Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

O*NET has more than 275 standardized descriptors of skills, knowledges, tasks, occupation requirements, and worker abilities, interests and values to assist you in building accurate job descriptions. Companies can use the O*NET Questionnaires to apply O*NET descriptors to their own particular situation. O*NET information and tools can help identify important elements of a job for developing or choosing training materials. You can use O*NET information to identify skill requirements to align job needs with more qualified applicants. Further, O*NET information and tools can help define success factors for promotion and advancement. To learn more, see the O*NET Toolkit for Business.

O*NET OnLine contains crosswalks between the O*NET-SOC and the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP), Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), Military Occupational Classification (MOC), Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), and Standard Occupational Classification (SOC). Visit Crosswalk Files to download available crosswalks.

The Occupational Information Network does not provide information about immigration or visa services. You may find the information you need at: external site.

One way to find out about new releases is to make periodic visits to the What's New section of this website. By visiting the O*NET Updates section of this website, interested parties can also subscribe to a mailing list and receive an email notice when a new O*NET product or an update to the O*NET Database is available.

If use includes developing other products, software, or system applications using the O*NET Database, users are subject to terms and conditions described in the O*NET Database License.

If use includes developing other products based on the O*NET Career Exploration Tools, the individual or organization developing such products is subject to the terms and conditions described in the Career Exploration Tools License.

The DOT was replaced by the O*NET Database, which is accessible through O*NET OnLine. The latest edition of the DOT was published in 1991. Copies of the 1991 DOT are out of print, but an electronic version is available from the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Administrative Law Judges external site website.

Database Questions

In order to keep the O*NET Database updated, the National Center for O*NET Development has an ongoing data collection program aimed at identifying and maintaining current information on the characteristics of workers and occupations. The information that populates the O*NET Database is collected from three primary sources: job incumbents, occupational experts, and occupational analysts. See O*NET Data Collection for an overview of the project, or visit the Data Collection Program external site website. For details on updated data and occupations, see Occupation Update Summary and Occupations Populated with Updated Data.

A primary difference is the flexibility of the O*NET Database and the depth of information it contains. The DOT contains occupation-specific information for 12,000 occupations. The 900+ occupations in the O*NET Database are related to a common framework that describes job requirements and worker attributes, as well as the content and context of work, using over 275 descriptors. This common framework provides a basis for cross-occupational comparisons versus the static nature of the DOT. While the DOT has its own coding system, the O*NET Database is in compliance with the current federal mandate to follow the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC). The O*NET Database is the result of efforts by the U.S. Department of Labor to provide the nation with a new system of occupational information which is relevant to the ever-changing world of work.

The O*NET Database is in compliance with the mandate that all federal agencies collecting occupational information use the Standard Occupational Classification System external site (SOC). The O*NET Database uses the basic 6-digit numerical coding structure of the SOC as its framework, adding a 2-digit extension (sequentially numbered beginning with ".01") to differentiate unique O*NET occupations within the SOC system. To learn more, see O*NET-SOC Taxonomy.

The O*NET Database of occupational information is continually being updated and is available as a download from our O*NET Database page. The database is available in several formats, including text, Excel, and SQL. These files can be converted by developers and skilled database users to any database format. Information from the O*NET Database is also available as a web service at O*NET Web Services.

The "Analyst Database" (O*NET 4.0 Database) represents the final version of an "analyst ratings only" O*NET Database. The ratings for each of the 900+ O*NET-SOC occupations in the 4.0 database were developed by occupational analysts and every occupation contains ratings for the same range of descriptors. The ongoing O*NET data collection program is gradually replacing these original analyst ratings with ratings derived primarily from job incumbents, as well as ratings from an updated analyst procedure. Major updates are scheduled to occur annually (see Data Publication Schedule). The new data represents improved quality and currency, and also includes additional variables.

The O*NET Database is updated quarterly. See Occupation Update Summary for an overview and for information on the next scheduled release. For an overview of past O*NET Database updates, see O*NET Database Update Summary (PDF) linked from the Database Releases Archive.

One way to find out about new releases is to make periodic visits to the What's New section of this website. Interested parties can also subscribe to our mailing list O*NET Updates to receive an email notice when a new O*NET product or an update to the O*NET Database is available.

Yes, a Spanish-language version of the O*NET database has been developed. For more information on available translated information and O*NET Questionnaires, see Spanish Language Resources.

Each version of the O*NET Database is accompanied by a Data Dictionary, which provides a key to the files and data elements in the database. It serves as documentation for systems analysts and developers who plan to use the database as a basis for developing other products, software, or system applications. See All Files or Individual Files for links to the Data Dictionary of interest.

The best descriptions can be found on the Standard Occupational Classification System external site website. The SOC User's Guide external site or the SOC Manual external site, which can be ordered, may be particularly helpful in understanding the classification system.

SVP (Specific Vocational Preparation) is the amount of time required by a typical worker to learn the techniques, acquire the information, and develop the abilities needed for average performance in a specific work situation. Job Zones were developed to transition from SVP, as shown in the DOT, to measures of experience, education, and job training included in the O*NET database. For a description of O*NET Job Zones, go to the Job Zones section of OnLine Help. For a more detailed explanation of how Job Zones relate to SVP, please refer to Stratifying Occupational Units by Specific Vocational Preparation.

The level, importance and frequency scales each have a different range of possible scores. Ratings on Level were collected on a 0-7 scale, ratings on Importance were collected on a 1-5 scale, and ratings on Frequency were collected on a 1-4 scale. To make reports generated by O*NET OnLine more intuitively understandable to users, descriptor average ratings were standardized to a scale ranging from 0 to 100. The equation for conversion of original ratings to standardized scores is:

S = ( (O - L) / (H - L) ) * 100

where S is the standardized score, O is the original rating score on one of the three scales, L is the lowest possible score on the rating scale used, and H is the highest possible score on the rating scale used. For example, an original Importance rating score of 3 is converted to a standardized score of 50 (50 = [ [3 - 1] / [5 - 1] ] * 100). For another example, an original Level rating score of 5 is converted to a standardized score of 71 (71 = [ [5 - 0] / [7 - 0] ] * 100).

OnLine Questions

O*NET OnLine has the following functions and features:

  • Interactive web access to all the occupational information in the O*NET Database
  • Web-based means new data, features, and functionality can be added without the user buying or downloading updates
  • Printable reports for the occupation of interest
  • Skills Search feature allows users to search for occupations that utilize selected skills
  • Crosswalks from O*NET-SOC to other classification systems
  • Accommodation features and information to assist in counseling people with disabilities in using O*NET OnLine
  • Enhanced search capabilities and features based largely on suggestions from O*NET OnLine users
  • Context-sensitive OnLine Help provides ready descriptions and explanations of site content and function

Students can benefit from the wealth of easily accessible career information in O*NET OnLine. They can explore characteristics of workers and of the work in the 900+ occupations in the O*NET Database. Links are provided to labor market and wage information. The O*NET Career Exploration Tools are also useful components of a career planning program, giving students insight into their own occupational interests, values, and abilities. These tools provide users with scores that link to occupations they may explore further in O*NET OnLine. Other career information delivery systems that use O*NET data or products are identified with the "O*NET in it" logo.

Through O*NET OnLine, counselors have easy access to in-depth information on the 900+ occupations found within the U.S. economy. The O*NET Database provides information such as skills, abilities, interests, and work values, as well as links to labor market and wage information. O*NET Online includes a variety of search tools that provide clients with a choice of windows through which to identify occupations they might want to further explore, including: Career Clusters, Job Zones, STEM occupations, Job Families, and Tools and Technology. The Skills Search feature of O*NET OnLine generates a list of occupations that require a range of skills similar to their own. Crosswalks included within O*NET Online allow a counselor to help clients make transitions from other systems, such as the military or apprenticeship programs. The O*NET Career Exploration Tools can also provide direction for clients making a transition or exploring new career options. These tools help clients assess their occupational interests, values, and abilities and link the client to occupations that relate to their personal profile.

Each occupational report within O*NET OnLine includes national wage and employment projection information: wage, employment, projected growth, and projected need. In addition, state specific information is available via a direct link to CareerOneStop external site.

The information in the O*NET Database does not include the "sedentary", "light", "medium", "heavy", and "very heavy" strength ratings used in the DOT. However, there are numerous variables relating to physical requirements, including Gross Body Coordination, Dynamic Strength, and Static Strength. Much of this information is provided in the "Abilities" section of the O*NET OnLine occupational reports, with the most detailed information available by choosing the "Details" or "Custom" report option. O*NET information is intended for use in career exploration, and should not be interpreted as requirements for any specific employer-employee situation.

Permission is not required for your link to either the O*NET Resource Center or the O*NET OnLine websites. For available linking options, see Link to Us. To include content from these websites in your own material, see the O*NET Resource Center Content License and O*NET OnLine Content License.

Ability Profiler Questions

The O*NET Ability Profiler measures 9 basic abilities related to the world of work. They include Verbal Ability, Arithmetic Reasoning, Computation, Spatial Ability, Form Perception, Clerical Perception, Motor Coordination, Manual Dexterity, and Finger Dexterity. The O*NET Ability Profiler was developed and organized so users can identify occupations that fit their abilities.

No. The O*NET Ability Profiler was designed and validated solely for use in career exploration, career counseling, and career planning. Thus, it does not apply to all of the purposes for which the GATB was used.

Original research to develop the GATB was conducted in the 1940's and the most recent updates were completed in the 1980's. In view of the dated nature of this assessment, it is preferable to select and use a more recently developed ability assessment instrument based on a determination of the suitability of a particular test for the intended use.

No, the O*NET Ability Profiler was designed specifically for career exploration, career counseling, and career planning purposes. Validity studies have not been conducted for using the O*NET Ability Profiler for selection purposes. The O*NET Ability Profiler must not be used for personnel selection.

A number of sources are available to help organizations locate suitable assessments and explore the reliability and validity of various assessments for specific uses. Some of the available sources include:

  • Buros Institute of Mental Measurements Test Reviews Online external site
  • Mental Measurements Yearbook (published by Buros Institute of Mental Measurements)
  • Tests in Print (published by Buros Institute)
  • Test Critiques (by Daniel J. Keyser and Richard C. Sweetland)

Certification is not required. However, a trained administrator is very important to successful administration of the O*NET Ability Profiler. The O*NET Ability Profiler Administrator Training Manual is available for order from the U.S. Government Printing Office (866-512-1800) or by download from this website. All administrators should read and study the O*NET Ability Profiler Administrator Training Manual as well as the O*NET Ability Profiler Administration Manual.

An examinee must be at least 16 years old and must be proficient in reading English (equivalent to grade six or higher).

For efficiency, it is recommended that the O*NET Ability Profiler be administered to groups of two or more examinees. However, it is acceptable to administer the assessment to a single examinee.

Percentiles are a good way for an examinee to determine how their abilities compare to other people. Each percentile on the score report shows how strong that ability is for the user compared to a nationwide sample. The percentile score indicates the percentage of the norming group (a large sample exhibiting the characteristics of the general population) that scored at or below the level of the examinee. For example, a percentile score of 70 indicates that 70 percent of the norming group received a score that was less than or equal to the user's score. The average percentile score is 50, meaning that the average examinee would score at the 50th percentile for each ability.

The score reports for the three O*NET Career Exploration Tools were designed to be compatible between instruments. Occupations for all three instruments are arranged by variable and job zone. The O*NET Project has not developed and does not plan to develop a tool that automatically will link all three assessments. However, if users put the score reports together, they can get a better idea of the kinds of careers they might find satisfying and rewarding. The Linking Client Assessment Profiles to O*NET Occupational Profiles report describes the procedures used to compare and match a client's assessment profiles obtained from one or more of the three tools to O*NET-SOC occupation profiles. This report describes the recommended algorithms developed for clients using a single tool and for clients using multiple tools. Organizations can develop data entry programs using these algorithms. These programs could be used to link client scores from multiple O*NET Career Exploration Tools to O*NET occupations.

Some alterations, adjustments, or changes in the administration procedures can be made. However, the accommodation must not affect the measurement of the abilities the instrument was designed to measure. Time limits can be increased for the power tests (Parts 1 - Arithmetic Reasoning, 2 - Vocabulary, and 3 - Three-Dimensional Space), but not for the speeded tests. Print sizes for questions in Parts 1, 2, 3, and 5 (power tests and Name Comparison) may be increased. Examinees having difficulty understanding directions could be encouraged to ask questions related to the directions. Reasonable accommodations can appear in many different forms. Accommodations can be made so that the assessment is measuring the job-related abilities, not the disability, such as providing assistance with the answer sheet or steadying/locking down a wheelchair. A good reference resource, Pre-Employment Testing and the ADA, is available from the website of the Association for Assessment in Counseling external site.

Currently, no plans exist to develop a Spanish version of the O*NET Ability Profiler by the National Center for O*NET Development. The technical research documents for the O*NET Ability Profiler are available to public and private developers. By making this information available, developers may modify and/or develop their own variants of the tool. See the Career Exploration Tools License.

Because of technical improvements in the scoring procedures incorporated in the O*NET Ability Profiler, the O*NET Ability Profiler Scoring Program (APSP) is designed to be used with an optical scanner. However, if an optical mark reader scanner is not available to scan the answer sheets, an examinee information file can be created by hand entering data from the examinee answer sheets. The Ability Profiler Data Entry Program was developed to provide users this option.

Currently, we are aware of the following vendor that is available to provide scoring for a fee. For additional details contact:

Pearson Assessments
Client Relations
Telephone: 1-800-627-7271, ext. 3232
Please use Item #52103 when ordering scoring services.

(Note: To add to the list of vendors available to score the O*NET Ability Profiler for a fee, please contact O*NET Customer Service (

This information is provided for your convenience. Its inclusion on this website does not constitute an endorsement.

There are many configurations of hardware and software on the market that can be used to scan/read the examinee response sheets and place the information in a computer file in the layout and format expected by the O*NET Ability Profiler Scoring Program. Currently, we are aware of the following companies that sell optical mark reader scanners: Pearson Assessments, Scantron, and Bell and Howell. (Note: To add compatible optical mark reader scanners that meet the configurations outlined in the APSP User's Guide, please contact O*NET Customer Service (

This information is provided for your convenience. Its inclusion on this website does not constitute an endorsement.

The cost of an optical mark reader scanner varies with the model and manufacturer. Costs for new optical mark reader scanners and necessary equipment generally range from $3,000 to $10,000. You may also be able to purchase used equipment for a lower cost.

Yes, an organization can purchase one optical mark reader scanner and set up a central-site scoring center. The central-site would score the O*NET Ability Profiler examinee response sheets sent in by remote sites. The central-site would provide score reports to the remote sites electronically or by mail. Incorporate safeguards into your procedures in order to keep individuals' assessment scores confidential.