What is an occupation?

An occupation is a category used by governments to classify workers. At TalentNeuron, we use the United States government’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. 

Explore the SOC taxonomy and get detailed information on each occupation.

What can I use this data for?

Occupations are critical for understanding labor market trends. Because titles can vary between companies, industries, and even locations, occupations help us standardize and aggregate data so that we can calculate and compare labor market data for groups of jobs.

For example, the titles “user experience designer,” “user interface designer,” “interaction designer,” or “product designer” might all refer to what is essentially the same role. Searching for these titles individually is time-consuming and limits your results to those exact titles. However, searching for “Human Factors Engineers and Ergonomists” – the occupation that these titles are part of – allows you to easily capture data for all these variations in titles, as well as other titles you might not be aware of.

Acquire: Where do you get the occupation categories?

Our occupations come from the United States’ government’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. In the SOC system, workers are classified into one of 867 detailed occupations based on similar job duties, skills, education, or training. These detailed occupations are grouped to form 459 broad occupations, 98 minor groups, and 23 major groups (Source: The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Organize: How do you assign occupations to demand and supply data?

We assign occupations to job posting (demand) data using the O*NET-SOC AutoCoder developed for the United States Department of Labor. The tool analyzes the title and text of job postings for words and phrases associated with specific occupations, and then determines which occupation most closely matches each job posting. We calculate demand data using 6-digit and 8-digit SOC codes. Learn more about our job posting (demand) data.

We associate occupations to supply data by creating a mapping between the SOC taxonomy and local taxonomies that national governments use for censuses and labor market data. These mappings are reviewed each time a local government authority updates their supply data. We calculate supply data using 6-digit SOC codes. Learn more about our supply data.

Analyze: How do you calculate occupational data?

Once we associate occupations with demand and supply data, we can provide the count of postings or candidates associated with each occupation, as well as more advanced metrics.

Deliver: How do you represent occupations?

When providing occupational data, we use the occupation’s original name. Sometimes, we include the numerical code that follows the occupation’s name, but sometimes we omit it for ease of interpretation.

We typically represent occupation data either as a count or a percentage of supply or demand that match your search criteria and are associated with a particular occupation.

More about occupations:

How often do you update the SOC codes?

The U.S. government updates the SOC taxonomy every four years. These changes are typically reflected in our system the year after the government update.

What are the different levels of the SOC taxonomy?

Within the SOC system, each level of the taxonomy has a different number of digits associated with it (excluding zeros). Groups in the highest and most general level, SOC 2, receive two identifying digits (e.g. 17-0000 – Architecture and Engineering Occupations). Each subsequent, more specific tier within the taxonomy receives an additional digit (e.g. 17-2011 – Aerospace Engineers is SOC-6). 

What is the relationship between occupations and functions?

TalentNeuron’s functions are categories we created to group occupations together and provide a higher-level view of market trends. We also feel that our functional groupings are more helpful to our users than the 23 “major groups” (the highest level) within the SOC taxonomy. For example, SOC 11 comprises all management roles regardless of background and includes sales managers, legislators, and education administrators. Our system instead associates each of these into different functional groups.

Each functional category is quite broad and contains dozens of occupations, so we’re unable to include a listing here. However, if you have a specific question about a function, you can contact our Support team.

The occupation is too broad to define the role I’m interested in.

While occupations are a great first step in defining your talent and narrowing down your search, sometimes an occupation isn’t specific enough to define a given talent segment. In those instances, we recommend using keywords or skills in addition to or instead of the occupation you’re interested in to define your talent more narrowly.