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Physical strength required for jobs in different occupations in 2016

April 10, 2017

Among all civilian jobs in 2016, 13.3 percent were classified as sedentary, and another 13.7 percent had a required strength level of “heavy work.” Just under half of jobs (45.0 percent) had a required strength level of “medium work,” and nearly a quarter required “light work.”



Percentage of civilian jobs requiring different strength levels in selected occupations, 2016
Occupation Sedentary Light work Medium work Heavy work

All jobs

13.3% 24.4% 45.0% 13.7%


27.5 36.9 31.7 -

Architecture and engineering

24.9 25.8 41.4 -

Community and social service

24.7 36.2 34.9 -


40.3 28.9 30.8 -

Education, training, and library

- 48.9 40.7 5.2

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

22.7 33.1 36.3 -

Healthcare support

- 23.3 48.1 21.9

Food preparation and serving related

- 22.2 67.2 9.8

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

- 13.8 69.7 15.7

Personal care and service

- 29.0 49.7 16.9

Sales and related

9.8 22.9 58.4 -

Office and administrative support

31.1 33.5 27.7 5.1

Construction and extraction

- - 37.3 45.5

Installation, maintenance, and repair

- - 49.3 35.4


- 12.0 63.2 17.2

Transportation and material moving

2.8 10.2 47.4 32.3

Dash indicates no jobs in this category or data did not meet publication criteria.

Among management occupations, 36.9 percent of jobs in 2016 required light work, and 31.7 percent required medium work; 27.5 percent of management jobs were classified as sedentary.

Heavy work was common among construction and extraction occupations; 45.5 percent of jobs in that occupation required heavy work. Another 37.3 percent of construction and extraction jobs required medium work.

Nearly half of jobs in installation, maintenance, and repair occupations and transportation and material moving occupations required medium work in 2016. About a third of jobs in each of those occupations required heavy work.

These data are from the Occupational Requirements Survey. To learn more, see "Occupational Requirements in the United States — 2016" (HTML) (PDF). Strength is measured in five levels, from sedentary to very heavy work. The levels are determined by how much weight a worker is required to lift or carry occasionally, frequently, and constantly, as well as standing or walking in some special cases. The Handbook of Methods provides more information about measuring the strength that a job requires. Civilian workers are wage and salary workers in private industry or state and local government.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Physical strength required for jobs in different occupations in 2016 at (visited June 22, 2024).

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