Occupation of employed person

Status: This standard was approved as a departmental standard on June 21, 2010.


Occupation refers to the kind of work performed in a job, a job being all the tasks carried out by a particular worker to complete his or her duties. An occupation is a set of jobs that are sufficiently similar in work performed.

Kind of work is described in terms of tasks, duties and responsibilities, often including factors such as materials processed or used, the industrial processes used, the equipment used, and the products or services provided. Occupations are generally homogeneous with respect to skill type and skill level.

Occupation applies to the contribution of labour to that part of economic activity that is within the production boundary defined for the System of National Accounts.

Employed person refers to those who, during the reference period, had a labour force status of 'employed'. That is, those who, during the reference period:

(a) Did any work at all at a job or business, that is, paid work in the context of an employer-employee relationship, or self-employment. This also includes persons who did unpaid family work, which is defined as unpaid work contributing directly to the operation of a farm, business or professional practice owned and operated by a related member of the same household; or

(b) Had a job but were not at work due to factors such as their own illness or disability, personal or family responsibilities, vacation or a labour dispute. This category excludes persons not at work because they were on layoff or between casual jobs, and those who did not then have a job (even if they had a job to start at a future date).


Though "occupation" applies to jobs, a person can be assigned an occupation classification based on the occupation of a job that he or she currently performs or that he or she performed in the past.

Occupation can apply to a person's main job or other jobs. However, for occupation to be collected through a survey, a person must be associated with a job.

For the Census of Population/National Household Survey, occupation of person usually relates to the job the person held in the reference week. However, if the person did not work during that week but had worked at some time since January 1 of the prior year, the information relates to the job held longest during that period. Persons with two or more jobs were to report the information for the job at which they worked the most hours.

Job, as described in this standard, is compatible with the definition of job in the System of National Accounts (SNA). The definitions states that:

The agreement between an employee and the employer defines a job and each self-employed person has a job. The number of jobs in the economy thus exceeds the number of persons employed to the extent that some employees have more than one job.


European Communities, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations and World Bank, System of National Accounts 2008 (New York, 2009).

Conformity to relevant internationally recognized standards

This standard uses the NOC-S classification and definition of occupation. The classification and its underlying principles are similar to the International Labour Office's (ILO) International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO). ISCO's definition of an occupation as "a set of jobs whose main tasks and duties are characterized by a high degree of similarity" is equivalent to the definition found in this standard. However, ISCO's application is not limited by the production boundary defined for the System of National Accounts (SNA), allowing it to include subsistence activity which is excluded from this standard. The National Occupational Classification for Statistics is not directly based on ISCO but has similar underlying principles of classification that allow for comparison across the two classification systems.

The description of job used in this standard is compatible with the definition of job in the SNA.


International Labour Office, Ralf Hussmanns, Farhad Mehran, and Vijay Verma, Surveys of economically active population, employment, unemployment and underemployment: An ILO manual on concepts and methods (Geneva, 1990).

European Commission, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations and World Bank, System of National Accounts 2008 (New York, 2009).

Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistical Division, United Nations, Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses, Revision 2 (New York, 2008).


Additional information


Relation to previous version

  • Occupation of employed person June 21, 2010 to current

    This standard is completely compatible with the previous standard. Additional definitional information from the National Occupational Classification for Statistics has been added and the classification has been updated.

  • Occupation July 15, 1998 to June 20, 2010
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