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Standard Occupational Classification

How often do Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes change?

Q.  How often do Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes change?

A. To reflect changes in the economy and the nature of work, the SOC system is revised periodically, with the interagency SOC Policy Committee (SOCPC) making recommendations to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB requires the use of the SOC when publishing Federal statistics about occupations, makes the final decisions about the SOC, publishes the SOC Manual, and charters the SOCPC. The SOCPC assists OMB by conducting the revision process, recommending changes to the SOC, and serving as a standing committee to maintain the classification. The SOCPC is typically made up of less than 20 representatives from Federal agencies that collect occupational statistics or have expertise in occupational classification, such as expertise in major areas of the economy. As shown below, the BLS chairs the SOCPC and staffs a coordinating team to carry out the work of the committee. The following agencies are represented in the SOCPC:

• Bureau of Labor Statistics (chair), Department of Labor
• Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Department of Transportation
• Census Bureau, Department of Commerce
• Defense Manpower Data Center, Department of Defense
• Employment and Training Administration, Department of Labor
• Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
• Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services
• National Center for Education Statistics, Department of Education
• National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation
• Office of Personnel Management
• Office of Management and Budget (ex-officio)

The last SOC revision was for 2018. OMB finalized the 2018 SOC in a November 2017 Federal Register notice. Detailed information on the revision process for 2018 is made available here, including a document entitled “Revising the Standard Occupational Classification,” which includes detailed information on the purpose of the SOC, structure, the revision process, and guidance on submission of suggestions for changes. OMB has not officially stated when the next SOC revision will occur, although some indications are that the next SOC will be for the year 2028. If they follow past practices, OMB is likely to publish an initial Federal Register notice soliciting public comment around 2024. To sign up to receive email notifications when the SOC webpages are updated, including the publication of Federal Register notices related to SOC revisions, enter your email address on the Subscriptions page under the “About SOC” tab. Please keep in mind that the SOC was designed solely for statistical purposes. Although it is likely that the SOC is 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 play no role in its development, nor will OMB modify the classification to meet the requirements of any nonstatistical program (see FAQ 12 in the 2018 SOC user Guide for more information).

Last Modified Date: March 8, 2023