What's in a job? Using the DOT as a basis of vocational evaluation.

Determining wage-earning capacity has its roots in the analysis of transferability of skills, and the transferability of skills to other jobs has its roots in the DOT. The DOT, or Dictionary of Occupational Titles, a publication of the U.S. Employment Service (USES), has been used since 1939, thereby having decades of information and research on which it is based.  The DOT provides a wide range of occupational information with application to job placement, occupational research, career guidance, and labor market information. The DOT, however, does not provide information about wages, hours worked, or other contractual issues.

The DOT defines occupations, not jobs.  Job requirements are defined by the particular employment situation.  The USES specifically recommends when specific job requirements are needed that information should be supplemented with data from jobs in the relevant community. Changes in job requirements due to technological advancement, labor market conditions and job task restructuring continue to occur at a rapid pace making the gathering of specific duties of a job essential.

The DOT is assigned a unique code which includes information about the industry, category, division and groups to which the occupation belongs.  The code provides information regarding the worker functions and training needed to perform the job.  Training is identified by the specific vocational preparation time or skill attainment it takes to learn the job. Skill levels are outlined as unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled.   The general educational development is also defined in the code. Education and training are achieved through school, technical programs, military, work experience, and apprenticeships. The general educational development includes reasoning, math and language development.

Particularly important is the identification of the Physical Demand Strength rating included in the DOT Code. This rating corresponds to physical restrictions outlined by an evaluee’s treating physician and is often the basis for determining which occupations may be appropriate post-injury. The strength rating is expressed by five terms which are generally described as follows:

Sedentary – Exerting up to 10 lbs. of force occasionally, and/or a negligible amount of force frequently. Sedentary work involves sitting most of the time, but may involve walking or standing for brief periods of time.

Light – Exerting up to 20 lbs. of force occasionally, and/or up to 10 lbs. of force frequently, and/or a negligible amount of force constantly.

Medium – Exerting 20-5- lbs. of force occasionally, and /or 10-25 lbs of force frequently, and/or greater than negligible up to 10 lbs. of force constantly.

Heavy – Exerting 50-100 lbs. of force occasionally, and /or 25-50 lbs. of force frequently, and/or 10 to 20 lbs. of force constantly.

Very Heavy – Exerting in excess of 100 lbs of force occasionally, and/or in excess of 50 lbs. of force frequently, and/or in excess of 20 lbs. of force constantly.

Although some consider the DOT outdated, it is still the best-published source for occupational information we have. It is a guide or starting point that is supplemented by research conducted by the prudent Vocational Rehabilitation consultant.

We offer complimentary consultations concerning "hypothetical matters."  To strategize with one of our experts at Stokes & Associates, please call David Barrett at 504-454-5009 or email dbarrett@stokes-associates.com.

Larry S. Stokes, Ph.D.
Aaron Wolfson, Ph.D.
Todd Capielano, M.Ed., LRC, CRC, LPC, CLCP
Lacy Sapp, MHS, CRC, LPC, LRC, CLCP