Occupation Overview

What is an occupation?

Occupations are a way of defining and grouping jobs that require the performance of similar or identical sets of tasks. There are eight major occupation groups as defined by the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO).

ANZSCO groups occupations according to their tasks and skill level. The most highly skilled groups are Managers, Professionals, and Technicians and Trades Workers (significant shares of workers in these groups hold post-school qualifications). The lowest skilled are Labourers, Machinery Operators and Drivers, and Sales Workers (less than half of these workers hold post-school qualifications).

Few people recognise the wide range of occupations and employment opportunities available in the Australian labour market. The Occupation Matrix includes data for around 330 occupations covering the whole labour market. Further information is available at joboutlook.gov.au.

In which occupations do Australians work?

The occupation groups which account for the largest numbers of jobs are

  • Professionals (more than 3 million, or almost one in four Australian workers)
  • Technicians and Trades Workers (almost 1.8 million)
  • Clerical and Administrative Workers (almost 1.8 million).

The specific occupations with the largest job numbers are

  • General Sales Assistants (529,700)
  • General Clerks (281,800)
  • Registered Nurses (278,900).

Which occupations have gained or lost jobs?

Employment grew in all major occupation groups over the five years to November 2018. Consistent with the long term trend towards more highly skilled jobs, the largest numbers of new jobs created over the past five years were for Professionals (up by 476,100 or 18.7%, representing 39% of all new jobs).

The specific occupations which recorded the largest numbers of new jobs over the five years to November 2018 were

  • General Clerks (up by 55,900)
  • Aged and Disabled Carers (47,200)
  • Registered Nurses (42,600).

Share of total new jobs, 5 years to November 2018 (%)

Occupations which recorded the largest employment falls over the past five years were

  • Secretaries (down by 22,600)
  • Sales Representatives (13,400)
  • Metal Fitters and Machinists (9,800).

In which occupations do young people work?

Young workers (aged 15 to 24 years) are predominantly employed in occupations which do not require post-school qualifications. Consistent with this, young people account for 40% of Sales Workers.

Specific occupations with the largest numbers of young people are

  • General Sales Assistants (263,600 young workers)
  • Checkout Operators and Office Cashiers (94,200)
  • Waiters (88,000).

Employment by occupation group

Employment by occupation group
Occupation group Employment Employment Profile Workforce Educational Profile Projected Employment
Employ’t Nov 2018  5 year change
to Nov 2018
Part-time Female Aged 15 to 24 years Aged 55 years or older Bachelor degree or higher Cert III or higher VET qual No post-school qual 5 year change to May 2023
‘000 ‘000 % % % % % % % % %
Managers 1,581.6 112.0 7.6 14 37 4 25 37 33 26 7.0
Professionals 3,018.1 476.1 18.7 26 55 7 18 76 14 8 10.9
Technicians and Trades Workers 1,793.2 127.7 7.7 16 15 17 15 10 60 25 5.5
Community and Personal Service Workers 1,322.4 179.6 15.7 55 71 25 16 20 44 32 17.5
Clerical and Administrative Workers 1,783.7 114.4 6.9 35 74 10 22 23 31 40 -0.3
Sales Workers 1,115.7 29.0 2.7 59 62 40 13 16 22 56 2.1
Machinery Operators and Drivers 832.4 74.7 9.9 18 10 11 25 8 29 57 4.3
Labourers 1,232.7 113.3 10.1 47 35 24 19 10 24 61 5.5
All Occupations1 12,694.8 1,242.5 10.8 32 47 15 19 32 31 32 7.1

1. Some data are trend and, for these, totals do not add