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 It has been replaced by the O*NET.


Occupational titles and codes in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) are based on the type of information presented in the lead statement and task element statements described in the previous section: worker actions; the purpose or objective of these actions; machines, tools, equipment, or work aids used; materials processed, products made, subject matter dealt with, or service rendered; the nature and complexity of instructions followed; and the job tasks actually performed by the worker. The more complete and comprehensive the information you are able to assemble about the tasks performed by a worker or required by an employer on a particular job, the easier it will be to determine the appropriate classification.

The Three Occupational Arrangements

There are three different arrangements of occupational titles in the DOT: the Occupational Group Arrangement, the Alphabetical Index, and the Industry Arrangement. All of these can assist you in identifying and classifying jobs.

1) The Occupational Group Arrangement
In this revised edition, as in the fourth edition, the primary method of identifying or classifying jobs is by use of the Occupational Group Arrangement (see Occupational Categories, Divisions, and Groups). For job placement and referral purposes, if you have obtained sufficient information from the worker seeking a job, or the employer placing an order, this is the preferred method to use. The other two arrangements of titles are supplementary and should be used in conjunction with the Occupational Group Arrangement. Using the Occupational Group Arrangement saves time by eliminating the extra step of referring to other sections of the DOT.
To use the Occupational Group Arrangement:
a) Obtain all the relevant facts about the job.
b) Find the 1-digit occupational category which seems most likely to contain the job.
c) Find the most appropriate 2-digit occupational division of the category.
d) Find the best 3-digit group within the division.
e) Examine the occupational definition under the group you have selected and choose the most appropriate title. Read the definition for the title selected carefully before deciding if this is the best possible classification. If it does not correspond closely with the information you have collected, repeat steps (b) to (d) to find the most appropriate classification.

In the process of choosing the appropriate occupational category, division, and group (steps b - d) you will develop information about the job which will be helpful in classifying it. When you are trying to find the most appropriate definition in the occupational group selected (step e), remember that jobs requiring more responsibility and independent judgment have lower worker functions numerals and will be found near the beginning of the occupational group, while those requiring less responsibility and independent judgment have higher numbers and will be found nearer the end.

2) The Alphabetical Index of Occupational Titles
The Alphabetical Index is the second basic arrangement of codes and titles in the DOT. In this section, titles are shown first, including their industry designation. Titles with two or more words, such as ACCOUNT-CLASSIFICATION CLERK (clerical), are treated as one word for purposes of alphabetizing. Following the industry designation, you will find the 9-digit code for the occupation. This will help to find quickly the title and its definition in the Occupational Group Arrangement (OGA). The Alphabetical Index is useful if you are sure of an occupational title, including its industry designation, and just need the 9-digit code, or if you are reasonably sure of a title and its industry designation, but there is more than one such title in the same industry (indicated by a Roman numeral), you could use this index to get the 9-digit codes of the various titles in order to locate and check out their definitions in the OGA. Although it is unwise to classify a job or application based on its title alone, the Alphabetical Index is useful in some situations to identify definitions that are possibly relevant.
To use the Alphabetical Index:

a) Look through the index for the title of the job as you know it. If you find it, write down the 9-digit code printed to the right of the title. Using this code as a guide, find the definition for the title in the Occupational Group Arrangement. Read the entire definition before deciding whether it is the most appropriate classification .

b) If you cannot find the job title, or if the definition appears inappropriate, look for another title. Some clues are:
Invert the title: maintenance carpenter CARPENTER, MAINTENANCE
Contract the title: rubber-belt repairer BELT REPAIRER
Find a synonym: car mechanic AUTOMOBILE MECHANIC
Consider such factors as:
  • Services involved CLEANER AND PRESSER; BROKER
  • Activity performed TEACHER; INSPECTOR

If you have information on several of these factors, however, it may be more appropriate to use the Occupational Group Arrangement.

Some titles listed in the Alphabetical Index are not used in public employment service operations. "Master" and "Term" titles do not have occupational codes and consequently cannot be used. They are easily recognized since the words "Master Title" or "Term Title" appear in place of the code to the right of the title. Alternate titles, which are synonyms for, but less commonly used than base titles, are not standard titles for classification purposes in Job Service operations. They are also easily recognizable since they are in lower-case letters.

3) Occupational Titles Arranged by Industry Designation
The Industry Arrangement of titles may be useful if you have limited information about a job. You may know the industry in which the job is located, but have little or no information about such things as products made, materials used, services rendered, and other essential data. The Industry Arrangement can also be of assistance if a person wants to work in a particular industry, or if you need to learn more about related jobs in the industry.
To use the Industry Arrangement:
a) Look through the industry titles and read their definitions. Select the one most likely to contain the particular job.
b) Survey the occupational titles listed under the selected industry. Choose the title which seems appropriate to the job, and write down the nine-digit code to the right of the title. Using this code as a guide, find the definition in the Occupational Group Arrangement. Read the entire occupational definition before deciding if it is the most appropriate classification.

The basic purpose and use of each of the three arrangements of occupational titles is shown below:

Use . . .     If you . . .

THE                     have sufficient information about the job tasks

OCCUPATIONAL            want to know about other closely related occupations

GROUP                   want to be sure you have chosen the most appropriate

ARRANGEMENT             classification using the other arrangements

OCCUPATIONAL TITLES     know only the industry in which the job is located

ARRANGED BY             want to know about other jobs in an industry

INDUSTRY DESIGNATION    your client wants to work in a specific industry

THE ALPHABETICAL        know only the job title

INDEX OF                and cannot obtain better