Occupational Information

Occupational information is one of the major components needed to make effective career decisions. Occupational information refers to the collection of details about occupational and educational opportunities. Gathering and using occupational information is essential if an individual is to select options that fit his or her interests, values, aptitudes, and skills. Occupational information can include details about the employment outlook, salary, related occupations, education and training, and job duties.

Occupational information can be classified using three types of classification systems. Classification allows individuals to communicate more effectively with students about occupations that share common characteristics. The most widely used occupational classification systems include the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) System, Holland’s Hexagon, and the World-of-Work Map (WWM) . The SOC system classifies occupations based on the nature of the work performed and on the occupational skills, education, and training requirements for the job. Holland’s hexagon classifies occupations in terms of six personality dimensions based on Holland’s theory of personality and work environments: Realistic (R), Investigative (I), Artistic (A), Social (S), Enterprising (E), and Conventional (C). A basic premise of Holland’s theory is that individuals will find more satisfaction when their work personalities are congruent with the characteristics of their work environment. The WWM was developed by ACT, Inc., and can be used to suggest occupations to users who enter the map with a set of attribute scores. The position of occupations on the WWM is based on the degree to which an occupation requires working with data, ideas, people, and things. Similar to Holland’s hexagon, individuals can also be located on the WWM based on the degree to which they express an interest in working with data, ideas, people, and things.

Another important component of occupational information is the source from which the information can be obtained. Major sources of occupational information include print materials and computerized information systems.

Printed sources of occupational information include Occupational Information Network (O*NET) and the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). O*NET is a comprehensive system for organizing, describing, distributing, and collecting data on occupations and the workforce. The OOH includes information about the nature of work, working conditions, the distribution of work, training required for occupational entry and advancement, average earnings, and projected 5- to 7-year employment outlooks.

Computerized sources of occupational information such as SIGI PLUS and DISCOVER are computer-assisted systems used to learn about oneself and the world of work. SIGI PLUS includes modules on self-assessment, search strategies, information, skills, preparing, coping, deciding, and career planning. Similar to SIGI PLUS, DISCOVER includes self-assessment inventories, searchable academic and occupational databases, and information to help students explore themselves and the work of work.

In order to make quality educational and career choices, students should engage in gathering accurate occupational information. Through the use of occupational classification systems and various sources of occupational information, students will find it easier to form realistic pictures of the career opportunities that are available in various occupations.


  1. Gore, P. A. (2005). Facilitating the career development of students in transition. Columbia: University of South Carolina, National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.
  2. Niles, S. G., & Harris-Bowlsbey, J. (2002). Career development interventions in the 21st century. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  3. Reardon, R. C., Lenz, J. G., Sampson, J. P., & Peterson, G. W. (2006). Career development and planning: A comprehensive approach (2nd ed.). Mason, OH: Thomson Custom Solutions.
  4. Sears, S. J. (2002). Building your career: A guide to your future. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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