Census and SOC Occupational Classifications
THE US CENSUS Bureau employs a coding system to classify industry and occupation data. The census occupation data are
adapted from the federal government’s Standard Occupational Classification, or SOC. The census industry codes are adapted
from the North American Industry Classification System, prepared by the Office of Management and Budget.
The SOC system groups occupations according to the nature of the work performed and relates these occupations to others
of a similar nature. There are 23 major groups in SOC and 821 detailed occupations within those groups. The Census Bureau’s
adapted version features 539 codes.
Shown below is a selection of Census Bureau occupation codes under the heading “Construction and Extraction Occupations,” mapped to the 2010 SOC codes. In total, the Census Bureau groups 40 occupations under this heading.
OCCUPATION 2010 DESCRIPTION
Natural Resources, Construction, and Maintenance Occupations
Construction and Extraction Occupations:
First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers
Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons
Carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers
Cement masons, concrete finishers, and terrazzo workers
Paving, surfacing, and tamping equipment operators
Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators
Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers
2010 CENSUS CODE
2010 SOC CODE
Source: US Census Bureau. “2010 Occupation Code List.” www.census.gov/hhes/www/ioindex/ioindex.html.
tient felt better, but his lung function was still abnormal. He was
referred to an academic occupational medical clinic.
In December 1995 a 28-year-old worker from the same plant
was referred to the same occupational clinic with similar symptoms. Subsequently, the occupational clinicians learned of an
earlier outbreak of seven cases of similar lung disease among
workers at a Canadian plant owned by the same textile company. It appeared that these cases represented a new occupational
An investigation of the Rhode Island facility by the academic
occupational medicine program identified a total of eight employees meeting the case definition for a new interstitial lung
disease called “flock worker’s lung.” The investigation also implicated a causative agent: airborne nylon fragments generated
during a process called “flocking.” In the flocking industry, short
fibers (flock) are cut from cables of parallel synthetic monofilaments (tow) and applied to an adhesive-coated fabric to create
a material, such as fleece used in many jackets.
If the physicians hadn’t learned that the initial two patients in
this cluster had the same occupation and worked for the same
employer, it is likely that detection of this new occupational disease would have been unnecessarily delayed.
Advancing Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Research
Documenting patient occupational history in the medical record allows researchers to study associations between jobs and
health. Sometimes, associations cannot be recognized until
many years of medical data are available for review, as was the
case with the association between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, which was discovered with the aid of good statistics
from the British Registrar General in the late eighteenth century.
From the surveillance, epidemiology, and research perspective, it is useful to record both the patient’s industry and occupation of employment in the medical record. “Industry” is the kind
of activity at a person’s place of work. “Occupation” is the kind
of work that a person performs at his or her place of work.