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National Classifications

Standard Occupational Classification
(SOC 2010)

Country / Area: United States of America

Classification category: Occupation classifications

General information
1 (a)Name of the current national classification (full name in official national languages and in English with acronyms in brackets, should be given)2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC)
1 (b)In which language(s) is the classification available?English, Spanish
1 (c)Can the classification (or information about it) be accessed on the Internet? If yes, please provide the URL.Yes, at www.bls.gov/soc.
Classification structure
2 (a)Please describe the structure of the classification: How many levels does the classification have? (Please provide labels, such as “Division”, “Class”) How many categories exist at each level?The 2010 SOC has 4 levels in its hierarchy:

Hierarchy levelNumber of categories
Major occupation group23
Minor occupation group97
Broad occupation461
Detailed occupation840

2 (b)Please provide examples of the coding system used at each level.
Hierarchy levelSOC Code and Title
Major occupation group29-0000 Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations
Minor occupation group29-1000 Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners
Broad occupation29-1060 Physicians and Surgeons
Detailed occupation29-1062 Family and General Practitioners
Relationship to international standards
3 (a)Is this classification based on (or linked to) an international standard classification? If yes, please describe.During the revision of the SOC for 2010, the SOC Policy Committee factored the 2008 International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO-08) into decisions made in selected areas such as Computer Occupations, but due to differences discussed below, the SOC could not be fully based on the ISCO-08. The 2010 SOC is linked to ISCO-08 through a crosswalk that is available at http://www.bls.gov/soc/soccrosswalks.htm.
3 (b)Is the classification structure identical to the international standard or, if not, how does it differ? (e.g. have additional levels been added to the international standard or have changes been made within the level of the international structure, such as aggregations or additional breakdowns)The 2010 SOC differs from ISCO-08 in many ways. Although in both systems jobs are classified by occupation with respect to the type of work performed, under ISCO-08 the basic criteria used to define the system of major, sub-major, minor, and/or unit groups are the “skill level” and “skill specialization” required to competently perform the tasks and duties of the occupations. Under the 2010 SOC, the major groups represent aggregations of detailed occupations with broadly similar duties, such as management or legal occupations. Detailed occupations within major groups do not share the same skill level. Treatment of supervisors also varies between the two systems, as discussed in the process document associated with the 2010 SOC to ISCO-08 crosswalk available at http://www.bls.gov/soc/soccrosswalks.htm. There are 840 detailed occupations in the 2010 SOC, compared to 425 in ISCO-08.
3 (c)Please describe deviations from the international standard (in terms of structure, methodology or application rules). Please use examples, if a general statement is not possible.See 3(b) above.
3 (d)At what level of the international standard can data be reported for international comparison? (Please provide examples of programmes / indicators if reporting takes place at different levels of the classification.)The 2010 SOC to ISCO-08 crosswalk was developed at the detailed occupational level. However, as described in the process document available at http://www.bls.gov/soc/soccrosswalks.htm, two detailed SOC occupations had no detailed or residual counterpart in the ISCO. These were matched to the closest minor group in the ISCO:

2010 SOC code2010 SOC titleISCO-08 codeISCO-08 title (minor group)
19-2099Physical Scientists, All Other211Physical and earth science professionals
53-2022Airfield Operations Specialists315Ship and aircraft controllers and technicians

3 (e)If no links to international classifications exist or no international standard is used, please state if there are plans to use international norms in the future.N/A
Classification uses
4 (a)Please state for which statistical purposes (surveys etc.) this classification is used and if there are users outside of the Statistical Office. Please indicate at which level the classification is used for data collection and for data publishing.The U.S. does not have a single national statistics office. This function is spread across 13 primary Federal statistical agencies, as discussed in the OMB ‘Blue Book,’ http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/ information_and_regulatory_affairs/12statprog.pdf.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Census Bureau, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) use the SOC to classify workers and jobs into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, analyzing, or disseminating data. Within BLS, the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey collects data on the full 2010 SOC, but because it requires 3 years of data to develop estimates at the detailed level, the most recent May 2011 estimates were published for about 800 detailed occupations. The May 2012 OES data to be published in early spring 2013 will reflect the full set of detailed occupations in the 2010 SOC. The National Compensation Survey products of the Office of Compensation and Working Conditions (OCWC) within BLS—including the Employment Cost Index (ECI), Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC), and benefits—collect data at the 6-digit 2010 SOC level and will begin publishing data at the 4-digit minor group level in 2014.

The Census Bureau collects and publishes occupational statistics using the 2010 Census occupation classification list, available at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/ioindex/crosswalks.html, which aggregates the 840 detailed 2010 SOC occupation codes into 539 codes including 4 military codes. This classification is used in coding occupational data collected by the Census Bureau in its household surveys, primarily the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey.

NCES uses the SOC as the basis for data it collects and publishes through various surveys including the School and Staffing Survey and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. NSF’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics designs, supports, and directs periodic national surveys and performs a variety of other data collections and research.

While the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) is not a primary statistical agency, it does have statistical functions. Their Occupational Information Network (O*NET) system is a comprehensive database of occupational competency profiles and is based on the 2010 SOC, although it also provides additional detailed occupations within an SOC category in selected instances. The O*NET-SOC 2010 taxonomy includes 1110 occupational titles, 974 of which represent O*NET data-level occupations. The O*NET 15.1 database released in February 2011 incorporated the 2010 SOC.

Users outside of the Federal statistical agencies that collect and publish data at varying levels of the SOC hierarchy include State labor market information agencies, researchers in academia, employers and associations collecting workforce information, and educational planners.

4 (b)Please give the names of institutions that use the classification for non-statistical purposes (as opposed to statistical purposes in question 4(a)). Also indicate the kind of use (e.g. tax offices, social security, customs, enterprise register, employment services, work permits etc.)The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) uses the SOC code for purposes of reporting the “occupation of training” and when available the “occupation of placement” for training program participants under the Workforce Investment Act and the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act. In addition, the ETA’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification links jobs to adverse effect wage rates by SOC for work visa purposes. The Wage and Hour Division, also at the Department of Labor, uses wage information classified by SOC to set prevailing wage rates when administering the Service Contract Act. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission uses SOC occupational classifications, and equivalent Census occupational classifications to create broader categories as part of the Commission’s data survey and enforcement programs.
4 (c)Please indicate if alternative classifications are used by other institutions of the economy. Are these classifications available and useful for the Statistical Office?Information on the Office of Personnel Management’s Enterprise Human Resource Integration (EHRI)/Statistical Data Mart (SDM) is available at http://www.opm.gov/feddata/. The Social Security Administration uses the predecessor to the O*NET, the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) for disability determination and adjudication, not for statistical purposes. While available to Federal statistical agencies, alternative classifications complicate data comparability.
Implementation / revision status
5 (a)Please state the date of the official adoption of the classification. If not yet adopted, please indicate the current state (e.g. in development, sent for approval, in printing, ready to be distributed etc.)The Office of Management and Budget published its final decisions on the 2010 SOC structure in the January 21, 2009, Federal Register and required that Federal statistical agencies use the 2010 SOC for occupational data published for reference years beginning on or after January 1, 2010.
5 (b)Please state the date of use of the classification for individual statistical programmes.The 2010 SOC was first implemented by the OES program at BLS for data with a reference year of 2010. (See response to question 4 (a) for details on 2010 SOC implementation in OES.) For the Current Population Survey, a monthly survey of households conducted by the Census Bureau for the BLS, occupations reflected the introduction of the 2010 Census occupational classification system, derived from the 2010 SOC, effective with January 2011 data. Other BLS products from the Office of Compensation and Working Conditions (OCWC) such as the ECI and ECEC are implementing the 2010 SOC on varying schedules through 2014. The Census Bureau’s 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-year estimates were the first to reflect the 2010 SOC in data published in fall 2011. The Employment and Training Administrations’ O*NET 15.1 database released in February 2011 incorporated the 2010 SOC.
5 (c)Are there existing plans for revision or update of the current classification?A revised SOC is planned for use in reference year 2018. Target completion date for the 2018 SOC is early 2017.
5 (d)Name of former (previous) national classification (full name in both national tongue and in English with acronyms in brackets, should be given)2000 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC)
5 (e)Please describe the link of the former classification to international classificationsA crosswalk between the 2000 SOC and ISCO-88 is available from the National Crosswalk Service Center, www.xwalkcenter.org
5 (f)Please describe the structure of the former classification and indicate the number of items at each level of the classification. (similar to question 2(a))The 2000 SOC had 4 levels in its hierarchy:

Hierarchy levelNumber of categories
Major occupation group23
Minor occupation group96
Broad occupation449
Detailed occupation821

5 (g)Do conversion tables exist between the former and current classification?Yes. A crosswalk is available at http://www.bls.gov/soc/soccrosswalks.htm and in the back of the 2010 SOC manual.
5 (h)When was the former classification implemented?The 2000 SOC was first implemented for OES survey for data with a reference year of 1999.
5 (i)Are statistical data still collected or published according to the former classification? Please indicate if this statistical data is collected or published by the Statistical Office or elsewhere.N/A
Supporting documents
6 (a)Have national explanatory notes and/or guidelines been elaborated?The 2010 SOC User Guide, available at www.bls.gov/soc, includes background material on the development of the SOC, and the Classification Principles and Coding Guidelines used.
6 (b)Do correspondence tables exist between the national and the international classifications (if applicable)?Yes, the 2010 SOC is linked to ISCO-08 through a crosswalk that is available at http://www.bls.gov/soc/soccrosswalks.htm.
6 (c)Are correspondence tables between alternative and current classification available (if applicable)?A crosswalk between the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) and the 2000 SOC is available from the National Crosswalk Service Center, www.xwalkcenter.org. O*NET OnLine provides a machine translation of the DOT to 2010 SOC for search purposes, http://www.onetonline.org/crosswalk/, that updates previous crosswalks to the corresponding new or changed SOC codes/titles.

The OES and OCWC programs within BLS use internal crosswalks between SOC and OPM data that are not publicly available.

6 (d)Does a national coding index exist?To promote consistency in coding across agencies, the SOC Policy Committee developed a Direct Match Title File (DMTF), available at http://www.bls.gov/soc/#DMTF. The DMTF lists associated job titles for detailed SOC occupations. Each of these titles is a direct match to a single SOC occupation. Individual statistical programs expand upon the DMTF for agency-specific use. The Census Bureau’s 2010 Occupation Index associates 30,000 job titles with SOC codes, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/ioindex. O*NET’s lay title file, http://www.onetcenter.org/supplemental.html, provides a list of alternate occupational titles that are linked to the SOC and O*NET-SOC classification systems. While not publicly available, the OES program maintains an alternate and associated title file within its survey processing system.
6 (e)Is the classification available in electronic form? If yes, in which formats is it available?(e.g. PDF, TXT, Excel, XML)Yes, classification is downloadable in Excel from http://www.bls.gov/soc/materials.htm.
6 (f)Are the correspondence tables or indexes available in electronic form?Yes, crosswalks and DMTF files are downloadable in Excel from http://www.bls.gov/soc.
Contact information
7 (a)Name of institution / office responsible for the development and maintenance of the classificationThe SOC Policy Committee
Office of Management and Budget, Office of Statistical and Science Policy
7 (b)Contact address, phone number, e-mail or website for public information and inquiryEmail: soc@bls.gov (or go to www.bls.gov/soc and select ‘contact us’)
Telephone: 202-691-6500
Other comments
9 (a)Please provide any other information on this classification that you consider relevant 

Source: UN questionnaire, 9/1/2012