How to Use the Occupational Outlook Handbook in Your First Job Search

By Roberto Angulo

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, measures labor market activity in the U.S. economy. It has a lot of current and historical data on the job market, which it makes accessible through its Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The handbook is online and gives you unparalleled access to job descriptions and trends on each occupation. When you have an idea of what jobs you may want to pursue, go to the Occupational Outlook Handbook to research specific jobs, to get an idea of what the work entails, and to see future demand for these types of jobs.

You can browse through the various occupations by navigating through the “occupation groups” on the left-hand menu bar, as shown here, or you can search for jobs based on various criteria such as median pay, required education, and projected growth rate.

Researching careers on the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

As you find occupations that look interesting, click through to get a detailed description of what the job entails, the educational requirements for the role, and the projected outlook for these types of jobs, as shown.


Detailed role description on the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Make note of the tabs on the page where you can click through to see more detail on each attribute for the specific occupation.

The only downside to the handbook is that it may not have some of the newer job descriptions or you may have to decipher some job titles to get an idea on the job you’re looking for. For example, if you’re looking for “data scientist,” you’ll find it under “Computer and Information Research Scientist.”

Overall, the Occupational Outlook Handbook is a great resource that contains a lot of information to give you some guidance. It’s also a good example of U.S. tax dollars at work!