FLC Data Center - Frequently Asked Questions


Use O*NET to find an OEWS occupation.

Since September 1999, the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) structure has been used by the Occupational and Statistics (OEWS) program to classify occupational wage information. As of July 1, 2022, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) uses the 2018 SOC structure. The SOC structure provides a common language for categorizing occupations. The SOC also serves as the framework for information being gathered through O*NET OnLine. O*NET provides the general public information on skills, abilities, knowledge, tasks, work activities, and the specific vocational preparation levels associated with occupations. O*NET information can be found at https://www.onetonline.org The O*NET occupation can then be used to find wage data on this site.
How do I determine the skill and wage level?
Information on determining skill and wage levels under the revised prevailing wage guidance for nonagricultural programs is available on the Skill Level Explanation Page.
Why can't I find occupation xx-xxxx (19-1011, 19-3001, etc) that I used to use?

On July 1, 2022, OFLC discontinued use of the 2010 SOC structure and began to use the 2018 SOC structure. More information on the 2018 SOC structure is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) at https://www.bls.gov/soc/2018/home.htm. SOC Revision Policy Committee (SOCRPC) has summarized the 2018 SOC structure changes in the 2018 SOC User Guide, available at https://www.bls.gov/soc/2018/soc_2018_whats_new.pdf.
Why was there such a big change in the wages from one year to the next?

All data is reviewed by BLS staff at both the state and federal level. Because the data is created from a sample of employers, rather than a required census, there are several possible explanations for variations in the data:
  • The data may have been calculated using a smaller or larger geographic area depending on the number and size of respondents in each area.
  • The mix of high paying to low paying employers who were sampled, or who responded may have shifted.
  • Employers may have made different decisions classifying the occupation; for instance some employers may classify an apprentice electrician as an electrician, and some may classify them as an electricians helper.
  • The mix of union to non-union respondents in an area may have shifted.
In general, BLS does not revise the OEWS wage data after release. There is no provision that allows this site to revise the BLS estimates, or to provide any alternative estimates based on data from previous years.

What are some ways to search faster? Search Hints
  • Make a list of your frequently used Area Codes and Occupation Codes.  Knowing the Area Code allows you to use the Quick Search and pick your desired occupation from the provided list.
  • When using the Quick Search you can enter a partial OEWS/SOC code (as little as four digits, eg. 11-1).  The resulting search will display a list of occupations that start with the partial code.  Each occupation will have a link allowing you to check the wages.
What are Area Codes?

BLS has established Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) and New England City and Town Areas (NECTA) that are each identified by a four or five-digit Area Code.  In addition, each state has identified a number of non-metropolitan areas that are each identified by a six or seven-digit Area Code.
  • If you don't know the Area Code you can find the area by using the Search Wizard and picking the county or township from the provided list.
What are Occupation Codes?
  • There are four main structures used to classify occupations that are referenced by the Online Wage Library.
  • The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics = (OEWS) Survey uses the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) for the collection of wage data.  OEWS/SOC codes are seven-digit codes in the format 00-0000.
  • The Online Wage Library cross-references OEWS/SOC codes to O*NET.  O*NET is a superset of the SOC with some occupations broken out into more detail and identified by a two-digit decimal extension to the SOC code.  For instance, the SOC occupation 11-1011, Chief Executives is subdivided by O*NET into the occupations 11-1011.00, Chief Executives and 11-1011.03, Chief Sustainability Officers.
  • O*NET occupational information is included in the Online Wage Library because it may include more detailed occupational definitions, as well as experience and training requirements.  The wages for the corresponding OEWS/SOC occupation apply to all related O*NET occupations.
What is the Geographic Level (GeoLevel)?
  • If the data used to calculate the wage estimate came from the MSA, non-MSA, or NECTA area the GeoLevel-code will equal "1".
  • If there were no releasable estimates for the desired area, then the wage area is the area indicated plus its contiguous areas.  This is signified by a GeoLevel "2".
  • If there were no releasable estimates for the desired area, or for the desired area plus contiguous areas, the wage is calculated from statewide data, indicated by a GeoLevel "3".
  • Finally, if there is no releasable estimate for the state, the national average is used.  This is indicated by GeoLevel  "4".
How can I improve my Keyword Searches?
  • The Search Wizard allows you either pick an occupation from the provided list, or to enter a keyword or phrase to find occupations that include that keyword.
  • A keyword search requires a minimum of 4 characters.
  • Searches will return partial matches found in the occupational title or description.
  • Better matches may be found by leaving the last few characters off of the keyword.  For instance, entering "secretar" rather than secretary could provide additional matches.
How do I choose which Data Source to use?
  • The Online Wage Library includes Data Sources, the “All Industries” database and the “ACWIA - Higher Education” database. Wages are provided for the current wage year and previous years.
  • Most filers will use the All Industries database for the current wage year.
  • The All Industries Database must be used, unless the employer is subject to ACWIA.
  • Employers subject to ACWIA should use the occupations and wages found in the ACWIA - Higher Education database. These employers are defined in 20 CFR 656.40(e)(1).
  • Certain occupations within the ACWIA - Higher Education database are divided into R&D and non-R&D occupations. Separate wages are listed for these occupations.
  • The All Industries Database must be used, unless the employer is subject to ACWIA.

Changing the Data Source selection will update the list of occupations you can choose from.


The Foreign Labor Certification Data Center is developed and maintained by the State of Utah under contract with the US Department of Labor,
Office of Foreign Labor Certification
. Additional information can be found at: Office of Foreign Labor Certification.
Applications can be filed through the Foreign Labor Application Gateway.