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O*NET OnLine Help
Scales, Ratings, and Standardized Scores


Each descriptor in O*NET OnLine is associated with a scale, such as Importance, Level, and Extent of the activity. Each scale has a minimum and maximum value (e.g., Importance: 1 - 5; Level: 0 - 7). Because each of these scales covers a different numerical range, a descriptor mean of 3.0 signifies something different in each scale. In order to simplify interpretation, descriptor means have been standardized to a scale ranging from 0 to 100. (See: Standardized Scores)

To make sense of the different rankings, you need to understand the significance of the scale. Some people find it particularly difficult to understand the difference between Importance and Level. As an example, consider skills. While the same skill can be important for a variety of occupations, the amount or level of the skill needed in those occupations can differ dramatically. For example, the skill "speaking" is important for both lawyers and paralegals. However, lawyers (who frequently argue cases before judges and juries) are required to have a higher Level of speaking skill, while paralegals only need an average Level of this skill.


23-1011.00 - Lawyers

70   Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Greet tourists and explain tourist attractions

Interview applicants to obtain personal and work history

Argue a legal case before the Supreme Court
 28 57 85


23-2011.00 - Paralegals and Legal Assistants

50   Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Greet tourists and explain tourist attractions

Interview applicants to obtain personal and work history

Argue a legal case before the Supreme Court
 28 57 85


As illustrated in the above example, it is important to note that the anchors of the Level scale are unique for each variable (e.g., Skill: Speaking). Users are encouraged to select "show scale anchors" on the Custom Report menu to help with interpretation.

Definitions of Scales by Domain 1

Scale Domains Definition
Importance Tasks 2, Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Work Activities, and Work Styles This rating indicates the degree of importance a particular descriptor is to the occupation. The possible ratings range from "Not Important" (1) to "Extremely Important" (5).
Level 3 Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and Work Activities This rating indicates the degree, or point along a continuum, to which a particular descriptor is required or needed to perform the occupation.
Relevance Tasks The percentages reported for relevance refers to the proportion of job incumbents who rated the provided task relevant to his/her job.
Frequency Tasks Frequency refers to how often a task occurs within a given time period. Values of "frequently", "occasionally", and "rarely" are used to report the percentage of time job incumbents reported that a given task was performed.
  • Frequently - includes daily, several times a day, hourly or more
  • Occasionally - includes more than once a month, more than once a week
  • Rarely - includes once a year or less, more than once a year
Occupational Interest Interests O*NET occupations are rated on 6 types of interests: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional and are compatible with Holland's R-I-A-S-E-C Interest Structure (Holland, 1985).
Extent Work Values and Work Needs This rating indicates the degree to which an item affects the nature of an occupation.
Context Work Context Context includes a variety of scales with some unique and specific work context variables.

1 Not Available - Standards of data precision were applied to all updated incumbent and analyst ratings. The rating of an item for a particular occupation is suppressed or "not available" if its level of precision does not meet the minimum standard. For a detailed description of the suppression rules, see Appendices 1 and 2 of the O*NET Data Dictionary, available on the Database page of the O*NET Resource Center.

2 Two categories of tasks are identified. Core - tasks that are critical to the occupation. The criteria for these tasks are (a) relevance ≥ 67% and (b) a mean importance rating of ≥ 3.0. Supplemental - tasks that are less relevant and/or important to the occupation. Two sets of tasks are included in this category: (a) tasks rated ≥ 67% on relevance but < 3.0 on importance, and (b) tasks rated < 67% on relevance, regardless of mean importance.

3 Not Relevant - The level rating for an item is identified as "not relevant" for a particular occupation when a majority (75% or more) of the incumbents or occupational analysts rate the corresponding importance item as "not important."

Standardized Scores

The level and importance scales each have a different range of possible scores. Ratings on Level were collected on a 0-7 scale, and ratings on Importance were collected on a 1-5 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).

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