In modern usage, the word “job” has different meanings depending on how, when, or by whom it is used.  Moreover, “job” is often used interchangeably with the words “Occupation”, “Position”, and “Task”.  To eliminate this confusion and to clarify terms, the United States Employment Service (USES) developed definitions for the following terms for use in job analysis:



An Element is the smallest step into which it is practical to subdivide any work activity without analyzing separate motions, movements, and mental processes involved.




A Task is one or more elements and is one of the distinct activities that constitute logical and necessary steps in the performance of work by the worker.  A task is created when human effort, whether physical or mental, is exerted to accomplish a specific purpose




A Position is a collection of tasks constituting the total work assignment of a single worker.  There are many positions as there are workers in the country.




A Job is a group of positions within an establishment[1] which are identical with respect to their major specific tasks and sufficiently alike to justify their being covered by a single analysis.  There may be one or many person employed in the same job




An Occupation is a group of jobs, found at more than one establishment, in which a common set of tasks are performed or are related in terms of similar objectives, methodologies, materials, products, worker actions, or worker characteristics.


Element, task, and job are relative concepts; an activity that is an element in one job could be a task in another job, and could be a job in and of itself for a third worker.  The following example illustrates this point.  “Slices cold meats and cheese’ is an element in the job of a short order cook, a task in the job of a sandwich maker, and the total job of a deli cutter-slicer.







Prepares and cooks, to order, food, requiring short preparation time

Prepares sandwiches

Slices cold meats and cheese by hand or machine


Prepares sandwiches

Slices cold meats and cheese by hand or machine



Slices cold meats and cheese by hand or machine





            In the analysis of jobs it is necessary to determine where jobs begin and where they end.  The analyst must be able to analyze a group of positions, determine the number of jobs existing among the positions, and then determine the exact nature of these jobs.

            Jobs must be analyzed as they exist; therefore, each completed Job Analysis Report  (JAR) must the job s it exists at the time of the analysis, not as it should exist, not as it has existed in the past, and not as it exists in similar establishments.

                Basically, every job analysis should represent a description of one job; no more and no less.  Tasks temporarily assigned to a given worker in addition to regular duties should not be considered part of the basic job.  The following examples are the kinds of situations which the analyst may encounter in job analysis studies:



The Worker Performs a Specific Cycle or Sequence of Operations.  The analyst should begin with the first task the worker is called upon to do and consider the work steps successively.  For example, the tasks for some machine operating jobs may be arranged in the following order: (1) sets up machine; (2) operates machine; (3) removes workpieces; (4) maintains tools; and (5) maintains machine


The worker has no regular cycle of operations.  This situation is usually more difficult to analyze since it frequently involves a considerable variety of tasks.  Therefore, the analyst should organize the information according to the function.


For example, a chemist could (1) test and analyze raw materials or manufactured products for conformance to plant standards; (2) conduct controlled experiments for purposes of devising new methods for improving production or testing and analyzing raw materials and products, of adapting substances to new uses, and of recovering and utilizing by-products; and (3) supervise workers engaged in manufacturing processes and operations, including the measuring and mixing of ingredients and the control of chemical reactions during processing.


The worker frequently changes from one set of duties to another.  For example, four workers are performing a set of duties witch include (1) weighing out specified amounts of loose tobacco; (2) packing the weighed tobacco into shape boxes in which the tobacco is compressed into cakes in a mashing machine; (3) taking shape boxes from mashing machine and removing the cakes of pressed tobacco from the shape boxes; and (4) cutting the tobacco cakes into large squares.  Since the workers frequently rotate to relieve monotony, the duties involved actually constitute one job, all phases of which are performed by all the workers.


The worker performs a given set of duties although in emergencies the worker performs duties involved in other jobs.  For example, in an aircraft factory a group of workers are known as fuselage frame builders, rib frame builders, and spar builders.  The workers are engaged in framework assembly.  Each assembles various members of a unit fuselage, wing, rib, or wing spar in a jig, and then temporarily secures the assembly with screws, bolts, or tack welds prior to final riveting or welding operations.  Although the jobs are interchangeable to the extent that any one of the workers performs the duties of any one of the others in emergencies, the workers perform their respective jobs in regular production work.  Situations such as these should be considered separate jobs.



      All job analysis methods require that certain categories of information about jobs be collected, analyzed, and recorded in a systematic way.  The method used by USES recognizes two major areas of job information: Work Performed and Worker Characteristics.  The specific categories of information under each are job analysis components.  Each job analysis component has a specific number of factors, which are defined subcomponents.  Factors are assigned to a given job based the evaluation of the activities and requirements of the job.


Work Performed Components

      Work Performed includes those job analysis components that relate to the actual work activities of a job and constitute information that should be reflected in the job summary and the body of a well-written job description.  The Work Performed Components consist of:

Worker Functions: The ways in which the job requires the worker to function in relation to data, people and things, as expressed by mental, interpersonal and physical worker actions.  Every job is assigned three worker functions that best characterize the worker’s primary involvement with data, people, and things, and the predominance of each function is indicated.  These estimates provide useful information about the work performed.  This job analysis component contains 24 indentifying functions and is discussed in chapter 3.

Work Fields: These are groupings of technologies and socioeconomic objectives that reflect how work gets done and what gets done as a result of the work activities of a job, or in work, such as in processing of materials, fabricating products, utilizing data, and providing services.  The 96 Work Fields are defined and discussed in chapter 4.

Materials, Products, Subject Matter, and Services (MPSMS): MPSMS include (A) basic materials being processed such as fabric, metal, or wood; (B) final products being made, such as automobiles or baskets; (C) data, when being dealt with or applied, such as in dramatics or physics, and (D) services being rendered, such as barbering or dentistry.  Chapter 5 contains information about this component.

Worker Characteristics Components


            The worker characteristics component includes job analysis components which reflect worker attributes which contribute to successful job performance.  The Worker Characteristics components consist of:


General Educational Development (GED): Education of a general nature which contributes to reasoning development and to the acquisition of mathematical and language skills that are required of the worker to achieve satisfactory job performance.  GED is estimated on the basis of discreet scales for reasoning, mathematical, and language development and is discussed in Chapter 7.

Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP): Vocational preparation that involves acquiring information, learning the techniques, and developing the facility for acceptable performance in a specific job.  The application of SVP in job analysis is discussed in Chapter 8.

Aptitudes: Capacities or abilities required of an individual in order to facilitate the learning of some task or job duty.  The 11 aptitudes included in this component are defined and discussed in Chapter 9

Temperaments: Adaptability requirements made on the worker by the job-worker situation.  This component consists of 11 factors, which are defined and discussed in chapter 10.

GOE (Interest Areas): A liking or preference of an activity.  The twelve interest factors used by the USES in job analysis are explained in Chapter 11.

Physical Demands and Environmental Conditions: Physical demands are defined as the physical requirements made on the worker by the specific job-worker situation.  Environmental conditions are the surroundings in which a job is performed.  This component is defined and discussed in Chapter 12.



        The technique of sentence analysis has been devised to help the analyst express a job-worker situation in standard, concise form.  Use of this technique makes it easier for an analyst to collect complete job information, to assign correct ratings for Ratable Work Performed components (Worker Functions, Work Fields, and MPSMS), and to write the summary section of the job description. Application of the sentence analysis technique in job analysis is discussed in Chapter 6.

Machines, Tools, Equipment, and Work Aids


      Machines, tools, equipment, and work aids, (MTEWA), are instruments and devices used to carry out work activities and are defined as follows:



Machines: Devices which are a combination of mechanical parts with the framework and fastenings to support and correct them, and are designed to apply a force to do work on or move materials to process the data.  A machine may be activated by hand or foot power applied through levers or treadles, or outside power sources, such as electricity, steam, or compressed air.  Included are printing presses, drill presses, casting machines, forging machines, conveyors, hoists, locomotives and automobiles. 


Tools: Devices or implements which are manipulated by hand to do work or move materials.  Included are common hand tools, plus those manipulated by the worker and activated by outside power sources, such as electricity or compressed air.  Examples are pneumatic hammers, cutting torches, paint-spray guns, electric powered screwdrivers, and electric cutters.


Equipment: Devices which generate power, communicate signals, or have an effect upon materials through application of light, heat, electricity, steam, chemicals, or atmospheric pressure.  Examples are ovens, stills, forges, cameras, and power generating devices.  Also included in this category are non-processing devices, such as PBX switchboards, radio transmitters, ammeters, and signal light systems.


Work Aids: Miscellaneous items that cannot be considered as machines, tools, or equipment, and yet are necessary for carrying out the work.  Included are (1) supportive devices such as jigs, fixtures, clamps, vises, or anvils; (2) special measuring, hand manipulated devices, such as micrometers, calipers, gauges, rules, squares, and tapes; (3) graphic instructions, such as blueprints, sketches, maps, charts, wiring diagrams, manuals, and formalized job instructions; (4) substances used in the processing or fabrication of materials and products, such as glue and paints, and (5) musical instruments.



More excerpts from the Revised Handbook for Analyzing Jobs - US Dept. of Labor, 1991

Excerpt courtesy of


[1] Establishment:  A public or private employing unit that produces, provides, and/or sells goods or services at a single, physical location.  An establishment may range in size from a single, self-employed worker to thousands of workers.