The Bureau of Labor Statistics as a Tool for Fiction Writers

Writing Resources2-Blog

If you’re a fiction writer and need to understand or flesh out a character’s job and/or industry, check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on-line resources.

The BLS site contains tons of information, but a particularly helpful resource for job information is the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which gives you job descriptions, work conditions, education needed, pay expectations and job outlook information; all things that can help you keep your character’s work from being flat. Or wrong.

In it, jobs are presented as individual occupations (for example, Air Traffic Controller) and incorporated within broader Occupational Groups (for example, Transportation and Material Moving).

Occupational Groups list specific jobs within that group, and include job summaries, entry-level education, and pay information for each individual job listed. Here’s a partial BLS screen shot of the Transportation and Material Moving Occupational Group:

139_BLS+JobInfo_Transp_7-16-19

The Individual Occupations section expands on specific jobs, providing more details, including a description of the job and work environment; what you need to do to get that job; state and area data; and occupations that are similar to the selected one. Here’s a partial BLS screen shot of the Air Traffic Controllers job:

139_BLS+JobInfo_AirTraffic_7-16-19

If you want to check their accuracy, read their write-up about something you know well. My own sanity-check (of accountants) left me comfortable that the site gives an accurate overview of that profession.

By poking around, you may even discover a job for one of your characters you never would have thought of.


Additional links:

 

Photo source: Walk the Goats


 

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