Understanding the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Guidelines
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has published Classification Guidelines as part of their SOC Manual to ensure that all users of occupational data classify workers the same way. Although developed for SOC, the basic principles also apply to the O*NET-SOC system.
In order to ensure that all users of occupational data classify workers the same way, the following classification principles should be followed.
- The Classification covers all occupations in which work is performed for pay or profit, including work performed in family-operated enterprises by family members who are not directly compensated. It excludes occupations unique to volunteers. Each occupation is assigned to only one occupation at the lowest level of the classification.
- Occupations are classified based upon work performed, skills, education, training, and credentials.
- Supervisors of professional and technical workers usually have a background similar to the workers they supervise, and are therefore classified with the workers they supervise. Likewise, team leaders, lead workers and supervisors of production, sales, and service workers who spend at least 20 percent of their time performing work similar to the workers they supervise are classified with the workers they supervise.
- First-line managers and supervisors of production, service, and sales workers who spend more than 80 percent of their time performing supervisory activities are classified separately in the appropriate supervisor category, since their work activities are distinct from those of the workers they supervise. First-line managers are generally found in smaller establishments where they perform both supervisory and management functions, such as accounting, marketing, and personnel work.
- Apprentices and trainees should be classified with the occupations for which they are being trained, while helpers and aides should be classified separately.
- If an occupation is not included as a distinct detailed occupation in the structure, it is classified in the appropriate residual occupation. Residual occupations contain all occupations within a major, minor or broad group that are not classified separately.
- When workers may be classified in more than one occupation, they should be classified in the occupation that requires the highest level of skill. If there is no measurable difference in skill requirements, workers are included in the occupation they spend the most time.
- Data collection and reporting agencies should classify workers at the most detailed level possible. Different agencies may use different levels of aggregation, depending on their ability to collect data, and the requirements of users.
Users should code to the residual classifications (also known as the "All Others") ending with O*NET-SOC code 9.00 when there is no other appropriate classification.
Jobs should be coded to the most detailed level O*NET-SOC code appropriate.