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Occupational Requirements Survey

General Questions and Answers

  1. What is the Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS)?
    • The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) is conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) under an interagency agreement with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The ORS provides information about the requirements of work in the U.S. economy including:
      • Physical demands of work (such as keyboarding, reaching overhead, lifting or carrying)
      • Environmental conditions (such as extreme heat, exposure to outdoors, proximity to moving parts)
      • Education, training, and experience requirements (literacy, credentials, on-the job training)
      • Cognitive and mental requirements of work (interaction with the general public, working around crowds, work pace)
  2. What are some uses of the ORS?
    • The ORS provides job information useful to a wide variety of audiences, including: jobseekers, researchers, insurance companies, the disability community, and vocational experts. For more information see the Handbook of Methods.
  3. How many datasets are available?
    • The most recent dataset is for the 2021 reference year estimates. This dataset includes data from three of five samples in the second wave. These estimates are considered preliminary for the second wave and will be considered final once data from the five samples are combined and published for the 2023 reference year. Updated estimates will be published annually for each reference year by combining data from each collected sample.
    • Reference year 2018 estimates are considered final and are based on three samples in the first wave.
    • Final datasets will remain available indefinitely while preliminary datasets will be replaced with each annual update.
  4. How can I access and search the ORS data?
    • On the ORS data page, you’ll find the ORS database query tools as well as the ORS complete datasets. Both the preliminary second wave dataset and the final first wave 2018 complete dataset can be downloaded, and the columns can be filtered to view specific estimates. See the question above, “How many datasets are available?” for an explanation of the differences in the two datasets.
    • The most recent estimates are available in the database query tools. There are 4 database query tools that can be used to filter through the estimates:
      • Top picks – these are pre-selected series that have been determined to be of interest to a general audience and are evaluated and modified based on user interests each year.
      • Data finder – This tool allows for a simple text search to retrieve the latest estimates. You can search by specific occupations and by job requirements.
      • One screen – This tool allows for selecting occupations, job requirements, categories, and estimates all on one screen.
      • Multiscreen – This tool uses multiple screens when selecting occupations and job requirements. The series available in each screen are based on selections made in previous screens.
  5. Where can I find historical information on job requirements?
    • The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) was first established as a test survey in 2012. Testing was done through 2015 to make sure collection of job requirements was possible. The History section of the ORS Handbook of Methods and the ORS research page provide more information on the survey and these tests.
    • The final first wave estimates with a reference year of 2018 are available in the 2018 complete dataset. Collection for the second wave is currently underway. These second wave estimates are considered preliminary and will be considered final once data from five samples are combined and published for the 2023 reference year.  See the dynamics of occupational change for an explanation on the research done to determine the frequency at which job requirements data would need to be updated in the ORS.
    • The ORS estimates are produced through an interagency agreement with the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSA plans to use the ORS estimates, along with other sources of occupational information, to create the Occupational Information System (OIS) which will be used when determining disability claims. Previously SSA used the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) and its companion, the Selected Characteristics of Occupations (SCO), as their primary source of occupational requirements which was produced through the Department of Labor. This questions and answers page on the SSA website provides some more information on the DOT and the OIS project.
  6. How can I search by occupational title?
    • ORS estimates are classified using the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. Illustrative examples of jobs within specific SOCs are listed in the 2018 SOC definitions and on the major groups page.
    • The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Information Network (O*Net) can be used to search job titles. O*Net will provide a list of likely occupations based on the job title. The first 6 digits of the O*Net code correspond to the 2018 SOC code that contains that occupation. You can then find job requirement estimates in the ORS database query tools or the Excel dataset filtering for that SOC code. In some cases, O*Net provides more detailed occupations within a SOC code. For instance, all registered nurses are captured under the 2018 SOC code 29-1141. O*Net further breaks this SOC code into acute care nurses (O*Net code 29-1141.01), advanced practice psychiatric nurses (29-1141.02), critical care nurses (29-1141.03), and critical nurse specialists (29-1141.04).
  7. Are wage or employment estimates available along with ORS data?
    • The ORS does not produce wage or employment estimates. Another program at BLS, the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS), produces annual employment and wage statistics for occupations using the Standard Occupational Classification system, the same classification system used by the ORS.
    • It is important to note that the establishments in scope for the OEWS differ slightly from the ORS. The ORS excludes all establishments in
      • the federal government
      • the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industry
      • private households.
    • The OEWS excludes:
      • Most establishments in the federal government
      • Most establishments in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industry
      • All private households
    • The OEWS includes the Executive branch and USPS portion of the federal government as well as establishments in the agriculture sector that are part of logging (NAICS 1133), support activities for crop production (NAICS 1151), and support activities for animal production (NAICS 1152).
    • More information is available in the ORS Handbook of Methods and the OEWS Handbook of Methods.
  8. Does the ORS publish information by other worker or establishment characteristics aside from occupation?
    • The ORS does not publish estimates based on worker characteristics such as work status (full-time or part-time), bargaining status, demographics, or earnings. Establishment characteristics such as industry, employment size, or geographic location are also not available.
  9. What economic sectors are included in ORS?
    • The ORS estimates represent civilian workers, which combines private industry workers as well as state and local government workers. Separate economic sector estimates (private and public) are not available. The category "civilian workers" excludes workers in the federal government, military, agricultural sector, private household workers, and self-employed workers.
  10. Are accommodations provided by employers considered when determining job requirements?
    • No, modifications or adjustments to job requirements that enable workers to carry out the critical tasks in support of the critical job functions are not included in the ORS. ORS estimates reflect job requirements without accommodations.
  11. What level of occupational detail is available?
    • The 2021 reference year estimates are calculated using the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system.  Estimates are available for detailed occupations (6-digit SOC codes), 22 major occupational groups (2-digit SOC codes), and civilian workers (which represent workers in private industry as well as state and local government). See Implementing 2018 SOC for more information on the changes to occupational detail made with the second wave estimates.
    • Reference year 2018 estimates are considered final and are classified using the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) and O*NET's detailed occupational taxonomy referred to as “O*NET-SOC 2010 Occupations” where possible. Reference year 2018 estimates include 397 detailed occupations, 22 occupational groups, and an aggregation of all workers.
  12. How can I learn more about ORS methodology?
    • For information regarding ORS methodology, see the Handbook of Methods. Additional publications, collection materials, and research are available on the ORS website.
  13. How are estimates calculated?
    • The Calculation section of the Handbook of Methods provides an explanation of the various estimation formulas for calculating percent of workers, durations, strength levels, and specific vocational preparation levels.
  14. Are measures of reliability available
    • Yes, standard errors are available to assist users in ascertaining the reliability of ORS estimates. 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. The standard errors are calculated from collected and imputed data, the BLS is researching methods for estimating the variance excluding imputed values. For further information see reliability of ORS estimates and standard errors.
  15. Are small employers included?
    • Yes, small employers are an important part of the U.S. economy. Establishments of all employment sizes are necessary for job requirement estimates to be representative of the national economy.
  16. Do estimates reflect work or calendar days?
    • The components of education, training, and experience, which include minimum formal education, credentials, prior work experience, and on-the-job training, are measured in calendar days after standardizing to a full-time schedule. For example, if a four-hour-per-day job and eight-hour-per-day job each require two days of on-the-job training. The two-days of on-the-job training is converted to one calendar day for the four-hour-per-day job. No conversion is necessary for the eight-hour-per day job.
    • For physical requirements and environmental conditions elements, the percentage of the workday takes into account the work schedule. For example, if 2 hours of standing or walking are required for four-hour-per-day and eight-hour-per-day jobs, then standing or walking is required 50 percent of the day for the four-hour-per-day job and 25 percent of the day for the eight-hour-per-day job.
  17. Is there a glossary of terms or definitions of job requirements available?
  18. Are collection forms available online?
  19. Does the ORS produce estimates on occupations available to workers with criminal records?
  20. Who should I contact if I have additional questions?
    • Economists are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. (Eastern Time) and can be reached electronically or by phone at 202-691-6199.

Respondent Questions and Answers

  1. Why should I participate?
    • The quality of data produced by the BLS is a direct reflection of the quality of information and cooperation received from employers. Your participation will help the BLS deliver accurate and representative estimate of job requirements in the national economy. The data will help SSA determine whether individuals meet the requirements for disability benefits.
  2. Will my information be kept confidential?
    • Yes, your organization‘s participation and specific occupational information will be held in confidence to the fullest extent of the law. The BLS will use the information you provide for statistical purposes only in accordance with BLS Confidentiality Pledge and Federal Laws.
  3. Who do you typically speak to within establishments to obtain your survey data?
    • The people we typically speak with can answer questions about the job requirements to complete critical tasks in support of the critical job functions. This could be someone in human resources, risk management, or a supervisor.
  4. How do I provide data?
    • A BLS economist will contact you to provide more information about the questions that will be asked and to determine your preferred method for providing data such as a personal visit, a phone call, or via email.
  5. Do I need to have anything prepared?
    • Job descriptions, if your company uses them, and current payroll information would allow for a more efficient and targeted interview.
  6. Can I just e-mail you a job description?
    • Written job descriptions are helpful in understanding the duties and tasks of an occupation. However, we need to ask additional questions to obtain a complete assessment of the job requirements.
  7. How much of my time is required?
    • The typical interview averages approximately one hour but may vary depending on the company size and the types of jobs discussed.