Occupational Classification: Exploring the Role of Standardization

Occupational classification can be defined as a structured system of categorizing jobs and roles within an organization or industry based on their common characteristics. The purpose of occupational classification is to provide a consistent framework for categorizing and understanding the roles and responsibilities of individuals and groups within the organization. This article examines the importance of occupational classification in the modern workplace, its history and development, and its implications for the current and future of work.

The need for occupational classification is two-fold. First, it provides the basis for job evaluation and promotion decisions. By grouping occupations into standardized categories, organizations can more easily compare jobs and develop systems for assessing and rewarding performance. Second, occupational classification helps to ensure equity in the workplace. By standardizing job titles and roles, organizations are better able to ensure that employees of different backgrounds and experience levels are given equal opportunities and pay for the same job.

The history of occupational classification can be traced back to the 1920s. In the United States, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) developed the first standardized system of occupations. This system was designed to help employers and labor unions negotiate wages and working conditions for their workers. Over the next several decades, the NLRB’s system of occupational classification was further refined and expanded and eventually adopted by other countries and organizations.

In recent years, the need for a more comprehensive and standardized system of occupational classification has become more pressing. This is due to the changing nature of work and the increasing importance of technology in the workplace. As technology has become more prevalent in the workplace, employers have had to develop systems to manage and classify the roles and responsibilities of employees. This has created a need for a standardized system of occupational classification to ensure that employees have the same opportunity for advancement and fair treatment regardless of their job title or role.

The implications of occupational classification for the modern workplace are far-reaching. For one, it helps ensure that employers and employees are given the same opportunities for advancement and pay regardless of their job title or role. Additionally, it provides organizations with the tools to develop more equitable systems for evaluating and rewarding job performance. Finally, occupational classification helps ensure that employees are given the same access to opportunities regardless of their background or experience level.

In conclusion, occupational classification plays a critical role in the modern workplace. By providing a consistent and comprehensive framework for categorizing jobs and roles, it helps ensure fairness and equity in the workplace. Additionally, it provides organizations with the tools to develop more effective systems of job evaluation and reward systems. For these reasons, occupational classification is likely to remain an important part of the modern workplace for years to come.


Bruhn, J. G., & Laughlin, J. M. (2018). Occupational Classification and Job Analysis: Theory and Practice. Cambridge, MA: Emerald Publishing.

Leopold, B. (2020). A History of Occupational Classification in the United States. Journal of Labor Research, 41(1), 1-20.

U.S. Department of Labor. (2020). Occupational Classification System. Retrieved from https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/classification/occ-class

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