What Is the Occupational Outlook Handbook?
Just what is the Occupational Outlook Handbook? The Occupational Outlook Handbook is a career guide provided by the U.S. Government's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It provides information on a wide range of occupations. For each profession, it describes what workers do on the job, working conditions, the training and education needed, earnings and expected job prospects.
What Is the Bureau of Labor Statistics?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the main fact-finding agency for the federal government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics.
The BLS is an independent national statistical agency that collects, processes, analyzes and disseminates essential statistical data to the American public, the U.S. Congress, other federal agencies, state and local governments, and business and labor. The BLS also serves as a statistical resource to the Department of Labor.
BLS data must satisfy a number of criteria, including relevance to current social and economic issues, timeliness in reflecting today’s rapidly changing economic conditions, accuracy and consistently high statistical quality, and impartiality in both subject matter and presentation.
A - Z Search Index
Use the Occupational Outlook Handbook Search Index to find a specific occupation or click on a letter to browse a list of occupations.
Reading or Interpreting an Index
An index is a tool that simplifies the measurement of movements in a numerical series. For example, most of the specific Consumer Price Indexes (CPIs) have a 1982-84 reference base.
That is, BLS sets the average index level (representing the average price level)—for the 36-month period covering the years 1982, 1983, and 1984—equal to 100. The Bureau measures changes in relation to that figure. An index of 110, for example, means there has been a 10-percent increase in price since the reference period.
Similarly, an index of 90 means a 10-percent decrease. Movements of the index from one date to another can be expressed as changes in index points (simply, the difference between index levels), but it is more useful to express the movements as percent changes. This is because index points are affected by the level of the index in relation to its base period, while percent changes are not.
There are 25 major occupational clusters in the Handbook including management, business and finance, sales, service, production, farming, military, office and administrative support, and construction.
The Handbook provides a variety of ways to search for job descriptions. There are listings by occupational cluster:
- Professional and Related
- Service Administrative Support
- Farming and Related
- Installation and Related Production
- Job Opportunities in the Armed Forces
Users can search for a specific occupation or use the A - Z index to find job descriptions for occupations ranging from Able Seamen to Zoologists and just about everything in between. The Handbook provides detailed information on each occupation, including job summary, work environment, how to begin a career in that profession, pay, job outlook, and related professions.
The Occupation Finder allows you to search for occupations by selecting a particular education level requirement, level of training, job outlook, and/or median pay.
Options for Exploring Jobs and Careers
Suggested Reading: Job Descriptions