O*NET OnLine Help O*NET Overview

The O*NET program is the nation's primary source of occupational information. Central to the project is the O*NET database, containing information on hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors. The database is continually updated by surveying a broad range of workers from each occupation. Information from this freely available database forms the heart of O*NET OnLine, the interactive application for exploring and searching occupations. The database also provides the basis for our Career Exploration Tools, a set of valuable assessment instruments for workers and students looking to find or change careers.

Content Model: Anatomy of an occupation

Every occupation requires a different mix of knowledge, skills, and abilities, and is performed using a variety of activities and tasks. These distinguishing characteristics of an occupation are described by the O*NET Content Model, which encapsulates the key features of an occupation into a standardized, measurable set of variables called "descriptors". The hierarchical model starts with six domains, describing the day-to-day aspects of the job and the qualifications and interests of the typical worker. The model expands to 277 descriptors collected by the O*NET program, with more collected by other federal agencies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics external site.

O*NET-SOC Taxonomy: A spectrum of occupations

While the Content Model defines the information structure for a single occupation, the O*NET-SOC taxonomy defines the set of occupations across the world of work. Based on the Standard Occupational Classification external site, the O*NET-SOC taxonomy currently includes 923 occupations which currently have, or are scheduled to have, data collected from job incumbents or occupation experts. To keep up with the changing occupational landscape, the taxonomy is periodically revised; the last revision was in 2019.

Data Collection: Real-world information

The O*NET-SOC taxonomy defines the occupations, and the Content Model outlines which information is collected; the Data Collection program brings these frameworks to life with results from the working public. The O*NET database was initially populated by a group of occupation analysts; this information is augmented by ongoing surveys of each occupation's worker population and occupation experts. These statistical results are incorporated into new versions of the database on an annual schedule, to provide up-to-date information on occupations as they evolve over time. The latest database releases are available from the O*NET Database page.

Learn more

For a more comprehensive view of O*NET tools and resources, please see the O*NET overview at the hub of O*NET-related information, the O*NET Resource Center.