Home » Explained: How we compiled detailed data for 1000+ jobs

Explained: How we compiled detailed data for 1000+ jobs

Explained: How we compiled detailed data for 1000+ jobs

Census director Caroline Deans said it was the first time such detailed occupation-level data has been made publicly available in the census.

Deans said making sure that the text that people entered was matched up to their job was a complex process. For example, if someone typed in ‘teacher’ they would have been prompted to specify whether they taught at primary school or secondary school or a TAFE to ensure they were ushered into the correct occupation.

Among Australian workers, the median yearly full-time income was $79,924 at the time of the 2021 census. We used full-time figures as this information is the most representative and allows for the fairest comparison of different jobs.

And keep in mind that people filled out the census in August 2021 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had an impact on the data. “Half the country was in lockdown on census night,” Deans said.

The pandemic meant that some health-related occupations recorded higher employment numbers, but there was a big drop in the number of people working in tourism-related roles such as tour guides.

“The 2021 census data paints that picture of what Australia was like in August 2021, which was an atypical situation,” she said.

Such was the impact of the pandemic that the wording of the census question on employment was also tweaked so someone who had been stood down temporarily during lockdown could still enter their regular job, she said.

The list of occupations used in the census was determined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in conjunction with New Zealand’s national statistics office and is called the ‘Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations’ (ANZSCO for short).

The first version of this list of occupations came out in 2006 and since then it has been revised several times in line with how the jobs we do have changed and evolved. Some of the most recent additions (which do not show up in the 2021 Census) include data scientist, fire protection plumber and cyber security analyst.

If you couldn’t find your job in the interactive it could be a sign that it’s an emerging role or something that so few people do for a living that it doesn’t justify having a standalone ANZSCO occupation code. But that may soon change.

Christopher Hinchcliffe, the head of a review into ANZSCO, said that in 2023’s federal budget some funding was provided to do a comprehensive review of the list of occupations and that there would likely be new jobs added, some removed and others disaggregated.

For example, one of the most common occupations in Australia is aged or disabled carer but under the proposed changes there will be separate categories for residential aged care worker and disability support worker.

The variety of different jobs that people entered when they filled out the census would also inform the review, he said.

Hinchcliffe said census data on the occupations people undertake was used to help determine trends in the workforce and where there were potential skills shortages. He said the list of occupations themselves were also used by the tax office, Jobs and Skills Australia and insurance analysts assessing the risks associated with different roles.


About the data in the interactive:

Most of the data in the interactive is from the 2021 census carried out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in August 2021. The number of people employed in each job and the median income may have changed since then, particularly if a job was impacted by COVID-19 restrictions in 2021 or by the post-COVID economic environment.

Job titles are based on ANZSCO 2013 (Version 1.3) codes. Some new and emerging jobs are not captured by these codes and so do not show up in the data. We match you to your occupation’s official title based on what you type in, and your official title might differ slightly from what you entered. For example, army commandos, naval police coxswains and air force surveillance officers are all classified as ‘defence force members’.

‘Not elsewhere classified’ often includes several niche job types that employ too few people to be assigned a standalone job category. For example, ‘livestock farmer (not elsewhere classified)’ includes dog breeders, crocodile farmers, emu farmers and llama farmers. If your job fell under ‘not elsewhere classified’ you can view a table showing all the other jobs that fell within this category below. Unfortunately, it is not possible to tease out the breakdown within a ‘not elsewhere classified’ category, so while there are 929 people who worked as a ‘Livestock Farmer (not elsewhere classified)’ in Australia in 2021, it’s not possible to tell you how many of them were dog breeders and how many of them were crocodile farmers.

Figures for each job’s full-time median income were calculated by the ABS in a customised report for Nine. When answering the census question on income, respondents could tick a box specifying their personal income range. This amount was total income before tax and included wages, government allowances/pensions, business or rental income, dividends and bank interest. The maximum range of income that people could specify was “more than $3000 a week”, which means that for jobs in which a very high percentage of people earn more than $3000 a week it is not possible to obtain an accurate median.

To avoid identifying individuals in census data, the ABS does not publish suburb totals if there were fewer than three people in a particular suburb who did a particular job at the time of the 2021 census.

The median income figure for otorhinolaryngologists is from 2020-21 Australian Taxation Office data.

If you have any questions about the data or how to interpret it, please include them in a comment below and I will do my best to answer them.