O*NET, the US Occupational Network database, has been running since 2003 and provides detailed work content data across around 1000 occupations1. It is widely used for research2 and for tackling practical operation issues3. It is updated through two prime means: a regular annual update of around 100 occupations, and a rolling update across all occupations primarily sourcing data from online job postings4. This is further supplemented by focused work on hot technologies5 and the green economy6. O*NET provides details of the various updates it makes on an on-going basis and some of the details of this are shown in the table below. The average currency of the data in O*NET is 2.59 years7.

Table 1: Profile of Updates across the O*NET database
Job Content Data Category 2019 2018 Year Occupations Updated
Number of Occupations Updated
Abilities 0 99 2003 854
Alternate titles 509 414 2004 528
Detailed work activities 0 32 2005 610
Education 0 99 2006 522
Interests 0 0 2007 359
Job zone 0 99 2008 817
Knowledge 0 99 2009 434
Sample of reported titles 0 117 2010 997
Skills 0 99 2011 381
Tasks 0 99 2012 177
Technology skills and tools 156 173 2013 229
Work activities 0 99 2014 974
Work context 0 99 2015 841
Work styles 0 99 2016 874
Work values 0 0 2017 433
2018 797
2019* 572

Source: O*NET Center using the two updates issued for 2019; * next update due is August 2019

It is clear from Table 1 that the prime driver for the updates are twofold: the annual review across 100 or so occupations, and the more frequent review’s sourcing data from online job postings. Taking just the technology skills data (Table 2) and extracting a few examples to illustrate what it contains, we see the large number of the occupations (70-80%+) which have a common set of software technology skills. If we delve a little further and look at a few specific occupations we see a very clear pattern of very high information processing occupations (e.g. General and Operations Managers, Computer and Information Systems Managers) and others with very low information software usage (e.g. Wellhead Pumpers, Refuse Collectors, Packers and Packagers, see Table 3).

There are anomalies however and the Chief Sustainability Officers only score ‘12’ on the same basis shown in Table 3.

Table 2: Sample of Technology Skills
Software Technology Skills Item Number of Items included in O*NET Number of Occupations
Spreadsheet 16 858
Word processing 96 802
Data base user interface and query 907 727
Analytical and scientific 1692 366

Source: O*NET Center – sample extracted from 141 types of software technology skills


Table 3: Examples of Information Use and Dependency for selected Occupations
Occupation Technology Skills (Software) Count
Chief Executive 46
General and Operations Manager 128
Computer and Information Systems Manager 175
Pathologist 96
Wellhead pumpers 4
Refuse collectors 4
Packers and Packagers 8

Source: O*NET Center

What this initial examination of the refresh data used by O*NET suggests is that there may be some useful indices to be derived to monitor the changing nature of an occupation from an information usage and skills requirement basis.


    1. O*NET (2012) O*NET Data Collection Program. Employment and Training Administration, US Department of Labor. 84 pages
    2. Peterson, N.G. et al (2001) “Understanding work using the Occupational Information Network (O*NET): Implications for practice and research”, Personnel Psychology, 54, 451-492; National Research Council (2010) A Database for a Changing Economy: Review of the Occupational Information Network (O*NET). National Academic Press, Washington DC. 232 pages
    3. Garcia, F.E.; Gasch, J.L. and Wertheim, M.L. (2002) Workforce assessment of information technology sailors. CAN Corporation, Alexandria, Virginia. 104 pages. Explores the use of SkillObjectsTM to match with National Occupational Standards where the SkillObjects are families of tasks that are performed on the job together, are trained together, or are evaluated in a similar fashion. Each SkillObjects contains the associated knowledge, skills, abilities and tools (KSATs) (Page 10); Handel, M.J. (2016) “The O*NET content model: strengths and limitations”, Journal of Labour Market Research, 49, 157-176
    4. O*NET Occupation Update Summary see: https://www.onetcenter.org/dataUpdates.html
    5. O*NET Hot Technologies see: https://wwwonetcenter.org/search/hot_tech/ and Lewis, P. and Norton, J. (2016) Identification of “Hot Technologies” within the O*NET system. US Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. 12 pages
    6. National Center for O*NET Development (2013) Greening of the World of Work: O*NET Projects Book of References. US Department of Labor, Employment and Training. 124 pages
    7. National Research Council (2010) Op. Cit.