The Content Model is the conceptual foundation of O*NET. The Content Model provides a framework that identifies the most important types of information about work and integrates them into a theoretically and empirically sound system.
The Content Model was developed using research on job and organizational analysis. It embodies a view that reflects the character of occupations (via job-oriented descriptors) and people (via worker-oriented descriptors). The Content Model also allows occupational information to be applied across jobs, sectors, or industries (cross-occupational descriptors) and within occupations (occupational-specific descriptors). These descriptors are organized into six major domains, which enable the user to focus on areas of information that specify the key attributes and characteristics of workers and occupations.
To download a reference file of all Content Model elements, visit our Current data files page. There, you can also find occupation-specific data ratings for the Content Model elements collected by the O*NET data collection program.
Enduring characteristics that may influence both performance and the capacity to acquire knowledge and skills required for effective work performance.
Worker characteristics comprise enduring qualities of individuals that may influence how they approach tasks and how they acquire work-relevant knowledges and skills. Traditionally, analyzing abilities has been the most common technique for comparing jobs in terms of these worker characteristics. However, recent research supports the inclusion of other types of worker characteristics. In particular, interests, values, and work styles have received support in the organizational literature. Interests and values reflect preferences for work environments and outcomes. Work style variables represent typical procedural differences in the way work is performed.
Descriptors referring to work-related attributes acquired and/or developed through experience and education.
Worker requirements represent developed or acquired attributes of an individual that may be related to work performance such as work-related knowledge and skill. Knowledge represents the acquisition of facts and principles about a domain of information. Experience lays the foundation for establishing procedures to work with given knowledge. These procedures are more commonly known as skills. Skills may be further divided into basic skills and cross-functional skills. Basic skills, such as reading, facilitate the acquisition of new knowledge. Cross-functional skills, such as problem solving, extend across several domains of activities.
Requirements related to previous work activities and explicitly linked to certain types of work activities.
This domain includes information about the typical experiential backgrounds of workers in an occupation or group of occupations including certification, licensure, and training data. For example, information about the professional or organizational certifications required for entry and advancement in an occupation, preferred education or training, and required apprenticeships will be documented by this part of the model.
A comprehensive set of variables or detailed elements that describe what various occupations require.
This domain includes information about typical activities required across occupations. Task information is often too specific to describe an occupation or occupational group. The O*NET approach is to identify generalized work activities (GWAs) and detailed work activities (DWAs) to summarize the broad and more specific types of job behaviors and tasks that may be performed within multiple occupations. Using this framework makes it possible to use a single set of descriptors to describe many occupations. Contextual variables such as the physical, social, or structural context of work that may impose specific demands on the worker or activities are also included in this section.
Variables that define and describe the general characteristics of occupations that may influence occupational requirements.
Organizations do not exist in isolation. They must operate within a broader social and economic structure. To be useful, an occupational classification system must incorporate global contextual characteristics. O*NET provides this information by linking descriptive occupational information to statistical labor market information. This includes compensation and wage data, employment outlook, and industry size information. Much of this information is collected outside of the O*NET program's immediate scope. Collaborative efforts with organizations such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, Career One Stop, the U.S. Bureau of the Census, and the Employment and Training Administration facilitate these labor market information linkages.
Variables or other Content Model elements of selected or specific occupations.
Occupation-specific information details a comprehensive set of elements that apply to a single occupation or a narrowly defined job family. This domain parallels other Content Model domains because it includes requirements such as work-related knowledge, skills, and tasks in addition to the machines, equipment, tools, software, and information technology workers may use in their workplace. Labor market information defined by the industry or occupation is also provided here. This domain is particularly important when developing specific applications of O*NET information. For example, it is necessary to refer to occupation-specific descriptive information to specify training, develop position descriptions, or redesign jobs.