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.
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:
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:
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.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH): A-Z Index
- OOH FAQs: links to additional job/career resources
- USA.gov: Jobs/Careers
Photo source: Walk the Goats