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The O*NET® Content Model

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.

Worker Characteristics Worker Requirements Experience Requirements Occupational Requirements Labor Market Characteristics Occupation-Specific Information

The O*NET Content Model, with six major domains contributing to O*NET. See the domain descriptions below.

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.

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Content Model Outline — Summary (PDF - 361 KB)
Content Model Outline — Detailed (PDF - 371 KB)
Content Model Outline — Detailed including descriptions (PDF - 559 KB)
Content Model Outline (Excel format) (XLS - 150 KB)

Worker Characteristics — 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.

(Outline View | Description View)
Collapse Abilities — Enduring attributes of the individual that influence performance
  •  Cognitive Abilities — Abilities that influence the acquisition and application of knowledge in problem solving
    •  Verbal Abilities — Abilities that influence the acquisition and application of verbal information in problem solving
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramOral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramWritten Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramOral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramWritten Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
    •  Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities — Abilities that influence the application and manipulation of information in problem solving
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramFluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramOriginality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramProblem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramDeductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramInductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramInformation Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramCategory Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
    •  Quantitative Abilities — Abilities that influence the solution of problems involving mathematical relationships
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramMathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramNumber Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
    •  Memory — Abilities related to the recall of available information
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramMemorization — The ability to remember information such as words, numbers, pictures, and procedures.
    •  Perceptual Abilities — Abilities related to the acquisition and organization of visual information
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramSpeed of Closure — The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramFlexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramPerceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
    •  Spatial Abilities — Abilities related to the manipulation and organization of spatial information
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramSpatial Orientation — The ability to know your location in relation to the environment or to know where other objects are in relation to you.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramVisualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
    •  Attentiveness — Abilities related to application of attention
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramSelective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramTime Sharing — The ability to shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information (such as speech, sounds, touch, or other sources).
  •  Psychomotor Abilities — Abilities that influence the capacity to manipulate and control objects
    •  Fine Manipulative Abilities — Abilities related to the manipulation of objects
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramArm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramManual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramFinger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
    •  Control Movement Abilities — Abilities related to the control and manipulation of objects in time and space
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramControl Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramMultilimb Coordination — The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramResponse Orientation — The ability to choose quickly between two or more movements in response to two or more different signals (lights, sounds, pictures). It includes the speed with which the correct response is started with the hand, foot, or other body part.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramRate Control — The ability to time your movements or the movement of a piece of equipment in anticipation of changes in the speed and/or direction of a moving object or scene.
    •  Reaction Time and Speed Abilities — Abilities related to speed of manipulation of objects
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramReaction Time — The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramWrist-Finger Speed — The ability to make fast, simple, repeated movements of the fingers, hands, and wrists.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramSpeed of Limb Movement — The ability to quickly move the arms and legs.
  •  Physical Abilities — Abilities that influence strength, endurance, flexibility, balance and coordination
    •  Physical Strength Abilities — Abilities related to the capacity to exert force
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramStatic Strength — The ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramExplosive Strength — The ability to use short bursts of muscle force to propel oneself (as in jumping or sprinting), or to throw an object.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramDynamic Strength — The ability to exert muscle force repeatedly or continuously over time. This involves muscular endurance and resistance to muscle fatigue.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramTrunk Strength — The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing.
    •  Endurance — The ability to exert oneself physically over long periods without getting out of breath
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramStamina — The ability to exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
    •  Flexibility, Balance, and Coordination — Abilities related to the control of gross body movements
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramExtent Flexibility — The ability to bend, stretch, twist, or reach with your body, arms, and/or legs.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramDynamic Flexibility — The ability to quickly and repeatedly bend, stretch, twist, or reach out with your body, arms, and/or legs.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramGross Body Coordination — The ability to coordinate the movement of your arms, legs, and torso together when the whole body is in motion.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramGross Body Equilibrium — The ability to keep or regain your body balance or stay upright when in an unstable position.
  •  Sensory Abilities — Abilities that influence visual, auditory and speech perception
    •  Visual Abilities — Abilities related to visual sensory input
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramNear Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramFar Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramVisual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramNight Vision — The ability to see under low light conditions.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramPeripheral Vision — The ability to see objects or movement of objects to one's side when the eyes are looking ahead.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramDepth Perception — The ability to judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramGlare Sensitivity — The ability to see objects in the presence of glare or bright lighting.
    •  Auditory and Speech Abilities — Abilities related to auditory and oral input
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramHearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramAuditory Attention — The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramSound Localization — The ability to tell the direction from which a sound originated.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramSpeech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
      • O*NET Data Collection ProgramSpeech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
Expand Occupational Interests — Preferences for work environments. Occupational Interest Profiles (OIPs) are compatible with Holland's (1985, 1997) model of personality types and work environments.
Expand Work Values — Global aspects of work composed of specific needs that are important to a person's satisfaction. Occupational Reinforcer Patterns (ORPs) are based on the Theory of Work Adjustment (Dawis & Lofquist, 1984).
Expand Work Styles — Personal characteristics that can affect how well someone performs a job.

Primary occupational information source for Content Model items:

O*NET Data Collection Program U.S. Department of Labor
O*NET Data Collection Program

Supplemental sources of information:

Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics external site
CareerOneStop U.S. Department of Labor
CareerOneStop external site
Office of Apprenticeship U.S. Department of Labor
Office of Apprenticeship external site
Classification of Instructional Programs U.S. Department of Education
Classification of Instructional Programs external site

Other indicators:

Data not currently available Data not currently available

Worker Requirements — 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.

Expand Basic Skills — Developed capacities that facilitate learning or the more rapid acquisition of knowledge
Expand Cross-Functional Skills — Developed capacities that facilitate performance of activities that occur across jobs
Expand Knowledge — Organized sets of principles and facts applying in general domains
Expand Education — Prior educational experience required to perform in a job

Experience Requirements — 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.

Expand Experience and Training — If someone were being hired to perform this job, how much of the following would be required?
Expand Basic Skills - Entry Requirement — Entry requirement for developed capacities that facilitate learning or the more rapid acquisition of knowledge
Expand Cross-Functional Skills - Entry Requirement — Entry requirement for developed capacities that facilitate performance of activities that occur across jobs
Expand Licensing — Licenses, certificates, or registrations that are awarded to show that a job holder has gained certain skills. This includes requirements for obtaining these credentials, and the organization or agency requiring their possession.

Occupation-Specific Information — 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.

Expand Title — Primary title and code used to identify a single occupation in the O*NET-SOC taxonomy
Expand Description — A statement of required or important duties performed by workers in an occupation in the O*NET-SOC taxonomy.
Expand Alternate Titles — Alternate or "lay titles" include related job titles and occupational titles gathered from job incumbents, occupational experts, government agencies, professional groups, customer input, employer job postings, and other occupational classification systems.
Expand Tasks — Occupation-Specific Tasks
Expand Tools and Technology — Machines, equipment, tools, software, and information technology workers may use for optimal functioning in a high performance workplace.

Workforce Characteristics — 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.

Expand Labor Market Information — Current labor force characteristics of occupations
Expand Occupational Outlook — Future labor force characteristics of occupations

Occupational Requirements — 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.

Expand Generalized Work Activities — Work activities that are common across a very large number of occupations. They are performed in almost all job families and industries.
Expand Intermediate Work Activities — Work activities that are common across many occupations. They are performed in many job families and industries.
Expand Detailed Work Activities — Specific work activities that are performed across a small to moderate number of occupations within a job family.
Expand Organizational Context — Characteristics of the organization that influence how people do their work
Expand Work Context — Physical and social factors that influence the nature of work