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The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) is a career resource offering information on the hundreds of occupations that provide the majority of jobs in the United States. Each occupational profile describes the typical duties performed by the occupation, the work environment of that occupation, the typical education and training needed to enter the occupation, the median pay for workers in the occupation, and the job outlook over the coming decade for that occupation. Each profile is in a standard format that makes it easy to compare occupations, such as by projected employment change.
All profiles have a “Quick Facts” table that gives information on the following topics:
Median Pay: The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey.
Typical Entry-Level Education: The level of education that most workers need to enter an occupation.
Work Experience in a Related Occupation: The skills and know-how that a worker receives in another occupation which is usually considered necessary by employers or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.
On-the-job Training: Postemployment training necessary to attain competency in the skills needed in the occupation. The training is occupation specific rather than job specific; the skills learned can be transferred to another job in the same occupation.
Number of Jobs: The employment, or size, of the occupation in the base year of the employment projections.
Job Outlook: The projected percent change in employment over the projections decade.
Employment Change: The projected numeric change in employment over the projections decade.
The summary section briefly describes all of the sections included in each occupational profile.
This section describes the main work of people in the occupation.
All occupations have a list of duties or typical tasks performed by these workers. The list includes daily responsibilities, such as answering phone calls or taking a patient’s medical history.
This section also may describe the equipment, tools, software, or other items that people in the occupation typically use. For example, medical records and health information technicians frequently use electronic health records to document a patient’s medical information. The section also may describe those with whom workers in the occupation interact, such as clients, patients, and coworkers.
Some profiles discuss specialties, alternate job titles, or types of occupations within a given occupation. This subsection includes a brief explanation of each specialty’s job duties and how specialties differ from one another. For example, the profile on dentists includes several specialties, such as orthodontists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and pediatric dentists.
Jobseekers and career planners should learn an occupation’s working conditions, including the typical workplace, the expected level of physical activity, and typical working hours.
The section typically begins by noting the employment size of the occupation in the base year and includes a table of the industries which employed the most workers in the occupation that year. The section also notes whether employees sometimes need to travel, and if so, how frequently. The section describes the workplace and discusses whether employees work in a safe work environment (such as an office) or a potentially hazardous one (such as a commercial fishing boat). If the workplace is hazardous, the section typically lists the type of equipment an employee must wear, such as a hardhat or protective goggles, to guard against accidents or exposure to harmful conditions. A subsection on Injuries and Illnesses may appear if this information is notable.
Information on the typical schedule for workers in an occupation is included in this section, noting whether the majority of workers are employed full time or part time. Full-time workers typically work 35 or more hours in a week, whereas part-time employees work less than 35 hours. For some occupations, the profile also may include the time of day an employee is expected to begin work and for how long. Registered nurses, for example, may work all hours of the day and on weekends because medical facilities are open 24 hours. A discussion of work schedules for occupations in which work may be seasonal, such as agricultural workers, also is in this section.
Knowing how to prepare to enter an occupation gives jobseekers and students an idea of how to become a doctor, flight attendant, or wind turbine technician, for example. All profiles have subsections on education and important qualities of workers in the occupation. Optional subsections include information on work experience; training; other experience, such as volunteering or internships; licenses, certifications, and registrations; and advancement.
This subsection describes the education that most workers typically need to enter an occupation. Some occupations require no formal education, whereas others may require, for example, a doctoral or professional degree. In some occupations, such as computer support specialists, workers can enter with different educational backgrounds. In these cases, the profile discusses all of the typical paths for entry into the occupation.
This subsection also may include information on the college majors and subjects that people usually study in preparation for the occupation, as well as a list of typical courses that may aid a high school student in preparing for an occupation. For example, high school students interested in applying to respiratory therapy programs should take courses in health, biology, math, chemistry, and physics.
This subsection describes whether employers require work experience in a related occupation. Many managerial occupations rely on work experience in a related occupation. For example, architectural and engineering managers typically have previous work experience as an architect or engineer.
This subsection describes the typical on-the-job training necessary to attain competency in an occupation, including both practical and classroom training that workers receive after being hired. For example, firefighters must complete training at a fire academy or at an institution with a similar program before they are considered prepared to combat fires.
Apprenticeships, internships, and residency programs also are discussed in this subsection. For example, the profile on physicians and surgeons includes information on residency programs and the profile for brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons has information on the apprenticeships that they typically complete as part of a training program.
Other types of experience may be helpful or essential in getting a job in the occupation, such as experience gained through volunteering or student internships completed while one is in school. Students and jobseekers may find this section helpful as it may provide additional content for their résumés.
This subsection describes whether credentials such as licenses, certifications, and registrations typically are needed for an occupation and, if so, how workers can earn the credentials.
States issue licenses to workers to signify that they have met specific legal requirements to practice in certain occupations. To become licensed, workers usually need to pass an exam and comply with eligibility requirements, such as possessing a minimum level of education, work experience, or training; or completing an internship, a residency, or an apprenticeship. States have their own regulatory boards that set standards for practicing a licensed occupation, so rules and eligibility criteria, including recertification requirements, may vary by state, even for the same occupation.
Some occupations have certifications available that typically are voluntary. For example, fitness trainers and instructors may obtain certification on their own before entering the occupation. Certification requires demonstrated competency in a skill or a set of skills and commonly requires passing an exam or having a certain amount and type of work experience or training. For some certification programs, the candidate must have a certain level of education before becoming eligible for certification.
This subsection explains any prerequisites for certification, licensure, or registration, as well as how a person would complete them—such as by passing an exam, performing a certain type of work, or receiving certain training or education. If states require workers to be certified before they can be licensed, this section also notes that information.
Certification should not be confused with certificates from an educational institution. A certificate awarded by a postsecondary educational institution is a postsecondary nondegree award and is discussed in the subsection on education.
Registrations typically are required and issued by state or local governments. Workers seeking registration may need to be licensed or certified. In most cases, workers must pay fees to receive or maintain their registration.
What does it take to be an engineer or teacher? This subsection describes important characteristics of workers in the occupation and includes an explanation of why those characteristics are useful.
The qualities may include skills, aptitudes, and personal characteristics. For example, an emergency medical technician (EMT) must be physically fit, and a web developer needs creativity and customer-service skills.
This subsection explains the requirements for advancement, such as certification or additional formal education.
Opportunities for advancement can come from within the occupation, such as a promotion to a supervisory or managerial level; from advancement into another occupation, such as moving from a computer support specialist to a network and computer systems administrator; or by becoming self-employed, such as a dentist opening up his or her own practice.
Almost all occupational profiles in the OOH show median wage data for wage and salary workers in the occupation. The median wage is the wage at which half of the workers in an occupation earned more and half earned less. The data are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program. A chart that compares the median wage of workers in the occupation to the median wage of workers across all occupations accompanies the wage data.
Profiles typically include median wages and the wages earned by the top 10 percent and bottom 10 percent of workers in the occupation. Profiles also may include wages earned by workers in selected industries—those in which most of an occupation’s workers are employed. The wage data by industry also are from the OES survey.
Some occupational profiles may cite wage data from sources other than the BLS. For example, the Medical Group Management Association provides wage data for physicians and surgeons. Unless otherwise noted, the source of pay data for occupations in the OOH is the OES survey.
The Pay section provides work schedule information, also found in the Work Environment section. When noteworthy, the section may include information about union membership.
Is employment projected to grow or decline over the projections decade? This section has a chart that compares the rate of growth or decline for the occupation(s) covered in the profile to the rate for all occupations. The section also discusses the major factors expected to affect the outlook for employment in the occupation. Some of the factors are changes in technology, in business practices, and in demographics.
The outlook section sometimes includes a Job Prospects subsection, which provides a qualitative discussion of the relative ease or difficulty experienced by those who seek to enter the occupation.
This section has links to sources for employment, wages, and projections data by state and area. Included are links to data maps from the BLS Occupation Employment Statistics (OES) program for the occupation(s) covered in the profile. External links direct users to Projections Central, which contains state employment projections developed by Labor Market Information (LMI) or by individual state Employment Projections offices; and to CareerOneStop, which includes occupational profiles and tools to find employment and wage data by state and metro area.
Some occupations have similar job duties or similar required skills. This section provides links to those occupations.
This section includes external links to associations, organizations, and other institutions that provide readers with additional information.
The section also includes links to the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) system for the occupation or occupations included in the profile and may link to occupational videos from the CareerOneStop. State employment service offices use O*NET to classify applicants and job openings. For each occupation, O*NET lists several descriptors, including common tasks, necessary knowledge and skills, and frequently used technology.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Occupational Information Included in the OOH,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/about/occupational-information-included-in-the-ooh.htm (visited May 28, 2023).
Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 4, 2019