United States Department of Labor
Office of Administrative Law Judges Law Library

Note: The DOT was created by the Employment and Training Administration, and was last updated in 1991. It has been replaced by the O*NET.



Master definitions describe work duties that are common or potentially common to a number of jobs. Jobs in which the common duties are an essential part refer to the Master definition title as a device to save space and to avoid repetition of the common duties. Clues to classifications of jobs utilizing Master definitions are provided.

APPRENTICE (any industry)

A worker who learns, according to written or oral contractual agreement, a recognized skilled craft or trade requiring one or more years of on-the-job training through job experience supplemented by related instruction, prior to being considered a qualified skilled worker. High school or vocational school education is often a prerequisite for entry into an apprenticeship program. Provisions of apprenticeship agreement regularly include length of apprenticeship; a progressive scale of wages; work processes to be taught; and amount of instruction in subjects related to the craft or trade, such as characteristics of materials used, physics, mathematics, estimating, and blueprint reading. Apprenticeability of a particular craft or trade is best evidenced by its acceptability for registration as a trade by a State Apprenticeship agency or the Federal Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. Generally, where employees are represented by a union, apprenticeship programs come under the guidance of joint apprenticeship committees composed of representatives of the employers or the employer association and representatives of the employees. These committees may determine need for apprentices in a locality and establish minimum apprenticeship standards of education, experience, and training. In instances where committees do not exist, apprenticeship agreement is made between apprentice and employer, or an employer group. The title APPRENTICE is often loosely used as a synonym for beginner, HELPER (any industry) aster Title, or TRAINEE (any industry). This practice is technically incorrect and leads to confusion in determining what is meant. Typical classifications for apprentices are BLACKSMITH APPRENTICE (forging); MACHINIST APPRENTICE (machine shop); PLUMBER APPRENTICE (construction).

CLEANER I (any industry)

Maintains premises of commercial, institutional, or industrial establishments, office buildings, hotels and motels, apartment houses, retirement homes, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, or similar establishments in clean and orderly condition, performing the following duties: Cleans rooms, hallways, lobbies, lounges, rest rooms, corridors, elevators, stairways, and locker rooms and other work areas. Sweeps, scrubs, waxes, and polishes floors, using brooms and mops and powered scrubbing and waxing machines. Cleans rugs, carpets, upholstered furniture, and draperies, using vacuum cleaner. Dusts furniture and equipment. Polishes metalwork, such as fixtures and fittings. Washes walls, ceiling, and woodwork. Washes windows, door panels, and sills. Empties wastebaskets, and empties and cleans ashtrays. Transports trash and waste to disposal area. Replenishes bathroom supplies. Replaces light bulbs. Classifications are made according to type of establishment in which work is performed. Typical classifications are CLEANER, COMMERCIAL OR INSTITUTIONAL (any industry); CLEANER, HOSPITAL (medical ser.); CLEANER, HOUSEKEEPING (any industry); CLEANER, INDUSTRIAL (any industry); HOUSECLEANER (hotel & rest.).


Applies engineering principles to design, modify, or develop facilities, testing, machines, equipment, or processes used in processing or manufacturing products: Analyzes product or equipment specifications and performance requirements to determine designs which can be produced by existing manufacturing or processing facilities and methods. Analyzes engineering proposals, process requirements, and related technical data pertaining to industrial machinery and equipment design. Determines feasibility of designing new plant equipment or modifying existing facilities considering costs, available space, time limitations, company planning, and other technical and economic factors. Provides technical information concerning manufacturing or processing techniques, materials, properties, and process advantages and limitations which affect long range plant and product engineering planning. Compiles and analyzes operational, test, and research data to establish performance standards for newly designed or modified equipment. Studies engineering and technical publications to keep abreast of technological changes and developments in industry. Classifications are made according to type of process or specialization. May use computer-assisted engineering software and equipment.


Conducts analytical studies on engineering proposals to develop design for products, such as engines, equipment, machines, associated and subsystems components, and aerospace structures, utilizing and applying engineering principles, research data, and proposed product specifications. Analyzes data to determine feasibility of product proposal. Confers with research personnel to clarify or resolve problems and develops design. Prepares or directs preparation of product or system layout and detailed drawings and schematics. Directs and coordinates manufacturing or building of prototype product or system. Plans and develops experimental test programs. Analyzes test data and reports to determine if design meets functional and performance specifications. Confers with research and other engineering personnel and prepares design modifications as required. Evaluates engineering test results for possible application to development of systems or other uses. Design engineering personnel are classified according to discipline. May use computer-assisted engineering software and equipment.

DRAFTER (profess. & kin.)

Prepares working plans and detail drawings from rough or detailed sketches and notes for engineering or manufacturing purposes according to dimensional specifications: Calculates and lays out dimensions, angles, curvature of parts, materials to be used, relationship of one part to another, and relationship of various parts to entire structure or project, utilizing knowledge of engineering practices, mathematics, building materials, manufacturing technology, and related physical sciences. Creates preliminary or final sketch of proposed drawing, using standard drafting techniques and devices, such as drawing board, T-square, protractor, and drafting machine, or using computer-assisted design/drafting equipment. Modifies drawings as directed by engineer or architect. Classifications are made according to type of drafting, such as electrical, electronic, aeronautical, civil, mechanical, or architectural.

HELPER (any industry)

A worker who assists another worker, usually of a higher level of competence or expertness, by performing a variety of duties, such as furnishing another worker with materials, tools, and supplies; cleaning work area, machines, and equipment; feeding or off bearing machines; holding materials or tools; and performing other routine duties. A HELPER (any industry) Master Title may learn a trade but does so without an agreement with employer that such is the purpose of their relationship. Consequently, the title HELPER (any industry) is sometimes used as synonym for APPRENTICE (any industry) Master Title, a practice that is incorrect technically. A worker whose duties are limited or restricted to one type of activity, such as moving materials from one department to another, feeding machines, removing products from conveyors or machines, or cleaning machines or work areas is not technically a HELPER (any industry) and is classified according to duties performed as MATERIAL HANDLER (any industry); MACHINE CLEANER (any industry); CLEANER, INDUSTRIAL (any industry). A worker who performs a variety of duties to assist another worker is a HELPER (any industry) technically and is classified according to worker assisted as BRICKLAYER HELPER (construction); DRY-CLEANER HELPER (laundry & rel.).

RESEARCH ENGINEER (profess. & kin.) alternate titles: development engineer

Conducts research in a field or specialization of an engineering discipline to discover facts, or performs research directed toward investigation, evaluation, and application of known engineering theories and principles. Plans and conducts, or directs engineering personnel performing, complex engineering experiments to test, prove, or modify theoretical propositions on basis of research findings and experiences of others researching in related technological areas. Evaluates findings to develop new concepts, products, equipment, or processes; or to develop applications of findings to new uses. Prepares technical reports for use by engineering or management personnel for long- and short-range planning, or for use by sales engineering personnel in sales or technical services activities. Classifications are made according to discipline. May use computer-assisted engineering software and equipment.

SALES ENGINEER (profess. & kin.) alternate titles: marketing engineer

Sells chemical, mechanical, electromechanical, electrical, electronic equipment and supplies or services requiring knowledge of engineering and cost effectiveness: Calls on management representatives, such as engineers, architects, or other professional and technical personnel at commercial, industrial, and other establishments in attempt to convince prospective client of desirability and practicability of products or services offered. Reviews blueprints, plans, and other customer documents to develop and prepare cost estimates or projected increases in production from client's use of proposed equipment or services. Draws up or proposes changes in equipment, processes, or use of materials or services which would result in cost reduction or improvement in operations. Provides technical services to clients relating to use, operation, and maintenance of equipment. May draw up sales or service contract for products or services. May provide technical training to employees of client. Usually specializes in sale of one or more closely related group of products or types of services, such as electrical or electronic equipment or systems, industrial machinery, processing equipment or systems, air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment, electric power equipment, or chemical goods.

SALES REPRESENTATIVE (retail trade; wholesale tr.) alternate titles: sales agent; sales associate

Sells products to business and industrial establishments or individual for manufacturer or distributor at sales office, store, showroom, or customer's place of business, utilizing knowledge of product sold: Compiles lists of prospective customers for use as sales leads, based on information from newspapers, business directories, and other sources. Travels throughout assigned territory to call on regular and prospective customers to solicit orders or talks with customers on sales floor or by phone. Displays or demonstrates product, using samples or catalog, and emphasizes salable features. Quotes prices and credit terms and prepares sales contracts for orders obtained. Estimates date of delivery to customer, based on knowledge of own firm's production and delivery schedules. Prepares reports of business transactions and keeps expense accounts. Classifications are made according to products sold as SALES REPRESENTATIVE, FOOD PRODUCTS (wholesale tr.); SALES REPRESENTATIVE, INDUSTRIAL MACHINERY (wholesale tr.).

SALESPERSON (retail trade; wholesale tr.)

Sells merchandise to individuals in store or showroom, utilizing knowledge of products sold: Greets customer on sales floor and ascertains make, type, and quality of merchandise desired. Displays merchandise, suggests selections that meet customer's needs, and emphasizes selling points of article, such as quality and utility. Prepares sales slip or sales contract. Receives payment or obtains credit authorization. Places new merchandise on display. May wrap merchandise for customer. May take inventory of stock. May requisition merchandise from stockroom. May visit customer's home by appointment to sell merchandise on shop-at-home basis. Classifications are made according to products sold as SALESPERSON, AUTOMOBILE ACCESSORIES (retail trade; wholesale tr.); SALESPERSON, BOOKS (retail trade); SALESPERSON, SURGICAL APPLIANCES (retail trade).


Tends one or more sewing machines that automatically join, reinforce, or decorate material or fabricated articles: Places spool of thread on spindle and draws thread through guides, tensions, and eye of needle. Inserts bobbin into shuttle and draws thread through slot in shuttle wall, or draws thread through guides and looper eyes. May pull boxes of flatfolded material into feeding position or place roll of material on brackets at entry end of machine. May thread material through feed rollers and guides. Depresses pedal or moves lever to raise presser foot; positions article parts or material under needle, using edges, seams, or markings on fabric as guides, and lowers presser foot. Presses pedal or button to start machine that stops as material runs out or thread breaks. May cut material, using scissors, when specified length of cloth has been sewn. Observes sewing operation to detect defective stitching, breaks in thread, or machine malfunction. Rethreads machine, replaces defective or broken needles, using pliers, or notifies SEWING-MACHINE REPAIRER (any industry) of machine malfunction. May remove rolls or trucks of material from discharge end of machine. May select supplies, such as fasteners or thread, according to specifications or color of fabric. May oil machine. May cut excess thread, using scissors or blade attachment on machine. May tend machine equipped with blade attachment that automatically trims selvages. May tend multiple-needle machine that joins two or more layers of cloth to reinforce them. Classifications are usually made according to function of machine as FASTENER-SEWING-MACHINE OPERATOR (any industry); HEMMER, AUTOMATIC (tex. prod., nec); SERGING-MACHINE OPERATOR, AUTOMATIC (any industry); TACKING-MACHINE OPERATOR (any industry).


Operates various sewing machines to join parts of fabricated articles or garments: Places spool of thread on spindle of machine and draws thread through machine guides, tensions, and eye of needle. Inserts bobbin into shuttle and draws thread through slot in shuttle wall, or draws thread through guide and looper eye. Presses knee lever, depresses pedal, or moves hand lever to raise presser foot or spread feed cups. Positions parts to be joined under presser foot and needle and lowers presser foot. Starts, stops, and controls speed of machine, using pedal or knee lever. Guides parts under needle, using fingers and hands, and following edges, seams, guides on machine bed, or markings on part. Observes stitching to detect defects and notifies supervisor or SEWING-MACHINE REPAIRER (any industry) when defects are caused by machine malfunction. May select sewing supplies, such as binding, braid, cord, piping, tape, thread, or welt, according to specifications or color of material. May cut excess material or thread, using blade attached to machine or scissors. May oil machine, change needles, or secure modifying attachments to machine. Classifications are usually made according to type of machine, garment part sewn, product fabricated, or modifying attachment on machine.

SUPERVISOR (any industry) alternate titles: boss; chief; leader; manager; overseer; principal; section chief; section leader

Supervises and coordinates activities of workers engaged in one or more occupations: Studies production schedules and estimates worker-hour requirements for completion of job assignment. Interprets company policies to workers and enforces safety regulations. Interprets specifications, blueprints, and job orders to workers, and assigns duties. Establishes or adjusts work procedures to meet production schedules, using knowledge of capacities of machines and equipment. Recommends measures to improve production methods, equipment performance, and quality of product, and suggests changes in working conditions and use of equipment to increase efficiency of shop, department, or work crew. Analyzes and resolves work problems, or assists workers in solving work problems. Initiates or suggests plans to motivate workers to achieve work goals. Recommends or initiates personnel actions, such as promotions, transfers, discharges, and disciplinary measures. ay train new workers. Maintains time and production records. May estimate, requisition, and inspect materials. May confer with other SUPERVISORS (any industry) to coordinate activities of individual departments. May confer with workers' representatives to resolve grievances. May set up machines and equipment. When supervising workers engaged chiefly in one occupation or craft, is required to be adept in the activities of the workers supervised. When supervising workers engaged in several occupations, is required to possess general knowledge of the activities involved. Classifications are made according to process involved, craft of workers supervised, product manufactured, or according to industry in which work occurs. Classifications are made according to workers supervised.

SUPERVISOR (clerical) alternate titles: section chief; section head

Supervises and coordinates activities of clerical workers: Determines work procedures, prepares work schedules, and expedites workflow. Issues written and oral instructions. Assigns duties and examines work for exactness, neatness, and conformance to policies and procedures. Studies and standardizes procedures to improve efficiency of subordinates. Prepares composite reports from individual reports of subordinates. Adjusts errors and complaints. ay perform or assist subordinates in performing duties. May keep time and personnel records, and oversee preparation of payrolls. ay hire, train, and discharge workers. Classifications are made according to type of work or functions of unit supervised as SUPERVISOR, COMPUTER OPERATIONS (clerical) 213.132-010; SUPERVISOR, TELEPHONE CLERKS (tel. & tel.) 239.132-010; TYPING SECTION CHIEF (clerical) 203.137-014.

TEST ENGINEER (profess. & kin.)

Conducts environmental, operational, or performance tests on electrical, mechanical, electromechanical, general industrial, or experimental products, such as aircraft, automotive equipment, industrial machinery and equipment, controls, and systems: Designs, and directs engineering and technical personnel in fabrication of testing and test-control apparatus and equipment. Directs and coordinates engineering activities concerned with development, procurement, installation, and calibration of instruments, equipment, and control devices required to test, telemeter, record, and reduce test data. Determines conditions under which tests are to be conducted and sequences and phases of test operations. Directs and exercises control over operational, functional, and performance phases of tests. Confers with scientific, engineering, and technical personnel to resolve testing problems, such as product or system malfunctions, incomplete test data, and data interpretation, considering such factors as conditions under which test was conducted and instrumentation, procedures, and phase of test used to obtain and record data. Analyzes and interprets test data and prepares technical reports for use by engineering and management personnel. Testing engineers are classified by field of engineering. May use computer-assisted engineering software and equipment.