How to Conduct Comprehensive Transferable Skills Analysis (TSA) in Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Counseling: The Human Services Outcomes (HSO) Approach

Steven Simon, Ph.D., CRC, CLCP


When used in vocational rehabilitation or career counseling, the purpose of TSA is to identify new jobs that can be done with little or no additional experience or training. A long standing trend in TSA, particularly when assessing persons with disabilities, is to use computerized algorithms to identify occupations based on the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) and related tools. Such programs can be purchased, or the service can be obtained on a fee per case basis through the internet. Unfortunately this approach is increasingly based on largely outdated information. It can also result in failure to identify many viable career options that should be considered in counseling. The HSO approach integrates standard methods that consider the DOT when useful, but now gives increasing weight to DOL’s well developed Occupational Information Network (O*NET) and derivative tools, methods used in the Social Security Administration’s disability determination process that supplement required DOT use, and client self-assessment and collaboration in generating a realistic range of new occupations. The HSO approach is described in detail, including tools to assist with assessing specific skills; residual functional capacities for those with impairments and disabilities; step by step instructions for using inexpensive software, text resources, and internet alternatives to generate options; and a model for documentation of TSA results. This article is a late 2019 update of the 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2018 versions.

Note: Further up to date information on identifying and describing skills, and using transferable skills analysis in career decision making and job search can now be found in the new book “RELAUNCH! Stagnation, Change,and Renewal in Mid-Career and Beyond.” Chapter 8, including exercises, is devoted entirely to helping readers accurately self-identify hidden and transferable skills.


Tina was a certified nursing assistant (CNA) working at a nursing home for the past 15 years. She injured her lower back assisting a 200 pound patient from bed to his wheelchair. Even after surgery to repair a ruptured disk she could rarely lift more than about 20 pounds without pain. She also needed to alternate sitting and standing from time to time. She could no longer do the work of a CNA due to the constant standing and walking, and the lifting requirements of most nursing home or home health aide jobs. After a workers compensation evaluation, it was determined that she could not return to her prior work, but had developed strong skills in communicating with elderly persons, understanding their needs, assisting with activities of daily living (ADLs), and doing limited medical assessments, e.g., vital signs. It was found that these skills could be transferred directly to a lighter job of companion. She was able to find a job working for a wealthy elderly lady who needed someone to talk with during the day, help with meal preparation and some ADLs, and take her to medical appointments. Thus, using her transferable skills, Tina was able to find a job that required very little lifting and allowed her to sit when necessary and stand to the extent this was needed. In fact, she found that the companion job paid more than most of the CNA jobs she had in the past.

This article discusses TSA methods for identifying a client’s work skills and applying them to new employment options. For most people, TSA can be useful when there is a need or desire to change occupations. This can happen after a job loss or layoff, if one becomes physically or mentally disabled, or if there is interest in changing to a more satisfying career.

TSA is frequently used to resolve forensic issues, such as in assessing new work capacities of litigants in personal injury cases. These applications tend to encourage vocational consultants to use standard, peer reviewed TSA methodologies in their analyses and testimony, sometimes depending heavily on systems that can rapidly generate computer data. This approach is cost efficient; and it helps in meeting the requirements for admissibility of expert testimony and in withstanding cross examination in courts of law.[i] [ii] However, sole use of such methods can reduce validity of conclusions by encouraging overuse of the outdated U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Dictionary of Occupational Titles [iii] based work classification system and the DOL tools from which these TSA methods are derived.[iv] The DOT was last revised in 1991 and many of the occupational descriptions and tools typically used for TSA predate that by a decade or more.  For career counseling purposes, overuse of this approach can severely distort the range of potentially suitable careers to explore for transferability two decades into the 21st century labor market.

In adjudicating Social Security claims during disability appeals hearings, regulations and guidelines still  require use of the DOT. Regulatory language regarding transferable skills (TS) also supports use of the same TSA methods described above. However, since judges may ask vocational experts’ opinions on applicability of specific skills developed in prior jobs, as well as consider explanations by vocational experts regarding deviations from the DOT, this program can encourage substantial flexibility in generating TS options beyond sole use of the DOT.

Effective TSA can be valuable to counselors in helping clients make good use of prior work and training experiences. In fact, rehabilitation counselors or consultants working in the public sector (e.g., State Vocational Rehabilitation [VR], VA) and their contractors may be obligated by law to consider transferable skills before authorizing or recommending funding for VR programs. Although there are alternative approaches to TSA in counseling, substantial focus in vocational rehabilitation continues to be on the established DOT model. This may be, in part, due to the ease in obtaining TSA data directly and quickly from computer programs or over the internet. However, since vocational rehabilitation (and career counseling in general) should focus on generating the most relevant options for clients to effectively make long term career decisions, our company believes that a comprehensive approach which flexibly combines a variety of evolving TSA methods is the best strategy.

TSA Definitions [1] [v]

Skills are work proficiencies and knowledge obtained from past occupations, education, training, or other life experiences (e.g., hobbies) that require more than a brief period (i.e., greater than about 30 days) to fully learn and apply to a job. Examples are proficiency in writing management reports, proficiency in reading blueprints, knowledge of real estate mortgage loan processing procedures, and knowledge of retail jewelry products. Skills should not be confused with talents or aptitudes, both of which involve specialized performance or learning capacities independent of what is learned through experience or training. Musical talent and math aptitude are examples. Talents and aptitudes may facilitate development of skills, but do not in themselves constitute skills.

It can be easy to confuse skills with job tasks. Job tasks are what a worker does, e.g., “operates a computer.” However, the existence of a job task does not mean that the task is performed in a skilled manner. Job tasks, like operating a computer, may require skills at different levels, such as typing, proficiency in quickly entering different types of data, proficiency in using spreadsheet software, and proficiency in writing and testing computer programs. On the other hand that same job task may require no skills at all if the worker only turns the computer on and off and views a few different screens. Sample statements of skills for several occupations are shown in Appendix A. A complete discussion of the differences between tasks and skills and how skills can be precisely described at different conceptual levels in relation to the tasks to which they are related is now covered in Chapter 8 of the new book RELAUNCH! Stagnation, Change, and Renewal in Mid-Career and Beyond [IV]. In our work with helping clients self-define their most relevant and hidden skills, misunderstanding these distinctions and  incorrectly articulating skills can happen frequently requiring repeat efforts. Use of Chapter 8 has largely corrected the problem.

Skills are transferable when they can be applied to more than one occupation that has physical, mental, and environmental demands consistent with a person’s functional capacities. In rehabilitation work, the phrase residual functional capacities (RFC) refers to those physical and mental capabilities that a person retains after becoming disabled. For example, after her lower back injury, Tina could only perform light jobs that allowed for some flexibility to alternate sitting and standing.

Skilled, semiskilled, and unskilled occupations can be defined using DOT and Social Security Administration (SSA) criteria in terms of length of time needed to learn to fully perform the work and by the amount of judgment required. Unskilled occupations, such as basic assembly, are simple and repetitive, requiring little or no experience or judgment. Semiskilled occupations, such as receptionists, require some experience and/or training, and limited judgment. Skilled occupations, like registered nurses, require the most training, experience, and judgment. Level of skill of occupations can also be defined by the Specific Vocational Preparation time (SVP), i.e., the average length of time for a person to learn to fully perform the occupation through education, training, and experience. Skill levels are defined as follows:

SVP 1 – Short demonstration only

SVP 2 – Beyond short demonstration up to and including 1 month

SVP 3 – Over 1 month up to and including 3 months

SVP 4 – Over 3 months up to and including 6 months

SVP 5 – Over 6 months up to and including 1 year

SVP 6 – Over 1 year up to and including 2 years

SVP 7 – Over 2 years up to and including 4 years

SVP 8 – Over 4 years up to and including 10 years SVP 9 – Over 10 years

Occupations in the DOT at SVP 1 and 2 are generally considered unskilled, SVP 3 and 4 semiskilled, and SVP 5-9 skilled.

In rehabilitation work, when referring to transfer of skills to other occupations, it is generally understood that the new occupation(s) will be skilled or semiskilled, and at a level of skill equal to or less than prior occupations. Skills cannot transfer to unskilled work, since by definition such work requires no skills.

Transferable skills can allow a person to immediately perform a new skilled or semiskilled occupation with only orientation or minimal instruction. For instance, a salesperson who works on his feet all day in a store can transfer sales skills to a sedentary telemarketer job. Only a brief period is needed to learn the product and company procedures. In other situations skills are transferable but more training or experience is required to fully perform the new occupation, even if the new occupation is at a skill level equal to or lower than prior work. Theoretically, an individual could utilize prior skills in more skilled occupations, but in that case, additional skills would clearly need to be developed. Tina, the CNA, could have become an LPN and used some of the skills she developed as a CNA. However, to become an LPN, a more skilled occupation, would have also required additional training.

Note that for transferability purposes, the perspective in this section is consistent with a skills identification method that can help a client precisely assess the unique skills they possess. Other methods, including the DOT and ONET rely on assumptions about standard skill sets that are needed for a group of occupations into which a client’s past work falls. For those, only past and current job titles are needed to conduct the analyses. The three methods are identified in items 3-5 below as METHODS D (DOT), O (ONET), and SI (Skills Identification). Using all three  methods, particularly for career counseling, can add value by expanding the universe of alternative careers and jobs to explore. Thus, if feasible, we recommend use of all three to do the most comprehensive TSA. However, one or more methods can be eliminated, based on the reasons for the TSA, to do a less time consuming or less costly analysis.


Conducting the TSA

The following step-by-step procedure is suggested in doing TSA for assessment and counseling. Step 1 is pertinent for those who have disabilities. In working with persons without defined “disabilities” and when TSA is used in the general career counseling process, most emphasis can be placed on steps 2 and beyond. However, note that even when disability is not a focus, many clients have impairments related to normal aging, such as lifting or bending or handling, e.g., for a person with a “bad back”, chronic tendonitis, knee problems etc., which should be considered in conducting TSA. In the steps below, emphasis is placed on use of objective data, multiple job classification systems and resources, creative thinking, and a collaborative process with the client.

1. Determine the Client’s Residual Functional Capacities (RFC)

For TSA purposes, an individual’s RFC can be described by categories that, to at least some extent, correspond to work requirements described in job classification systems. This is particularly helpful for jobs described in the DOT and in The Department of Labor’s newer Occupational Information Network (O*NET) [vi][vii], which was designed to replace the obsolete DOT.

For DOT titles, the frequency with which various capacities can be accomplished (e.g., lifting, climbing, stooping etc.) can be defined as follows:

Constant – more than 2/3 of the workday

Frequent – 1/3 to 2/3 of the workday

Occasional – up to 1/3 of the workday

Thus, if an individual is described as having a capacity to lift 10 pounds frequently, that would allow for lifting that amount of weight from 1/3 to 2/3 of the typical 8 hour workday.

Physical Capacities – For individuals with physical limitations, the exertional capacities of lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, sitting standing, and walking are most basic. Generally, an individual’s exertional capacity can be categorized as sedentary, light, medium, heavy, or very heavy. These categories are described in the checklist in Appendix B using DOT definitions, with slightly more specificity based on SSA regulations.

Sometimes a single level description, e.g., sedentary, may not be adequate. For example, Jack has a thoracic back injury. His orthopedist says he can lift 10 pounds frequently and 20 pounds occasionally. However, he needs to sit at least 6 hours out of an 8 hour workday and have the option to stand as needed, usually for a few minutes at a time after sitting for 15 minutes or so. Using the definitions, Jack’s RFC with regard to strength allows for work with sedentary requirements as well as a limited range of work having light requirements. That is, the range of occupations open to Jack will be less than for one who is able to stand most of the day and lift up to 20 pounds (light work), but more than for one who only meets the full sedentary requirements, thus being able to lift no more than 10 pounds (sedentary work).

The O*NET system also provides categories for describing exertional requirements for occupations. These are shown in the cluster of O*NET defined Abilities required for various occupations, and also included in the checklist in Appendix B.. However, in O*NET, exertional abilities are described in different terms than descriptors for occupations included in the DOT. Also, in O*NET, exertional requirements are shown in ranked importance compared to all other abilities. For example, if Jack aspires to be a machinist, according to O*NET he would need to exert static strength and trunk strength. However, for machinists, these abilities would be relatively unimportant in comparison to other listed abilities but the actual amount of static and trunk strength required is unspecified. Such information is not as definitive as provided for DOT occupations, but it adds a different perspective from which to view required exertional capacities.

Non-exertional physical capacities do not directly affect the ability to use exertional capabilities. As defined for occupations in the DOT they include climbing, balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, crawling, reaching, handling, fingering, feeling, talking, hearing, tasting/smelling, and use of vision. O*NET similarly includes categories that could be described as non-exertional (physical) such as time spent kneeling, crouching, stooping, or crawling, time spent bending or twisting the body, arm-hand steadiness, near vision, speech clarity, manual dexterity, multi-limb coordination, hearing sensitivity, depth perception, finger dexterity, extent flexibility, wrist-finger speed, far vision, gross body coordination, speed of limb movement, peripheral vision, visual color discrimination, gross body equilibrium, night vision, and glare sensitivity. These O*NET categories are incorporated in both Abilities and Work Context factors

For TSA purposes it is helpful to describe the client’s non-exertional physical capacities in terms of the extent to which they can be accomplished. For example, because of his back condition Jack may only be able to stoop and crouch occasionally (up to 1/3 of the day), although he is capable of doing all other non- exertional tasks frequently (1/3 to 2/3 of the day) or constantly (more than 2/3 of the day). These descriptions can easily be compared to the requirements of occupations listed in the DOT. However, when using O*NET, categories of Abilities or Work Context factors covering non-exertional requirements have the same limitations to those noted for exertional physical capacities. Non-exertional capacities covered for DOT and O*NET occupations are listed and described in the checklist in Appendix B.

Environmental Capacities These are defined in terms of environmental demands of occupations described in the DOT. They involve ability to work under conditions such as weather exposure, extreme cold, extreme heat, wet and/or humid conditions, noise, vibration, atmospheric conditions, proximity to moving mechanical parts (machines), exposure to electrical shock, working in high exposed places, exposure to radiation, working with explosives, exposure to toxic or caustic chemicals, or other specifiable environmental conditions. For DOT occupations, these demands are described in terms of whether or not they exist for each occupation, and to what extent. As for O*NET, most environmental requirements for occupations are described within the Work Context factors for each occupation in the ranked importance format described above. Many of these context factors are more specific and of practical relevance than the DOT factors in terms of day to day functioning of persons with disabilities in specific jobs. For example, O*NET context factors include the comparative importance of requirements for sitting and standing in occupations, a common issue for persons with orthopedic conditions. The complete list of environmentally related DOT and pertinent O*NET factors are included in the checklist in Appendix B.

Mental Capacities – Mental requirements are described for occupations in the DOT under Temperaments. O*NET work context factors also include some job demands related to mental capacities. Again, these are presented in rank order of importance compared to all context factors for each O*NET occupation. The checklist in Appendix B lists the most pertinent DOT and O*NET mental requirements related to a client’s mental capacities. Other mental capacities typically used by examiners in Social Security disability determinations are also included in the checklist. These may be particularly helpful in TSAs for those with serious mental impairments.

Sources of Information to Use in Determining Residual Functional Capacities – It is preferable to base RFC findings on medical reports, and physical and mental capacity examinations. However, when those are limited or non- existent, for TSA purposes, it falls upon the rehabilitation counselor or consultant to estimate based on collaboration with the client, and available medical information.

Using the Checklist to Organize RFC Information – The checklist in Appendix B is included to insure pertinent areas are considered in the RFC assessment. It is not all inclusive, but it does incorporate most factors that will be needed to conduct a comprehensive TSA. Note however that the counselor or consultant can focus on items most significant to each client’s situation.

2. List the client’s unique skills based on prior experience and training/education

Use statements of work proficiencies and knowledge obtained from past occupations, education, training, or other life experiences that require more than a brief period (i.e., greater than about 30 days) to fully learn. You may use the brief statement format as shown by examples in Appendix A. To get the most comprehensive list of skills, including “hidden” skills, i.e., those that are not obvious from the history or are not readily remembered by the client, most clients who have done highly skilled or professional work will be able to formulate a detailed list on their own through instructions and exercises in Chapter 8 of the book RELAUNCH! Stagnation, Change, and Renewal in Mid-Career and Beyond [IV].  If more intensive help is needed to tease out hidden skills, 1-2 hours of interviews by a career counselor may be required.

3. METHOD D – Find potential DOT occupations to which skills transfer using Work Fields (WF)

(Cautionary Note: This DOT based approach can be a time consuming process even when using automated programs. Although it may provide some supplementation to a modern TSA in counseling persons without major disabling conditions, time expended in relation to yield in identifying real jobs in the economy may not justify its use. There have been major changes in the labor market since the DOT was last published in 1991 and newer methods using O*NET may offer better, more up-to-date results. Although use in vocational rehabilitation or for forensic applications is enhanced by ability to integrate, through automation, a client’s residual functional capacity, the issue of labor market changes may still be a challenge for the user.)

Work Fields is a classification system created by the U.S. Department of Labor that places each DOT occupation in one or more Work Fields categories representing the use of similar technologies or results achieved.[i] Examples of Work Field categories are abrading, mixing, teaching, writing, and welding. Work Fields are roughly equivalent to categories of very general skills needed to perform the DOT jobs listed in each Work Field category. Thus, identifying a Work Field for an occupation will automatically create a basis for identifying other occupations with some transferability. Note that some transferable skills methodologies also use the Materials, Products, Subject Matter, and Services (MPSMS) classification system.[ix] [xi] . This is a somewhat more heterogeneous system that classifies DOT occupations on the basis of materials processed, final products made, subject matter dealt with, and services rendered. We focus on WF rather than MPSMS because the limited research available suggests that WF may show a greater influence on transferability in subsequent job placement than MPSMS.[viii]. The client’s past and current job titles can be entered in a Work Fields TSA to find other jobs to which skills will transfer using any of the following sample approaches: [3]

SkillTRAN Job Browser Pro Software[xii] – This program allows for automated search of occupations by Work Fields. Occupations found can then be narrowed by the user manually, based on knowledge of the client’s residual functional capacities compared to physical and environmental requirements of each occupation. Using the latest SkillTRAN Job Browser Pro program, follow the steps in Appendix C  for each prior job.

Occubrowse+ Software [xii] This software increases speed of computer searching by allowing the user to input client residual functional capacities prior to doing an automated search for occupations by work field. Using Occubrowse+, follow the steps in [Appendix C].

Manual Method – For those who do not have the SkillTRAN Job Browser Pro software, steps a-q in Appendix C can be done using the latest edition of the Classification of Jobs (COJ) with crosswalk to O*NET, by Field and Field (available through Elliott & Fitzpatrick, Athens, GA).[ix] Specific O*NET information for occupations can be found at the O*NET website at http://online.O* , including wage and employment data, and long term outlook information.

Internet Based Automated Methods – Several online programs exist that can, for a per-case fee, provide a list of DOT occupations using Work Field and MPSMS analyses. These programs narrow occupations based on counselor or consultant input of RFC and work history information. They also provide automated data suggesting where local jobs may be found. However, counselors or consultants may still need to sift through large amounts of information to determine those occupations that truly exist in the local economy and are relevant to their client’s needs. and are a sampling of providers of this service.

Stand Alone Computer Programs – Programs such as OASYS [xii]and Lifestep [xiii] have historically been available to purchase for use on personal computers. They provide similar information to the internet-based automated methods plus additional features and search capabilities without the per-case fee. However, these programs are costly and could become obsolete when the DOT is no longer in use. Thus, unless very frequent TSAs are being done or they can satisfy other professional practice needs, it may not be cost effective to purchase one of these systems.

4. METHOD O – Find potential O*NET occupations to which skills transfer

(Note: O*NET includes many fewer occupations than the DOT, about 1000 vs. 12,000. Thus both alternatives a and b below identify transferability to broader groupings of occupations rather than highly specific jobs identified using METHOD D. This may be more relevant in modern job settings where workers are often expected to function in broader, more varied work roles than many of the highly specialized jobs of the past described in the DOT.)

a. can be used to search for occupations that are similar to prior work. For veterans, can identify civilian occupations to which military occupations transfer. These sites use algorithms that make it simple to input prior jobs which result in O*NET occupations which use similar skills.

b. The O*NET website now offers advanced searches including a Skill Search (using a brief inventory), a Related Detailed Work Activities (DWA) search and a Related Task Search. These are simple to use and link to the full database of O*NET occupations. They can be accessed and used with current and prior jobs.

5. METHOD SI – Client skills identification

(Note: This method depends on accuracy of the counselor-assisted or client self-assessment of skills, including hidden skills. It also depends on the skill of of the career specialist in analyzing client work history data, quality of collaborative interaction (counseling) with the client, as well as in understanding the labor market and sources of information about careers and jobs. This method would usually be used by a professionally qualified career counselor or rehabilitation counselor/consultant.)

This method uses descriptive background information provided in interviews and work history forms, the list of unique skills and hidden skills developed by the client, the client’s RFC when appropriate, and collaborative discussion with the client. This is potentially the most powerful method because it is entirely individualized to the client’s real experience.  The automated methods (D and O) are based on assumptions and algorithms that sometimes (mechanistically) eliminate viable possibilities. For example, in Tina’s case, her skills from nurse assistant work at the medium strength level easily transferred to work as a companion at the light strength level. However, a Work Field analysis (see item #3 METHOD D above) would not identify companion because it is not classified in the Health Caring-Medical work field that includes nurse assistant. Rather, it is located in the Accommodating work field. This demonstrates a weakness in the assumption that work fields equate to skill categories and that the categories to which an occupation are assigned will be inclusive of all possible occupations with transferability.

Discussion with the client and counselor-assisted or client self-assessment of skills above can be particularly important to bring to light additional skills, “hidden” skills, or those that are very strong, and could therefore be crucial in a search for a new job or career. Standardized and computerized methods tend to treat all skills as equal and thereby fail to take into account differences in strength of skills which can only be clarified in client-counselor interaction. Interest (or not) in using strong skills in yet another factor that can emerge through collaboration when using the SI method. Although interest in using skills and even general interest patterns are not traditionally used in TSA, they can be significant with regard to whether the occupations or jobs identified will actually be suitable over the long term. This is important in career counseling, but not as important in forensic uses where standard TSA has its roots. How skills interact with interests in creating passion for and meaning in work over time is a central theme of the book referenced in this article.

6. Do a final list of occupations to which skills transfer

Using all information from 1-5 above, list the occupations with DOT and ONET titles and numbers to which skills are likely to transfer with very limited orientation and retraining. Typically this would involve the need for 30 days or less additional experience to fully learn the new occupation. Occupations can also be listed to which skills transfer, but which will also require some additional experience, training, or education to reach the skill level of a fully productive worker.

Documenting the TSA

The main purpose of TSA documentation is to provide highly usable information to the referral source or directly to the client with the goal of achieving direct job placement or a career development plan. Reports should be brief and include the following elements:

Methods used

Skills identified

RFC limitations

Occupations to which skills transfer, including DOT (if applicable) and equivalent O*NET numbers

Estimated jobs locally, outlook, and comments about job openings

A sample report is included in Appendix D.

In summary, the most effective TSA process is technical, creative, collaborative, and multifaceted. It involves use of structured methods combined with subjective analysis based on counselor or consultant knowledge and experience; use of internet and computer software resources; and full client involvement. When TSA does not include all elements and focuses mainly on a single standard approach, e.g., a computer based WF and MPSMS analysis, the results can limit or hinder the client’s career planning process.


Appendix A


Providing effective customer service in the most complex, difficult situations


Engendering customer confidence that problems will be solved

Putting customers at ease

Resolving complex conflicts and problems

Defusing customer anger and rage

Knowledge of customer service software – Remedy, Service Now

Knowledge of MS Office, Active Directory, SharePoint, SAP,

Teaching employees “outside the box”, creative problem solving

Teaching employees to prioritize in high pressure situations

Assessing corporate and capital structures

Analyzing company financial philosophies

Analyzing financial statements, including important, hidden, and obfuscated information

Analyzing cash flow

Proficiency in technical analysis and stock index analysis

Independently projecting financial performance of companies

Preparing company and industry forecasts

Special knowledge of financial analysis in media, communications, and telecommunications sectors

Wiring electrical circuits

Assembling and installing electrical equipment

Repairing wiring

Appointment scheduling

Giving and receiving complex information using oral and written communications

Inputting computer data


Preparing reports and correspondence

Appendix B



1.What is maximum strength level at which client can perform?

Strength Level Maximum person can lift or carry occasionally (up to 1/3 of 8 hour day) Maximum that person can lift or carry frequently (1/3 to 2/3 of 8 hour day) Maximum person can stand or walk during 8 hour day Other
Sedentary 10 pounds Negligible 2 hours or less
Light 20 pounds 10 pounds 6 hours or more Able to stoop occasionally
Medium 50 pounds 25 pounds 6 hours or more Able to stoop and bend frequently
Heavy 100


50 pounds 6 hours or more Same
Very Heavy Over 100 pounds Over 50 pounds 6 hours or more Same

2. Sitting and Standing

Does the client need a sit/stand option?

At will?

Flexible, but not at will?

How much can client sit during 8 hour day (Time Spent Sitting [ONET Work Context Factor])?

How much can client stand during 8 hour day (Time Spent Standing [ONET Work Context Factor])?

3. Other – To what extent is the client able to perform each of the following using the C, F, O, N scale below?

C – constantly (over 2/3 of 8 hour day)

F – frequently (1/3 to 2/3 of 8 hour day)

O – occasionally (0 to 1/3 of 8 hour day)

N – Never

Exert force repeatedly and continuously over time without fatigue (Dynamic Strength [ONET Work Context Factor])?

Exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects. (Static Strength [ONET Work Context Factor])?

Use abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without „giving out‟ or fatiguing. (Trunk Strength [ONET Work Context Factor])?


4. To what extent is the client able to perform each of the following using the C, F, O, N scale below?

C – constantly (over 2/3 of 8 hour day)

F – frequently (1/3 to 2/3 of 8 hour day)

O – occasionally (0 to 1/3 of 8 hour day)

N – Never


Climbing Ladders, Scaffolds, or Poles (O*NET Work Context Factor) Balancing

Stooping Kneeling Crouching Crawling Reaching Handling Fingering Feeling Talking

Hearing Tasting/Smelling

Making repetitive motions (Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions [O*NET Work Context Factor])

Keeping arms and hands steady while moving arms or holding arms and hands in one position (Arm Hand Steadiness [O*NET Ability Factor])

Using finger dexterity (Finger Dexterity [O*NET Ability Factor])

Making rapid limb movements (Speed of Limb Movement [O*NET Ability Factor])

5. To what extent is the client able to meet the following visual demands?

C – constantly (greater than 2/3 of 8 hour day)

F – frequently (1/3 to 2/3 of 8 hour day)

O – occasionally (0 to 1/3 of 8 hour day)

N – Never

Near Acuity

Far Acuity (Far Vision [O*NET Work Context Factor] and DOT)

Depth Perception (Depth Perception [ONET Work Context Factor] and DOT) Accommodation

Color Vision

Field of Vision (Peripheral Vision [O*NET Ability Factor] and DOT) Night Vision (O*NET Ability Factor)

6. To what extent can the client meet the following speech demands?

Ability to speak clearly so as to be understood by others (Speech Clarity [O*NET Ability Factor])

Ability to identify and understand speech of other persons (Speech Recognition [O*NET Ability Factor])


7. To what extent can the client meet the following using the C, F, O, N scale below?

C – constantly (greater than 2/3 of 8 hour day)

F – frequently (1/3 to 2/3 of 8 hour day)

O – occasionally (0 to 1/3 of 8 hour day)

N – Never

Exposure to weather (Outdoors, Exposed to Weather [O*NET Work Context Factor] and DOT)

Extreme cold (non-weather) (Very Hot or Cold Temperatures [O*NET Work Context Factor] and DOT)

Extreme heat (non-weather) (Very Hot or Cold Temperatures [O*NET Work Context Factor] and DOT)

Wet and/or humid

Does the client need to work in an environmentally controlled indoor setting?

Indoors, Environmentally Controlled (O*NET Work Context Factor) Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled (O*NET Work Contest Factor)

Noise intensity

1 – very quiet

2- quiet

3 – moderate

4 – loud

5- very loud

Sounds, Noise Levels are Distracting or Uncomfortable (O*NET Work Context Factor)

Vibration (Exposed to Whole Body Vibration [O*NET Work Context Factor] and DOT)

Atmospheric Conditions (such as fumes, noxious odors, dust, gases, poor ventilation)

Hazards (Exposed to Hazardous Conditions [O*NET Work Context Factor]). DOT covers these specific hazards:

Proximity to moving mechanical parts

Exposure to electrical shock

Working in high, exposed places

Exposure to radiant energy

Working with explosives

Exposure to caustic or toxic chemicals

Other hazards

Exposed to Contaminants (O*NET Work Context Factor)


8.To what extent can the client meet mental demands of occupations using the U, G, F, P scale below?

(U) Unlimited or very good – ability to function is more than satisfactory

(G) Good – ability to function is satisfactory

(F) Fair – ability to function is seriously limited, but not precluded

(P) Poor or none – no useful ability to function in this area

Follow work rules/Relate to co-workers

Work in proximity of co-workers without being distracted or distracting others (Contact with Others [O*NET Work Context Factor])

Working alone or apart in physical isolation from others (Alone [DOT Temperament])

Interact appropriately with the public

Dealing with People (People [DOT Temperament])

Use judgment


Interact with supervisors Deal with work stresses/ Function independently


Maintain attention/concentration for extended periods Understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions Understand, remember, and carry out complex instructions Perform activities within a schedule


Sustain an ordinary routine


Be aware of work hazards and take appropriate precautions/Set realistic goals and make plans independently of others

Work is high structured vs. unstructured (Structured versus Unstructured Work [O*NET

Work Context Factor])

Capacity to work under time pressures meeting strict deadlines (Time Pressure [O*NET

Work Context Factor])

Performing repetitive or short cycle work (Repetitive [DOT Temperament])

Appendix C


For each prior job:

  1. Find a DOT title that fits
  2. Determine the Strength level
  3. Determine the SVP level
  4. Eliminate any job not performed long enough to meet the DOT SVP level
  5. Go to the screen with the job title and full description (Detailed Job Specialty screen)
  6. Click on Quick View – Codes
  7. Write down the Work (Work Field) code(s)
  8. Close out all screens until you come to the first screen
  9. Click on Advanced Searches
  10. To search for transferable jobs by Work Fields, click on that button
  11. Click on the first 2 digits of the Work Field in the left column
  12. Click on the full Work Field in the right column
  13. If the client’s RFC is no greater than Light, click on the Light/Sedentary button.
  14. Click on DOT on the upper left part of the screen
  15. Scroll down to occupations with the first digit of the DOT number. This helps assure that final choices will stay within the same occupational area (per the classification of DOT occupations) as prior work. [ix]
  16. Using only those DOT numbers, write down any occupation that:
  • Is at or below the SVP of the original occupation
  • Is consistent with the clients RFC (to check the requirements for DOT occupations, go to the Detailed Job Specialty screen for the occupation; then click on the Physical Demands and Temperaments buttons on the right.) If limitations in the RFC also include items covered in O*NET, click on the O*NET Online tab in the upper left part of the screen. Once in O*NET, click on Details and then go to Abilities or Work Context to locate the importance rankings which include the limitations in the client’s RFC. Note that importance rankings do not give the same type of information found for occupations in the DOT. For example, consider Jack’s RFC as including a limited range of light work, allowing no more than 2 hours of standing in an 8 hour day, plus a sit/stand option. If the occupation of parts clerk came up on a Work Fields analysis, based on DOT data we could not determine whether it is or is not consistent with his RFC. The DOT information only tells us that parts clerks generally work at the light strength level in the national economy. However, using O*NET Work Context information, we find that the importance of time spent standing is slightly greater than time spent sitting. This suggests that typical parts clerks can sit and stand, but they are more likely to be standing than sitting during the day. Thus, by adding the O*NET information we might eliminate this occupation as an option.
  • Can be substantively learned in about a month or less using the transferable skills
  • From p, eliminate any remaining occupations that no longer exist in the economy. For example, teletype installers would be obsolete. Then eliminate any remaining occupation for which there are too few available local jobs to result in realistic job placement. To research this using the SkillTRAN Job Browser, click on the DOT title and find the local labor information using the Employment Numbers button on the Detailed Job Specialty screen. Counselors or consultants can also use their own knowledge of the local job market plus such resources as the local Industrial Guide, and resources found on the website in the Career Resource Center.


Appendix D


A transferable skills analysis (TSA) was completed for Mr. Smith using standard TSA methodology (DOT based Work Field analysis) and O*NET based analysis using In addition, specific work skills were assessed from his prior employment, education, prior training, and self-assessment, and include: proficiencies in typing, computer data input; giving and receiving complex information using oral communications, resolving customer complaints, and knowledge of MS Word software.

Per prior information in this report, Mr. Smith is now limited to sedentary work with a sit/stand option (at will), with limitations to frequent use of his fingers and hands. There are no other limitations.

Considering local labor market conditions, the following jobs were identified to which Mr. Smith’s skills would transfer within his residual functional capacities and with minimal additional orientation or training:

DOT Occupation ONET


Estimated Jobs Locally Outlook Comments
Information Clerk DOT#237.367-022






DOT #237.367-038


Receptionists and Information Clerks


There are an estimated 3200 Information Clerk and Receptionist jobs in the greater Albuquerque area. About 1000 of these are at the semiskilled level, would utilize Mr. Smith’s current skills, and would accommodate to his physical limitations.

Most of these jobs are in health care, government, and education settings.

These jobs are increasing at a rate of about 20% per year. Approximately 15 jobs are currently listed in Albuquerque through the NM Job Service, and newspaper ads in the Albuquerque Journal.




[1] This section draws heavily from DOT related U.S. Department of Labor publications, and the Social Security Administration disability determination program regulations.

[2] If capacity is covered only in O*NET, or both in O*NET and DOT, that is designated in brackets. Non-bracketed items are DOT factors. Non-bracketed items in italics are neither ONET nor DOT factors, but will be relevant to a TSA. Note that only selected ONET factors are included based on assumed (by this author) utility and relevance in a TSA, and lack of redundancy with DOT factors.

[3] Methodology for work fields analysis is similar to T. Field’s approach outlined in reference xi and to J. Field and T. Field’s approach outlined in reference ix and other editions of Classification of Jobs (COJ).


[i] Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ( U.S. Supreme Court, 92-102), 1993.
[ii] Kumho v. Carmichael . ( U.S. Supreme Court, 97-1709).

[iii] U.S. Department of Labor, (1991a), Dictionary of Occupational Titles (4th Edition, Revised). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

[iv] Gibson, G.G., Earhart, J.H., and Lento, P.J. (2002). Toward a foundation for determining loss of earning capacity: Transferability of skills definition, method, and application. Journal of Forensic Vocational Analysis. 32(2), 5-14.

[v] Social Security Administration Office of Hearings and Appeals. (1990). Vocational Expert Handbook, Baltimore, MD. Back to Text

[vi] U.S. Department of Labor. (9/2005). O*NET On-Line 8.0 ( )

[vii] U.S. Department of Labor. (1991b). Handbook for analyzing jobs-revised. Washington, D.C. : U.S. Government Printing Office.

[viii] Dunn, P.L. (2000). Congruence of occupational classifications between work history and placement. Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Journal, 32(2), 119-127.

[ix] Field, J. & Field, T. (2004). The transitional COJ (6th edition). Athens, GA: Elliott & Fitzpatrick, Inc.

[x] Reference deleted in 2018 revision

[xi] Field, T.F. (2002). Transferable skills analysis: a common sense approach. Journal of Forensic Vocational Analysis, (5), 29-40.

[xii] SkillTRAN, LLC (,

[xiii] Westwind Consulting, Inc.,

[iv] Simon, S. (2018). Relaunch! stagnation, change, and renewal in mid-career and beyond. New York, NY: DocUmeant Publishing.

Steven Simon, Ph.D. is President, CEO and a career consultant with Human Services Outcomes, Inc. His private practice focuses on mid-career issues of professional and skilled workers. Dr. Simon has a doctoral degree in counselor education from Kent State University and a master’s in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Florida. He has over 45 years of experience as a career counselor; counseling psychologist, supervisory psychologist, and business leader specializing in career and job issues; as a manager of career and job programs for veterans; and as an adjunct graduate school faculty member at Kent State University, The Ohio State University, DePaul University, and the University of South Florida. He has extensive experience in the workings of large and small organizations at all levels. In addition to his private practice, to date Dr. Simon has provided vocational expert testimony in over 15,000 Social Security disability hearings. Most of those cases involved claimants in mid-career and beyond. Dr.Simon is licensed as a professional counselor in several states, has held the designation of master career counselor from the National Career Development Association, is a certified rehabilitation counselor (CRC), and is a distance credentialed counselor (DCC). He can be reached at