Employment Projections

Occupational Data Definitions

Every other year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics updates its employment projections for occupations. The data for the 2012–22 projections are available from a variety of sources, including two searchable databases: the National Employment Matrix database (available by occupation or industry) and the Occupational Projections Data database. The data also appear in the “Job Outlook” section of the Occupational Outlook Handbook. In addition, the Monthly Labor Review has articles released in December 2013 with tables and detailed discussions of these projections, while the winter 2013–14 issue of the Occupational Outlook Quarterly includes the data in brief textual and graphic presentations. Finally, the data are available in Employment Projections program tables on the BLS Web site.

The National Employment Matrix database displays data on 2012 and projected 2022 employment and employment change. Users can search by occupation or industry. For example, data on secretaries and executive assistants can be found across all industries in which they are employed, and data on the construction industry can be displayed by detailed occupation.

The Occupational Projections Data database displays data on 2012 and projected 2022 employment, employment change, job openings, education, training, and wages for each detailed National Employment Matrix occupation. Users can obtain specific data for any occupation in the matrix and compare the results with data on other detailed occupations.

Employment Data Definitions

Employment, 2012 and 2022. Employment information is a useful starting point for assessing opportunities, because large occupations usually have more openings than small ones have, regardless of growth or replacement needs. Employment for wage and salary jobs, the self-employed, and unpaid family workers are included.

The National Employment Matrix measures total employment as a count of jobs, not a count of individual workers. This concept is different from that used by another BLS measure familiar to many readers: the Current Population Survey’s (CPS’s) total employment as a count of the number of workers. The Matrix’s total employment concept also is different from the BLS Current Employment Statistics (CES) total employment measure: whereas the CES measure also is a count of jobs, it covers nonfarm payroll jobs, while the matrix includes all jobs. (For more information, see the occupational employment section on the methodology page.)

Employment change, 2012–22, number. The numerical change in employment measures the projected number of job gains or losses.

Employment change, 2012–22, percent. The percent change in employment measures the projected rate of change of employment in an occupation. A rapidly growing occupation may indicate favorable prospects for employment. However, even modest employment growth in a large occupation can result in many more job openings due to growth than openings resulting from rapid employment growth in a small occupation.

Percent self-employed, 2012. Individuals who are interested in creating and managing their own businesses may find it important to know the percentage of self-employed workers in an occupation. This percentage shows how many jobs in a matrix occupation come from CPS data on unincorporated self-employed persons in their primary job. The unincorporated self-employed work for earnings or fees in their own businesses, while the incorporated self-employed receive a wage or salary from their business and are therefore included in estimates of wage and salary employment.

Job openings due to growth and replacement needs, 2012–22. These data estimate the projected number of job openings for an occupation. If employment is projected to increase from 2012 to 2022, then job openings due to growth are equal to the employment change. If employment is projected to decline, then there are no job openings due to growth. Replacement needs are the number of projected openings resulting from workers retiring from or permanently leaving an occupation. Replacement needs are calculated from monthly CPS data for 2003 to 2012. (For further information, see Estimating Occupational Replacement Needs.)

Median annual wages, 2012. (Source: May 2012 OES survey.) These are data on median annual wages for wage and salary employees in each occupation.

Education and Training Data Definitions

For more information on this system, see the Education and Training Data page.

Typical education needed for entry. 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 a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) usually requires at least 3 years of full-time academic work beyond a bachelor’s degree. Completion of a professional degree usually requires at least 3 years of full-time academic study beyond a bachelor’s degree. Examples of occupations for which a doctoral or professional degree is the typical form of entry-level education include lawyers, physicists, and dentists.
  • Master’s degree. Completion of this degree usually requires 1 or 2 years of full-time academic study beyond a bachelor’s degree. Examples of occupations in this category include statisticians, physician assistants, and educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors.
  • Bachelor’s degree. Completion of this degree generally requires at least 4 years, but not more than 5 years, of full-time academic study beyond high school. Examples of occupations in this category include budget analysts, dietitians and nutritionists, and civil engineers.
  • Associate’s degree. Completion of this degree usually requires at least 2 years but not more than 4 years of full-time academic study beyond high school. Examples of occupations in this category include mechanical drafters, respiratory therapists, and dental hygienists.
  • 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, 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 1 to 2 years. Examples of occupations in this category include nursing assistants, emergency medical technicians (EMT’s) and paramedics, and hairstylists.
  • 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. An example of an occupation in this category is actors.
  • High school diploma or equivalent. This category indicates 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 Education Development (GED) credential. Examples of occupations in this category include social and human service assistants, carpenters, and pharmacy technicians.
  • 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 janitors and cleaners, cashiers, and agricultural equipment operators.


  • Work experience in a related occupation. For some occupations, work experience in a related occupation may be a typical method of entry. The majority of occupations in this category are first-line supervisors of service, sales, and production occupations or managers of all occupations. Although work experience in a related occupation is beneficial for all occupations, this metric captures work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for other, more formal types of training or education. Occupations are assigned one of the following three categories that deal with length of time spent gaining related work experience:

  • 5 years or more. This is assigned to occupations if 5 or more years of work experience in a related occupation is typically needed for entry. Examples include financial managers and computer and information systems managers.
  • Less than 5 years To enter occupations in this category, workers typically need less than 5 years of work experience in a related occupation. Examples include food service managers and database administrators.
  • None. No work experience in a related occupation is typically needed. Examples are audiologists and actuaries.


  • Typical on-the-job training needed to attain competency in the occcupation. This category encompasses any additional training or preparation that is typically needed, once employed in an occupation, to attain competency in the skills needed in that occupation. Training is occupation-specific rather than job-specific; skills learned can be transferred to another job in the same occupation. Occupations are assigned one of the following six training categories:

  • Internship/residency. An internship or residency is training that involves preparation in a field such as teaching or medicine, generally under supervision in a professional setting, such as a classroom or hospital. 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. Examples of occupations in the internship or residency category include physicians and surgeons and marriage and family therapists. This category does not include internships that are suggested for advancement in one’s career, such as a marketing internship.
  • 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-and-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 3- to 5-year period. Examples of occupations in the apprenticeship category include electricians and structural iron and steel workers.
  • Long-term on-the-job training. More than 12 months of on-the-job training or, alternatively, combined work experience and formal classroom instruction, is 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 academies and schools for air traffic controllers. In other occupations—nuclear power reactor operators, for example—trainees take formal courses, often provided at the jobsite, to prepare for the required licensing exams. Also included in the long-term on-the-job training category are occupations in which workers typically need to possess a natural ability or talent—including musicians and singers, athletes, dancers, photographers, and actors—and that ability or talent must be cultivated over several years, sometimes in a nonwork setting. This category excludes apprenticeships. Examples of occupations in the long-term on-the-job training category include opticians, dancers, and automotive service technicians and mechanics.
  • Moderate-term on-the-job training. More than 1 month and up to 12 months of combined on-the-job experience and informal training is needed for workers to develop the skills needed 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. Examples of occupations in the moderate-term on-the-job training category include transit and intercity bus drivers and advertising sales agents.
  • Short-term on-the-job training. The skills needed for a worker to attain competency in an occupation can be acquired during 1 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 on-the-job training category include retail salespersons and maids and housekeeping cleaners.
  • None. There is no additional occupation-specific training or preparation typically required to attain competency in the occupation. Examples of occupations that do not require occupation-specific on-the-job training include geographers and pharmacists.
  • Last Modified Date: January 3, 2014

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