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Frequently Asked Questions

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Question
When and how was the information in the O*NET Database collected?

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 a listing of occupations with updated data along with the date they were last updated, see Occupations Populated with Updated Data.

How does the O*NET Database differ from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles?

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.

What classification system is used in the O*NET Database?

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.

Can I order a CD or hard copy of the O*NET Database?

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.

What is the difference between the "Analyst Database" and the current O*NET Database?

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.

When will the next update to the database occur?

Major updates are scheduled to occur annually. The target dates and approximate numbers of occupations to be updated are provided in our Data Collection section. For further information on O*NET plans, please refer to the O*NET Database page in the Developer's Corner.

Is there a Spanish-language version of the O*NET Database?

Yes, a Spanish-language version of the O*NET database has been developed. For more information about or to download this database, visit the Developer's Corner. In addition, a Spanish-language version of the data collection surveys is also available; see O*NET Questionnaires.

I have downloaded the O*NET Database. Where can I find detailed information on the fields?

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 the Developer's Corner for links to the Data Dictionary of interest.

Where can I find descriptions of the 2-digit prefixes of the SOC codes?

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.

What is SVP and how does it relate to O*NET Job Zones?

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.

How do you calculate standard scores for the database variables?

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).