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April 5, 2013
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Nurse practitioner, computer network specialists two new largest occupation classifications

24 newly defined detailed occupations

WASHINGTON (April 5, 2013) — Computer network support specialists, with employment of 167,980 in May 2012, and nurse practitioners, with employment of 105,780, were 2 of the largest new occupations in the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. These are 2 of 24 newly defined detailed occupations.

Nurse practitioners (NPs) have been providing primary, acute and specialty healthcare to patients of all ages for nearly half a century.

Nurse practitioners (NPs) have been providing primary, acute and specialty healthcare to patients of all ages for nearly half a century. There are 105,780 NPs employed in the U.S.

The data in this news release are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, which provides employment and wage estimates by area and by industry for wage and salary workers in 22 major occupational groups and 821 detailed occupations. In addition, national employment and wage estimates for 94 minor occupational groups and 458 broad occupations are available for the first time.

New 2010 SOC Occupations

• Other large newly defined occupations include computer network architects, with employment of 137,890, and web developers, with employment of 102,940. Phlebotomists, who draw blood for tests, transfusions, donations, or research, had employment of 100,380 in May 2012.

• Some new occupations were quite small: genetic counselors, wind turbine service technicians, and solar photovoltaic installers each had employment of less than 5,000.

• Several newly defined occupations earned high wages relative to the U.S. annual mean of $45,790. Nurse anesthetists had an annual mean wage of $154,390, nurse practitioners, $91,450, and nurse midwives, $91,070. Information security analysts had an annual mean wage of $89,290 and computer network architects, $94,000.

• Orderlies, with an annual mean wage of $25,700, was among the lowest paid occupations new to the 2010 SOC. Phlebotomists ($30,910), ophthalmic medical technicians ($35,590), and community health workers ($37,490) also had wages below the U.S. average.

Occupational profiles for all occupations are available on the BLS website at

Major Occupational Groups

• Among the 22 major occupational groups, office and administrative support had the largest employment in May 2012, making up more than 16 percent of total U.S. employment. Sales and related occupations was the second largest major group with nearly 11 percent of U.S. employment. The sales and related group includes the two largest detailed occupations in the U.S. — retail salespersons and cashiers. These two occupations combined accounted for nearly 6 percent of U.S. employment in May 2012.

• The smallest major occupational groups included legal occupations and life, physical, and social science occupations, each making up less than 1 percent of total employment.

• The highest paying major occupational groups were management, legal, computer and mathematical, and architecture and engineering occupations. Most of the detailed occupations in these groups were also high paying. In fact, all 19 of the detailed occupations in the computer and mathematical group had mean annual wages above the $45,790 average for all occupations. Within these 19 occupations, annual mean wages ranged from $50,130 for computer user support specialists to $106,680 for actuaries. In the architecture and engineering group, 34 of the 35 detailed occupations paid above-average wages.

• The lowest paying major occupational group was food preparation and serving related occupations with an annual mean wage of $21,380. All but 1 detailed occupation within this major group had average wages below $32,000. The exception was chefs and head cooks, with an annual mean wage of $46,570, slightly above the all-occupations average. In the personal care and service occupational group, which had an annual mean wage of $24,550, only 3 of the 33 detailed occupations had above-average wages.

Private and Government Employers

The OES program provides data for private employers and federal, state, and local governments separately.

• The private sector accounted for over 90 percent of employment in more than half of the detailed occupations, including 6 of the 10 largest occupations in the U.S. Almost all of the 4.3 million retail sales workers, 3.3 million cashiers, and 2.3 million waiters and waitresses were employed in the private sector. Of the 10 largest occupations in the private sector, 7 had annual mean wages below $30,000. Among the largest occupations in the private sector, general and operations managers ($115,930) and registered nurses ($68,070) had the highest wages.

• Five of the 6 largest occupations in the public sector were education related: elementary school teachers, except special education; middle school teachers, except special and career/technical education; secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education; teacher assistants; and substitute teachers. Over 75 percent of employment in each of these occupations was in the public sector, and for each, over 95 percent of their public sector employment was in local government. Other occupations with a large share of employment in local government included firefighters and police and sheriff’s patrol officers.

• Correctional officers and jailers (237,380), general office clerks (183,800), and registered nurses (138,210) were the largest occupations in state government. Combined, these 3 occupations accounted for over 12 percent of all state government employment.

• Three of the 6 largest occupations in the federal government were specific to the U.S. Postal Service–postal service mail carriers; postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators; and postal service clerks — which combined accounted for 19 percent of federal employment. Also among the largest federal government occupations were registered nurses, management analysts, and compliance officers.

OES data by ownership are available on the BLS website at


• Healthcare and social assistance was the industry sector with the largest employment in May 2012. Registered nurses and nursing assistants were the largest detailed occupations in this sector, with about 2.3 million and 1.3 million jobs, respectively. About 71 percent of registered nurses in the health care and social assistance sector were in hospitals, while nearly 63 percent of nursing assistants in the sector were employed by nursing and residential care facilities.

• Retail trade was the second largest industry sector in May 2012. Nearly 53 percent of the retail sector’s employment came from 3 detailed occupations: retail salespersons, cashiers, and first-line supervisors of retail sales workers. Other large industry sectors in May 2012 included educational services, manufacturing, and accommodation and food services.

• Industries with the highest annual mean wages in May 2012 included 3 from the finance and insurance sector — securities and commodity exchanges ($98,670), other financial investment activities ($95,190), and securities and commodity contracts intermediation and brokerage ($94,760). Other high-paying industries included oil and gas extraction ($92,270) and software publishers ($91,050). These industries tended to be small in terms of employment and the largest occupations within them tended to pay high wages. For example, 9 of the 10 largest detailed occupations in software publishing had mean annual wages well above average, including systems software developers ($104,960), applications software developers ($99,140), and market research analysts and marketing specialists ($88,670).

• Restaurants and other eating places, in the accommodation and food services sector, had the lowest mean wage in May 2012 at $21,520. Nine of the 10 largest detailed occupations in this industry had wages that averaged less than $23,000. The retail trade sector included 7 of the 10 lowest-paying industries, including gasoline stations, book stores and news dealers, and shoe stores. Cashiers, with an annual mean wage of $18,920, made up 66 percent of employment in gasoline stations. Retail salespersons was the largest occupation in book stores and news dealers and in shoe stores, with mean wages of $21,240 and $21,190, respectively.

OES data by industry are available on the BLS website at

States and Areas

• States with high total employment, such as California, Texas, New York, and Florida, also tended to have the highest employment of many individual occupations. For example, Texas and California had the highest employment of aircraft mechanics and service technicians, 12,110 and 11,420, respectively. However, smaller states often had higher-than-average shares of employment for particular occupations. For example, as a share of total employment, Alaska and Oklahoma each had nearly 4 times as many aircraft mechanics and service technicians as the U.S. as a whole.

• Similarly, the largest metropolitan areas tended to have the highest numbers of jobs in many individual occupations, but smaller metropolitan areas often had higher concentrations of specific occupations. For example, New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa., and Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va., had the highest employment of detectives and criminal investigators, although neither area had a particularly high concentration of this occupation. However, Laredo, Texas, had a concentration of detectives and criminal investigators roughly 17 times the U.S. average followed by Las Cruces, N.M., with a concentration of nearly 12 times the average for this occupation.

• Wages for occupations also varied considerably across states and metropolitan areas. For example, annual mean wages for accountants and auditors ranged from $54,620 in North Dakota and $57,140 in West Virginia to $87,370 in the District of Columbia and $85,140 in New York. Wages for this occupation varied even more by area than by state: among metropolitan areas with at least 100 accountants and auditors, annual mean wages ranged from $47,820 in Jefferson City, Mo., and $48,320 in Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio-W.Va., to $87,740 in Ocean City, N.J., and $91,240 in New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J.

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