Occupation Classification Systems and Career Exploration

There are several benefits of an occupational classification system. The order imposed by a classification system allows working more efficiently with a large set of information items about different occupations, and allows organizing & describing the similarities and differences. The classification systems are thus critical for career exploration and counseling

The classification and can either be a-theoretical or based on some career theories. Four popular occupational classification systems developed (all in USA) are Standard Occupational Classification System (SOC), Holland’s Hexagon, the World of Work Map, and the Minnesota Occupational Classification System. Except for SOC, which is a-theoretical, the other three systems are based on career theories and we would not be discussing them in detail here.

An a-theoretical model has advantages as it is not tied to a particular theory and is more broad based.  SOC which is used in O*NET (as we describe later) provides such a system.  In an International context, International Labor Organization (ILO) provides ISCO standards, which are again a-theoretical classifications. ISCO standards are used in international comparison of occupational statistics and to serve as a reference model for countries developing their national classification systems. Several countries (e.g. UK, Australia, Canada, India, UAE etc.) have adopted career standards build on the ISCO standards.

We have chosen O*NET to make our career recommendations as it is the most comprehensive reference of careers in the world of work, and most importantly,  provides extensive career data.  To provide a local reference we have cross linkages to the international ISCO career standards as well as career standards of several countries (e.g. India, Australia, UK, Canada, UAE etc.). 

O*NET’s career taxonomy provides details of 1,110 occupations, covering the entire sphere of work, and divided into a five job zone system based on similar level of experience, education and training. The Job Zone choice at your end is based on how much education, training, and experience you are ready to invest before starting a career. E.g. occupations in Job Zone 1, require little or no preparation needed (High School) while in Job Zone 5 require extensive preparation (PhD, Doctorate).

The classification of careers also defines 23 Job Families that are groups of occupations (e.g. management, legal etc.) based upon similar work performed, skills, education, training, and credentials. The 1110 occupations are distributed uniquely under these different job families.

Career Paths(6) and Career Clusters (16) is another classification that groups the occupations based on similar skills. The career paths and clusters model further categorizes the world of work into 79 different Career Pathways. The classification of careers inside pathways and clusters is not unique (one occupation can belong to more than one cluster) unlike in job families. Since the clusters are further categorized into career pathways, it provides a more effective way for exploration of the world of work. Industry (21 in total) or by Sector is another classification that broadly groups businesses or organizations with similar activities, products, or services.  

You can find more details on these models in the Career Explorer Section.