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US Standard Occupation Classification (SOC)
US Standard Occupation Classification (SOC)

National occupation taxonomy of the United States

Updated over a week ago

The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system is used by Federal statistical agencies in the United States to classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data. All workers are classified into one of 840 detailed occupations according to their occupational definition. To facilitate classification, detailed occupations are combined to form 461 broad occupations, 97 minor groups, and 23 major groups. Detailed occupations in the SOC with similar job duties, and in some cases skills, education, and/or training, are grouped together. It uses hyphenated codes to divide occupations into four levels: major groups, minor groups, broad occupations, and detailed occupations.

  • 29-0000: Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations [major group]

    • 29-1000: Health diagnosing and treating practitioners [minor group]

      • 29-1020: Dentists [broad occupation]

        • 29-1021: Dentists, general [detailed occupation]

        • 29-1022: Oral and maxillofacial surgeons [detailed occupation]

        • 29-1023: Orthodontists [detailed occupation]

        • 29-1024: Prosthodontists [detailed occupation]

        • 29-1029: Dentists, all other specialists [detailed occupation]

There are a few minor differences between Lightcast and standard SOC codes:

  • Lightcast does not use SOC codes for military occupations, due to lack of good data. Lightcast uses one aggregate code, 55-9999, for all 20 military occupations in standard SOC codes.

  • Lightcast uses a single aggregate code (25-1099) for all postsecondary teachers, instead of the 38 detailed codes in standard SOC. This is due to lack of solid data and also to remain consistent with the BLS’s National Industry-Occupation Employment Matrix (NIOEM), which uses a similar code.

  • Lightcast adds the code 99-9999 for “Unclassified Occupation” to the Extended Proprietors class of worker in industries where we cannot reliably estimate occupations due to lack of data.

  • Following OES, Lightcast adds the code 25-3098 (Substitute Teachers).

SOC codes currently exist in five major versions:

  • SOC 2018: Live in Lightcast products, beginning with 2022.4 datarun.

  • SOC 2017: Used by OES beginning with their 2017 data (released spring 2018). Lightcast began using SOC 2017 data in its 2018.3 datarun.

  • SOC 2010: Used by BLS for 2012 and future data, beginning publication in 2013. Lightcast data was based on SOC 2010 for all dataruns between 2013.3 and 2018.2.

  • SOC 2010 Transitional: Used by the BLS OES program for 2010 and 2011 data.

  • SOC 2000: Used in most BLS data from 2001 to 2009.

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