Skip navigation

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 — A functional subsystem of organization structure subsuming constructs of (a) organizational structure, and (b) human resources systems and practices
    •  Organizational Structure — The architecture or anatomy of an organization, affecting the behavior of organizational members as well as the ability of organizations to adapt effectively to their environments. Elements of organizational structure include the hierarchy of the organization, the degree of centralization, and the nature of work groups used to accomplish organizational objectives
      •  Decision Making System — The amount of autonomy and involvement in decision making that employees have
        •  Decentralization and Employee Empowerment — Indicates the degree to which employees are provided with different types of information and participate in decision-making
          • No sourceHave Control Over Unit or Department — You have a great deal of control over what happens in your unit or department
          • No sourceHave Influence Over Decisions — You have a great deal of influence over decisions that are made in your unit or department.
          • No sourceMonitor Data on Quality/Costs/Waste/etc. — You monitor data on quality, costs, waste, and productivity
          • No sourceDetermine Work Flow or Order of Tasks — You determine work flow or the order in which tasks are performed
          • No sourceInvest in New Equipment and Technology — You invest in new equipment and technology
          • No sourceDevelop New Products, Services, and Procedures — You develop new products, services, and procedures
        •  Individual versus Team Structure — Identifies the extent to which employees work in intact teams
          • No sourcePercent of Time in Intact Team — Approximately what percentage of your time do you spend working in an intact team? By intact team we mean a group of 3 or more employees who are jointly responsible for whole work processes and work toward shared goals (e.g., production team; development team; project team).
      •  Job Characteristics — Indicates the level of skill variety, task significance, task identity, autonomy, and feedback in this job
        •  Skill Variety — The variety of skills required of people in this job
          • No sourceJob Variety — How much variety is there in your job? That is, to what extent does the job require you to do many different things at work, using a variety of your skills and talents?
          • No sourceComplex or High Level Skills Required — Your job requires you to use a number of complex or high-level skills.
          • No sourceVariety of Tasks Required — Your job requires you to perform a variety of tasks.
        •  Task Significance — The importance or significance of the tasks performed on this job, as reflected by its effect on the lives or well-being of others
          • No sourceSignificance or Importance of Job — In general, how significant or important is your job? That is, are the results of your work likely to significantly affect the lives or well-being of other people?
          • No sourceJob Quality Affects Lots of People — Your job is one where a lot of people can be affected by how well the work gets done.
          • No sourceJob Itself Is Very Significant — Your job itself is very significant and important in the broader scheme of things.
        •  Task Identity — The extent to which tasks performed on this job can be perceived as contributing to the final product
          • No sourceJob Involves Whole Piece of Work — To what extent does your job involve doing a 'whole' and identifiable piece of work? That is, is the job a complete piece of work that has an obvious beginning and end? Or is it only a small part of the overall piece of work, which is finished by other people or automatic machines? (If your job involves many different tasks or pieces of work, try to think about your typical tasks or the tasks you spend the most time on.)
          • No sourceCan Do Entire Piece of Work — Your job is arranged so that you can do an entire piece of work from beginning to end.
          • No sourceCan Finish What You Start — Your job provides you a chance to completely finish the piece of work you began.
        •  Autonomy — The amount of freedom in the job, as reflected in a person being able to exercise personal initiative and judgment in task performance
          • No sourceAutonomy and Freedom in Job — How much autonomy and freedom are there in your job? That is, to what extent does your job permit you to decide on your own how to go about doing your job?
          • No sourceChance for Initiative and Judgment — Your job gives you a chance to use your personal initiative and judgment in carrying out the work.
          • No sourceOpportunity for Independence and Freedom — Your job gives you considerable opportunity for independence and freedom in how you do your job.
        •  Feedback — The extent to which this job provides information about how well one is performing
          • No sourceExtent of Feedback From Doing Job Itself — To what extent does doing the job itself provide you with information about your work performance? That is, does the actual work itself provide clues about how well you are doing--aside from any 'feedback' co-workers or supervisors may provide?
          • No sourceDoing Job Provides Chances for Feedback — Just doing the job provides many chances for you to figure out how well you are doing.
          • No sourceAfter Finishing Job, Know Own Performance — After you finish a job, you know whether you performed well.
      •  Job Stability and Rotation — The amount of stability in the job and the extent of job rotation
        • No sourceNumber of Supervisors in Past Year — How many different supervisors have you had in the past year?
        • No sourceNumber of Work Teams in Past Year — Approximately how many different work teams have you belonged to during the past year?
        • No sourceNumber of Work Group Reorganizations in Past Year — In the past year, how many times has your primary work group gone through some kind of reorganization?
        • No sourceNumber of Times Nature of Job Changed — In the past year, how many times has the nature of your job duties changed dramatically?
        • No sourceJob Rotation Practices — Which statement best describes the job rotation practices in your job and your work group?
    •  Human Resources Systems and Practices — Organizational practices and policies designed to ensure that an organization has employees who are capable of meeting its goals
      •  Recruitment and Selection — Organizational practices, decisions, and processes that affect (a) the capability of an organization to make hiring, promotion, and other personnel decisions, and (b) the number or types of individuals who are willing to apply for or accept a given vacancy
        •  Recruitment Operations — Activities involved in implementing recruitment plans (e.g., selecting sources, realistic job preview)
          • No sourceSources of People for Current Job — Which of the sources listed below are used to recruit people for your current job?
        •  Selection Assessment Methods Used — The methods used for selection or promotion of employees
          • No sourceAssessment Methods Used to Select for Job — Which of the following assessment methods are used to select people for your current job?
      •  Training and Development — The systematic acquisition of attitudes, concepts, knowledge, roles, or skills that result in improved performance at work
        •  Training Methods — The methods used in training programs
          • No sourceTraining Methods Used in Company — Which of the following training methods have been used in company training courses you have attended in the last two years?
        •  Training Topics and Content — What trainers intend to teach trainees through training programs
          • No sourceAreas of Recent Formal Training — In which of the following content areas have you received formal training in the last two years?
        •  Extent and Support of Training Activities — The extent to which an organization makes training available to its employees and provides financial support for training activities
          • No sourceRecent Technical Skill Training — In the last two years, how often have you attended company sponsored job-related technical training (i.e., technical skill training)?
      •  Reward System — Monetary compensation and monetary and non-monetary benefits organizations provide to their employees
        •  Basis of Compensation — The extent to which organizations reward individuals based on: (a) their knowledge, skills, and performance, (b) seniority, (c) team performance, (d) organizational performance, and (e) job attributes
          • No sourceCompensation Package Components — Which of the following is part of your compensation package (i.e., pay)?
        •  Benefits — The extent to which employees' compensation includes benefits such as pensions, insurance, paid leave, awards and bonuses, pay for time not worked, etc.
          • No sourceBenefit Components — Which of the following is part of your benefits?
  •  Social Processes — A functional subsystem of organization structure subsuming processes linking people (employees) to their work and to each other and includes elements such as values, goals, leadership, and roles
    •  Goals — Individual goal setting.
      •  Individual Goal Characteristics — The extent to which an individual's goal is made explicit, and the probability that an individual can attain the goal
        • No sourceAchieve Most Important Individual Goal — Realistically, the probability that you will achieve your most important individual work goal this year is:
        • No sourceHow Many Quantitative Individual Goals — How many of your individual work goals are quantitative (e.g., selling $100,000 worth of merchandise as opposed to selling as much merchandise as possible).
      •  Goal Feedback — The extent to which an individual is given periodic feedback regarding his or her progress against a goal
        • No sourceHow Many Specific Individual Goals — How many of your individual work goals are specific -- that is, you will know exactly when you have achieved them?
        • No sourceWhen Get Information on Individual Goals — How often do you get information regarding how close you are to achieving your most important individual work goal (for example, an interim financial report or data on number of units sold)?
        • No sourceInformal, Job-Relevant Feedback — To what extent do you receive informal, job-relevant feedback from your supervisor?
        • No sourceMeet One-on-One With Supervisor on Goals, Training, and Development — During the past year, how often have you met one-on-one with your immediate supervisor to discuss issues such as your performance, goals, training and development?
    •  Roles — Characteristics of job incumbents' roles, such as the extent to which they involve conflict and overload
      •  Role Conflict — The extent to which an individual has to deal with conflicting demands
        • No sourceOften Receive Conflicting Requests — You often receive conflicting requests from two or more people at work.
        • No sourceWork With Groups With Different Focuses — You work with two or more groups who want you to focus on different things.
        • No sourceYou and Your Supervisor Agree About Job — You and your supervisor agree about what your job should be.
        • No sourceSupervisor Makes Conflicting Requests — Your supervisor often asks you to do two or more things that conflict (for example, save a large amount of money while at the same time dramatically increasing quality).
      •  Role Negotiability — The extent to which an individual can negotiate his/her role in an organization
        • No sourceNegotiate Changes in Role with Supervisor — You have negotiated changes in the nature of your role at work with your supervisor.
        • No sourceSignificant Input Into Way You Do Job — You have significant input into the way you do your job.
      •  Role Overload — A discrepancy between the job's demands and one's ability to meet those demands
        • No sourceGet Assignments without Adequate Resources — You receive assignments at work without adequate resources and materials to complete them properly.
        • No sourceGiven Enough Time to Do Work — You are given enough time to do what is expected of you at work.
        • No sourceToo Much for One Person to Do — It often seems like you have too much work for one person to do.
    •  Culture — Patterns of behaviors and social relationships reflecting the assumptions, values, norms, and artifacts shared by members of the organization
      •  Organizational Values — Indicates the importance of different organizational values such as tradition, stability, innovation, and collaboration
        •  Guiding Principles of Organization — How important are each of the following concepts, or values, as a guiding principle for your organization as a whole.
          • No sourceTaking Chances; Going Out on a Limb — Taking chances; going out on a limb
          • No sourceFairness; Justice — Fairness; justice
          • No sourcePrecision — Precision; paying attention to even the smallest details
          • No sourceStability — Stability; keeping things on an even keel
          • No sourceGetting Things Done — Getting things done; taking decisive or quick action
          • No sourceCaring About Employees — Caring about employees; showing concern for their well-being
          • No sourceInnovation — Innovation; finding new and better ways of doing things; openness to new ideas
          • No sourceAggressiveness — Aggressiveness; forcefully going after what you want
          • No sourceValuing Customers — Valuing customers; emphasizing customer service
          • No sourceProviding High Quality Products — Providing high quality products or services; meeting high standards of excellence
          • No sourceOpenness and Honesty — Openness; honesty; keeping employees well informed
          • No sourceFlexibility, Adapting to Change — Flexibility, adapting to change
    •  Supervisor Role — The nature of supervisory leadership
      • No sourceSupervisor Friendly and Supportive — To what extent does your supervisor act in a friendly and supportive manner? For example, does he/she show concern for members of your work group and respect for your ideas?
      • No sourceSupervisor Takes Active Role — To what extent does your supervisor take an active role in directing your work group's activities by setting goals, planning and scheduling work, assigning tasks, and making sure that each person knows what he/she should be doing?
      • No sourceSupervisor Provides Clear Vision — To what extent does your supervisor provide members of your work group with a clear vision of where the group is going and keep everyone fully committed to the work at hand?
      • No sourceSupervisor Solves Problems — To what extent does your supervisor quickly and effectively solve problems, even difficult problems, that come up in your work group?
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