What is an Occupation? Emsi’s Occupation Data and How We Use It

Published on Jun 17, 2020

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Emsi Burning Glass

What is an Occupation? Emsi’s Occupation Data and How We Use It

Industries, occupations, demographics, education–these four sectors are what make up the labor market, and also serve as the core of Emsi’s data. Occupation data can help workforce development and business professionals understand what employers are looking for, how much they’re paying, locations with high occupation concentration, and so much more.


Want to see Emsi’s Occupation Data for your business? We’re here to help!


What is an Occupation? 

An occupation describes the type of job that a single worker might hold. For example, software engineers, registered nurses, fast food cooks, surgeons, janitors, retail cashiers, and accountants are all types of occupations.

Occupation data counts the number of jobs according to the type of work performed, instead of by industry. An industry describes a type of economic activity that goes on at a particular establishment (read this article for more on industry data). Establishments classified in many different industries need occupations; for example—manufacturing facilities, hospitals, corporate offices, and restaurants are all types of establishments that employ janitors or bookkeepers.


How Occupation Data is Broken Down

Emsi occupation data is organized by Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes, with a few differences. The first two digits divide occupations into 24 major groups, such as “11-0000: Management Occupations”; the third digit divides them into 96 minor groups, such as “11-3000: Operations Specialties Managers”; and the fourth digit divides them into 449 broad occupations, which are further divided by the fifth and sixth digits into a total of 775 detailed occupations. For more information, see www.bls.gov/soc/.

In addition to SOC data, occupation information is also reported through the Occupational Information Network (O*NET). O*NET provides information on the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to work in various occupations. O*NET currently has 974 occupations listed, and does not provide job counts or earnings data (we collect that data at the SOC level). 


How Emsi Uses SOC Codes

Though Emsi generally sticks to the standard SOC classification, there are a few differences: 

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

  • Emsi 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. To read Emsi Data’s research on this topic, click here

  • Emsi 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, Emsi adds the code 25-3098 (Substitute Teachers). 

You can find Emsi’s occupation data within most of our analytical reports, such as the Occupation Overview, Occupation Comparison, Talent Supply by Occupation, and much more. 

For more on how Emsi uses SOC data, click here


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