technologists stood for 
8.02 hours, or 88.6 percent, of the workday. (See table 1.)

Seventy-one percent of the workday was spent standing for workers in healthcare support occupations with 5.04
hours standing. Within this occupational group, dental assistants spent 3.95 hours, or 49.5 percent, of the
workday standing and nursing assistants stood for 7.29 hours, or 86.0 percent, of the workday. (See table 1.)

The choice to sit or stand was available to 32.2 percent of workers in healthcare practitioners and technical
occupations. Within this occupational group, no surgical technologists and 77.4 percent of medical records
specialists had the choice between sitting and standing. (See table 1.) 

The choice to sit or stand was available to 17.8 percent of workers in healthcare support occupations. Within
this occupational group, a choice between sitting and standing was available to 13.0 percent of nursing 
assistants and to 26.3 percent of dental assistants. 

Sixteen percent of civilian workers were required to problem solve more than once per day and 58.1 percent 
were required to problem solve less often than monthly, including never. (See table 2.) In order to separate
routine decisions from problem solving, workers must be faced with new or different problems that have no 
obvious solution and require time, at least 5 minutes, to consider the best solution. Situations where 
workers are trained to respond quickly, such as a medical emergency, do not meet the threshold for problem
solving.

Thirty-five percent of workers in healthcare practitioners and technical occupations were required to problem
solve more than once per day. Within this occupational group, 76.5 percent of occupational therapists were 
required to problem solve more than once per day. (See table 2.)

Ninety percent of workers in healthcare support occupations were required to problem solve less often than
monthly, including never. Within this occupational group, 94.2 percent of psychiatric aides were required to
problem solve less often than monthly, including never. (See table 2.)

Constant verbal interactions, every few minutes were present for 28.8 percent of civilian workers. (See table
3.) Occupations with this requirement include:
	* 34.8 percent of workers in healthcare practitioners and technical occupations
		* 36.0 percent of nurse practitioners 
		* 46.9 percent of physician assistants 
	* 39.1 percent of workers in healthcare support occupations 
		* 22.7 percent of dental assistants 
		* 56.6 percent of nursing assistants 

Fifty percent of civilian workers were required to perform verbal interactions not constantly, but more than 
once per hour. (See table 3.) Occupations with this requirement include:
	* 61.0 percent of workers in healthcare practitioners and technical occupations 
		* 53.1 percent of physician assistants 
		* 63.9 percent of nurse practitioners 
	* 54.1 percent of workers in healthcare support occupations
		* 42.2 percent of nursing assistants 
		* 77.2 percent of dental assistants

A high school diploma was the minimum formal education required for 40.4 percent of civilian workers and an 
associate's degree was required for 4.3 percent of civilian workers. A high school diploma was the minimum 
education required for 18.0 percent of workers in healthcare practitioners and technical occupations and 17.9
percent required an associate's degree. Within this occupational group, 83.2 percent of medical records 
specialists needed a high school diploma to fulfill minimum formal education requirements. An associate's 
degree was required for 49.0 percent of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses. (See table 4.)

A high school diploma was the minimum education required for 65.3 percent of workers in healthcare support
occupations and 5.4 percent required an associate's degree. Within the occupational group, 90.3 percent of
phlebotomists required a high school diploma to fulfill minimum formal education requirements. (See table 4.)

Exposure to wetness was present for 34.2 percent of civilian workers. (See table 5.) 
	* Wetness was present for 76.7 percent of workers in healthcare practitioners and technical 
	  occupations. Within this occupational group, 89.0 percent of dental hygienists and 90.0 percent of
	  emergency medical technicians were exposed to wetness. 
	* Wetness was present for 86.1 percent of workers in healthcare support occupations. Within this 
	  occupational group, 94.8 percent of psychiatric aides and 96.1 percent of nursing assistants were 
	  exposed to wetness. 
Outdoor exposure was present for 33.8 percent of civilian workers. The other 66.2 percent of civilian workers
were not exposed to the outdoors. (See table 5.)
	* Exposure to the outdoors was required for 8.7 percent of workers in healthcare practitioners and 
	  technical occupations. Within this occupational group, 88.7 percent of emergency medical 
	  technicians were exposed to the outdoors and 98.2 percent of pharmacy technicians were not exposed
	  to the outdoors.
	* Outdoor exposure was present for 35.8 percent of workers in healthcare support occupations. Within
	  this occupational group, 74.0 percent of home health aides were exposed to the outdoors and 100.0 
	  percent of dental assistants were not exposed to the outdoors.
  __________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 |                                                                                                          |
 |          Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on the 2020 Occupational Requirements Survey   	    |
 | The collection period for the ORS 2020 data was August 2019 through July 31, 2020. Information related to|
 | the impact of COVID-19 on the ORS is available at www.bls.gov/covid19/effects-of-covid-19-on-workplace-  |
 | injuries-and-illnesses-compensation-and-occupational-requirements.htm#ORS.		           	    |
 |__________________________________________________________________________________________________________|
 
 
Table 1. Percentage of workers with sitting and standing requirements, 2020
Occupation and occupational groupAverage hours of sittingAverage percent of workday day spent sittingAverage hours of standingAverage percent of workday spent standingChoice of sitting or standing
EstimateStandard
error
EstimateStandard
error
EstimateStandard
error
EstimateStandard
error
AllowedNot allowedStandard
error

All workers

3.37[1]42.70.54.25[1]57.30.542.557.50.6

Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations

2.950.0935.51.15.470.1264.51.132.267.81.8

Pharmacists

1.620.1324.83.45.730.3775.23.445.254.87.5

Physician assistants

3.380.2936.42.55.640.2363.62.564.835.210.3

Physical therapists

1.700.2123.22.85.690.3076.82.842.757.310.6

Respiratory therapists

2.800.3430.94.36.550.5669.14.3---

Registered nurses

2.610.1830.31.86.240.1269.71.822.577.54.6

Nurse midwives

3.040.4837.45.95.170.5662.65.9---

Nurse practitioners

2.970.6037.37.24.990.5162.77.240.459.613.1

Dental hygienists

5.420.4070.33.72.290.2729.73.7---

Medical and clinical laboratory technicians

3.560.3643.14.04.450.3456.94.045.654.410.8

Magnetic resonance imaging technologists

--35.06.94.900.3965.06.9---

Emergency medical technicians

5.341.2646.27.45.990.9153.87.4-100.0[2]

Pharmacy technicians

1.010.3712.74.66.360.4287.34.632.267.89.5

Surgical technologists

1.010.211.42.68.020.6988.62.6-100[2]

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

2.420.2527.92.86.170.2472.12.815.584.53.5

Medical records specialists

6.420.2180.92.41.500.1819.12.477.422.69.3

Opticians, dispensing

4.400.8958.613.03.231.0441.413.0---

Healthcare support occupations

2.080.0929.01.15.040.0871.01.117.882.23.9

Personal care aides

1.680.0725.42.14.680.2374.62.114.585.56.5

Nursing assistants

1.200.0914.00.97.290.3186.00.913.087.04.5

Psychiatric aides

1.850.4023.45.06.080.4176.65.0---

Occupational therapy assistants

2.660.4733.55.85.260.4666.55.8---

Physical therapist assistants

2.160.2727.03.35.970.4073.03.3---

Dental assistants

4.040.2050.52.43.950.2249.52.426.373.79.0

Phlebotomists

2.630.6233.27.25.160.5066.87.2---

[1] Standard error is less than 0.05.

[2] Standard error is less than 0.5.

Note: Dashes indicate that estimate was not publishable or there are no workers with the requirement. Due to rounding, sum of estimates may not equal 100 percent.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Requirements Survey

Table 2. Percentage of workers with problem solving requirements, 2020
Occupational group and detailed occupation by frequencyRequiredStandard
error

More than once per day

All workers

16.00.5

Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations

35.02.7

Physician assistants

66.58.3

Occupational therapists

76.58.0

Physical therapists

57.37.9

Nurse practitioners

65.010.3

Obstetricians and gynecologists

68.216.4

Emergency medical technicians

27.78.9

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

15.04.0

Medical records specialists

9.63.2

Less often than monthly, including never

All workers

58.1[1]

Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations

30.42.0

Dental hygienists

68.86.5

Emergency medical technicians

49.613.2

Pharmacy technicians

92.15.0

Surgical technologists

94.74.2

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

57.33.5

Medical records specialists

61.56.8

Healthcare support occupations

90.01.2

Home health aides

100.0[1]

Personal care aides

92.61.0

Nursing assistants

90.75.9

Psychiatric aides

94.23.8

Physical therapist assistants

72.614.3

Dental assistants

92.63.5

Medical assistants

76.95.0

Medical equipment preparers

92.73.3

Phlebotomists

84.79.1

[1] Standard error is less than 0.5.

Note: This table does not include all categories of problem solving frequency

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Requirements Survey

Table 3. Percentage of workers with verbal interaction requirements, 2020
Occupational group and detailed occupationRequired constantly, every few minutesRequired not constantly, but more than once per hour
EstimateStandard
error
EstimateStandard
error

All workers

28.80.650.00.6

Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations

34.82.061.01.8

Pharmacists

58.88.332.86.7

Physician assistants

46.910.953.110.9

Occupational therapists

34.013.265.913.2

Physical therapists

48.610.848.210.8

Recreational therapists

36.37.161.18.0

Respiratory therapists

--73.012.0

Speech-language pathologists

59.111.540.711.4

Registered nurses

35.64.262.74.0

Nurse midwives

--87.49.0

Nurse practitioners

36.09.363.99.3

Obstetricians and gynecologists

--77.98.9

Dental hygienists

--78.15.4

Medical and clinical laboratory technicians

--65.610.5

Cardiovascular technologists and technicians

--81.710.6

Diagnostic medical sonographers

--88.46.2

Nuclear medicine technologists

24.57.169.97.6

Emergency medical technicians

28.96.359.88.0

Pharmacy technicians

44.87.155.17.2

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

47.85.151.14.9

Medical records specialists

--53.06.5

Opticians, dispensing

--88.37.2

Genetic counselors

--57.49.9

Healthcare support occupations

39.12.554.11.8

Home health aides

--66.015.4

Personal care aides

39.15.350.87.6

Nursing assistants

56.69.342.29.0

Psychiatric aides

--77.413

Physical therapist assistants

75.013.9--

Dental assistants

22.74.977.24.9

Medical assistants

53.66.846.16.7

Phlebotomists

65.914.134.114.1

Note: Dashes indicate that estimate was not publishable or there are no workers with the requirement. This table does not include all categories of verbal interaction frequency

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Requirements Survey

Table 4. Percentage of workers with minimum formal education requirements, 2020
Occupational group and detailed occupation by minimum formal educationRequiredStandard
error

High school diploma

All workers

40.40.7

Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations

18.01.7

Recreational therapists

12.64.8

Medical and clinical laboratory technicians

45.312.0

Nuclear medicine technologists

7.03.1

Emergency medical technicians

81.17.5

Pharmacy technicians

85.86.0

Surgical technologists

58.116.6

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

33.18.3

Medical records specialists

83.25.2

Healthcare support occupations

65.33.1

Home health aides

58.713.7

Personal care aides

62.07.5

Nursing assistants

74.96.7

Psychiatric aides

83.88.8

Dental assistants

62.38.4

Medical assistants

70.17.1

Medical equipment preparers

100.0[1]

Phlebotomists

90.39.1

Associate's degree

All workers

4.3[1]

Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations

17.91.3

Radiation therapists

13.75.5

Respiratory therapists

40.013.7

Registered nurses

24.92.8

Diagnostic medical sonographers

16.55.2

Nuclear medicine technologists

26.56.6

Radiologic technologists and technicians

29.68.2

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

49.06.1

Medical records specialists

9.12.4

Healthcare support occupations

5.41.0

Occupational therapy assistants

62.614.6

Physical therapist assistants

65.611.2

Medical assistants

11.54.1

[1] Standard error is less than 0.5.

Note: Dashes indicate that estimate was not publishable or there are no workers with the requirement. This table does not include all categories of minimum formal education.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Requirements Survey

Table 5. Percentage of workers with environmental exposure requirements, 2020
Occupation and occupational groupExposure to wetnessExposure to the outdoors
RequiredNot
required
Standard
error
RequiredNot
required
Standard
error

All workers

34.265.80.633.866.20.5

Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations

76.723.31.68.791.30.7

Pharmacists

63.936.18.9-100.0[1]

Physician assistants

90.2-4.7-100.0[1]

Occupational therapists

83.616.47.9-90.3[1]

Physical therapists

67.532.510.7-85.59.0

Radiation therapists

57.8-15.6-99.20.9

Recreational therapists

54.046.07.963.936.18.8

Respiratory therapists

74.0-13.1-100.0[1]

Speech-language pathologists

26.074.09.3-96.03.5

Exercise physiologists

63.336.710.8-97.51.0

Registered nurses

87.212.83.33.696.41.0

Nurse midwives

97.9-2.7-100.0[1]

Nurse practitioners

81.9-10.2-100.0[1]

Obstetricians and gynecologists

89.1-8.8-100.0[1]

Dental hygienists

89.0-9.8-100.0[1]

Medical and clinical laboratory technologists

85.1-9.8-100.0[1]

Medical and clinical laboratory technicians

84.7-4.6-100.0[1]

Cardiovascular technologists and technicians

78.1-10.4-100.0[1]

Diagnostic medical sonographers

83.7-3.4-100.0[1]

Nuclear medicine technologists

76.1-5.4-100.0[1]

Emergency medical technicians

90.0-3.788.7-2.1

Pharmacy technicians

38.661.48.5-98.21.7

Surgical technologists

98.6-1.2-100.0[1]

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

87.0133.421.978.14.2

Opticians, dispensing

66.0-16-100.0[1]

Healthcare support occupations

86.113.91.935.864.22.0

Home health aides

91.1-2.774.026.08.2

Personal care aides

84.115.93.954.945.16.3

Nursing assistants

96.1-1.821.978.13.8

Psychiatric aides

94.8-4.1---

Occupational therapy assistants

95.7-1.5-87.25.4

Physical therapist assistants

88.711.34.4-76.27.9

Dental assistants

89.9-5.7-100.0[1]

Medical assistants

82.9-8.8-99.7[1]

Medical equipment preparers

91.1-8.5-100.0[1]

Phlebotomists

90.4-8.3-100.0[1]

[1] Standard error is less than 0.5.

Note: Dashes indicate that estimate was not publishable or there are no workers with the requirement. Due to rounding, sum of estimates may not equal 100 percent.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Requirements Survey

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Last Modified Date: December 22, 2020