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Fall 2011
Vol. 55, Number 3
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Paving the occupational path: A new system for assigning education and training

How do workers prepare for an occupation? Learn about the ways a new system answers that question.

How should you prepare to enter an occupation? It depends, of course, on the occupation. Training and education paths vary widely. But knowing the most common ways people prepare for an occupation helps you identify which one you might pursue—and helps guide you in that pursuit.

For career-guidance purposes, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) assigns education and training categories to occupations. Along with developing the upcoming 2010–20 projections, BLS is implementing a new system of assigning these categories. The new system includes categories for education, experience, and training assignments that give a detailed explanation of the usual requirements for entering and attaining competency in an occupation.

This article provides an overview of the new categories, with examples of each; the box on page 15 uses sample occupations to illustrate the new system. The first section summarizes each of the three categories of education and training: typical education needed for entry, work experience in a related occupation, and typical on-the-job training needed to attain competency in an occupation. The second section explains how BLS developed the system and how economists determined an occupation's category assignments. Sources of additional information are at the end.

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U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Last Updated: September 28, 2011