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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.

Content Model Outline — Summary (PDF - 361 KB)
Content Model Outline — Detailed (PDF - 371 KB)
Content Model Outline — Detailed including descriptions (PDF - 555 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.

Expand Abilities — Enduring attributes of the individual that influence performance
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.

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.
(Outline View | Description View)
Collapse Organizational Context — Characteristics of the organization that influence how people do their work
  •  Structural Characteristics
    •  Organizational Structure
      •  Decision Making System
        •  Decentralization and Employee Empowerment
          • No sourceHave Control Over Unit or Department
          • No sourceHave Influence Over Decisions
          • No sourceMonitor Data on Quality/Costs/Waste/etc.
          • No sourceDetermine Work Flow or Order of Tasks
          • No sourceInvest in New Equipment and Technology
          • No sourceDevelop New Products, Services, and Procedures
        •  Individual versus Team Structure
          • No sourcePercent of Time in Intact Team
      •  Job Characteristics
        •  Skill Variety
          • No sourceJob Variety
          • No sourceComplex or High Level Skills Required
          • No sourceVariety of Tasks Required
        •  Task Significance
          • No sourceSignificance or Importance of Job
          • No sourceJob Quality Affects Lots of People
          • No sourceJob Itself Is Very Significant
        •  Task Identity
          • No sourceJob Involves Whole Piece of Work
          • No sourceCan Do Entire Piece of Work
          • No sourceCan Finish What You Start
        •  Autonomy
          • No sourceAutonomy and Freedom in Job
          • No sourceChance for Initiative and Judgment
          • No sourceOpportunity for Independence and Freedom
        •  Feedback
          • No sourceExtent of Feedback From Doing Job Itself
          • No sourceDoing Job Provides Chances for Feedback
          • No sourceAfter Finishing Job, Know Own Performance
      •  Job Stability and Rotation
        • No sourceNumber of Supervisors in Past Year
        • No sourceNumber of Work Teams in Past Year
        • No sourceNumber of Work Group Reorganizations in Past Year
        • No sourceNumber of Times Nature of Job Changed
        • No sourceJob Rotation Practices
    •  Human Resources Systems and Practices
      •  Recruitment and Selection
        •  Recruitment Operations
          • No sourceSources of People for Current Job
        •  Selection Assessment Methods Used
          • No sourceAssessment Methods Used to Select for Job
      •  Training and Development
        •  Training Methods
          • No sourceTraining Methods Used in Company
        •  Training Topics and Content
          • No sourceAreas of Recent Formal Training
        •  Extent and Support of Training Activities
          • No sourceRecent Technical Skill Training
      •  Reward System
        •  Basis of Compensation
          • No sourceCompensation Package Components
        •  Benefits
          • No sourceBenefit Components
  •  Social Processes
    •  Goals
      •  Individual Goal Characteristics
        • No sourceAchieve Most Important Individual Goal
        • No sourceHow Many Quantitative Individual Goals
      •  Goal Feedback
        • No sourceHow Many Specific Individual Goals
        • No sourceWhen Get Information on Individual Goals
        • No sourceInformal, Job-Relevant Feedback
        • No sourceMeet One-on-One With Supervisor on Goals, Training, and Development
    •  Roles
      •  Role Conflict
        • No sourceOften Receive Conflicting Requests
        • No sourceWork With Groups With Different Focuses
        • No sourceYou and Your Supervisor Agree About Job
        • No sourceSupervisor Makes Conflicting Requests
      •  Role Negotiability
        • No sourceNegotiate Changes in Role with Supervisor
        • No sourceSignificant Input Into Way You Do Job
      •  Role Overload
        • No sourceGet Assignments without Adequate Resources
        • No sourceGiven Enough Time to Do Work
        • No sourceToo Much for One Person to Do
    •  Culture
      •  Organizational Values
        •  Guiding Principles of Organization
          • No sourceTaking Chances; Going Out on a Limb
          • No sourceFairness; Justice
          • No sourcePrecision
          • No sourceStability
          • No sourceGetting Things Done
          • No sourceCaring About Employees
          • No sourceInnovation
          • No sourceAggressiveness
          • No sourceValuing Customers
          • No sourceProviding High Quality Products
          • No sourceOpenness and Honesty
          • No sourceFlexibility, Adapting to Change
    •  Supervisor Role
      • No sourceSupervisor Friendly and Supportive
      • No sourceSupervisor Takes Active Role
      • No sourceSupervisor Provides Clear Vision
      • No sourceSupervisor Solves Problems
Expand Work Context — Physical and social factors that influence the nature of work

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