The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System   IPEDS Help Desk
(877) 225-2568 or ipedshelp@rti.org
NCES National Center for Education Statistics
 
Click one of the following questions to view the answer.
 
1) What is the SOC?
2) What is the purpose of the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system?
3) How are occupations classified in the SOC?
4) How is the SOC structured?
5) Where can I find definitions of the 2010 SOC occupations?
6) Where can I find additional information about the SOC system?
7) When will the next SOC revision take place?
8) Why did NCES change the occupational categories in the IPEDS HR survey in 2012-13?
9) Is there a summary of resources that relate to the new IPEDS occupational categories and the 2010 SOC?
10) Can the previous IPEDS primary function/occupational activity categories be mapped to the new IPEDS occupational categories?
11) For IPEDS reporting, are institutions required to code and report all occupations at the lowest, detailed SOC level?
12) What is the relationship between IPEDS reporting and the SOC Postsecondary Teachers 25-1000 category?
13) The certified public accountant (CPA) in my office has spent the past 10 years working solely in that capacity; however, recently, the CPA was asked to split half his time performing his regular, on-going duties as a CPA and the other half of his time preparing timecards and other duties generally performed by payroll clerks.  What occupational category should I place this person in the IPEDS HR survey?
14) How are data on library-related occupations collected?
15) How do I classify Managers and Supervisors?
16) How should graduate assistants be reported in the IPEDS HR survey?
17) My institution has a graduate assistant who assists with updating the website for the IT department.  How should I code this person in IPEDS?
 
 
Answers:
 
1) What is the SOC?
The Standard Occupational Classification system, or SOC, is designed to reflect the current occupational structure of the United States.
Back to top
2) What is the purpose of the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system?

The SOC system is used by Federal statistical agencies to classify workers and jobs into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, analyzing, or disseminating data. All Federal agencies that publish occupational data for statistical purposes are required to use the SOC in order to increase data comparability.

Back to top
3) How are occupations classified in the SOC?
Occupations in the SOC are classified based on work performed and, in some cases, on the skills, education, and/or training needed to perform the work at a competent level.

This is SOC Classification Principle #2, available at the following link: http://www.bls.gov/soc/soc_2010_class_prin_cod_guide.pdf

Back to top
4) How is the SOC structured?
The SOC is a tiered occupational classification system with four levels: major group, minor group, broad occupation, and detailed occupation. The 23 major groups are broken down into 97 minor groups, followed by 461 broad occupations, and finally 840 detailed occupations.
Back to top
5) Where can I find definitions of the 2010 SOC occupations?
A pdf version of the 2010 SOC definitions can be found at the following website: http://www.bls.gov/soc/soc_2010_definitions.pdf. A link to the Excel version of the definitions can be found on the SOC homepage (http://www.bls.gov/soc) under the category “2010 SOC, Downloadable Materials”. While the SOC system is a four-level tiered system, SOC definitions only exist at the lowest occupational level, which is known as the “detailed occupation” level.
Back to top
6) Where can I find additional information about the SOC system?
Refer to the SOC homepage at: http://www.bls.gov/soc.
Back to top
7) When will the next SOC revision take place?

The SOC 2018 revision process is underway! Major review of the 2010 SOC Classification Principles and detailed occupations began in 2013, and a Federal Register notice requesting public comment was published in June, 2014 with a deadline of July 21, 2014. NCES proposed a number of changes that would help better align the SOC with postsecondary education. The review and possible revision of the 2010 SOC is intended to be completed by the end of 2016, and then released to begin use in 2018.

Back to top
8) Why did NCES change the occupational categories in the IPEDS HR survey in 2012-13?
The IPEDS HR survey was changed to comply with the requirement to align IPEDS HR reporting with the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. Also, prior to 2012-13, most of the occupational categories and corresponding definitions in the IPEDS HR survey and its predecessor called the Higher Education General Information Survey (HEGIS) remained basically the same for over two decades. (The 2010 SOC reflects changes in the workforce over the last decade.)
Back to top
9) Is there a summary of resources that relate to the new IPEDS occupational categories and the 2010 SOC?
The IPEDS HR/SOC Information Center can be found at: http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/resource/soc.asp.  
Back to top
10) Can the previous IPEDS primary function/occupational activity categories be mapped to the new IPEDS occupational categories?
In most cases, no. The detailed occupations in the 2010 SOC are grouped together based on similar job duties, and in some cases skills, education, and/or training. Consequently, many categories such as “technical and paraprofessional” and “other professionals (support/service)” no longer exist in IPEDS. 

For example, for the 2011-12 IPEDS HR survey, “Dietitians and Nutritionists” were included in the “Other Professional" (support/service) category while “Dietetic Technicians” were included in the "Technical and Paraprofessionals" category. In the 2012-13 IPEDS HR survey, “Dietitians and Nutritionists” and “Dietetic Technicians” are included in the SAME major occupational category called “Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations". 

However, the Instructional Staff (Primarily instruction and Instruction combined with research and/or public service), Research Staff, and Public Service Staff categories remained the same in IPEDS.
Back to top
11) For IPEDS reporting, are institutions required to code and report all occupations at the lowest, detailed SOC level?
IPEDS does not require institutions to report most occupations at the detailed SOC level.  Most of the occupational data in IPEDS are collected at a higher level (e.g., major level); however, there are a few instances where data are collected at a lower level (e.g., detailed) such as Librarians.  

For IPEDS purposes, institutions should report their employees in the categories defined in the IPEDS HR survey. For example, a College President would most likely fall under the detailed SOC occupation of “Education Administrators, Postsecondary” (11-9033) where the first two-digits (11) of the SOC code represent the SOC “major group” in this example.  Based on the IPEDS HR/SOC crosswalk at http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/resource/download/IPEDS_HR_2010_SOC_Crosswalk.pdf, the SOC code of 11-0000” corresponds to the SOC major group of “Management Occupations,” which is crosswalked to the IPEDS HR “Management Occupations” category. 
Back to top
12) What is the relationship between IPEDS reporting and the SOC Postsecondary Teachers 25-1000 category?

Postsecondary Teachers is an occupational category in the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Manual with the SOC code 25-1000.  This category is not an IPEDS reporting category because staff generally regarded by institutions as "faculty" are not only instructional staff, but can be research staff and public service staff as well.  Postsecondary Teachers is not a good description of these occupational categories on postsecondary campuses, and introduces confusion into the reporting done by institutions.

However, because of the requirement to align with the SOC, all three categories (instructional staff, research staff, and public service staff) are included individually under the Postsecondary Teachers category in the IPEDS Data Center, with explanations.

Back to top
13) The certified public accountant (CPA) in my office has spent the past 10 years working solely in that capacity; however, recently, the CPA was asked to split half his time performing his regular, on-going duties as a CPA and the other half of his time preparing timecards and other duties generally performed by payroll clerks.  What occupational category should I place this person in the IPEDS HR survey?
First, the scenario described in this case is similar to the SOC Coding Guideline #2, which states, when workers in a single job could be coded in more than one occupation, they should be coded in the occupation that requires the highest level of skill. If there is no measurable difference in skill requirements, workers should be coded in the occupation in which they spend the most time. There are six SOC Coding Guidelines and they are intended to assist users in consistently assigning SOC codes and titles to survey responses and in other coding activities. For a complete list of the 2010 SOC Coding Guidelines, refer to the following link: http://www.bls.gov/soc/soc_2010_class_prin_cod_guide.pdf.

The answer to the above question would be the IPEDS HR occupational category of "Business and Financial Operations Occupations" for the following reasons.  

  • The occupation of CPA requires a higher level of skill than the occupation of payroll clerk; therefore, the person in question would fall under the SOC Detailed occupation of "Accountants and Auditors" (SOC code 13-2011), which falls under the SOC Major group of "Business and Financial Operations Occupations" (SOC code 13-0000). 
  • In determining the equivalent IPEDS HR occupational category, refer to the IPEDS/SOC crosswalk, where you will see that the SOC Major group of Business and Financial Operations Occupations” has been crosswalked to the 2012-13 IPEDS HR Major Occupational Category of “Business and Financial Operations Occupations”. 
  • [NOTE: For IPEDS purposes, there is no need to manually code CPA to "Accountants and Auditors" because the data are not collected in IPEDS at that level.]

    Back to top
    14) How are data on library-related occupations collected?
    Beginning with the 2012-13 IPEDS HR component, most degree-granting institutions report library-related occupations separately as: 

     

    • Archivists, Curators, and Museum Technicians
    • Librarians
    • Library Technicians
    Non-degree granting institutions report library-related occupations in a single category:
    •  Librarians, Curators, and Archivists
    Back to top
    15) How do I classify Managers and Supervisors?
    The Management Occupations category should include those staff whose job it is to plan, direct, or coordinate policies and programs, and may include some supervision of other workers.  In addition, Postsecondary Deans should be classified in this category as well, even though they perform similar activities to the workers that they supervise.

    All other supervisors should be categorized within the same category as the workers that they supervise. However, there is an exception for those that supervise workers in the Healthcare Support Occupations. These staff are usually supervised by workers in Major Group 29-0000 Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations. Therefore, there are no first-line supervisor occupations in Major Group 31-0000 Healthcare Support Occupations.
    Back to top
    16) How should graduate assistants be reported in the IPEDS HR survey?
    Graduate Assistants (GAs) should only be reported in the 2012-13 IPEDS HR survey for the following categories:  1) GA—Teaching; 2) GA—Research; 3) GA—Management; 4) GA—Business and Financial Operations; 5) GA—Computer, Engineering, and Science; 6) GA—Community Service, Legal, Arts, and Media; 7) GA—Library and Instructional Support; and 8) GA—Healthcare Practitioners and Technical.  GAs working in all other occupational categories (i.e., clerical/secretarial, public service, etc.) should be excluded from the HR survey, even if they had been reported in previous versions of the HR survey.
    Back to top
    17) My institution has a graduate assistant who assists with updating the website for the IT department.  How should I code this person in IPEDS?
    Since this person is a graduate assistant updating websites in the IT department, include this person as a graduate assistant in the IPEDS HR category called, "Computer, Engineering, and Science Occupations".
    Back to top
     
     
    U.S. Department of Education Software Provider Resources Use of Cookies Section 508 Compliance
    Department Of Education Browsers Supported Troubleshooting NCES Privacy Policy