We provide dozens of detailed industry profiles with information provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. Whether you're researching specific professions or just exploring available career options there's no better place to look.
Our industry profiles are broken down into the following sections:
Nature of the Industry
This section describes the goods produced or the services provided by the industry. It also provides detail on the individual segments of each industry, and discusses notable recent developments.
Goods and services. Industries frequently provide several goods or services. This subsection defines these products or services, and may discuss the processes by which they are produce and distributed. The statement on food manufacturing, for example, explains that this industry uses agricultural goods to create finished food products, which it then sells to grocery stores, restaurants, or directly to consumers. The statement on the broadcasting industry, likewise, explains that broadcasting establishments create radio and television content, and then transmit this content to consumers through cables or radio waves.
Industry organization. This subsection provides a detailed description of each industry segment, including the main function of each segment and the most common work processes The telecommunications industry, for example, is divided into wired services, such as landline telephone and cable TV; wireless services, such as cellular telephones and mobile Internet access; satellite services; and all other telecommunication services. Each of these segments produces and distributes their services in a different manner.
Recent developments. Many factors can affect the structure and function of an industry. New business practices, new laws or regulations, and advances in technology can all make an industry more efficient, lead to the developments of new products and services, or make an industry obsolete. The utilities industry, for example, has seen increased attention on renewable energy, leading to a greater share of resources allocated to renewable energy activities.
Information on working conditions can play an important role in the career guidance process. When choosing a job, individuals may wish to consider factors such as work hours, travel, workplace culture, and injury rates.
Hours. This subsection gives data on the average weekly hours of workers in an industry, statistics on the prevalence of part-time work, and information on typical work schedules. In some industries, employees work largely during normal business hours, while in others, such as healthcare, schedules can vary widely. Part-time work, in addition, is common in some industries, such as child day care services, but rarer in others.
Work environment. The typical work environment of an industry can vary substantially. This subsection describes characteristics such as the physical surroundings of a typical workplace, the level and type of physical activity required, injury rates, the prevalence of travel, and the workplace culture.
The physical surroundings of an industry can have a significant impact on worker satisfaction. For example, workers in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry may spend a large amount of time outdoors, while those in software publishing may spend a considerable amount of time indoors using a computer.
Physical activity and injury rates can also vary among industries. Workers in the construction industry, for example, may be required to work on their feet and lift heavy objects, and experience higher rates of injury and illness than workers in the banking industry, who typically work in an office setting.
Workplace culture can also impact an employee’s experience. Culture can vary from fast-paced to relaxed, from collaborative to individual, all of which may affect a workers level of contentment with a job.
The employment section reports various data, including the number of wage-and-salary jobs in the industry, jobs by geographical region, jobs by establishment size, the number of self-employed workers, and notable worker characteristics.
Occupations in the Industry
An occupation describes the primary duties of a worker, as opposed to an industry, which describes the primary functions of an establishment. Industries are generally comprised of a variety of occupations. This section describes the various occupations that make up the industry, and explains the ways in which each fits into the process of producing goods or delivering services. This information is organized by occupational group, which is a set of occupations that have similar duties and responsibilities. Some industries have a high concentration of a single occupational group, while others employ a wide variety.
Training and Advancement
The Training and Advancement section discusses typical entry-level requirements for the main occupations and occupational groups in the industry, as well as on-the-job training, desirable personal qualities, and opportunities for advancement.
Entry level topics include typical levels of educational attainment, licensing requirements and other regulations, certifications, and alternative paths to entry. Some common forms of education include a high school diploma, a postsecondary vocational award, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree. Licensure requirements are generally established by Federal or State government bodies, and require workers to obtain a certain level of proficiency in a either a task or a range of tasks, usually demonstrated by completing formal education or passing an examination. Licensure requirements can vary by occupation, industry, and State. Certifications are a way for a worker to demonstrate proficiency in a task or duty. Certification programs also may require an applicant to complete formal training and pass an examination, and while generally voluntary, some certifications are required by employers or government bodies.
On-the-job training is instruction that a workers receives after getting a job and is necessary to become fully qualified for the job. On-the-job train can take the form of formal classroom study, apprenticeship programs, or simply receiving instruction from another worker.
Employers may prefer applicants with certain personal qualities, such as good communication skills, precise attention to detail, or the ability to complete strenuous physical tasks. For some entry-level jobs, personal characteristics are more important than formal training. Employers generally seek people who read, write, and speak well; compute accurately; think logically; learn quickly; get along with others; and demonstrate dependability.
Before entering an industry, job seekers may wish to consider the possibilities for advancement. Advancement can come in several forms, including advancement within an occupation, when a worker is given greater responsibilities; advancement into another occupation within an industry, such as leaving a job as a lawyer to become a judge; and advancement to self-employment, such as an automotive technician opening his or her own repair shop.
The Outlook section describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.
Employment change. Many factors are examined in projecting the employment change for each industry. One such factor is changes in technology. New technology can either create new job opportunities or eliminate jobs by making an industry, or portion of an industry, obsolete. The Internet, for example, has increased the demand for workers in the computer systems design and related services industry, as Internet technology has become integral to the business environment. However, the Internet also has adversely affected workers in the air transportation and hotel and other accommodations industries. Since many people now book plane tickets and hotel rooms online, demand for reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks in has diminished in these industries.
Another factor that influences employment trends is demographic change. By affecting the services demanded, demographic change can influence industry growth or decline. For example, an aging population will demand more healthcare services, leading to employment growth in healthcare industry.
Another factor affecting job growth or declines is changes in business practices, such as restructuring businesses or outsourcing (contracting out) work. Corporate restructuring has made many organizations “flatter,” resulting in fewer middle management positions. Also, in the past few years, a number of industries, such as insurance, have been outsourcing sales and claims adjuster jobs to large, 24-hour call centers, leading to lower demand for these workers.
The substitution of one product or service for another can also affect employment projections. For example, consumers, in recent years, have begun to prefer the use of wireless communication devices, such as cellular phones. This may lead to lower employment in the wired telecommunications industry sector, as wired telephone services become less popular over the projection period.
Competition from foreign trade also may affect future employment levels. Often, foreign manufacturers can produce goods more cheaply than they can be produced in the United States, and the cost savings can be passed on in the form of lower prices with which U.S. manufacturers cannot compete. Increased international competition is a factor in the decline in employment in many manufacturing industries.
Job prospects. In some cases, statements discuss job prospects, a relative comparison of job openings to job applicants. Job prospects are affected by several factors, including the creation of new jobs, the number of people who apply for jobs, and the number of people who leave the industry. In some industries, there is a rough balance between job seekers and job openings, resulting in good opportunities. In other industries, employers may report difficulty finding qualified applicants, resulting in excellent job opportunities. Still other industries are characterized by a surplus of applicants, leading to competition or keep competition for jobs. Variation in job opportunities by occupation, educational attainment, size of firm, or geographic location also may be discussed. Even in industries with competition, job openings do exist. Highly qualified individuals should not be deterred from undertaking training for, or seeking entry into, those industries.
Salaries / Pay
Industry earnings. This section discusses typical earnings and how workers are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, piece rates, tips, or bonuses. Within every industry, earnings vary by occupation, experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. Almost every statement contains average weekly earnings for production or non-supervisory workers. Some statements contain earnings data for the major occupations in the industry.
Benefits and union membership. Benefits account for a significant portion of total compensation costs to employers. Benefits such as paid vacation, health insurance, and sick leave might not be mentioned, because they are widespread. In some statements, the absence of these traditional benefits is pointed out. Although not as common as traditional benefits, flexible hours and profit-sharing plans may be offered to attract and retain highly qualified workers. Less common benefits also include child care, tuition for dependents, housing assistance, summers off, and free or discounted merchandise or services. For certain industries, the percentage of wage and salary workers who are members of unions or covered by union contracts is listed.