1. The coding index

Volume 2 of the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) 2020 provides the coding index for the classification. The basic design of the index is the same as that used in SOC 2010. The index consists of an ordered list of job titles, showing the SOC 2020, SOC 2010, SOC 2000 and SOC 90 unit groups to which the job title is classified. In SOC 2020 the International Standard Classification of Occupations 2008 (ISCO-08) code has been added.

The SOC 2020 coding index has been compiled so that users can achieve good quality coding to SOC 2020; new index entries have been added and some deleted.

At the time of publication the coding index for SOC 2020 contains 30,110 entries. New entries were added to deal with new job titles, changes in usage and some redundant titles have been removed. The SOC 2020 numeric code has been given in the examples quoted in these notes.

The index in SOC 2020 Volume 2 follows the principles and layout style, which were first adopted in the Classification of Occupations 1960, to improve the efficiency and accuracy of manual coding. The main principle is listing job titles in reverse word order, for example, “School crossing patrol warden” will be found as:

9232 Warden, patrol, crossing, school

This locates job titles with a common indexing word (in this example, this is “warden”) in a single list and with a default code for cases where the indexing word alone does not provide enough information for more accurate coding.

The Excel version of the index is available from the related downloads section of this page and contains six worksheets:

  • INFO: summary of updates to SOC2020
  • FILE SPEC: SOC2020 coding index file specification
  • SOC2020 coding index: the complete index, which includes new index entries added since publication
  • SOC2020 structure: detailed structure of Unit, Minor, Sub major and Major groups
  • ISCO-08 structure: International Standard Classification of Occupations 2008 structure
  • Abbreviations: the abbreviations found in SOC2010 Volume 2 in alphabetical order

The index and structure are also available to download as csv files from the related downloads section.

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2. Updating the index

All index entries have been examined in the process of allocating them to the unit groups of Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) 2020. Staff in the Classification Unit gathered information on new occupation titles from advertisements for job vacancies, careers websites and scrutinised queries from all sources to identify changes to update the index. The main sources are the queries raised from allocating occupation codes to occupational information contained within:

  • the 2011 Census of Population
  • the Labour Force Survey
  • births and deaths registration records
  • Destination of Leavers from Higher Education

The use of job titles changes over time and new titles are introduced. The Classification Unit seeks to increase its knowledge of jobs, their titles and associated tasks. SOC 2020 users are invited to forward information, which will help in the compilation of the job title index and feed into the work for the next update. If you wish to register as a user of SOC 2020 and receive news on SOC and related classifications, please contact the Classification Unit.

Please contact:

Classification Unit
Office for National Statistics
Segensworth Road
PO15 5RR

Please email: occupation.information@ons.gov.uk

For all other statistical enquiries:

Telephone: 0845 601 3034

Email: info@ons.gov.uk

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3. Coding rules

Indexing word

Job titles are arranged alphabetically under indexing words. The indexing word is usually the word that describes the core set of tasks, which characterise a job. Examples of these are words such as “operator”, “cleaner”, and “attendant”. However, some indexing words are very general terms, which give no indication of the work being performed, such as:

  • boy
  • employee
  • girl
  • hand
  • lad
  • man
  • woman
  • worker
  • workman

These words are ignored for coding purposes.

Equivalent words

The feminine form of a job title is not indexed unless it is very common or its coding is different from the coding of the masculine form, so “actor” is in the index but not “actress”. Similarly, use index entries listed as “man” for “woman” (where there is no index entry for woman) and “person”.

Job titles

Sometimes a job title is just a single word, which links exactly to an index entry and therefore is simple to code:

3413 Actor
2412 Solicitor

The indexing word is rarely enough to enable the job title to be correctly coded. Frequently an indexing word is made specific using a qualifying term, for example to code, “Cake decorator” uses the indexing word “decorator” and the qualifying word “cake”.

Reverse word order

The entries in the index generally appear in reverse word order, for example:

“Betting shop cashier” will be found under

4129 Cashier, shop, betting

Qualifying term

In most cases the job title is made specific by words that are called “qualifying terms”. There are three types of qualifying terms:

  • occupational
  • additional
  • industrial

further defined in the following sections.

Occupational qualifying terms

Words shown separated from the indexing word by a comma are called “occupational qualifying terms” and must precede the indexing word in the job title being coded. For example, use the index entry:

9263 Assistant, canteen

to code “Canteen assistant”

Occupational qualifying terms are indexed in reverse word order, for example, the job title “Stage lighting technician” is indexed as:

5241 Technician, lighting, stage

A job title may contain a further qualifying word that is not listed in the index. For example, there is no index entry “Controller, depot, freight” but the job title “Freight depot controller” is coded using the index entry:

4133 Controller, depot

Similarly, “White clay modeller” is coded from the index entry:

5441 Modeller, clay

and “Bank technician” is coded from the index entry:

3119 Technician

It is important to work in the order of the words. For example, “Hospital office administrator” must be coded from:

4159 Administrator, office
3560 Administrator, hospital

Sometimes a job title is recorded with the indexing word written before the occupational qualifying term, for example, “Controller purchasing”. Where no other words are recorded in the job title, the corresponding index entry can be used, for this example:

3551 Controller, purchasing

Compound word

For compound words, such as “Groundkeeper”, where the last element is an indexing word, go to the list for that indexing word:

5114 Keeper, ground

and “Toolmaker” is indexed under:

5222 Maker, tool

Some very common terms have also been indexed in their natural word order, for example, “Bricklayer” under letter B and “Coastguard” under letter C.

Use of “ad”, “and”, “at”, “de”, “for”, “in”, “of”, “on”, “the”, “to”

Some job titles may be qualified by a clause following the indexing word, for example:

2419 Clerk of the court
5434 Chef de partie

Titles like these are indexed in their alphabetical position at the end of the list for the relevant indexing word, but before any hyphenated double-barrelled entries, for example:

2423 Inspector of taxes

is in the clause entries at the end of the “Inspector” list. These job titles are usually very specific so the index entries must be used with special care. For example, “Council clerk” must NOT be coded from the index entry:

1139 Clerk to the council

Double-barrelled job titles

Sometimes a job title is expressed as two titles connected by a hyphen. Commonly used hyphenated job titles are listed in the index at the end of the list for the first job title. Do not reverse the order of the words, so for example, to code “Fitter-driver” go to the end of list for indexing word “fitter” to find:

5223 Fitter-driver

Do not use the second title in the pair, which would lead to:

8211 Driver-fitter

The hyphen can be read as an oblique. For example, “Receptionist/typist” is coded from:

4216 Receptionist-typist

Where a double-barrelled job title does not appear in the index, look up the first title. For example, “Cataloguer-lister” is coded from:

4131 Cataloguer

Only use the second title if the first is not in the index. For example, “Pestman-fumigator” is coded from:

6121 Fumigator

See also Section 5, Owner/Partner/Proprietor.

Industrial and additional qualifying terms

These qualifying terms can be more freely interpreted than the strict observance of occupational qualifying terms. They may be used where they are part of the job title, or where they can be inferred from it, or they may have been provided in answer to a question other than one asking for details of a person’s job title. Some examples are shown in the following notes.

Additional qualifying terms

Sometimes the qualifying term is more easily stated in terms of the type of material worked with, the machinery used, or the process involved. These additional qualifying terms enable several specific terms to be summarised in a more general word and are shown in the coding index in the ADD column. Two examples of additional qualifying terms are:

the job title “Steel plate moulder” is coded from the index entry:

5212 Moulder, plate (metal)

the job title “Gold leaf cutter” is coded from the index entry:

5449 Cutter, leaf (precious metals)

Additional qualifying terms can also, in a few cases, take the form of professional qualifications to differentiate between occupations. Two examples are:

the job title “Cost accountant” has the following index entries:

2421 Accountant, cost (qualified)
4122 Accountant, cost

the job title “Thermal engineer” has the following index entries:

2129 Engineer, thermal (professional)
5315 Engineer, thermal

The coder is referred to the Engineer (professional) list so that any information on the professional specialism can be used to reach the appropriate occupation code. For example, for the job title “Marine technical consultant” go to the index entry:

Consultant, technical – see also Engineer (professional)

to use:

2122 Engineer (professional, marine)

Industrial qualifying terms

Industrial qualifying terms are shown in the coding index in the IND column and can take the form of an industry or branch of industry in which the person works. The abbreviation “mfr” is used to cover manufacturing, making, building and repairing.

The industrial qualifying term “government” includes both government departments and government agencies at national, regional and local levels.

An industrial qualifying term is used in the example, “Tractor driver on a farm”, which is coded from the index entry:

8229 Driver, tractor (agriculture)

Similarly, the job title “Furnaceman” – industry “steelworks” is coded from the index entry:

8115 Furnaceman (metal trades)

Order of qualifying terms

The list for an indexing word may contain some or all types of qualifying terms. Use the qualifying terms in the order they are listed in the coding index: occupational, then additional, and then industrial.

Default index entries

Where a code number appears against an indexing word, the indexing word is used as a default index entry.

The default index entry is used to code all job titles which include the indexing word, but which cannot be coded from any of the index entries with occupational, additional, or industrial qualifying terms. The following examples explain the default convention.

The job title “Wedding caterer” is coded from the default index entry:

5436 Caterer

because “wedding” is not in the list of occupational qualifying terms and none of the additional or industrial qualifying terms for indexing word “caterer” relate to “wedding”. For job title “College laboratory technician” the default index entry:

3111 Technician, laboratory

is used since none of the other index entries for “laboratory technician” include the word “college”. In the same way, the job title “Hospital office administrator” is coded from:

4159 Administrator, office

because hospital is not in the list of other index entries for “Office administrator”, the default entry is used. As mentioned previously, the order of the words is significant. The index entry:

3560 Administrator, hospital

must NOT be used for “Hospital office administrator”.

Another example of the use of a default code is the entry:

9223 Cleaner

There are several entries for the indexing word “cleaner” with occupational, additional and industrial qualifying terms. The default entry is used when:

  • none of the qualifying terms apply, or
  • only the word ”cleaner” has been recorded with NO other occupational, additional or industrial information

The use of the default entry, as described in the second bullet point, does not apply when there is an “nos” (not otherwise specified) entry in the list for the indexing word, see the following section.

Use of “nos” – not otherwise specified

An index entry with “nos” listed as an additional qualifying term is used more precisely than a default index entry. The abbreviation “nos” is used to denote that the index entry can only be used where the job title has been recorded without any other information to use as occupational, additional or industrial qualifying terms. For example, the list of index entries for “Chemist” has a “nos” entry and a default entry.

The job title “Pigment chemist” is coded using the default index entry:

2111 Chemist

because the word “pigment” does not appear in the occupational qualifying terms in the list for chemists.

The job title “Chemist” working in the retail trade is coded using the index entry:

2251 Chemist (retail trade)

The job title “Chemist”, with no other information, is coded using the index entry:

2251 Chemist, nos

Use of “see” and “see also”

Where the list for one indexing word can be used for another indexing word the coder is directed to “see” or “see also”. These referral statements are used in different ways.

For a job title that has alternative spellings, for example:

Advisor – see Adviser

Where a job title is sufficiently similar in its coding to that of all, or some, of the entries for another job title, for example:

Minder, machine – see also Machinist

A pair of empty brackets indicates words enclosed by brackets, so use only that part of the list with a job title followed by a bracketed qualifying term. These appear at the end of the occupational qualifying terms, for example:

Manager, section – see Manager ( )

use the manager entries starting at Manager (catering)

The words “see also” appear where the coder must check the entries at that point in the index before going to the other list, for example:

1251 Factor, estate Scotland
3223 Factor, housing Scotland: local government
1251 Factor, housing Scotland
7131 Factor, motor
Factor – see also Dealer

use the Dealer list only after checking the entries for Factor.


It is common for some job titles to be abbreviated and these abbreviations are indexed at the beginning of each relevant letter, for example:

1112 MEP

is the index entry for MEP (which is the abbreviation for Member of the European Parliament) and it is in the list of abbreviations at the beginning of letter M.

6311 PCSO

is the index entry for PCSO (which is the abbreviation for Police Community Support Officer) and it is at the beginning of letter P.

Sometimes grades or qualifications are used as job titles and written as abbreviations. These are listed in the index. For example:

2411 QC

for Queen’s Counsel.

2240 MRCVS

for Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

The abbreviations “cnc” and “nc” are occupational qualifying terms, which stand for “computer numerically controlled” and “numerically controlled”. They are most often used with job titles such as “Press setter”, “Machine setter”, “Programmer” and“Operator”.

Assistant, Deputy, Principal, and so on as prefixes

Job titles prefixed by words that indicate a position in a hierarchy, for example:

  • apprentice
  • assistant
  • chief
  • departmental
  • deputy
  • head
  • principal
  • senior
  • trainee
  • under

are normally coded as though the prefix words were not present.

For example, the job title “Assistant radiographer” is coded from:

2254 Radiographer

The job title “Assistant funeral director” is coded from:

6138 Director, funeral

There are a few exceptions where the coding is altered by such a qualifying word and in those instances the complete title is indexed, for example:

2439 Secretary, private, principal
4215 Secretary, private

See also Section 5, Apprentice/Graduate apprentice /Management trainee/Trainee for the conventional coding of certain apprentices and trainees, and Section 5, Engineer for terms used with Engineer.

Assistant, Deputy, Principal, and so on as indexing words

As well as prefixing a job title, “assistant”, “deputy”, and “principal” can also be titles in their own right.

For example, in the job title “Chef’s assistant”. “assistant” is the indexing word so this title is coded using the index entry:

9263 Assistant, chef’s

Similarly, “Radiographer’s assistant” is coded from:

6131 Assistant, radiographer’s

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4. Coding conventions

Conversion to job title

Occupation information is not always given as a job title and sometimes the response must be converted before it can be found in the index. Verbs or parts of verbs are normally converted to nouns, except in the following instances:

  • banking
  • building
  • catering
  • engineering
  • printing

For example, “engineering” is not converted to “Engineer” and “banking” is not converted to “Banker” but descriptions such as “packing” can be converted to “Packer”.

Similarly convert “inspection” to “Inspector”, “repair” to “Repairer” and “work” to “Worker”, except for “shop work” and “brick work”.

The Armed Forces and the Civil Service

Many members of the Armed Forces and, to a lesser extent the Civil Service, have jobs that are unique to those industrial sectors. The most common job titles for Forces personnel are included in the index, for example:

  • commander
  • corporal
  • sergeant

Where the specific term is not given, for members of the Armed Forces, if officer rank is known, code to 1161, otherwise code to 3311.

Similarly, many terms used in the Civil Service will be found in the index.

However, where members of the Armed Forces and the Civil Service give job titles that equate to jobs found outside these organisations, for example, “Vehicle mechanic”, “Radio operator”, “Statistician”, use these titles to code the occupation, rather than rank or grade.

Diplomatic personnel

Members of foreign or Commonwealth diplomatic staffs are coded 1111.


The word polytechnic is treated as synonymous with university. If an occupation includes polytechnic use the entry for university. For example, the job title “Lecturer in polytechnic” is coded from:

2311 Lecturer (higher education, university)

Teaching staff

Teaching staff are generally coded according to the type of educational establishments where they work:

  • higher educational establishments (for example, university, law college, medical school) 2311
  • further educational establishments (for example, agricultural college, secretarial college, technical college) 2312
  • secondary schools (and middle schools deemed secondary schools, and sixth form education) 2313
  • primary schools (and middle schools deemed primary schools) 2314
  • nursery schools (including kindergarten and pre-school) 2315
  • teachers of children, at different levels of education, who have special needs 2316
  • teachers of English as a foreign language 2317
  • teachers of recreational subjects at evening institutes and similar establishments, and private tutors of music 2319
  • Higher level teaching assistants (HLTAs) are coded to 3231 regardless of type of educational establishment
  • information technology trainers 3573
  • other vocational and industrial trainers that teach occupational skills 3574
  • head teachers and principals of all types of educational establishments are coded to 2321. This does not apply to assistant or deputy heads, and assistant or deputy principals, they are coded to their type of educational establishment.
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5. Index entries that refer to notes

Apprentice/Graduate apprentice /Management trainee/Trainee

All persons in training for an occupation or profession should be coded to the relevant occupation or profession for which they are training.

In cases where it is NOT possible to determine the occupation or profession for which they are in training, the following conventions apply for these specific cases:

  • “Management trainee” code 1259
  • “Graduate apprentice” code 2129
  • “Student apprentice” code 2129

“Apprentice”, with no occupational qualifying terms where there is information on industry:

  • construction trades code 5319
  • electrical trades code 5249
  • engineering code 5223

where there is NO information on industry: code 5449

Foremen, Supervisors and Team leaders

SOC 2020 differs from SOC 2010 in that it recognises a specific number of supervisory jobs as distinct occupations, classifying these to a particular unit group. This occurs within the following unit groups:

4142 Office supervisors
5250 Skilled metal, electrical and electronic trades supervisors
5330 Construction and building trades supervisors
6240 Cleaning and housekeeping managers and supervisors
7132 Sales supervisors – retail and wholesale
7220 Customer service supervisors
8160 Production, factory and assembly supervisors
9251 Elementary storage supervisors
9261 Bar and catering supervisors

Where the indexing word consists of “foreman/woman’”, “supervisor” or “team leader”, relevant qualifying words should be checked in the index to determine whether coding to one of these unit groups is appropriate. If the job is not classified to one of these unit groups, the indexing term is ignored, and the job is classified to the occupation being supervised.

For example, the job title “Foreman, maker, cabinet” is coded from index entry:

5442 Maker, cabinet

The job title “Clerical supervisor” is coded from the index entry:

4142 Supervisor, clerical

There are no index entries for “Foreman” over particular groups of workers, so for example “Foreman of labourers” is coded from the index entries for “Labourer”.

The following terms are regarded as synonymous with “Supervisor”1 or “Foreman”:

  • boss
  • chargehand
  • chargeman
  • gaffer
  • ganger
  • headman
  • overlooker
  • overseer
  • team leader
  • and also, assistant foreman, assistant supervisor, and so on.

All these job titles are indexed to aid coding and also refer to the index entries for “Foreman”.

Note that “Supervisor” is not always a synonym for “Foreman”. For example, when used in the context of supervising children with the job title “Playground supervisor”.

Company director/Director/Director of /Managing director

Where “Company director”, “Director”, or “Managing director” is recorded without any occupation qualifying terms, code as follows:

  • if any industry information is available code from the Director ( ) entries
  • if no match is found from the Director ( ) entries, go to Manager ( ) entries
  • if no other information is available code to 1259, except Managing director, which codes to 1139

Owner/Partner/Proprietor/Sole Trader

The list for indexing word “owner” is also used for “partner”, “proprietor” and “sole trader”. But where another job title is stated, code to that job title. For example, “Owner taxi driver” is coded from the index entry:

8213 Driver, taxi

The job title “Partner bookkeeper” is coded from the index entry:

4122 Bookkeeper

The job title “Proprietor and hairdresser” is coded from the index entry:

6221 Hairdresser

The job title “Sole trader carpenter” is coded from the index entry

5316 Carpenter

Where no other job title is stated, refer to the index entries for “Owner”.


The job title “Engineer” presents difficulty in coding because it is commonly used in a variety of circumstances. The index includes various job titles for specific engineers that may be used by both professional engineers (usually classified in major group 2) and by those who are not regarded as professional within the classification.

If the title to be coded is prefixed by the terms:

  • advisory
  • chief
  • chartered
  • consultant
  • design
  • development
  • principal
  • research
  • senior

it can be assumed that the person is a professional engineer. A list of professional specialisms is included at the end of the index entries for “Engineer”.

For example, “Chief aviation engineer” is coded from the index entry:

2126 Engineer, aviation (professional)

Where there is only a single index entry that links to a professional unit group, that can be used, so for example, the job title “Senior quality engineer” is coded from the index entry:

2481 Engineer, quality

The job title “Senior engineer in public health” is coded from the index entries:

Engineer, senior – see Engineer (professional)

which leads to:

2121 Engineer (professional, public health)

In cases of doubt, the person is regarded as non-professional. There are a few industries in which the job titles “Engineer” and “Electrical engineer” are used in a specific sense so these industries are listed as industrial qualifying terms in the index entries for:

Engineer (nos)

Engineer, electrical (nos)

For example, where the job title “Electrical engineer” is recorded with no other information, except that the person is working on merchant vessel Oil Mariner, it is coded from the index entry:

3512 Engineer, electrical (nos) (shipping)


The word “journeyman” is ignored when it is used with another job title. For example, “Bookbinder journeyman” is coded from:

5423 Bookbinder

Leading hand

Where another job title is stated, code to that job title. For example, “Leading hand precision engineer” is coded from:

5224 Engineer, precision

Where no other job title is stated, refer to the index entries for “Leading hand” indexed as Hand, leading.

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