Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.

Https

The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Occupational Requirements Survey: Calculation

The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) calculates categorical and continuous estimates of job requirements by occupation and occupational group. Categorical estimates provide the percentage of workers by job requirement. For many of the categorical estimates, the ORS also identifies the mode within a categorical grouping. Continuous estimates measure the average (or mean in hours, days, percentage of workday or pounds) or percentile for the job requirement.

See appendix A at the end of this section for a full list of published occupational requirements as well as a list of corresponding estimate types.

Estimation formulas

This section includes the formulas used to calculate the ORS estimates.

Percentage of workers. The formula for the percentage of workers with a given job requirement in the domain (occupation or occupational group) is

  i = 1 I g = 1 Gi OCCFW ig × X ig × Z ig i = 1 I g = 1 Gi OCCFW ig × X ig × 100     i = 1 I g = 1 Gi OCCFW ig × X ig × Z ig i = 1 I g = 1 Gi OCCFW ig × X ig × 100

where

 is the total number of establishments,

 Gi is the total number of sampled jobs in establishment i,

is the establishment, 

is the occupation within establishment i,

  i = 1 I g = 1 Gi OCCFW ig × X ig × Z ig × Q ig i = 1 I g = 1 Gi OCCFW ig × X ig × Z ig i = 1 I g = 1 Gi OCCFW ig × X ig × Z ig × Q ig i = 1 I g = 1 Gi OCCFW ig × X ig × Z ig  is the final sampled job weight for occupation in establishment i,

 Xig is 1 if sampled job ig meets the condition set in the domain (denominator) condition and 0 otherwise, and

 Zig is 1 if sampled job ig meets the condition set in the requirement condition and 0 otherwise.

 Average (mean). The formula for the average (mean) estimate of a job requirement is

NRAF= A + B A NRAF= A + B A

where

 is the total number of establishments,

 Gi is the total number of sampled jobs in establishment i,

 i is the establishment,

 g is the occupation within establishment i,

  SE ( Y ^ ) = 1 (R (1 - k) 2 ) r = 1 R ( Y ^ r - Y ^ ) 2 SE ( Y ^ ) = 1 (R (1 - k) 2 ) r = 1 R ( Y ^ r - Y ^ ) 2  is the final sampled job weight for occupation in establishment i,

Xig is 1 if worker ig meets the condition set in the domain (denominator) condition and 0 otherwise,

Zig is 1 if worker ig meets the condition set in the requirement condition and 0 otherwise, and

Qig is the value of a quantity for a specific requirement for occupation in establishment I.

Percentiles. The 10th, 25th, 50th (median), 75th, and 90th, percentiles are calculated. The pth percentile is the value Qig, where the value of a quantity is for a specific category for occupation in establishment i, such that

  • the sum of final sampled job weights () across sampled jobs with a value less than Qig is less than percent of all final sampled job weights and
  • the sum of final sampled job weights () across sampled jobs with a value more than Qig is less than (100 – p) percent of all final sampled job weights.

It is possible that there is no specific sampled job ig for which both properties hold. This occurs when there exists a sampled job for which the  of records whose value is less than Qig equals percent of the total weighted sampled job employment. In that situation, the pth percentile is the average (mean) of Qig and the value of the sampled job with the next lowest value.

Duration

Duration corresponds to the time associated with occupational requirements needed to perform critical tasks. Exhibit 5 provides the duration levels with the corresponding percent or fraction of the workday that workers perform physical demands or are exposed to environmental conditions. See appendix B at the end of this section for a list of job requirements with associated duration.

Exhibit 5. Duration levels and amount of the workday associated with each level
Duration level Presence of the requirement in the workday

Not present

Requirement is not present and there is no associated duration

Seldom

Up to 2 percent of the workday

Occasionally

2 percent and up to 1/3 of the workday

Frequently

1/3 up to 2/3 of the workday

Constantly

2/3 or more of the workday

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

The ORS calculates a percentage-of-workers estimate for each duration. Estimates of some physical demands as well as education, training, and experience include averages (means) and percentiles to convey duration. For example, the ORS measures sitting in hours and the average (mean) and percentile estimates (10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentiles) are calculated for both hours and the percentage of the workday spent sitting for a specific occupation or occupational group.

Specific vocational preparation (SVP)

Although the ORS calculates most job requirement estimates from establishment responses about selected jobs' various tasks, some require an additional level of calculation. One of these is the specific vocational preparation (SVP) level, which is the amount of preparation time required for the worker to develop the skills needed to perform the job. The job requirements that contribute to the SVP are the minimum formal education, credentials, prior work experience, and on-the-job training. These requirements' associated time are then aggregated and used to determine the SVP level needed for the job. (See exhibit 6.)

Concurrent time due to credentials necessary for jobs that also require minimum formal education level, experience, or on-the-job training are not included separately in SVP. Concurrent time is reflected in the education, training, and experience requirements where the time overlaps with time necessary to obtain licenses, certifications, or other nondegree credentials.

Exhibit 6. Preparation time necessary for each specific vocational level
Specific vocational preparation (SVP) level Preparation time

1

Short demonstration only (4 hours or less)

2

Anything beyond short demonstration up to and including 1 month

3

Over 1 month up to and including 3 months

4

Over 3 months up to and including 6 months

5

Over 6 months up to and including 1 year

6

Over 1 year up to and including 2 years

7

Over 2 years up to and including 4 years

8

Over 4 years up to and including 10 years

9

Over 10 years

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

Strength

Strength levels are derived from several physical requirements. The estimates reflect the amount of weight workers are required to lift or carry, how often, and whether standing or walking is required to perform critical tasks in the workday. The strength levels show whether jobs are considered sedentary, light work, medium work, heavy work, and very heavy work. Exhibit 7 provides the conditions necessary for estimates to reflect the strength levels.

The highest strength level satisfied is the level that represents that sampled job. For example, if a job requires workers to lift or carry 11–25 pounds occasionally, then it is classified as light work. However, if that same job were to require lifting or carrying that same weight frequently, then it is classified as medium work.

Exhibit 7. Determining strength level based on lifting or carrying duration or percentage of the workday spent standing
Strength level Duration of lifting or carrying Percent of workday standing⁠[1] ⁠[2]
Seldom Occasionally Frequently Constantly

Sedentary work

<11 pounds <11 pounds <1 pound <Negligible weight⁠[3] Less than or equal to 1/3

Light work

11–25 pounds 11–25 pounds 1–10 pounds Negligible weight⁠[3] More than 1/3⁠[4]

Medium work

26–50 pounds 26–50 pounds 11–25 pounds 1–10 pounds

Heavy work

51–100 pounds 51–100 pounds 26–50 pounds 11–25 pounds

Very heavy work

>100 pounds >100 pounds >50 pounds >25 pounds

⁠[1] Standing estimates includes time spent standing, walking, and in low postures.

⁠[2] The percentage of the workday spent standing is only considered when none of the lifting or carrying requirements for light work are met.

⁠[3] Negligible weight includes anything lifted or carried weighing less than 1 pound.

⁠[4] The percentage of the workday standing only applies when lifting or carrying requirements are not met.

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

As noted, there are special cases for strength. In instances where field economists cannot determine certain job requirements from the respondent, they record these data as "unknown" and strength level is derived through imputation. See the section, "Benchmarking, weighting, and imputation" for more information.

Low postures

The low postures estimates indicate whether workers are required to perform critical tasks while crawling, crouching, kneeling, or stooping. The amount of the workday that workers are required to perform critical tasks in low postures is provided as the percentage of workers by duration level. Individual estimates of low postures are also published as required or worker choice. Job tasks may require workers to perform low postures, but workers may choose whether to crawl, crouch, kneel, or stoop to complete the work activities.

Estimate relationships

In some cases, the relationships between ORS estimates are more complex than a job requirement being present or not present. Relationships are shown through the category and additive groups assigned to estimates in the excel dataset. The category code is the same for all related estimates. For example, all sitting estimates have the same category code. The additive code is used to show how these estimates sum together. Sometimes estimates sum to 100 percent, whereas others sum to another estimate instead of 100 percent. For example, the percentage of workers utilizing and not utilizing personal protective equipment (PPE) to mitigate risks that go along with exposure to heights together sum to the percentage of workers exposed to heights. See appendix C for more information on the relationships shown in the additive codes.

Benchmarking, weighting, and imputation

The ORS program addresses establishment refusals, item nonresponse, as well as out of business and out of scope units. The ORS program adjusts the weights of the responding establishments during the estimation process to address nonresponse (specifically unit nonresponse). Imputation is used to address item nonresponse, which is when an establishment responds to the survey but is unable or unwilling to provide all the occupational requirement data needed for a given sampled job. Benchmarking adjusts final survey weights to reflect the current employment distribution in the economy.

Benchmarking

The ORS uses benchmarking to adjust the weight of each establishment in the survey and match the most current distribution of employment by several establishment and occupational characteristics. The ORS establishment sample is adjusted according to data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) Longitudinal Database, a file of units reporting to the Railroad Retirement Board, the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, and the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey. The QCEW, railroad information, and OEWS survey provide historical employment data needed for the benchmarking process, but since these sources do not have current employment data, the ORS also uses CES to make an adjustment to employment. The benchmark process updates the initial employment weights, assigned during sampling, by current employment. Benchmarking ensures that survey estimates reflect the most current employment distribution by industry, employment size, geographic area, and major occupational group.

As an example of the benchmarking process, 40 private industry, 10 local government, and 5 state government units in the service sector were selected from the ORS sampling frame. These units consist of establishments employing 200,000 private industry workers, 30,000 local government workers, and 10,000 state government workers. If, by the time of survey processing, the private service sector experienced an employment increase of 10,000 workers (5 percent) and there is no increase in employment in the service sectors of state and local government, then the sample would underrepresent current employment in the private industry service sector in the absence of benchmarking. In this example, the ORS program would adjust the sample weights of the 40 service sector firms in private industry to ensure that the number of workers in establishments in the sampling frame rises to 210,000. The ownership employment counts for the private industry service sector would then reflect the current proportions of 84 percent for private industry, 12 percent for local government, and 4 percent for state government employment.

Weighting

An establishment is considered responding if it provided information for at least one sampled job. Similarly, a nonresponding establishment is one that is unable or unwilling to provide information for at least one sampled job. If the contact person (respondent) for an establishment refuses to participate, then the associated establishment is considered nonresponding. The ORS program adjusts weights for unit (establishment) nonresponse by redistributing the weights of nonresponding establishments to similar establishments. The ORS program groups similar respondents into cells that are defined by characteristics such as the industry, size class, and geographic area of the establishment. For example, if the nonresponding establishment was in the manufacturing industry and had an employment of 350 workers, the ORS program would adjust the weights of responding manufacturing establishments with 100–499 workers during estimation. Applied at the establishment level, this adjustment is a nonresponse adjustment factor (NRAF), and it is calculated using the following formula:

 

where

weighted employment of all usable establishments in the nonresponse cell, and

weighted employment of all viable but not usable establishments in the nonresponse cell.

If there are no responding establishments to reweight within the industry or employment size group, then additional responding units from similar geographic areas are considered. Establishments no longer in operation or out of the scope of the survey and establishments with no workers within the scope of the survey are considered unviable and excluded from survey estimates.

The ORS program may also adjust weights for sampled job nonresponse, which is when an establishment does not provide any occupational requirements data for a given sampled job. The ORS program addresses sampled job nonresponse during the interview with an adjustment that redistributes the weights of nonresponding sampled jobs to responding sampled jobs in the same occupational group, ownership, industry, and size class.

In addition to the job nonresponse adjustment factor, final occupational weights consider the sampling process used to select jobs, the establishment weight, and overall employment. The Design section provides more information on the job selection process.

The ORS program applies additional adjustment factors to special situations that may have occurred during data collection. For example, when a sample unit is one of two establishments owned by a given company and the respondent provides data for both locations combined instead of data for the sampled unit, the ORS program adjusts the weight of the sampled unit to reflect the employment data for the sampled unit.

Imputation

Item nonresponse occurs when an establishment responds to the survey but is unable or unwilling to provide some of the occupational requirements for a given sampled job. Item nonresponse is addressed through item imputation in certain situations. Item imputation replaces missing values for an item or items with values derived from sampled jobs within similar establishments with similar worker characteristics that have a value for the item. For ORS estimates, items with missing values are imputed within groups of ORS job requirements that are related. For example, one ORS group refers to categorical variables only and includes such requirements as vision and driving. Within the group, the ORS imputes values by a process that matches sampled jobs using occupational information from similar occupations in similar establishments.

For estimates that are calculated from multiple values, such as strength and specific vocational preparation (SVP), missing component values are imputed to calculate these estimates.

For more information, see estimation within the research section of the ORS website.

Reliability of ORS estimates

To assist users in confirming the reliability of ORS estimates, the ORS publishes standard errors. Standard errors provide users with a measure of the precision of an estimate to ensure that it is within an acceptable range for their intended purpose. The standard errors are calculated from collected and imputed data. The ORS program is researching methods for estimating the variance excluding imputed values. Examples on how to build confidence intervals using standard errors are included in the standard error section of the ORS website.

The ORS derives estimates from sampled jobs within responding establishments. Two types of errors are possible in an estimate based on a sample survey: sampling and nonsampling errors. Sampling errors occur because the sample makes up only a part of the population it represents. The sample used for the survey is one of several possible samples that could have been selected under the sample design, each producing its own estimate. A measure of the variation among sample estimates is the standard error. Nonsampling errors are data errors that stem from any source other than sampling error, such as data collection errors and data processing errors.

Standard errors can be used to measure the precision with which an estimate from a particular sample approximates the expected result of all possible samples. The chances are about 68 out of 100 that an estimate from the survey differs from a complete population figure by less than the standard error. The chances are about 90 out of 100 that this difference is less than 1.6 times the standard error. Statements of comparison appearing in ORS publications are significant at a level of 1.6 standard errors or better. This means that, for differences cited, the estimated difference is more than 1.6 times the standard error of the difference.

The ORS uses balanced repeated replication (BRR) to estimate the standard error. The procedure for BRR starts by first partitioning the sample into variance strata composed of a single sampling stratum or clusters of sampling strata, and then splitting the sample units in each variance stratum evenly into two variance primary sampling units (PSUs). Next, the ORS program chooses half-samples so that each contains exactly one variance PSU from each variance stratum. Choices are not random but are designed to yield a balanced collection of half-samples. By using half-samples, the ORS program can compute a replicate estimate with the same formula for the regular or full-sample estimate, except that the final weights are adjusted. If a unit is in the half-sample, its weight is multiplied by (2 - k); if not, its weight is multiplied by k. For all ORS publications, = 0.5, so the multipliers are 1.5 and 0.5.

The BRR estimate of the standard error with half samples is

where

 the summation is over all replicates of half-samples = 1,...,R,

   is the rth replicate estimate, and

    is the full-sample estimate.

Quality assurance

The ORS program uses a variety of quality assurance programs to mitigate collection and processing errors by using data collection reinterviews, observed interviews, computer edits of the data, and systematic professional review of the data. These programs also serve as a training device to provide feedback to field economists, or data collectors, on errors and the sources of errors that can be remedied by improved collection instructions or computer-processing edits. Field economists receive extensive training to maintain high standards in data collection.

Once estimates of occupational requirements are produced, the estimates are validated. The focus of the validation is to compare the estimates with expectations for them. Although not a time series, the validation accounts for the economic events each year that might have an impact on collection and estimates, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Expectations are based on prior year estimates and similar estimates from other sources of data, such as the Occupational Information Network (O*NET). In addition, ORS estimates between similar occupations are compared, both for reasonableness and for when occupations are newly published.

The ORS program investigates estimates that deviate from their expectations to ensure that the underlying data are consistent with ORS collection procedures and that the calculation is consistent with ORS statistical procedures.

Before publishing any estimate, the ORS program reviews it to make sure that it meets specified statistical reliability and confidentiality requirements. See data review and estimation tabs on the research section of the ORS website. Estimates that are consistent with these procedures are designated as fit for use and released in BLS publications.

Appendix A. List of occupational requirements by availability of estimate type
Occupational requirement Potential estimate for occupational requirement?
Categorical Continuous
Percentage Mode Mean Percentile⁠[1]

Cognitive and mental requirements

Ability to pause work

Yes Yes No No

Control of workload

Yes Yes No No

Machinery, equipment, or software

Yes Yes No No

Numerical performance targets

Yes Yes No No

People

Yes Yes No No

Self-paced

Yes Yes No No

Other external source

Yes Yes No No

Interaction with the general public

Yes Yes No No

People skills

Yes Yes No No

Telework available

Yes Yes No No

Problem solving

Yes Yes No No

Verbal interactions

Yes Yes No No

Work around crowds

Yes Yes No No

Work pace

Yes Yes No No

Varies

Yes Yes No No

Consistent, generally slow

Yes Yes No No

Consistent, generally fast

Yes Yes No No

Work review

Yes Yes No No

Frequency of work being checked

Yes Yes No No

Presence of supervisor

Yes Yes No No

Supervising duties

Yes Yes No No

Education, training, and experience requirements

Credentials

Yes Yes No No

Certification

Yes Yes Yes Yes

License

Yes Yes Yes Yes

Educational certificate

Yes Yes Yes Yes

Minimum formal education

Yes Yes No No

No formal education required

Yes Yes No No

High school

Yes Yes No No

Vocational high school

Yes Yes No No

Associate's

Yes Yes No No

Vocational associate's

Yes Yes No No

Bachelor's

Yes Yes No No

Master's

Yes Yes No No

Professional

Yes Yes No No

Doctorate

Yes Yes No No

Literacy, if no formal education

Yes Yes No No

On-the-job training

Yes Yes Yes Yes

Prior work experience

Yes Yes Yes Yes

Specific vocational preparation, SVP

Yes Yes No No

Environmental conditions

Extreme cold (non-weather related)

Yes Yes No No

Extreme heat (non-weather related)

Yes Yes No No

Hazardous contaminants

Yes Yes No No

Use of personal protective equipment

Yes Yes No No

Heavy vibrations

Yes Yes No No

Heights

Yes Yes No No

Use of personal protective equipment

Yes Yes No No

Humidity

Yes Yes No No

Proximity to moving mechanical parts

Yes Yes No No

Use of personal protective equipment

Yes Yes No No

Outdoors⁠[2]

Yes Yes No No

Noise intensity level

Yes Yes No No

Quiet

Yes Yes No No

Moderate

Yes Yes No No

Loud

Yes Yes No No

Very loud

Yes Yes No No

Use of personal protective equipment

Yes Yes No No

Wetness (non-weather related)

Yes Yes No No

Physical demands

Climbing

Yes Yes No No

Structural ramps or stairs

Yes Yes No No

Work-related ramps or stairs

Yes Yes No No

Ladders, ropes, or scaffolds

Yes Yes No No

Driving

Yes Yes No No

Hearing

Yes Yes No No

In person speech

Yes Yes No No

Telephone

Yes Yes No No

Other remote speech

Yes Yes No No

Other sounds

Yes Yes No No

Lifting or carrying

Yes Yes No No

Maximum weight lifted or carried

No No Yes Yes

Manipulation

Fine manipulation

Yes Yes No No

One or both hands

Yes Yes No No

Keyboarding

Yes Yes No No

Foot or leg controls

Yes Yes No No

One or both

Yes Yes No No

Gross manipulation

Yes Yes No No

One or both hands

Yes Yes No No

Postures

Sitting⁠[3]

Yes No Yes Yes

Standing⁠[4]

Yes No Yes Yes

Choice of sitting or standing

Yes Yes No No

Low postures

Yes Yes No No

Crawling⁠[5]

Yes Yes No No

Crouching⁠[5]

Yes Yes No No

Kneeling⁠[5]

Yes Yes No No

Stooping⁠[5]

Yes Yes No No

Pushing or pulling

Yes Yes No No

With feet or legs

Yes Yes No No

One or both

Yes Yes No No

With hands or arms

Yes Yes No No

One or both

Yes Yes No No

Reaching

Yes Yes No No

Reaching at or below the shoulder

Yes Yes No No

One or both hands

Yes Yes No No

Reaching overhead

Yes Yes No No

One or both hands

Yes Yes No No

Speaking

Yes Yes No No

Strength level

Yes Yes No No

Sedentary

Yes Yes No No

Light

Yes Yes No No

Medium

Yes Yes No No

Heavy

Yes Yes No No

Very heavy

Yes Yes No No

Vision

Yes Yes No No

Far

Yes Yes No No

Near

Yes Yes No No

Peripheral

Yes Yes No No

Footnotes:

⁠[1] Percentile estimates are calculated at the 10th, 25th, 50th (median), 75th, and 90th.

⁠[2] All weather related exposure is captured in exposure to the outdoors.

⁠[3] Sitting estimates includes time spent sitting, lying down, and when workers have the choice between sitting and standing.

⁠[4] Standing estimates includes time spent standing, walking, and in low postures.

⁠[5] Estimates include required, not required, and choice to perform critical tasks in a particular low posture.

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

Appendix B. List of occupational requirements with associated duration
Occupational requirement Potential estimate for occupational requirement?
Duration levels ⁠[1] Percentile

Education, training, and experience requirements

Credentials

Certification

No Yes ⁠[2]

License

No Yes ⁠[2]

Educational certificate

No Yes ⁠[2]

On-the-job training

No Yes ⁠[2]

Prior work experience

No Yes ⁠[2]

Environmental conditions

Extreme cold (non-weather related)

Yes No

Extreme heat (non-weather related)

Yes No

Hazardous contaminants

Yes No

Heavy vibrations

Yes No

Heights

Yes No

Humidity

Yes No

Proximity to moving mechanical parts

Yes No

Outdoors

Yes No

Wetness (non-weather related)

Yes No

Physical demands

Climbing

Work-related ramps or stairs

Yes No

Ladders, ropes, or scaffolds

Yes No

Fine manipulation

Yes No

Foot or leg controls

Yes No

Gross manipulation

Yes No

Keyboarding

Yes No

Lifting or carrying

Yes No

Maximum weight lifted or carried

No Yes ⁠[3]

Low postures

Yes No

Pushing or pulling

With feet or legs

Yes No

With hands or arms

Yes No

Reaching

Reaching at or below the shoulder

Yes No

Reaching overhead

Yes No

Sitting ⁠[4]

No Yes ⁠[5]

Standing ⁠[6]

No Yes ⁠[5]

Speaking

Yes No

Footnotes:

⁠[1] Duration levels correspond to seldom, occasionally, frequently, constantly

⁠[2] Estimates provided as number of associated days.

⁠[3] Estimates provided as number of associated pounds.

⁠[4] Sitting estimates include time spent sitting or lying down.

⁠[5] Estimates provides as percentage of the workday and number of the hours in the workday.

⁠[6] Standing estimates include time spent standing, walking, or in low postures.

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

Appendix C. Definition of additive codes
Additive code Additive relationship

000

Estimate is not additive. The category code provides the relationship with other requirements.⁠[1]

0XX

Estimates sum to 100 percent and no additional relationships exist.

AXX

Estimates sum to 100 percent and additional relationships exist.

BXX

Estimates do not sum to 100 percent but sum to related estimates.

CXX

Estimates do not sum to 100 percent but sum to related estimates and correspond to the sum of the B estimates.

DXX/EXX/FXX/GXX

Estimates sum to 100 percent and are related to other estimates with the same category code that sum to 100 percent (denoted by AXX).

HXX/IXX/JXX/KXX

Estimates sum to 100 percent and are related to other estimates with the same category code.

LXX/NXX/PXX

Estimates do not sum to 100 percent but sum to related A estimates.

MXX/OXX/QXX

Estimates do not sum to 100 percent but sum to related estimates and correspond to the L, N, and P estimates.

XXX

Estimates are not additive, but a relationship exists.

YXX

Estimates sum to average workday.

ZXX

Estimates sum to 100 percent of the workday.

Footnote:

⁠[1] Examples of non-additive estimates include percentile distributions.

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

Last Modified Date: May 16, 2022