Parts of the Occupational Definition
Work is organized in a variety of ways. As a result of technological, economic, and
sociological influences, nearly every job in the economy is performed slightly differently
from any other job. Every job is also similar to a number of other jobs.
In order to look at the millions of jobs in the U.S. economy in an organized way, the
DOT groups jobs into ``occupations'' based on their similarities and defines the
structure and content of all listed occupations. Occupational definitions are the result
of comprehensive studies of how similar jobs are performed in establishments across
the nation and are composites of data collected from diverse sources. The term
``occupation,'' as used in the DOT, refers to this collective description of a number of
individual jobs performed, with minor variations, in many establishments.
There are seven basic parts to an occupational definition. They present data about a
job in a systematic fashion. The parts are listed below in the order in which they
appear in every definition:
(1) The Occupational Code Number
(2) The Occupational Title
(3) The Industry Designation
(4) Alternate Titles (if any)
(5) The Body of the Definition
(a) Lead Statement
(b) Task Element Statements
(c) ``May'' Items
(6) Undefined Related Titles (if any)
(7) Definition Trailer
(1) The Occupational Code Number
The first item in an occupational definition is the 9-digit occupational code (in the
preceding example, 652.382-010). In the DOT occupational classification system, each
set of three digits in the 9-digit code number has a specific purpose or meaning.
Together, they provide a unique identification code for a
particular occupation which differentiates it from all others.
The first three digits identify a particular occupational group. All occupations
are clustered into one of nine broad ``categories'' (first digit), such as professional,
technical and managerial, or clerical and sales occupations. These categories break
down into 83 occupationally specific ``divisions'' (the first two digits), such as
occupations in architecture and engineering within the professional category, or
stenography, typing, and related occupations in the clerical and sales category.
Divisions, in turn, are divided into small, homogeneous ``groups'' (the first three digits)
- 564 such groups are identified in the DOT. The nine primary occupational categories
are listed below:
0/1 Professional, Technical, and Managerial Occupations
2 Clerical and Sales Occupations
3 Service Occupations
4 Agricultural, Fishery, Forestry, and Related Occupations
5 Processing Occupations
6 Machine Trades Occupations
7 Benchwork Occupations
8 Structural Work Occupations
9 Miscellaneous Occupations
In the example, the first digit (6) indicates that this particular occupation is found in the
category, ``Machine Trades Occupations.'' (For a listing of all occupational categories,
divisions, and groups see page xxix.)
The second digit refers to a division within the category. The divisions within the
``Machine Trades Occupations'' category are as follows:
60 Metal Machining Occupations
61 Metalworking Occupations, n.e.c.
62/63 Mechanics and Machinery Repairers
64 Paperworking Occupations
65 Printing Occupations
66 Wood Machining Occupations
67 Occupations in Machining Stone, Clay, Glass, and Related Materials
68 Textile Occupations
69 Machine Trades Occupations, n.e.c.
Some divisions or groups end in the designation ``n.e.c.'' (not elsewhere classified).
This indicates that the occupations do not logically fit into precisely defined divisions
or groups, or that they could fit into two or more of them equally well.
In the example, the second digit (5) locates the occupation in the ``Printing
The third digit defines the occupational group within the division. The groups within
the ``Printing Occupations'' division are as follows:
650 Typesetters and Composers
651 Printing Press Occupations
652 Printing Machine Occupations
653 Bookbinding-Machine Operators and Related Occupations
654 Typecasters and Related Occupations
659 Printing Occupations, n.e.c.
In the example, the third digit (2) locates the occupation in the ``Printing Machine
The middle three digits of the DOT occupational code are the Worker Functions
ratings of the tasks performed in the occupation. Every job requires a worker to
function to some degree in relation to data, people, and things. A separate digit
expresses the worker's relationship to each of these three groups:
DATA (4th Digit) PEOPLE (5th Digit) THINGS (6th Digit)
0 Synthesizing 0 Mentoring 0 Setting Up
1 Coordinating 1 Negotiating 1 Precision Working
2 Analyzing 2 Instructing 2 Operating-
3 Compiling 3 Supervising 3 Driving-Operating
4 Computing 4 Diverting 4 Manipulating
5 Copying 5 Persuading 5 Tending
6 Comparing 6 Speaking- 6 Feeding-Offbearing Signalling
7 Serving 7 Handling
8 Taking Instructions-
As a general rule, Worker Functions involving more complex responsibility and
judgment are assigned lower numbers in these three lists while functions which are
less complicated have higher numbers. For example, ``synthesizing'' and
``coordinating'' data are more complex tasks than ``copying'' data; ``instructing'' people
involves a broader responsibility than ``taking instructions-helping''; and ``operating''
things is a more complicated task than ``handling'' things.
The Worker Functions code in the example (382) relates to the middle three digits of
the DOT occupational code and has a different meaning and no connection with group
code 652 (first three digits).
The Worker Functions code (382) may be found in any occupational group. It signifies
that the worker is ``compiling'' (3) in relation to data; ``taking instructions-helping'' (8)
in relation to people; and ``operating-controlling'' (2) in relation to things. The Worker
Functions code indicates the broadest level of responsibility or judgment required in
relation to data, people, or things. It is assumed that, if the job requires it, the worker
can generally perform any higher numbered function listed in each of the three
categories. (See Appendix B for a more detailed discussion of Worker Functions
The last three digits of the occupational code number serve to differentiate a
particular occupation from all others. A number of occupations may have the same
first six digits, but no two can have the same nine digits. If a 6-digit code is applicable
to only one occupational title, the final three digits assigned are always 010 (as in the
example). If there is more than one occupation with the same first six digits, the final
three digits are usually assigned in alphabetical order of titles in multiples of four (010,
014, 018, 022, etc.). If another printing machine occupation had the same six digits as
CLOTH PRINTER (any industry) 652.382-010, and began with the letter ``D,'' it would
be assigned the occupational code 652.382-014. In order to minimize the number of
changes made to the existing occupational classification structure, ``new'' occupations
added to the DOT since the publication of the Fourth Edition have simply been added
sequentially following the previous last entry for each of the 6-digit codes. The full nine
digits thus provide each occupation with a unique code suitable for computerized
(2) The Occupational Title
Immediately following the occupational code in every definition is the occupational
base title. The base title is always in upper-case boldface letters. It is the most
common type of title found in the DOT, and is the title by which the occupation is
known in the majority of establishments in which it was found. In the example, CLOTH
PRINTER (any industry) 652.382-010 is a base title.
(a) Master Titles
Some titles are classified as master titles. These titles are designed to eliminate
unnecessary repetition of tasks common to a large number of occupations. Master
titles define the common job tasks having a wide variety of job variables and wide
variety of titles. An example is the title ``SUPERVISOR (any industry)''. Each
individual supervisory occupation has its own separate definition in the DOT describing
its unique duties, but at the end of the definition the reader is referred to the master
definition; in this case by a sentence reading: ``Performs other duties as described
under SUPERVISOR (any industry) Master Title''. By referring to this master definition,
the user will learn about the typical supervisory duties which are commonly performed.
(b) Term Titles
Another type of DOT title is a term title. These include occupations with the same title
but few common duties. An example of a term definition is:
CONSULTING ENGINEER (profess. & kin.): A term applied to workers who consult
with and advise clients on specialized engineering matters in a particular field of
endeavor, such as chemical engineering, civil engineering, or mechanical engineering.
Since neither master nor term definitions are occupations, they are not coded in the
Occupational Group Arrangement but are found in separate sections of the DOT (see
There are other major types of titles used in the DOT, including alternate titles
and undefined related titles. These are discussed later in this section.
(3) Industry Designation
The industry designation is in parentheses immediately following the occupational base
title. It often differentiates between two or more occupations with identical titles but
different duties. Because of this, it is an integral and inseparable part of any
occupational title. An industry designation often tells one or more things about an
occupation such as:
. location of the occupation (hotel & rest.; machine shop)
. types of duties associated with the occupation (education; forging)
. products manufactured (optical goods; textile)
. processes used (electroplating; petrol. refin.)
. raw materials used (nonfer. metal; stonework)
While a definition usually receives the designation of the industry or industries in which
it occurs, certain occupations occur in a large number of industries. When this
happens, the industry assigned is a cross-industry designation. For example, clerical
occupations are found in almost every industry. To show the broad, cross-industry
nature of clerical occupations, ``clerical'' is an industry designation in itself. Among
other cross-industry designations are: ``profess. & kin.'', ``machine shop'', and
Occupations which characteristically occur in nearly all industries, or which occur in a
number of industries, but not in most industries and which are not considered to have
any particular industrial attachment, are assigned the designation of ``any industry.''
The job title in the example is assigned this designation. It should always be identified
as CLOTH PRINTER (any industry) 652.382-010.
In compiling information for the DOT, analysts were not able to study each occupation
in all industries where it occurs. The industry designation, therefore, shows in what
industries the occupation was studied but does not mean that it may not be found in
others. Therefore, industry designations are to be regarded as indicative of industrial
location, but not necessarily restrictive.
4) Alternate Titles
An alternate title is a synonym for the base title. It is not as commonly used as the
base title. Alternate titles are shown in lower-case letters immediately after the base
title and its industrial designation. In the example, two alternate titles are given:
``printer'' and ``printing-machine operator''. Alternate titles may not be used by public
employment service offices in assigning occupational classifications. Alternate titles
are cross-referenced to their base titles in the Alphabetical Index of Occupational Titles
(p. 1225). A particular occupation may have a large number of alternate titles or none
at all. Alternate titles carry the code numbers and industry designations of the base
(5) The Body of the Definition
The body of the definition usually consists of two or three main parts: a lead statement,
a number of task element statements, and a third part known as a ``may'' item.
(a) The Lead Statement
The first sentence following the industry designation and alternate titles (if any) is the
lead statement. It is followed by a colon (:). The lead statement summarizes the entire
occupation. It offers essential information such as:
- worker actions
- objective or purpose of the worker actions
- machines, tools, equipment, or work aids used by the worker
- materials used, products made, subject matter dealt with, or services rendered
- instructions followed or judgments made
In the example, the sentence ``Sets up and operates machine to print designs on
materials, such as cloth, fiberglass, plastics sheeting, coated felt, or oilcloth:'' is the
lead statement. From it, the user can obtain an overview of the occupation.
(b) Task Element Statements
Task element statements indicate the specific tasks the worker performs to accomplish
the overall job purpose described in the lead statement. The sentences in the example
beginning with ``Turns handwheel . . . '', ``Turns screws . . . '', ``Sharpens doctor . .
. '', ``Aligns doctor . . . '', ``Dips color . . . '', etc. are all task element statements. They
indicate how the worker actually carries out the job duties.
(c) ``May'' Items
Many definitions contain one or more sentences beginning with the word ``May''. They
describe duties required of workers in this occupation in some establishments but not
in others. The word ``May'' does not indicate that a worker will sometimes perform this
task but rather that some workers in different establishments generally perform one of
the varied tasks listed. In the example, the three sentences beginning ``May notify. .
.'', ``May mount. . .'', ``May position. . .'', are ``May'' items. Do not confuse ``May'' items
with the ``May be designated. . .'' sentence which introduces undefined related titles.
The definition also contains a number of additional information elements designed to
assist the user. Among these elements are:
Italicized words: Any word in a definition shown in italics is defined in the
``Glossary'' (p. 993). Italicized words are technical or special uses of words not
ordinarily found in a dictionary. In the example, the words ``printing rollers'' are
italicized. Their precise meaning can be found in the ``Glossary''.
Bracketed titles: A bracketed title indicates that the worker in the base title
occupation performs some duties of the bracketed occupation as a part of the worker's
regular duties. In the example, the CLOTH PRINTER (any industry) 652.382-010 ``May
mount printing rollers. . .'' Since this task is usually performed by a PRINTING-
ROLLER HANDLER (textile) 652.385-010, this occupation is bracketed. To learn more
about this particular aspect of the occupation, the user can read the definition of the
bracketed occupational title.
Unbracketed titles: Unbracketed titles are used for occupations that have a
frequent working relationship with the occupation defined. In the example, the CLOTH
PRINTER (any industry) 652.382-010 has a close working relationship with a
COLORIST (profess. & kin.) 022.161-014. This unbracketed title is therefore included
in the definition.
Roman numerals: Several somewhat different occupations with the same job
title may be found in the same industry. In this event, a Roman numeral follows each
title. For example, there are two titles in the DOT listed as ASSEMBLER (ordnance).
In order to distinguish between them, a Roman numeral is assigned to each one:
ASSEMBLER (ordnance) I 736.381-010 and ASSEMBLER (ordnance) II 736.684-014.
There is no connection in the sequence of these numbers with the level of complexity
of these occupations or the frequency with which they occur in the U.S. economy.
Statement of significant variables: Another element found in some definitions
is a statement of significant variables. It appears near the end of a definition and
indicates possible variations that can occur in jobs. This eliminates the need to include
a large number of almost identical definitions in the DOT. The statement begins with
``Important variations include. . .''. There is no statement of significant variables in the
definition of CLOTH PRINTER (any industry) 652.382-010.
(6) Undefined Related Titles
Undefined related titles, when applicable, appear at the end of the occupational
definition, with initial capital letters, preceded by a phrase, such as ``May be
designated according to. . .''. In the example, three undefined related titles are given:
Novelty-Printing-Machine-Operator (textile), Proofing-Machine Operator (print. & pub.),
and Plisse-Machine Operator (textile). This type of title indicates a variation or
specialization of the base occupation. It resembles the base enough to accompany
it, but differs from it enough to require an explanatory phrase and its own unique title.
An undefined related title has the same code as its base title. Undefined related titles
found in occupational definitions are listed in the Alphabetical Index of Occupational
Titles in initial capital letters. The entry includes the industry designation and the 9-
digit code of the corresponding base title. In addition, undefined related titles appear
in alphabetical order with their nine-digit code under their appropriate industry in the
list of Occupational Titles Arranged by Industry Designation.
(7) Definition Trailer
Selected characteristics and auxiliary profile data are contained in a ``trailer'' appended
to each definition. The trailer contains the following selected occupational analysis
characteristics: GOE Code; Strength rating; R, M, and L of GED; and SVP. (Refer to
Appendix C for a detailed explanation of these characteristics.)
The Date of Last Update (DLU), the last item in the trailer, is the date of the most
recent material gathered in support of that occupation. The date ``1977'' indicates that
the job has not been studied since the publication of the Fourth Edition DOT in 1977
(See page 1003, Appendix A.) This entry allows the reader to identify the currency of
each definition. It will also provide easy identification of definitions ``new'' to the DOT
or alert the reader to previously published and recently updated definitions.