Standard Occupational Classifications (SOC) Extension Project

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The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) is a coding framework used to classify occupations, enabling comparisons of occupations across different datasets. It assigns all jobs a four-digit code based on the skills and qualifications needed for the job. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is responsible for maintaining and updating the SOC codes.

Many Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) users reported that the existing four-digit structure is not detailed enough for their needs.

The SOC extension project has addressed this need by creating an additional level of detail within SOC 2020. This level of the classification is termed “Sub Unit Group” (SUG) and is comprised of six digits. An initial version of the extended framework was released for publication in April 2021. Following ongoing development and refinement, an updated edition of the framework is now available.

This revised version increases the number of occupational groups from 412 within the four-digit structure to 1,463 at six digits. To help support use of the framework, ONS have also developed supporting materials including:

  • Sub Unit Group descriptions which provide greater clarity about the types of role contained within each Sub Unit Group.
  • A version of the SOC 2020 Index which includes around 30K UK job titles now matched to their corresponding six-digit identifier.

The latest version of the extended framework, supporting materials and more information about the project can be found on the on the ONS website.

A recently published blog on GOV.UK provides more information about the project and ongoing developments. Existing users and those with an interest in SOC may also be interested in attending an upcoming live show and tell session.   This will be held on the 10th November. Tickets to this session are available via Eventbrite.

The SOC Extension Team can be contacted by email at

Further information relating to SOC 2020 at 4 digits, including the structure and unit group descriptions can be accessed via the ONS website.