What is a SOC Code?

The 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system is used by Federal statistical agencies to classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was tasked with revising the SOC 2010 with the purpose of creating a system of classification that would allow all government agencies and private industry to produce comparable data. Detailed occupations in the SOC with similar job duties, and in some cases skills, education, and/or training, are grouped together. The 2018 SOC was released in January 2018, with new revisions to be released every 10 years thereafter.

Helpful SOC Code Tools

How to Read a SOC Code

All workers are classified into one of 867 detailed occupations according to their occupational definition. There are 459 broad occupations, 98 minor groups, and 23 major groups.


Major Occupation


Construction & Extraction Occupations

Minor Occupation


Construction Trades Workers

Broad Occupation


Construction Equipment Operators

Detailed Occupation


Pile-Driver Operators

Note: Major Group Codes end with 0000. Minor Groups generally end with 000. Broad occupations end with 0. Detailed occupations end with a number other than 0.


23 Major Occupation Groups

98 Minor Occupation Groups

459 Broad Occupations

867 Detailed Occupations

2018 SOC Major Groups


Title Description


Management Operations

13-0000 Business and Financial Operations Occupations
15-0000 Computer and Mathematical Occupations
17-0000 Architecture and Engineering Occupations
19-0000 Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations
21-0000 Community and Social Service Occupations
23-0000 Legal Occupations
25-0000 Educational Instruction and Library Occupations
27-0000 Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations
29-0000 Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations
31-0000 Healthcare Support Occupations

Protective Service Occupations

35-0000 Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations
37-0000 Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations
39-0000 Personal Care and Service Occupations
41-0000 Sales and Related Occupations
43-0000 Office and Administrative Support Occupations
45-0000 Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Occupations
47-0000 Construction and Extraction Occupations
49-0000 Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations
51-0000 Production Occupations
53-0000 Transportation and Material Moving Occupations
55-0000 Military Specific Occupations

SOC Code Classification Principles?

  1. The SOC covers all occupations in which work is performed for pay or profit, including work performed in family-operated enterprises by family members who are not directly compensated. It excludes occupations unique to volunteers. Each occupation is assigned to only one occupational category at the lowest level of the classification.
  2. Occupations are classified based on work performed and, in some cases, on the skills, education, and/or training needed to perform the work at a competent level.
  3. Workers primarily engaged in planning and directing are classified in management occupations in Major Group 11-0000 - Management Occupations. Duties of these workers may include supervision.
  4. Supervisors of workers in Major Groups 13-0000 through 29-0000 usually have work experience and perform activities similar to those of the workers they supervise, and therefore are classified with the workers they supervise.
  5. Workers in Major Group 31-0000 - Healthcare Support Occupations assist and are usually supervised by workers in Major Group 29-0000 -  Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations. Therefore, there are no first-line supervisor occupations in Major Group 31-0000.
  6. Workers in Major Groups 33-0000 through 53-0000 whose primary duty is supervising are classified in the appropriate first-line supervisor category because their work activities are distinct from those of the workers they supervise.
  7. Apprentices and trainees are classified with the occupations for which they are being trained, while helpers and aides are classified separately because they are not in training for the occupation they are helping.
  8. If an occupation is not included as a distinct detailed occupation in the structure, it is classified in an appropriate “All Other,” or residual, occupation. “All Other” occupations are placed in the structure when it is determined that the detailed occupations comprising a broad occupation group do not account for all of the workers in the group. These occupations appear as the last occupation in the group with a code ending in “9” and are identified in their title by having “All Other” appear at the end.
  9. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau are charged with collecting and reporting data on total U.S. employment across the full spectrum of SOC major groups. Thus, for a detailed occupation to be included in the SOC, either the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the Census Bureau must be able to collect and report data on that occupation.

Source: BLS.gov

Why are SOC Codes Important?

  • Used by the following Government Agencies: Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Labor, Department of Transportation, Department of Veteran Affairs, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, National Science Foundation. and Office of Personal Management.

  • They can be cross-examined with NAICS, CIP, and ISCO codes.

  • Occupational classification schemes examine and organize the millions of jobs and tens of thousands of job titles in the economy into occupations based upon their similarities as determined by the scheme’s classification principles.

  • Statistical research across broad and specific occupational categories provides comparative analysis for both private and government agencies.

SOC Guidelines

The SOC Coding Guidelines are intended to assist users in consistently assigning SOC codes and titles to survey responses and in other coding activities.

  1. A worker should be assigned to an SOC occupation code based on work performed.
  2. When workers in a single job could be coded in more than one occupation, they should be coded in the occupation that requires the highest level of skill. If there is no measurable difference in skill requirements, workers should be coded in the occupation in which they spend the most time. Workers whose job is to teach at different levels (e.g., elementary, middle, or secondary) should be coded in the occupation corresponding to the highest educational level they teach.
  3. Data collection and reporting agencies should assign workers to the most detailed occupation possible. Different agencies may use different levels of aggregation, depending on their ability to collect data. For more information on data produced using the SOC, see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section.
  4. Workers who perform activities not described in any distinct detailed occupation in the SOC structure should be coded in an appropriate “All Other” or residual occupation. These residual occupational categories appear as the last occupation in a group with a code ending in “9” and are identified by having the words “All Other” appear at the end of the title.
  5. Workers in Major Groups 33-0000 through 53-0000 who spend 80 percent or more of their time performing supervisory activities are coded in the appropriate first-line supervisor category in the SOC. In these same Major Groups (33-0000 through 53-0000), persons with supervisory duties who spend less than 80 percent of their time supervising are coded with the workers they supervise.
  6. Licensed and non-licensed workers performing the same work should be coded together in the same detailed occupation, except where specified otherwise in the SOC definition.

Source: BLS.gov