The International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO) is an International Labour Organization (ILO) classification structure for organizing information on labour and jobs. It is part of the international family of economic and social classifications of the United Nations.[1] The current version, known as ISCO-08, was published in 2008 and is the fourth iteration, following ISCO-58, ISCO-68 and ISCO-88.

The ILO describes the purpose of the ISCO classification as:[2]

a tool for organizing jobs into a clearly defined set of groups according to the tasks and duties undertaken in the job. It is intended for use in statistical applications and in a variety of client oriented applications. Client oriented applications include the matching of job seekers with job vacancies, the management of short or long term migration of workers between countries and the development of vocational training programmes and guidance.

The ISCO is the basis for many national occupation classifications as well as applications in specific domains such as reporting of teaching, agricultural and healthcare workforce information.[3] The ISCO-08 revision is expected to be the standard for labour information worldwide in the coming decade, for instance as applied to incoming data from the 2010 Global Round of National Population Censuses.[4][5]

The ISCO-08 structure

The ISCO-08 divides jobs into 10 major groups:

  1. Managers
  2. Professional
  3. Technicians and associate professionals
  4. Clerical support workers
  5. Service and sales workers
  6. Skilled agricultural, forestry and fishery workers
  7. Craft related trades workers
  8. Plant and machine operators, and assemblers
  9. Elementary occupations
  10. Armed forces occupations

Each major group is further organized into sub-major, minor and unit (not shown) groups. The basic criteria used to define the system are the skill level and specialization required to competently perform the tasks and duties of the occupations.[6]

Major group 1


Major group 2


Major group 3

Technicians and associate professionals

Major group 4

Clerical support workers

Major group 5

Service and sales workers

Major group 6

Skilled agricultural, forestry and fishery workers

Major group 7

Craft and related trades workers

Major group 8

Plant and machine operators and assemblers

Major group 9

Elementary occupations

Major group 10

Armed forces occupations

See also


  1. ^ United Nations Statistics Division. List of international family of economic and social classifications, retrieved 29 March 2011.
  2. ^ International Labour Organization. International Standard Classification of Occupations, retrieved 29 March 2011.
  3. ^ World Health Organization. Classifying health workers: Mapping occupations to the international standard classification, retrieved 29 March 2011.
  4. ^ Hunter D et al. 2009. "Boundaries of the health workforce: definition and classifications of health workers." In: Handbook on monitoring and evaluation of human resources for health. Geneva, World Health Organization.
  5. ^ United Nations Statistics Division. 2010 World Population and Housing Census Programme, retrieved 29 March 2011.
  6. ^ International Labour Organization. Resolution Concerning Updating the International Standard Classification of Occupations. Adopted at the Tripartite Meeting of Experts on Labour Statistics, 6 December 2007.

Further reading