United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Education and Training Classification System

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics provides information about education and training requirements for hundreds of occupations. The education and training classification system has categories for education, work experience, and on-the-job training. The assignments under the system describe the typical education needed to enter the occupation, and the typical type of on-the-job training required to be competent. The work experience in a related occupation assignment represents what is commonly considered necessary by employers or is a commonly accepted substitute for formal training. The three assignments complement each other in that they would represent a typical path into the occupation, but they are not necessarily equal in importance for entry into the occupation.

Entry Level Education Requirement

This category best describes the typical level of education that most workers need to enter the occupation. Occupations are assigned one of the following eight education levels:

  • Doctoral or professional degree - Completion of this degree usually requires at least three years of full-time academic study beyond a bachelor's degree. Examples of occupations for which a professional degree is the typical form of entry-level education include lawyers, pharmacists, biochemists and biophysicists, and physical therapists.
  • Master’s degree - Completion of this degree usually requires one or two years of full-time academic study beyond a bachelor’s degree. Examples of occupations in this category include physician assistants, marriage and family therapists, and healthcare social workers.
  • Bachelor’s degree - Completion of this degree generally requires at least four years, but not more than five years, of full-time academic study beyond high school. Examples of occupations in this category include accountants and auditors; software developers, applications developers, and database administrators.
  • Associate’s degree - Completion of this degree usually requires at least two years but not more than four years of full-time academic study beyond high school. Examples of occupations in this category include registered nurses, general and operations managers, and respiratory therapists.
  • Postsecondary non-degree award - These programs lead to a certificate or other award, but not a degree. The certificate is awarded by the educational institution and is the result of completing formal postsecondary schooling. Certification, which is issued by a professional organization or certifying body, is not included here. Some postsecondary non-degree award programs last only a few weeks, while others may last one to two years. Examples of occupations in this category include emergency medical technicians and paramedics, licensed practical and vocational nurses, and firefighters.
  • Some college, no degree - This category signifies the achievement of a high school diploma or equivalent plus the completion of one or more postsecondary courses that did not result in a degree or award. Examples of occupations in this category are computer support specialists, and private detectives and investigators.
  • High school diploma or equivalent - This category signifies the completion of high school or an equivalent program resulting in the award of a high school diploma or an equivalent, such as the General Educational Development credential. Examples of occupations in this category include office clerks, general; customer service representatives; and childcare workers.
  • Less than high school - This category signifies the completion of any level of primary or secondary education that did not result in the award of a high school diploma or equivalent. Examples of occupations in this category include personal care aides, home health aides, retail salespersons, and cashiers.

Work Experience Requirement

Although work experience in a related occupation is beneficial for all occupations, assignments in this category apply only to occupations in which such experience is required or is a commonly accepted substitute for formal education or training. Occupations are assigned one of the following four work experience categories:

  • More than five years - This is assigned to occupations if more than five years of work experience in a related occupation is typically needed for entry. Examples include financial managers, chief executives, and computer and information systems managers.
  • One to five years - To enter occupations in this category, workers typically need one to five years of work experience in a related occupation. Examples include general and operations managers and first line supervisors of office and administrative support workers.
  • Less than one year - Examples of occupations that typically need less than one year of work experience in a related occupation include restaurant cooks and industrial truck and tractor operators.
  • None - No work experience in a related occupation is typically required.

On-the-Job Training Requirement

This category describes training that helps workers acquire the skills to become competent in the occupation. Training is occupation-specific rather than job-specific and usually begins after a worker is hired. Occupations are assigned one of the following six training categories:

  • Internship/residency - An internship or residency provides a course of training that involves preparation in a field such as medicine or teaching, generally under supervision in a professional setting, such as a hospital or classroom. This type of training may occur before one is employed. Completion of an internship or residency program is commonly required for state licensure or certification in fields including medicine, counseling, architecture, and teaching. This category does not include internships that are suggested for advancement. Examples of occupations in the internship/residency category include physicians and surgeons and marriage and family therapists.
  • Apprenticeship - An apprenticeship is a formal relationship between a worker and sponsor that consists of a combination of on-the-job training and related occupation-specific technical instruction in which the worker learns the practical and theoretical aspects of an occupation. Apprenticeship programs are sponsored by individual employers, joint employer-labor groups, and employer associations. The typical apprenticeship program provides at least 144 hours of occupation-specific technical instruction and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training per year over a three to five year period. Examples of occupations in the apprenticeship category include electricians and carpenters.
  • Long-term on-the-job training - More than 12 months of on-the-job training or, alternatively, combined work experience and formal classroom instruction, are needed for workers to develop the skills to attain competency. Training is occupation specific rather than job specific; therefore, skills learned can be transferred to another job in the same occupation. This on-the-job training category also includes employer-sponsored training programs. Such programs include those offered by fire and police academies and schools for air traffic controllers and flight attendants. In other occupations, such as nuclear power reactor operators, trainees take formal courses, often provided at the jobsite, to prepare for the required licensing exams. This category excludes apprenticeships. Examples of occupations in the long-term on-the-job training category include automotive service technicians and mechanics and firefighters.
  • Moderate-term on-the-job training - Skills needed for a worker to attain competency in an occupation that can be acquired during 1 to 12 months of combined on-the-job experience and informal training. Training is occupation specific rather than job specific; therefore, skills learned can be transferred to another job in the same occupation. This on-the-job training category also includes employer-sponsored training programs. Examples of occupations in the moderate-term category include bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks and restaurant cooks.
  • Short-term on-the-job training - Skills needed for a worker to attain competency in an occupation that can be acquired during one month or less of on-the-job experience and informal training. Training is occupation-specific rather than job specific; therefore, skills learned can be transferred to another job in the same occupation. This on-the-job training category also includes employer sponsored training programs. Examples of occupations in the short-term category include personal care aides, retail salespersons, and cashiers.
  • None - There is no additional occupation-specific training or preparation typically required to attain competency in the occupation.