Occupational Requirements Survey: Data sources

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) field economists are extensively trained and given detailed instructions on data collection techniques. They employ a variety of methods, including personal visits, mail, telephone, and email, to obtain data from Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) respondents. Field economists do not use paper or an online questionnaire to collect these data; instead, they rely on a conversational interview and descriptive documents, such as task lists, to collect occupational requirements from respondents. Respondents are typically human resources managers or specialists, occupational safety managers, or supervisors. Field economists attempt to gather the following information from the respondent:

  • The primary business activity of the establishment. The field economist determines the correct North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industry code for the establishment.
  • A list of employees or a list of job titles with employee counts. With an employee list, the field economist uses equal probability sampling to select a sampled job, for which each entry on the list has an equal chance of selection. With job titles and employee counts the field economist uses probability proportional to size sampling, that is the greater the number of employees in an occupation within the establishment the greater chance the occupation will be selected. 
  • The tasks, knowledge required, controls and complexity, contacts, and environmental conditions of the job. The field economist determines the correct O*NET-SOC 2010 occupation code and work level for each sampled job based on the job description and type of work performed. (For more information on pay factors and work levels, see National Compensation Survey: Guide for Evaluating Your Firm’s Jobs and Pay).
  • The amount of employees in each sampled job that is matched to an occupational description. The field economist determines how many employees in the establishment can be defined by the occupational code for the sampled job.
  • Work attributes for the workers in the matched occupation in terms of whether they work full or part time, classified as union or nonunion workers, and paid on a time or incentive basis. The field economist determines these three work attributes of the employee in the matched occupation.
  • The various occupational requirements that the employee must meet to successfully perform the selected occupation. The field economist collects elements that pertain to the matched occupation’s physical demands, environmental conditions, education and training, and mental requirements.

Collection period

A BLS field economist contacts the sampled establishment for the collection of data. From each establishment, the ORS collects data on physical demands, environmental conditions, education and training (or specific vocational preparation (SVP)), and mental requirements for the selected job(s). These data are then used to produce the ORS estimates discussed in the Calculation section.

The collection for ORS data is done on an annual basis. Collection of the first ORS sample began in September 2015 and was collected for approximately 9 months. Subsequent sample group collections will be done annually from May to July (of the following year). 


All data collected in the ORS are subject to the BLS confidentiality requirements that prevent the disclosure of identifying information. Data collected from the ORS are used solely for statistical purposes. BLS has a strict confidentiality policy which ensures that the survey sample composition, lists of reporters, and names of respondents will be kept confidential. In addition, the policy assures respondents that published figures will not reveal the identity of any specific respondent and will not allow the data of any specific respondent to be identified. Each published estimate is screened to ensure that it meets these confidentiality requirements.

Last Modified Date: March 29, 2017