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O*NET® Products at Work

The U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration introduced the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) to the public in 1998. Since that time, its impact on workforce development, career counseling, educational programming and human resource activities has quickly expanded, both in the U.S. and around the world. O*NET Products at Work provides examples of the widespread use of O*NET OnLine, the O*NET database, the Toolkit for Business, and the O*NET Career Exploration Tools.

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Building Competencies for Careers external site from Center on Education Policy external site

To identify O*NET KSAs and work values that relate to deeper learning competencies across a variety of jobs and to determine whether or not occupations' Job Zones and Bright Outlook status relate to the six most prominent learning competencies.

Using the Department of Labor's My Next Move to Improve Career Preparedness external site from Journal of Management Education, Vol. 41 external site

This research uses a pretest/post test design with a treatment group and a control group to determine if an exercise based on My Next Move improves career preparedness. Results show that the exercise produces significant increases in career awareness and in perceived career preparedness skills. The positive results indicate that this tool can help students be more knowledgeable about their career options after graduation. This paper can help instructors use the My Next Move exercise to help students in their job search process.

Computerization and the Future of Jobs in Norway from The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy external site

O*NET task statements provided the foundation for a study on the effect of computerization on the future of jobs in Norway. Researchers evaluated tasks from 903 O*NET occupations to determine the susceptibility of jobs to technological innovation: whether or not computers could perform tasks more inexpensively and with comparable quality to human performance.

The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market from National Bureau of Economic Research external site

David Deming, associate professor of education and economics at Harvard University conducted a study of social skills in the workplace. He demonstrates that high-paying, difficult-to-automate jobs increasingly require social skills. Nearly all job growth since 1980 has been in occupations that are relatively social-skill intensive, while jobs that require high levels of analytical and mathematical reasoning, but low levels of social interaction, jobs that are comparatively easy to automate, have fared comparatively poorly. Using O*NET data about the tasks and abilities that occupations require, he measured the economic return of social skills, after controlling for factors like cognitive skill, years of education and occupation.

Center for Employability Outcomes external site from Texas State Technical College external site

Texas State Technical College launched the Center for Employability Outcomes. The center is largely built around the Common Skills Language Project, that originated at the Texas Workforce Commission using O*NET data. In an effort to get employers, educators and policymakers on the same page for the purposes of economic development planning, the commission began amassing simple, industry-vetted descriptions of skills sought by employers in Texas.

SkillsEngine external site from Texas State Technical College external site

The SkillsEngine based on the O*NET Content Model, was developed by the Center for Employability Outcomes at Texas State Technical College. The beta version quickly translates text into high quality skills data for any application using the new Competency API.

HumRRO external site

The O*NET occupational taxonomy is used as a framework for identifying predictors of performance in the United States Air Force roles of remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA) pilot and sensor operator (SO).

ACT external site

ACT, formerly the American College Testing Program, conducted a study (ACT, 2006) showing that high school students who plan to enter workforce training programs after they graduate need math and reading skills similar to those of college-bound students. For the study, ACT looked at O*NET job zone 3 occupations that:

  • do not require a four-year college degree,
  • offer the potential for career advancement,
  • are projected to increase in the future, and
  • are likely to offer a wage sufficient for a family of four.

These occupations generally require some combination of vocational training and on-the- job experience or an associate's degree. They include electricians, construction workers, upholsterers, and plumbers. ACT then compared academic skill levels of profiled job zone 3 occupations with the College Readiness Benchmarks established for the ACT test. The results show that the levels of math and reading skills needed for success in the first year of college are comparable to those needed by high school graduates to enter 90 percent of the profiled occupations. Based on this study, ACT urges high school educators to offer students a common academic program that prepares them for both post-secondary education and workforce training programs.

Rotman Research Institute external site

Rotman Research Institute used O*NET data for a National Institutes of Health study on occupation attributes and dementia. The O*NET database proved to be an invaluable resource, providing comparable variables across a wide range of occupations. The database provided a basis for the assessment of the characteristics of patients' occupations and for the subsequent task of relating these characteristics to cognitive style and brain degeneration in various forms of dementia.

Health and Human Services Pathway program from Seattle Washington Public Schools external site

Seattle Washington Public Schools used O*NET data in its Health and Human Services Pathway program. Career educators used O*NET occupational information to structure their work in reorganizing courses of study. For the occupations in their curriculum, they used the common language of O*NET data to support the content a course should include. Educators also considered crediting courses across Pathways. For example, they might have identified a Career and Technical Education course that also fulfilled a requirement in art, social studies, or English by looking for O*NET abilities, skills, and work contexts that are common across multiple Pathways.

The Association of College and Research Libraries external site

The Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association, provided the following information on the O*NET Web sites in their C&RL News. Job seekers, students, workers, employment professionals, counselors, and others interested in exploring occupations and careers will find this site a great place to start.

  • O*NET Online is a well-designed search engine for exploring the database.
  • Beyond O*NET Online, this site is chock-full of information on the Consortium, other easily accessible O*NET products, career assessment guides and tools,research and technical reports, data collection methods, planned products and ways to contribute to the process.
  • O*NET Online alone, however, is worth the stop for students searching for relevant careers at any point in their academic journey. Through it they can explore occupations, match skills, find out about salary and trends, or just see what is out there. Researchers, employment specialists, and others can dig deeper and discover a wealth of information about the world of work likely available nowhere else. (Valentine, 2004, February)

Central Michigan University external site

Central Michigan University (2004) has used O*NET Content Model domains to identify the competencies for a leadership competency model for students. The model consists of five dimensions, each with multiple competencies drawn from the O*NET Content Model and an existing management taxonomy of work activities. Work requirements and worker characteristics were reviewed to identify skills, knowledge, abilities, work styles, generalized work activities, work context, and organizational context relevant for each dimension. Although the resulting model was intended for students and was distributed to members of the campus community, it was also distributed to interested employers because of likely relevance to a variety of organizations.

The John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development external site

The John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development is located at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. The center teaches the use of O*NET information in its Working Ahead: The National Workforce and Career Development Curriculum. This credentialed 120-hour curriculum teaches career counseling and guidance to front-line staff in workforce development, community organizations, and community colleges. Working with a network of state departments of education and state career resource networks, the Heldrich Center is developing a training guide and student manual so that counselors and education staff can learn to use the O*NET database as a career exploration tool for middle school, high school, and college-level students.

The Mid-Valley Special Education Cooperative external site

The Mid-Valley Special Education Cooperative in St. Charles, IL, employs O*NET information throughout its training programs. The school uses O*NET data to match the skills learned by the students with community-based work training opportunities. O*NET work context elements are used to help assess what accommodations may be required in the work environment. The cooperative also focuses on O*NET work styles, developing these soft skills within their training programs. When students are ready to find employment, standard O*NET language is used to develop resumes, including knowledges, skills, abilities, and work styles.

The National Academies of Sciences external site

The National Academies of Sciences is evaluating O*NET information as a tool for making important human-capital decisions. As part of its research on changing worker requirements, the National Academies of Sciences commissioned a paper by the Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO) to investigate the feasibility of O*NET information to assess changing worker skill requirements. The paper describes the key elements of the O*NET system, and provides examples of the many ways O*NET has been used by the education, public, and business communities to improve workforce decisions. The paper concludes that O*NET is a rich and important data source that can be used in many different ways to assess changing skills necessary for workers to be successful in today's workplace.

Human Capital and Economic Activity in Urban America external site from Federal Reserve Bank of New York external site

A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York titled Human Capital and Economic Activity in Urban America (Abel & Gabe, 2008) examined the relationship between human capital (educational attainment and other knowledge measures) and economic activity in U.S. metropolitan areas. The following is from their study. To arrive at the knowledge variables used in our analysis, we matched occupational categories between the O*NET system and 2000 U.S. Census. In many cases, we combined multiple O*NET occupations into a single Census category. Following the general approach used by Ingram and Neumann (2006) and Lakdawalla and Philipson (2007), we utilized the average value of the knowledge importance or level across multiple occupations in the O*NET data. With this information then available for 470 Census occupations, we calculated a knowledge index that is the product of the knowledge importance and the knowledge level. Feser (2003) used the same approach, noting that it places a greater emphasis on high knowledge that is relevant to a given occupation.

Harvard Business School external site

Harvard Business School students conducted a study (Hanna, 2008), to assess the potential for the offshoring of more than 800 occupations in the U.S. economy. The O*NET database served as the source of occupational information for the study on descriptors such as tasks, knowledges, and skills. The student researchers considered the information in the O*NET database and then rated occupations on a scale of 1 to 100 depending on whether the occupations’ tasks could easily be performed offshore. The students estimated that between 21 and 42 percent of all U.S. jobs are potentially offshorable.

Martin Prosperity Institute external site

Martin Prosperity Institute conducted research to examine the relationship between wages and the skills required in the workforce within a regional area. Using the O*NET database, they performed a cluster analysis to identify three broad skill types - analytical, social intelligence, and physical skills. They also conducted a regression analysis using O*NET data to quantify how each skill contributes to regional prosperity. The institute found that analytical and social intelligence skills have a significant positive relationship with regional wages, while physical skills have a negative relationship. In addition, their research found that analytical skills are more closely related to regional wages than are social intelligence skills. They also determined that analytical and social intelligence skills increasingly result in positive impacts on wages over time and that the positive impact of physical skills on wages has decreased over time.

Learning and Earning external site from The Editorial Projects in Educational Research Center external site

The Editorial Projects in Educational Research Center, a non-profit tax-exempt organization, conducted a study published online in Education Week. The study, Learning and Earning (Swanson, 2007), was part of the Diplomas Count series which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The study examined the relationship between education and pay using the O*NET database and data obtained from the 2005 American Community Survey. The study was based on the strong correlation between educational attainment and O*NET job zones. Results showed that only a small percent of people working in low job zones have attained the levels of education or training associated with high job zones and vice versa. Researchers looked at median incomes within each of the five O*NET Job Zones. One of their findings was that median incomes for workers in Job Zone 1 occupations are about 20 percent of the median income for workers in Job Zone 5 occupations.

Ability versus Personality: Factors that Predict Em ployee Job Performance from Center for Hospitality Research of Cornell University external site

The Center for Hospitality Research of Cornell University conducted a study titled, Ability versus Personality: Factors that Predict Em ployee Job Performance (Tracey, Sturman & Tews, 2007). The researchers used O*NET definitions, education and training requirements, tasks, and required knowledges, skills, and abilities as part of their research to test the hypothesis that cognitive ability is more important for predicting performance among inexperienced employees than among experienced employees in frontline restaurant jobs. In addition, they hypothesized that conscientiousness was more valid for predicting performance among experienced employees than inexperienced employees. These hypotheses were supported in their research.

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