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Classification and coding process

Classification criteria

Occupations are organised into progressively larger groups on the basis of their similarities in terms of both skill level and skill specialisation.

The conceptual model adopted for this statistical standard uses a combination of skill level and skill specialisation as criteria to design major groups that are meaningful and useful for most purposes. The eight major groups are formed by grouping together sub-major groups, using aspects of both skill level and skill specialisation.

The skill level criterion is applied as rigorously as possible at the second level of the classification, the sub-major group level, together with a finer application of skill specialisation than that applied at the major group level. each sub-major group is made up of a number of minor groups.

Minor groups are distinguished from each other mainly on the basis of a finer application of skill specialisation than that applied at the sub-major group level. Within minor groups, unit groups are distinguished from each other on the basis of skill specialisation and, where necessary, skill level.

Virtually all unit groups are at one skill level. There are only eight unit groups that contain occupations at more than one skill level. In all but two of these unit groups, the vast majority of jobs classified to the unit group are at only one skill level. Data stored at unit group level can therefore be aggregated by skill level with a high degree of validity.

Within unit groups, the distinction between occupations amounts to differences between tasks performed in occupations. All occupations are at one skill level.

As a result, data classified at the major group level willl provide only a broad indication of skill level. Data at the sub-major group level will provide a satisfactory indication of skill level for many analytical purposes. Data classified at the unit group level will provide an accurate indication of skill level and will be able to be aggregated by skill level only.


Occupation is an hierarchical classification with five levels. The major group level of the classification has 8 categories. The sub-major group level of the classification has 43 categories. The minor group level has 97 categories. The unit group level has 358 categories and the Group level has 1033 categories – excluding residual categories.

The residual categories are defined in Glossary and references.

The full classification is available in Download of classification.

The major groups of the classification are:

  1. Managers
  2. Professionals
  3. Technicians and Trades Workers
  4. Community and Personal Service Workers
  5. Clerical and Administrative Workers
  6. Sales Workers
  7. Machinery Operators and Drivers
  8. Labourers

The following example shows how the classification is divided using the different levels of the structure.

1               Managers
13             Specialist Managers
135           ICT Managers
1351         ICT Managers
135111     Chief Information Officer

Coding Process

Most information is obtained from direct questions asking for the occupation or job title and, depending upon the survey, the main tasks and duties applicable to that occupation or job. Data collection methods are usually interviewer-administered or self-administered.

For statistical survey processing, it is the occupation title given by the individual that is classified and given the appropriate classification code.

A codefile is used to code responses. A codefile is a comprehensive list of probable survey responses and the classification categories to which they are coded. The codefile for occupations contains a wide variety of occupation titles.

Statistical surveys classify occupational information through a coding process whereby a response is converted to a numeric code. Computer-assisted coding is generally used, whereby the codefile is kept with all occupation and job titles alongside the relevant classification code.

Given any job or occupation title the codefile should assist in determining whether there is a corresponding entry. If there is, the appropriate code can be applied.

Where there is no corresponding entry, it becomes necessary to obtain other information that may lead to the appropriate code or occupation description. This should be done by considering the tasks and duties undertaken in the occupation.

As ANZSCO is an hierarchical classification, Statistics NZ surveys can assign data to its different levels. Generally this will be at a specific level of the classification, as decided upon by the survey collecting and producing the data. For example, the Census of Population and Dwellings would classify responses to the six digit level and the Migration Survey would classify responses to the three digit level.

Residual categories are available for responses that are too vague. For example, engineer is an occupation title that could, with additional information, be classified to any major group of the classification. Without the additional information, the title is not detailed enough to allow accurate coding to a specific category or level of the classification.

For further guidance on coding decisions see Appendix 1.

Special categories


A person working as a manager must be performing managerial tasks, such as planning, organising, and coordinating the activities of the workplace to be classified to major group 1. If the tasks given are not considered to be managerial in nature, a more appropriate code elsewhere in the classification should be allocated.

Supervisors/Team Leaders

The concept of supervisor is a person who controls and supervises a group of workers without doing any managerial tasks or duties. Persons stating 'supervisor' should be classified to the occupation category that they supervise regardless of whether they are the senior member of a team or whether they are in fact doing supervising tasks and duties.

Apprentices and Trainees

These are classified to the occupation for which they are being trained.

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