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Simplify: How to quickly code industry and occupation data

Posted on by Stacey Marovich, MHI, MS, PMP, MCTS; Susan Nowlin; and Amy Mobley, MEn

“As a graduate student in public health, I wanted to survey workers to gather information on workplace safety and health. I conducted a survey to find out what jobs (occupations) and industries use mobile devices while working. I now have 3,209 surveys to analyze and I’m not sure where to begin…”

It can be daunting turning survey information from thousands of people into something useful. Each survey respondent has a different job or may work in a different industry and all of this information is in text. How is it possible to efficiently examine the job and industry data to find out how we can best protect workers?

Because people describe their jobs in many ways, to conduct most analyses, the text describing respondent job and the industry need to be converted into standardized codes or numbers. For instance, one person may write in their survey that they are an “IT specialist,” whereas another person may write that they are an “Information Technology Specialist”. These are the same job and have the same standard code, but they are described differently.

To assign standard codes to the many ways people describe their job and industry, NIOSH designed and launched a software application that takes descriptive information fields (e.g. “IT specialist”) and gives them a standardized numeric code. In this case, both “IT specialist” and “Information Technology Specialist” would be given the same occupation code. In the example given above, these codes would allow the grad student to analyze the survey information to see if there are differences in use of mobile devices while working among industries and occupations.

The NIOSH software application is called The NIOSH Industry and Occupation Computerized Coding System (NIOCCS). It is a free, web-based software application that translates industry and occupation (I&O) text to standardized industry and occupation codes. It is used by:

  • occupational researchers
  • federal government agencies
  • state health departments
  • other organizations that collect and/or evaluate information using I&O

How does NIOCCS work?

  1. Go to the NIOCCS page. If you have a large number of records to code, you’ll need to register for a NIOCCS account. If you have only a few records, you can enter them in to get the standard code without having to register for an account.
  2. Provide the industry and occupation text you need coded. If you have only a few records you can enter these without uploading a file. If you have a lot of records, it’s fastest to upload the information in a file format. The file must be a delimited text file and include at least:
    • Record ID – this is an identifier that must be a unique value per record (e.g. 12345 or ID12345)
    • Industry text – the type of business in which a person works (e.g. car dealership, hospital, livestock farm, construction, etc.)
    • Occupation text – the job or kind of work a person performs at their place of work (secretary, nurse, farmer, building painter, etc.)
  3. Code assignment. NIOCCS automatically codes the majority of the records but some records may still need codes to be assigned manually, especially if there are problems with the data like misspellings or incomplete descriptions. NIOCCS provides computer-assisted coding features to aid you in selecting appropriate codes for those records not automatically assigned.
  4. Download your results. Once the processing is complete, you can view the output of a single code, or download the coded file, which includes the original input data fields plus standardized Census, NAICS, and SOC industry and occupation codes.

For more details, see the NIOCCS User Documentation.

This is just one of the many tools NIOSH provides to help researchers, employers, workers and others get the most out of safety and health data. Learn about other software tools NIOSH has available.

Stacey Marovich, MHI, MS, PMP, MCTS, is an Information Technology Specialist in the NIOSH Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, & Field Studies.

Susan Nowlin, is an Information Technology Specialist in the NIOSH Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, & Field Studies.

Amy Mobley, MEn, is a Health Communications Specialist in the NIOSH Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations & Field Studies.

Posted on by Stacey Marovich, MHI, MS, PMP, MCTS; Susan Nowlin; and Amy Mobley, MEn

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