NIOSH logo and tagline

Collecting and Using Industry and Occupation Data


Once you’ve got text descriptions of industry and occupational data, you’ll need to code your data. Here you will learn about standardized codes and options for autocoding industry and occupation data.

About Coding Data

Industry and occupation coding is the process of converting a description (free text) of a person’s job and type of business into a standardized numeric code.

Important things to remember when coding industry and occupation data:
  • Industry and occupation codes follow U.S. standards.
  • Review the classification systems and decide which to use before coding your data.
  • Use an autocoder to code your data, such as NIOCCS.
  • You can code data as you collect it, or after collection is complete.

Coding the data allows public health officials and other researchers to assess patterns and trends in work-related diseases, injuries, and exposures.

Before Coding Data

These are the most important things to understand when coding data.

  1. Codes follow U.S. standards.
    Each industry and occupation has a unique number associated with it. These standardized codes are needed for data analysis and can be grouped into broader categories.
  2. You will need to choose a classification system to code your data.
In the U.S., there are different classification systems that can be used to assign codes associated with each industry and each occupation.

Industry and occupation codes are standardized and specific. Codes depend on the classification system you use.

A survey respondent says their industry is “flooring installation” and their occupation is “carpet layer”

If using NAICS and SOC classification systems, the standardized codes would be:
Industry: “Floor installation” NAICS code: 238330
Occupation: “Carpet layer” SOC Code: 47-2041
If using the Census classification system, the standardized codes would be:
Industry: “Floor installation” Census code: 0070
Occupation: “Carpet layer” Census code: 6240

Deciding Which Classification System(s) to Use

Determine if you want to compare your data to another dataset.

Use an Autocoder to Code Your Data

Software applications, or “autocoders,” are available to code industry and occupation data. Autocoders assign industry and occupation codes to free-text descriptions using the classification system you choose (NAICS and SOC, or Census).

There are many advantages when using an autocoder:

  1. Autocoding is much faster than manual coding.
  2. There is greater consistency in codes from one record to another, which means less random error.
  3. Manual coding requires training and experience.

Decide if You Want to Code During Data Collection or After

If you want to code AFTER data collection

Use the NIOSH Industry and Occupation Computerized Coding System (NIOCCS) if you want to code AFTER you collect data.

NIOCCS is a free autocoder that codes large files of industry and occupation free-text descriptions to Census industry and occupation codes, NAICS codes, and SOC codes.

NIOCCS can also crosswalk data. Crosswalking is the mapping of a code from one industry or occupation classification system to another, or to a different code within the same industry and occupation classification system for a different year.

Classification systems are updated regularly, so crosswalk files help link data across classification systems to enable analysis. Learn more about crosswalking for NAICS, SOC, and Census.

If you want to code DURING data collection

Use one of these to code WHILE you collect data: