Q. How do I find my Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code?
A. The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Information Desk is often asked to provide coding interpretations. To address questions on how workers are classified, the SOC manual provides guidance in the SOC Classification Principles and Coding Guidelines as referenced below. The principles and guidelines help users of statistical data find occupations based on a specific set of work activities and help statistical data collectors classify workers into occupations. The SOC Information Desk does not provide official classification determinations. Customers and clients of organizations using the SOC should use the SOC Classification Principles and Coding Guidelines to classify workers, or contact the organization requesting the SOC code for assistance.
Under the SOC system, workers are classified into occupations based on their job duties, not their job titles. Workers with the same title may be classified in different occupations, based on their individual job duties.
The best way to proceed is to look at the various definitions for the SOC occupations and determine which best matches the work being performed. Starting with the major group level, one can examine more specific groupings at the minor, broad, and detailed levels. Definitions are only available at the detailed occupation level, which is indicated by a code ending in a number other than 0. Workers who do not perform activities described in any distinct detailed occupation are included in an appropriate ("All Other") occupation. The "All Other" occupations appear as the last occupation in a group and are indicated by a code ending in the number 9. The 2010 SOC major groups are available at www.bls.gov/soc/2010/2010_major_groups.htm and the 2018 SOC major groups are available at www.bls.gov/soc/2018/major_groups.htm.
More information on using the SOC to classify workers can be found in the 2010 SOC Classification Principles and Coding Guidelines and the 2018 SOC Classification Principles and Coding Guidelines. The Classification Principles form the basis on which the SOC system is structured. The Coding Guidelines are intended to assist users in the federal statistical agencies in consistently assigning SOC codes and titles to survey responses and in other coding activities.
Warranting specific mention are Classification Principles 1 and 2, as well as Coding Guideline 2. Focusing on the 2018 SOC, Classification Principle 1 states that "Each occupation is assigned to only one occupational category at the most detailed level of the classification." Classification Principle 2 states that "Occupations are classified based on work performed and, in some cases, on the skills, education, and/or training needed to perform the work." Coding Guideline 2 states that "When workers in a single job could be coded in more than one occupation, they should be coded in the occupation that requires the highest level of skill. If there is no measurable difference in skill requirements, workers should be coded in the occupation in which they spend the most time."
Those wishing to use the SOC for nonstatistical purposes should first determine if the SOC meets their needs. Such organizations are not limited to following the SOC Classification Principles and Coding Guidelines used by federal statistical agencies and may, for example, develop their own policies concerning workers that meet the definition of two or more occupations.
The SOC was designed solely for statistical purposes. Although it is likely that the SOC also will be used for various nonstatistical purposes (e.g., for administrative, regulatory, or taxation functions), the requirements of government agencies or private users that choose to use the SOC for nonstatistical purposes have played no role in its development, nor will the Office of Management and Budget modify the classification to meet the requirements of any nonstatistical program. Consequently, 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.
Customers seeking information on prevailing wages should contact the Employment and Training Administration, Wage and Hour Division, Office of Foreign Labor Certification. Customers applying for paid family leave in the state of New York should call 844-337-6303 from 8:30am – 4:30pm ET, Monday&–Friday for assistance. Customers requiring assistance with codes for wage records in Louisiana should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-302-7662. Customers requiring assistance with codes for wage records in Washington State should contact email@example.com.
Last Modified Date: July 12, 2022