Friday, October 3, 2014

Plan Your Best Career Path with the OOH

By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog

OOH Home Page [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Use the Occupational Outlook Handbook online
to learn more about jobs that interest you.

Don’t let the drab look of a career information website by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) put you off. 

Although it has a plain blue wrapper, the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) site is a rich (but free) online career guidance resource with hundreds of pages of current, useful information on jobs in the United States. In addition to detailed facts on familiar jobs like teachers and accountants, the OOH profiles lesser-known occupations, such as genetic counselors and wind turbine technicians.

Updated every two years, the OOH allows job seekers, the unemployed, students, and others to explore different aspects of occupations. With the OOH, you can access valuable occupational data that can help you make a career choice, career change, and education/training decisions. As you plan your career moves, you owe it to yourself to spend some time with this high-quality tool to learn about your target occupations. The OOH is the most popular publication by the BLS (part of the U.S. Department of Labor) and has been around for many years.

Navigating the OOH Home Page

To get started, go to the OOH home page. The most obvious way to search for an occupation of interest is to enter it in the search box at the upper right. You can also do an “Occupation Groups” search by clicking on an occupation cluster listed on the left side of the home page. If you have certain pay, training, or job growth requirements, search for occupations by using the “Select Occupations By” dropdown lists. You can also do an “A-Z Index” search for job titles or “Browse Occupations” by highest paying, fastest growing, and most new jobs. 

Understanding the Information in Each Occupational Profile

When you get to a page featuring an occupational profile, you’ll see eight tabs: a summary page highlighting key characteristics of the occupation and seven additional tabs, each describing one aspect of the occupation, such as pay or the job outlook. Following is more detail on each part of an occupational profile.

Summary Page

A “Quick Facts” table includes the following information:
  • Median pay
  • Entry-level education
  • Work experience in a related occupation
  • On-the-job training
  • Number of jobs
  • Job outlook through 2022
  • Employment change through 2022


What They Do

  • Definition of the occupation
  • Typical duties
  • Specialties within the occupation
This information may provide good wording to use in cover letters and resumes.

Work Environment

  • Work setting, including potential hazards and physical, emotional, or mental demands
  • Work schedules, including information on hours worked and seasonality of work 

How to Become One

  • Typical entry-level education requirements
  • Typical on-the-job training needed to attain competency in the occupation (if relevant)
  • Licenses, certifications, and registrations (if relevant)
  • Work experience in a related occupation (if relevant)
  • Other experience (if relevant)
  • Advancement (if relevant)
  • Important qualities and skills that are helpful in performing the work 


  • Median annual or hourly wages
  • Chart showing median annual or hourly wages in the occupation in comparison with median annual or hourly wage for all occupations
  • Benefits and union membership (if relevant)
The information in this section may help you in salary negotiations. 


Job Outlook

This page covers projected change in level and percentage of employment, including a discussion of factors affecting occupational employment change, such as industry growth or decline, technological change, demand for a product or service, demographic change, and change in business patterns.

This page also gives job prospects and the expected level of competition (if applicable) and factors that may improve your job prospects.

A table shows employment projections data for the occupations covered in a profile. 

Similar Occupations

This page lists 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 similar work performed and, in some cases, on the basis of the skills, education, and/or training needed to perform the work at a competent level.  This information helps you target occupations related to your past jobs and to find opportunities that may use your transferable skills.  

More Information

  • List of associations, organizations, and government agencies that offer career information for the occupation
  • Links to O*NET (Occupational Information Network), which provides comprehensive information on key characteristics of workers and occupations

Spend Some Time with the OOH for a Better Future

Be sure to include the OOH in your career research! It is very helpful and eye-opening for anyone--even the shyest job seeker--who desires and wants to plan a successful future.

This article was adapted from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Teachers Guide.

No comments:

Post a Comment