2000 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) User Guide
The 2000 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) System was developed in response to a growing need for a universal occupational classification system. Such a classification system allows government agencies and private industry to produce comparable data. Users of occupational data include government program managers, industrial and labor relations practitioners, students considering career training, job seekers, vocational training schools, and employers wishing to set salary scales or locate a new plant. It is used by federal agencies collecting occupational data, providing a means to compare occupational data across agencies. It is designed to cover all occupations in which work is performed for pay or profit, reflecting the current occupational structure in the United States.
The 2000 SOC is the result of a cooperative effort of all federal agencies that use occupational classification systems to maximize the usefulness of occupational information collected by the Federal Government.
SOC Classification and Coding Structure
The 2000 SOC classifies workers at four levels of aggregation: 1) major group; 2) minor group; 3) broad occupation; and 4) detailed occupation. All occupations are clustered into one of 23 major groups.
In order to ensure that all users of occupational data classify workers the same way, the following classification principles should be followed.
Workers within an occupation may have many different job titles. A list of associated job titles is available through the Census Bureau to help users classify workers into the appropriate SOC occupation. Sometimes, however, a job title is not enough to classify a worker, and more information on work activities is needed. When a job title changes classification based on industry, the industries are also included.
Frequently Asked Questions
The classification guidelines give the rules that are followed to classify workers based on occupational definitions and work activity.
Depending on the type of information you are seeking, you may obtain information from several agencies.
The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Program provides occupational employment and wage estimates by industry and across industries. For State and area data, contact the State Labor Market Information office for the State or States needed. For national data, and selected State data see the OES homepage or call the information request line 202-691-6569. Employment and wage data for SOC occupations has been available since December, 2000.
The Census Bureau publishes data on detailed occupations from the decennial censuses. Census 2000 used the SOC to classify occupations. Standard and customized tabulations are available through its American Fact Finder via the Internet. Only summary data are published on paper.
Biennially, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Office of Employment Projections (OEP) publishes the Occupational Outlook Handbook, Career Guide to Industries, and Occupational Projections and Training Data. In addition, OEP publishes the Occupational Outlook Quarterly. For more information about these publications, visit the OEP homepage or contact the Chief, Division of Occupational Outlook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2 Massachusetts Ave. NW., Room 2135, Washington, DC 20212.
The Department of Defense publishes data that cross-references military occupational codes of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard with civilian equivalent occupations. The next update of this data will include linkages of military occupations to the SOC. Additional information on available data products can be obtained by writing to Director, Defense Manpower Data Center, 1600 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 400, Arlington, VA 22209-2593.
Career and job vacancy information may be obtained from the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration's One-Stop homepage.
There are four hierarchical levels in the SOC to enable users to choose a level of detail corresponding to their interest and ability to collect data on different occupations. Users using different levels of detail will still be able to compare data at the defined levels.
The SOC lists occupations which may have many different titles. It does not attempt to list all job titles. It includes workers having different job titles, but similar job duties in the same occupation. A broad list of job titles and their associated SOC occupation can be found at https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/ioindex/occ_a.html.
Supervisors of professional occupations are classified with the occupations they supervise because they often need the same type of training, education, and experience as the workers they supervise.
Users who would like to collect or tabulate data in more detail should add a decimal point and additional digits after the six-digit SOC code. For more information, see Revising the Standard Occupational Classification System (PDF 98K) - Report 929, June 1999.
It is anticipated that the next major review and revision of the SOC will begin in 2005 in preparation for use in the 2010 Decennial Census.
The SOC was designed solely for statistical purposes. Although it is likely that the SOC will also be used for various nonstatistical purposes (e.g., for administrative, regulatory, or taxation functions), the requirements of government agencies that choose to use the 2000 SOC for nonstatistical purposes have played no role in its development, nor will OMB modify the classification to meet the requirements of any nonstatistical program.
Consequently, as has been the case with the 1980 SOC (Statistical Policy Directive No. 10, Standard Occupational Classification), the SOC is not to be used in any administrative, regulatory, or tax program unless the head of the agency administering that program has first determined that the use of such occupational definitions is appropriate to the implementation of the program's objectives.
Last Modified Date: February 26, 2016