1220.0.55.001 - Occupation Standard, 2018  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/03/2018   
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Data on occupations are collected in a wide variety of social and labour statistical collections and are a central element in labour market analysis, educational planning, immigration policy development and a range of other government activities.


This is the Occupation standard which underpins the variables:

  • Occupation of main job
  • Occupation of last job

This standard can be applied to other occupation-related variables (such as "occupation of vacant job" and "occupation of second job") by making appropriate word substitutions to the questions included in the question modules.


Nominal definition

An occupation is a set of jobs that require the performance of similar or identical sets of tasks. A 'job' is a set of tasks designed to be performed by one person for an employer (including self-employment) in return for payment, profit, commission or payment in kind. Individual persons are classified by occupation through their relationship to a past or present job.

Operational definition

As it is uncommon for two actual jobs to have identical sets of tasks, 'Occupation' is operationally defined as a set of jobs whose main tasks are characterised by a high degree of similarity. That is, sets of jobs with similar sets of tasks are grouped together to form an occupation.

The degree of similarity between two occupations is measured in terms of the skill level and skill specialisation associated with the sets of tasks involved in each occupation.

The skill level of an occupation is a function of the range and complexity of the set of tasks performed. The greater the range and complexity of the tasks performed, the greater the skill level of the occupation.

Skill level is measured operationally by the level or amount of formal education and training, the amount of previous experience in a related occupation, and the amount of on-the-job training required to competently perform the set of tasks involved.

The skill specialisation of an occupation is a function of:
  • the field of knowledge required (which refers to the subject matter knowledge that is essential for satisfactory performance of the tasks of an occupation);
  • tools and equipment used (which includes all forms of plant, machinery, computer-based equipment and hand tools used in the performance of tasks, as well as intellectual tools such as personal interaction, and art and design techniques);
  • materials worked on (which refers to materials of both tangible and abstract nature which are extracted, processed, transformed, refined or fabricated as an essential part of the tasks performed); and
  • goods or services produced or provided (which refers to the end product of the performance of the tasks of an occupation and includes physical goods, personal or other services, and abstract goods such as software applications or statistical information).


Occupation is restricted to jobs undertaken for pay, profit, commission or payment in kind, including jobs occupied by people working for themselves. In household surveys, this means all persons who are identified by the Labour Force Status variable as 'Employed'. In employer surveys, Occupation is used to collect information about employee jobs.

The activities of persons classified as 'Not in the Labour Force' (as defined in the standard for Labour Force Status) are outside the scope of occupation variables e.g. persons who were keeping house (unpaid), retired, voluntarily inactive, permanently unable to work, persons in institutions (hospitals, gaols, sanatoriums, etc.), and persons whose only activity during the reference period was jury service or unpaid voluntary work for a charitable organisation.