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Dear Teacher:

The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH )—updated every 2 years by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)—is a career guide that describes, for hundreds of occupations,

  • What workers do on the job
  • Work environment
  • The education and training and other qualifications needed to enter the occupation
  • Pay
  • Expected employment change and job prospects
  • Similar occupations
  • Contacts for more information

What’s New for the 2012–13 edition of the OOH?

The 2012–13 online edition of the OOH was completely redesigned to make it more visually appealing and to enable users to find career information more easily. The new version also incorporates a reader-friendly, written-for-the-Web style. The OOH homepage was redesigned as well, to feature multiple search methods in addition to other information.

As a teacher, you are in a position to help your students plan their future. Through the OOH, students can access valuable occupational information that can help them make career choices. By familiarizing yourself with the new features of the reinvented OOH, you will be in a position to quickly and effectively help your students use this valuable tool.

New Features

Although the information included in past editions of the OOH are still available in the redesigned version, each online profile is now made up of eight separate “pages”: a summary page highlighting key occupational characteristics of the occupation and seven additional pages, each describing one aspect of the occupation, such as pay or the job outlook.

Another new feature of the redesigned OOH is an Occupation Finder on the homepage, which makes it easy to search for occupations by median annual pay, typical entry-level education, typical on-the-job training requirements, projected number of new jobs, projected employment growth rate, or a combination of any of these five characteristics. In addition, students can browse occupations by highest paying, fastest growing, or those resulting in the most new jobs.

Navigating the New OOH Home Page

Here are more details on the ways to find information about a particular occupation:

  1. Occupation Group Search. The OOH is broken up into clusters of similar occupations. To find an occupation, students may browse the occupational group of interest on the left-hand side of the homepage. Clicking on a group results in a “landing page” of similar occupations together with their respective job summaries, typical entry-level types of education, and 2010 median pay figures.
  2. Occupation Finder. As mentioned earlier, the occupation finder makes it easy to search for occupations by median pay, typical entry-level education, typical on-the-job training requirements, projected number of new jobs, projected employment growth rate, or a combination of any of these five characteristics. For example, a student who wants to learn which occupations typically require a high school diploma and pay an annual salary of more than $50,000 can use the drop-down menus to filter occupations on the basis of those two criteria. 
  3. A–Z Index Search. Students may use the alphabetical index to look for an occupation. For example, someone looking for “Doctors” would click on “D” and then on “Doctors” in the A–Z index search. The person would then be directed to the occupational profile on “Physicians and surgeons.”
  4. Search Box. Students may also search for occupations by entering a title into the “Search Handbook” box at the top right of the homepage.
  5. Browse New Links. New links take students to three distinct pages: highest paying occupations, occupations projected to be the fastest growing, and occupations projected to have the most new jobs created.
  6. View Featured Profile. Each day, the OOH homepage will feature a different occupation that students can click on and learn about.
  7. OOH Glossary. The OOH Glossary includes terms frequently used in the occupational profiles and related pages, including general economic concepts, such as employment and replacement needs; definitions of BLS resources, such as surveys and classification systems; and terms particular to the OOH, such as education and training categories.
  8. Question Mark (?). Certain terms in the profiles—including terms in the Quick Facts table, on the Home Page, and in column headings in tables—have question marks next to them. Users can click on the question mark to read the definition of a term.


About the Information in Each Online Profile

As mentioned in the “New Features” section, each occupational profile in the 2012–13 edition of the OOH is made up of eight separate “pages”: a summary page highlighting key characteristics of the occupation and seven additional pages, each describing one aspect of the occupation, such as pay or the job outlook:

  1. Summary Page
    • Quick-facts table; this feature summarizes key information about the occupation, including
      • 2010 median pay
      • Entry-level education
      • Work experience in a related occupation
      • On-the-job training
      • Number of jobs, 2010
      • Job outlook, 2010–20
      • Employment change, 2010–20
    • Summary information from each occupation profile page, as follows.
  2. What They Do
    • Definition of the occupation
    • Typical duties
    • Specialties within the occupation
  3. Work Environment
    • Work setting, including potential hazards and physical, emotional, or mental demands
    • Work schedules, including information on hours worked and seasonality of work
    • Injuries (if relevant)
  4. How to Become One
    • Typical entry-level education requirements
    • Important qualities that are helpful in performing the work
    • Typical on-the-job training needed to attain competency in the occupation (if relevant)
    • Licenses (if relevant)
    • Certification (if relevant)
    • Work experience (if relevant)
    • Advancement (if relevant)
  5. Pay
    • 2010 median annual or hourly wages
      • Top 10 percent in wages earned
      • Bottom 10 percent in wages earned
    • Chart showing 2010 median annual or hourly wages in the occupation in comparison with median annual or hourly wage for all occupations
    • Work schedules
    • Benefits and union membership (if relevant)
  6. Job Outlook
    • Projected change in level and percentage of employment, including a discussion of the following factors affecting occupational employment change:
      • Industry growth or decline
      • Technological change
      • Demand for a product or service
      • Demographic change
      • Change in business patterns
    • Job prospects
      • Expected level of competition (if applicable)
        • Number of applicants versus number of positions available
    • Factors that may improve job prospects
  7. Similar Occupations
    • List of similar occupations, with summaries of their job duties, typical education level needed to enter the occupation, and median pay
    • Similar occupations are selected on the basis of similarity of the work performed and, in some cases, on the skills, education, and/or training needed to perform the work at a competent level.
  8. Contacts for More Information
    • List of outside associations, organizations, and government agencies that provide career information for specific occupations. Sources are listed as a service to readers, but are not endorsed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

About the Projections

Employment projections are based on assumptions about economic and labor force growth. These assumptions reflect long-term trends, but because the economy is affected by unforeseeable events, assumptions and projections are subject to error. For more information, please visit the Employment Projections program.

In describing projected employment change in an occupation, the OOH uses growth adjectives such as “faster than average,” “average,” “slower than average,” and “decline.” The average projected employment growth rate for all occupations combined is 14 percent.

BLS employment projections are national in scope and do not always reflect local conditions. State employment projections are developed by state employment service agencies. State projections are available on the Projections Central site.

In addition, the projections describe expected employment change over the entire 2010–20 decade; employment change is expected to vary within that 10-year period. Furthermore, besides job openings that stem from employment growth, many more openings will occur from the need to replace workers who retire or permanently leave an occupation for other reasons. In the case of occupations for which replacement needs are particularly significant, these job openings are discussed.

To learn more about using the OOH, see the Occupational Information Included in the OOH. For answers to frequently asked questions, see the FAQs.

Other Career-Related Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

In addition to publishing the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has developed other sources of career information that might be useful to teachers and students:

Occupational Outlook Quarterly (OOQ). This is a career guidance magazine that includes articles about specific occupations and industries, types of training and education, and methods for exploring careers and finding jobs. The OOQ also summarizes current labor market research and presents profiles of unusual careers. This publication is available in print as well, via a subscription through the Government Printing Office.

Employment Projections This site includes prepared tables, searchable databases, and technical publications about the employment projections.

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey homepage. The OES survey provides wage and employment data on more than 800 occupations and shows how wages and employment vary by geographic area and industry. The annual OES chartbook is available online.

Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey homepage. The CES survey has comprehensive data on earnings, hours, and employment for a specific industry or group of industries via customized tables.

Current Population Survey (CPS) homepage. The CPS survey provides employment and earnings data related to demographic variables such as age, sex, race, and educational attainment.

More Career Information

The U.S. Department of Labor

Youth Rules! uses simple language to explain the laws that govern youth employment.

America’s Career One Stop provides links to career resources, including a library of occupational information.

The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) provides information about various characteristics of occupations, such as major tasks performed in the occupation, physical requirements, and required skills. Career assessments and other teaching tools also are included.

MyNextMove is a U.S. Department of Labor career search site that allows users to search for careers by keyword, industry, and interest. There is also a special search for veterans.

The U.S. Department of Defense

The MyFuture.com page is a career search database that provides information related to training, including both college and military training options.

The U.S. Department of Education

Gateway to 21st-Century Skills is a database of lesson plans. Some of these lesson plans relate to careers and can be adapted for use with the OOH.


The text in the Occupational Outlook Handbook is in the public domain and can be reproduced without further permission. The Bureau requests appropriate citation. In addition, one may link to this site without obtaining special permission. Information from the OOH will be made available to sensory-impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 1 (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: 1 (800) 877-8339.

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Teachers Guide,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/about/teachers-guide.htm (visited October 17, 2012).

Publish Date: Thursday, March 29, 2012